Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Philosophical Works.: That the nature of mind is invisible.
XI. That the nature of mind is invisible. 1624
1. What then is, in its own nature, this mind that distributes itself into faculties of sensation, and duly receives, by means of each, the knowledge of things? That it is something else besides the senses, I suppose no reasonable man doubts; for if it were identical with sense, it would reduce the proper character of the operations carried on by sense to one, on the ground that it is itself simple, and that in what is simple no diversity is to be found. Now however, as all agree that touch is one thing and smell another, and as the rest of the senses are in like manner so situated with regard to each other as to exclude intercommunion or mixture, we must surely suppose, since the mind is duly present in each case, that it is something else besides the sensitive nature, so that no variation may attach to a thing intelligible.
2. “Who hath known the mind of the Lord 1625 ?” the apostle asks; and I ask further, who has understood his own mind? Let those tell us who consider the nature of God to be within their comprehension, whether they understand themselves—if they know the nature of their own mind. “It is manifold and much compounded.” How then can that which is intelligible be composite? or what is the mode of mixture of things that differ in kind? Or, “It is simple, and incomposite.” How then is it dispersed into the manifold divisions of the senses? how is there diversity in unity? how is unity maintained in diversity?
3. But I find the solution of these difficulties by recourse to the very utterance of God; for He says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness 1626 .” The image is properly an image so long as it fails in none of those attributes which we perceive in the archetype; but where it falls from its resemblance to the prototype it ceases in that respect to be an image; therefore, since one of the attributes we contemplate in the Divine nature is incomprehensibility of essence, it is clearly necessary that in this point the image should be able to show its imitation of the archetype.
4. For if, while the archetype transcends p. 397 comprehension, the nature of the image were comprehended, the contrary character of the attributes we behold in them would prove the defect of the image; but since the nature of our mind, which is the likeness of the Creator evades our knowledge, it has an accurate resemblance to the superior nature, figuring by its own unknowableness the incomprehensible Nature.
The Bodleian ms. of the Latin version gives as the title:—“The definition of the human mind.”396:1625
Rom. xi. 34.396:1626
Gen. i. 26.
Next: An examination of the question where the ruling principle is to be considered to reside; wherein also is a discussion of tears and laughter, and a physiological speculation as to the inter-relation of matter, nature, and mind.
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