It is very important for anyone who thinks that the logoi doctrine is a bridge between Orthodoxy, on the one hand, and Western metaphysics, on the other hand, to heed what I am about to say: The Orthodox have always used the logoi doctrine in the context of the threefold path of purification, illumination, and glorification, though it is easy to miss if you have not steeped yourself in St. Irenaeus, St. Dionysius, St. Maximos, and St. Gregory Palamas. Before the issue of logoi was posed to me as a theological problem, I had read most of the passages that deal with logoi, but I was not sure how the teaching fit together with the teaching of essence and energies in God. I knew there must be a correct way to think about the logoi and their relation to the energies of God, but I did not want to be too hasty. I knew it had to be in the Fathers, that it most certainly had to be answered in the passages I had already read. However, what I read was not registering as logoi teaching, at least as my mind was, in my earlier reading, filing these passages away under some other heading such as “energy-essence distinction” or “three-fold path”…
Let us start with a discussion of just how the Christian West views knowledge of rationes seminales or logoi. Logoi to Western Christians are entirely different from logoi in Orthodoxy (see previous post), and we need to understand what divides the two conceptions. More research needs to be done on Augustine, but by the time we reach Aquinas, we certainly have, in the Christian West, a God who does not even have to bother knowing created beings directly, since God, in having perfect knowledge of prima materia, automatically knows every possible modification of this apeironic ur-matter. So, God only loves himself, but He has the idea of prime matter inside His essence, so, as I have said many times before, Aquinas leads us from “God so loved the world” to “God so loved a thought in His own head that he showered created grace on various beings whose material constitution is the result of a literal subtraction of realities from prima materia” (the phrase is mine, not Aquinas’).
The Augustino-Thomistic cosmology is based upon analogy of being. If God is good, creation is good, but not in the same sense. This would be “univocity.” To say that there is no connection between the “goodness” of creation and the same quality in God would be, in Scholastic terms, “equivocity.” To the Thomists (and you have to believe in Thomism or be a heretic as far as the RC church is concerned), “analogy” is the middle ground between univocity and equivocity. To them, if “good” refers to God, then it is because there is a similarity in essence between created beings (with their qualities) and uncreated God (and His qualities). This is what David Bentley Hart and the Fordham crew try to weasel around through their massaging of theological terms and their constant shiftings of ground: They do not want to admit that it is a heresy for the Orthodox to proclaim any similarity in being or essence between God and creation. We Orthodox, apparently, are all about equivocity (I am shading into irony here: obviously we do not use this medieval term for theology established by the saints of all ages).
Now I will provide a brief description of a post-medieval development in the West. See if you cannot connect a few dots between it and the Thomistic analogia entis that helped fathered it:
With the scientific revolution, mathematics applied to physics became “the ultimate key to the universe.” We even get poet John Reynolds saying that knowledge of physics will be granted to souls who are ascending to heaven. Here’s how historian Louis Dupré puts it: “In ‘A View of Death, or The Soul’s Departure from the World,’ the poet John Reynolds (1666–1727) looks forward to death when the scientific mysteries of the universe will be fully revealed and the mind will understand that Newton’s attraction is God’s love operating in matter!” (Louis Dupré, Enlightenment and the Foundations of Modern Culture, p. 26).
As opposed to this notion (mediated through Augustine though ultimately from Pythagorean lore about a ratio that links proportions in material structures to so-called “divine proportion”), Orthodoxy declares that the divine light remains unapproachable and incomprehensible (from a rationalistic, philosophical point of view) even while it is participated in by creatures.