Does Aquinas really say we can experience the divine essence of God? Some western scholars believe that St. Gregory Palamas is compatible with Catholic dogma, for example:.
Since the essence of God neither can be this nor is this, the operation si obviously in some way truly differenct from the essence. Christensen, Jeffery A.
Wittung, p. Palamas affirms that God is infinitely knowable and communicable while also infinitely transcendent and incomprehensible, which is also the constant faith of western Church. Forgive me for this small digression, but I hope it adds to this thread, but I was just going to create my own topic and saw this.
The Ground of Union: Deification in Aquinas and Palamas Hardcover – Jun 15 The Glory of God's Grace Deification According to St. Thomas Aquinas. Energies of the Spirit: Trinitarian Models in Eastern Orthodox and Western Theology (AAR. The Glory of God's Grace: Deification According to St. Thomas Aquinas (Faith and Reason Studies in Catholic Theology and Philosophy)Paperback. I have been greatly aided by this book in my.
It is along the same lines. I tend to have a very poitive view of Palamite theology and was reading about Meister Eckhart the other day.
I understand Eckharts censure, but what I see in that censure could very easily also be applied to Palamas had he been Catholic rather than Orthodox. Henry Suso. Im not at a computer, so a longer post will wait until tonight. The short answer is that Aquinas and Palamas don't use the term essence in the same way, and they also use 'see' differently.
For Aquinas the Divine Essence includes what Palamas calls the Divine Energy, and unlike Palamas he doesn't use 'see' as synonymous with comprehension. Basically this boils down to a different vocabulary and theological approach to the issue of God's transcendence. Aquinas recognizes that God is transcendent, but also that we partake of Divinity and will "see God face to face".
Plotinus on the One But the Antipalamites disagree with Palamas in holding that this uncreated "energy" which, in fact, God is is neither visible nor ontologically distinct from God himself — i. Password Changed Successfully Your password has been changed. Trizio on East and West. English Mysticism
In the Latin theological language Essence has a broader meaning than it does in Palamas' Byzantine theological language, and so the Divine Essence includes things like Divinity, which Palamas excludes from the Divine Essence. For Aquinas, everything that is a "feature" of God is the Divine Essence, and God's transcendence is preserved because humans can only partake in a "limited" way in Divinity through Grace.
Thus we share in Divinity, but we don't "comprehend" Divinity and we don't "become" Divinity; in Aquinas' terms we participate in Divinity. Palamas gets around the same problem of God's transcendence by making a distinction between God's Divine Essence, and Divinity, which is the Divine Energy of that Essence.
For Palamas, the uncomprehended, infinite aspect of God is the Essence, and that which is participated is the Divine Energy; the Divine Essence can't be known or seen, according to Palamas' use of the terms, because in his definitions to know and see include comprehension. It's important to understand, however, that this distinction is not any kind of separation for Palamas, any more than the distinction between heat and fire means that fire is separate from heat. Heat is still an integral aspect of fire, and follows on the very essence of fire, but the two can be conceptually distinguished.
To experience the fire, we experience the heat; the "essence" of fire touches us by heat. So when Aquinas says that we experience the Divine Essence, he is basically including the Divine Energy as Palamas defines it in the very definition of the Divine Essence, and he is not saying that we comprehend the Divine Essence, merely that we participate in it and experience it, just as we experience fire by heat, and participate in fire by growing warm by the fire.
Whereas Palamas would say that we know the heat, but we don't know the fire, because he makes the distinction between the essential attribute and the fire, Aquinas says we know the fire by sharing in the heat, because he includes heat in the essential definition of fire, but we don't comprehend the fire because we know it in a limited way. So they are both getting to the same problem from different approaches: Aquinas makes the distinction in the creature's experience, and Palamas makes the distinction in God, but the two are not contradictory because they are using terms in different ways and expressing the same mystery, namely that God transcends all creation and is uncomprehended, yet creatures share in Divinity through Grace and in our very being, according to both Palamas and Aquinas.
I enjoy reading posts on this forum for the sheer educational value. This is great stuff. Seriously, consider writing and self-publishing a book about this and related topics. That is indeed an amazing reply. Stuff like this has been bugging me for a long time and its great to see a lucid explanation.
Now if only the Catholic Church and the Orthodox could see things this way we might make some real progress! Of course, the East will always point out that "Grace" is not a created reality, but the Holy Spirit Himself.
This point, more than any other, has been a bone of contention between East and West, not to mention the villification of Palamas by the West for a long time. It was only in that the West affirmed Palamas as a saint I read this in a book on Patriarch Joseph the Confessor and elsewhere but one can now find him among the list of Catholic saints.
Another interesting difference between the two is that Palamas affirms the Mother of God as "Immaculate" whereas Aquinas, dealing directly with the Immaculate Conception as a dogma, of course, answers in the negative. I keep hearing that Palamas opposed reunion with the western church. Is this true or is this just a myth started by one side or the other to cause further division?
A more direct comparison would obviously be between Barlaam of Calabria and St. Gregory Palamas, but that investigation will focus more on prayer and spirituality than anything else although it touches on deeper ones.
Hopefully the stuff on the way from St. Tikhon's Monastery and St. Vladimir's Seminary Press will address these sorts of questions better. I had never heard of Barlaam of Calabria. He doesn't seem - albeit my source is Wikipedia - to have been or to have become a Thomist, even after he became a Catholic. Nonetheless, he does seem to be a very interesting figure. However, as a Thomist myself, I would prefer to try to begin to understand and engage with Palamas's thought, which is foreign to me, by means of comparing and contrasting it with something which is familiar to me, i.
I also happen to be quite familiar with the mystical theology of St. John of the Cross - an excellent Thomist himself - so fgh's pointer in that area is also particularly useful to me.
Right, I wouldn't say that Palamas' disagreements with Barlaam centered on Thomism. Might be worth investigating in its own right, as a separate matter. I found it useful to use Sufism as entry into Palamas - I can't remember if it was Schimmel or Arberry who sent me this direction. Sign in Join Help.