Adam succumbs, Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1531
Here I lay my reading of St Maximus’s thoughts over my reading of Massimo Scaligero. I find parallels between St Maximus’ natural and gnomic wills and Scaligero’s living and reflected thought.
‘Gnomic will’ is the ‘choosing will’ that originates in thought reflected back as material ‘reality’, that believes it can pick and choose its way through the seemingly ready-made material options laid out before it.
The ‘natural will’ originates in the divine will of the Logos, which distinguishes the self from all other selves. The divine will incarnates in the self as the living thought which shapes the world, unless lost as the ‘gnomic will’ of apparent material ‘reality’ .
‘Natural will’ follows the divine intention for its deification.
It is ‘gnomic will’ that needs salvation.
The Fall resulted in ‘gnomic will’ and reflected thought. ‘Gnomic will’ makes choices in a fallen world of thought, which originated in the Logos, but is reflected back to the self as a pre-existing, separate and self-sufficient material reality with an existence somehow emanating from itself. After the Fall, Adam objectified the world as a material reality. This was the forbidden ‘knowledge’ gained from the tree.
Before the Fall, Adam and Eve saw each other through the eyes of ‘natural will’, i.e. through Love, which is to say the Logos or God.
Following the Fall, having gained knowledge, Adam and Eve objectified each other each other, discovering shame, rather than Love.
‘Natural will’ is divine intention, i.e. Love.
‘Gnomic will’ is false, deluded and evil; but we will it, i.e. we want it, we take pleasure in the objectified.
Only Love overcomes the need for this, there being no shame in love.
Love does not belong over there with the objective and problematical. I quote a relevant piece from my Child of Encounter:
If consciousness and mind cannot be subject to rational explanation, then the answer to this question will not be found in the domain of the problematical and the objectively valid. Love is the only starting point of such mysteries of body and soul. It is a dizzying reflectiveness without reference points. I am not referring to love in the agape giving sense; I mean unrelieved sickness and nausea, Eros, sexuality, destructive lust. To be stuck in the domain of the problematical and the objectively valid is to be enveloped in assurance and certainty. And yet what are the criteria of true love? There are none. Criteria only exist in the order of the objective and problematical. Criteria, those presuppositions, belong over there, with them, ‘the they’. Love belongs over here, with me as an individual and the mystery.
Love shapes the world. ‘A chance encounter can have consequences for eternity’.
© John Dunn.