For every affirmation falls short of the one perfect Cause of all things, for all negation falls short of the transcendence of the One which is simply stripped of everything and is beyond everything.

St. Denys the Areopagite, Mystical Theology, 1048 B

Exergue

Mystic of theology, rather than a theology of mystic, it seemed to us that Lumières de la théologie mystique1 (LTM) brought together the best indications for understanding theology – inseparable from Christianity – as an initiatory and spiritual path rather than as mere speculation and intellectual exercise. Even if, as we shall see, according to Dionysian doctrine in particular, these approaches are far from separate, since the intellect can be shown to be “supernatural by nature”.

Of course, this “theory of a practical theology” will lack all the illustrations gathered by the author, the content, one might say, of this initiatory theology: in particular, the illustrious and sublime texts of Saint Denys the Areopagite, Master Eckhart, Blessed Henri Suso and the Anonymous Frankfort, the unknown author of the Theologia teutsch.

However, while recommending the reading of Lumières de la théologie mystique, it should be remembered that the essential, at the end of theology as at its origin, is that “which makes us adhere without word and without knowledge to realities that are neither said nor known, united to them in our own way beyond the powers and forces of reason and intelligence2. How can saying and thinking lead to Silence and the Unthinkable, how can knowledge culminate in Unknowing, is, according to the Dionysian tradition, what this mysticism of theology will indicate, according to the capacities of those who hear it (ad modum recipentis quidquid recipitur).

Theology, reason and intelligence

As a subject specifically oriented towards God, it is more necessary  than ever to situate such an approach. Since theology sees itself as the science (logos) of God (Theos), it seems appropriate to verify whether intelligence and reason are compatible.

If we cannot exclude the scientific requirement (in the sense of conceptually rigorous discourse) from theology, it is because to deny it would be to reduce intelligence, for all science, to the sole grasp of empirical realities. But no science, without question, can limit itself to this, given the theoretical constructs and speculations required for their development.

From then on, it can even be said that the noblest Object of intelligence will be “the ultimate speculative confrontation with the Beyond All”. There, intelligence will be able to “experience decisively and paradoxically its own limits, and suddenly experience itself as a pure capacity for contemplative adoration (LTM, pp.10-11.)”.

Whereas until now it seemed quite reasonable to allow all science, even the science of God, the right to rigor and ultimate speculation, to say that intelligence can become “pure capacity for contemplative adoration” may seem a gratuitous assertion.

We’ll see, however, that everyone can experience it; but only experience it, because what can be experienced cannot be proven. A theology of this kind is, of course, more than just a discourse (logos) on God. It is an effective spiritual path and, in this sense, we’ll call it mystical theology, the ultimate theology to which, as we shall see, all theology leads.

For the moment, then, theology is entitled to intelligence; what about reason?

Let’s start by distinguishing reason from intellect. If these two faculties are one – according to St. Thomas Aquinas – reason will be the act of discursive thought, while intellect will enable intuitive, inner penetration of truth. Reason will be “the power to judge well and to distinguish the true from the false”3, “the concatenation of truths”4, while intellect will correspond to the faculty of understanding: intellection. Put another way, it’s one thing to reason, another to understand reasoning.

This proximity of meaning is in any case sufficient, having enabled the theologian to be intelligent, to give him the right to reason as well. Theology can therefore be an intelligent and reasonable work in terms of its form and methods; at most, we can only dispute its subject matter: its Object.

But is it really true? Would such an argument be legitimate?

Is it enough that everyone continues to oppose natural reason and supernatural revelation for this pairing to have to structure all theological problematics? In particular, does anything that does not explicitly come from God (Revelation) necessarily come from man (reason)? Can reason function on its own resources and according to its own requirements?

In fact, as Jean Borella points out (LTM, p.58 ff.), this opposition has only been a formalized view since the Middle Ages, linked to the Aristotelianization of philosophy, when the XIIIe century discovered the existence of a pagan philosophy which, although ignorant of revelation, had nonetheless arrived at knowledge of truths about God and the conduct of human life. According to the Aristotelian conception, “the specific and proportionate activity of human reason is scientific knowledge of the sensible world”, and the formality of scientific discourse (syllogistic logic) guarantees its rigor; whereas “for Platonic noetics, it is the object that founds the truth of knowledge […] the intellect, in its desire for perfect knowledge, is therefore fundamentally ordered to the contemplation of unconditioned Reality, the Good in itself”. It is faith alone that can present to the intellect, in the darkness of the Cave, the intelligible objects it will then know in its ascent to the light of the divine Sun, to the supreme Object, beyond all Objects (p.84.).”

Reason, as enunciated by the great principles of understanding and pure (Aristotelian) logic, is, as a cognitive instance, formally universal. But this pure reason is only an abstraction when considered in itself; it is pure, “in its timeless universality, only insofar as it applies to nothing and serves no purpose” (p. 60). Materially, as soon as it is applied to matters, reason must come to terms with them and submit to them. This is why, depending on place and time, and on the culture that mediates sensitive and intellective experiences, there are distinct regimes of rationality. This famous natural reason is thus rather a cultural reason. And this is why there is a history of reason, which seems to show, very roughly, four phases, or four regimes of rationality, in the West at least (pp. 60-61):

  1. “the Platonic regime of an intellective reason hierarchically ordered to the divine,
  2. the Aristotelian-Thomistic regime of a logical reason subject to revelation, but still imbued with intellectivity,
  3. the Kantian regime of scientific-critical reason, horizontally counterposed to religious beliefs
  4. the [Derridean] cybernetic or combinatorial regime of a deconstructed and decentered reason, given over to the power of its economic, social or ethnological determinations” (ibid.).

What is now interesting is to compare the relative autonomies or heteronomies of these regimes of reason:

  • “Regimes 2 and 3 both imply the relative autonomy of a reason that is said to be natural because it is distinct from the supernatural or religious order, but in opposite senses: autonomy of service and subordinated like a means to the end that uses it (regime 2); autonomy of independence, even of revolt, devoted to the liberation of superstitions that subjugate reason (regime 3).
  • Similarly, regimes 1 and 4 imply a relative heteronomy of reason, but in equally opposite senses: combinatorial reason is subject (this is the Derridean decentering of logos) to the vagaries of its socio-cultural or psychoanalytic conditioning, and thus to what is infrational and alienating, whereas intellective reason is subject to the grace of what René Roques calls its ”transcendent conditioning”5, i.e., to that which is superior to it and fulfills it.
  • But then we see what brings regimes 1 and 2 closer together: the transcendent conditioning role played by revelation with regard to reason in regime 2, mystical intellection plays in regime 1, and no doubt the one combines with the other in ancient, i.e. sacred, cultures; and all these cultures claim a divine origin which is lost in the mists of time and which sends us back to primitive revelation” (p. 61).

This concludes this introduction (p. 62) on this crucial point: “there is no […] exclusively profane and entirely natural reason.”

For us, this will include Kantian-style reason, whose apparent autonomy is based on the exclusion of intellectual intuition, after he has reduced it to the model of sensible intuition (p. 106). As for Derridean reason, it seems to follow on from the work of structural anthropology, which notes, in opposition to a unitary conception of reason, “the heterogeneity, in space and time, of forms of thought, reduced to the contingency of simple arrangements or combinations of elements”. But, “if it were so, then no thought would be entitled to rationally draw such a conclusion: reason is one or it is not” (p. 59).

Thus, not only will theology be able to reason intelligently, but reason will also be a faculty suited to it, since it can neither be exclusively profane nor entirely natural. “For reason itself, whether it knows it or not, derives its power of knowledge only from the liberality of a God who is ‘Father of lights’ (ep. of S. James, I, 17), and from the Word who is ‘True light which enlightens every man in this world’ (John, I, 9)” (p. 61):

“Only the grace of illumination from God can give man the desire and ability to ascend towards Him”6.

To “the incompleteness of reason (there is no pure nature) [corresponds] its natural demand for a supernatural fulfillment of the intellective and even supra-intellective order”; intelligence “is supernatural by nature”, “it is of metaphysical essence”; “the intellect (noûs) is already something divine” (pp. 92-93.).

“The Spirit is that of the Father and of the Son, and ours”, said St. Augustine (De Trinitate, V, 14).

This is why there is, at the end of theology as at its origin, that “which makes us adhere without word and without knowledge to realities that are neither said nor known, united to them in our own way beyond the powers and forces of reason and intelligence”7.

Fifteen aspects of theology for a definition

Distinguishing between the form and object of theology, then the three philosophical conceptions of theology, the three axes of early Christian theology, the three sources of theological science and, finally, the four paths of theology, should enable us, with the help of these “fifteen” distinctions, to define theology.

The two theologies, formal and material

At the simplest level, we need to distinguish between theology as content and theology as science. The former refers to its subject matter, to divine reality, to its object: the Theological, the latter to its form, its method, to the intellectual discipline or doctrinal genre it constitutes: theology.

  • In St. Denys, as in all patristic literature, theological is first and foremost the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God – which is strictly its etymological meaning. From then on, theologians are those who have reported it: the evangelists. “We live remembering the truth of your theological teachings”, wrote Denys, addressing Saint John. Beyond the Scriptures, in St. Denys as in the Greek Fathers, the Theological is also “the mystery of God seen ‘in Himself’ in His Trinitarian life” (p. 48). This transition, towards the end of the 4the century, is quite natural: “what scriptural theology has come to reveal is Trinitarian theology, the ‘intimate structure’ of the divine Essence” (p. 24).  Here, theology (theologia) is opposed to economy (oikonomia). This key distinction of the Orthodox Church, seen in its widest generality, is the mystery of God as superessential Trinity in relation to the mystery of God as Incarnation and Redemption, so that economy (the Revelation of Christ) is the indispensable source of theology (the Mystery of Deity).
  • Theology, as method or science, is, especially in Denys, its teaching, its transmission. According to the original Dionysian doctrine, there are two modes of transmission: the mystical (or symbolic) mode and the theoretical (or philosophical) mode. “The tradition of theologians is twofold: on the one hand, unspeakable and mystical; on the other, obvious and more easily known. The first mode is symbolic and initiatory; the other is philosophical and demonstrative. Let us add that the inexpressible intersects with the expressible”8

In this doctrine, it is vital to realize that “the inexpressible is intertwined (sympépléktaï) with the expressible”. This means that “neither spiritual gnosis excludes speculative knowledge, nor does the science of intelligence exclude mystical interiority” (p. 55), for these two domains are not on the same plane. A horizontal distinction would define two heterogeneous and autonomous domains within the same epistemic structure. However, in this Dionysian conception – which is also that of St. Thomas Aquinas – the distinction is a vertical one, defining the degrees of a single cognitive ascent: reason, called natural reason, is merely the lower degree of an imperfect intellection that, from light to light, leads the mind to God: perfect intellection (p. 54, note 9). This is why philosophy can rightly be considered a mode of theological teaching.

The three philosophical conceptions of theology

This is also why, from Plato to the first centuries of Christianity, theology – or at least the term – is an integral part of traditional philosophical conceptions. In particular, the most widespread conception is that of a tripartite theology: mythical, physical and political.

One of the chains summarizing the history of this tradition begins with Saint Augustine (IV -Vee c.) reading Varron (Ier c. BC), himself strongly influenced by Stoicism (Zeno of Citium, Cleanthe, IV -IIIee c. BC), a philosophical current that “collected and systematized many of the teachings that were widespread in the Mediterranean world” (p. 19).

Chronologically this time, we have the Stoic systemization of a philosophy into three branches: logic, physics and morals; Cleanthe’s subdivision9 of each of these branches into dialectics and rhetoric for logic, theology and physics for physics, and politics and ethics for morals; three of these divisions seem to foreshadow Varron’s tripartition of theology: theology, physics and politics.

In this tripartite theology, we have the following precise correspondences:

  • mythical theology – the work of poets and aimed at the imagination – is matched by the mythology and ancestral theogonies recounted by Homer, Hesiod, Orpheus… It can also be called symbolic theology;
  • physical theology – the work of philosophers and addressed to reason – concerns the “world” (from Physis, nature) and corresponds to cosmology, in the sense that angels are the keys to second causes. It can also be called theoretical, speculative or natural theology;
  • political theology – the work of legislators and aimed at the will – deals with the religion of the city (polis). Varron calls it “civil theology” (p. 18).

We might add that to civil theology – or theology of the law – corresponds exotericism (the popular aspect of religion), to physical theology – or theology of the spirit – corresponds esotericism (Aristotle’s Metaphysics, which is part of the so-called esoteric writings); between the two and as a real intermediary, we have, along with mythical theology, the body of religious symbols, and thus what we might call the theology of symbols (p. 20), bearing in mind, of course, that the function of symbols is to take us from the visible to the invisible, or from the speakable to the indescribable.

In almost Pauline language, we can speak of a theology of the spirit and a theology of the law, by resonance between the theology of the philosophers (physical, speculative…) and the theology of the people (political, civil). But, of course, if it’s true that “civil theology and exotericism correspond more or less, ancient esotericism can hardly be reduced to physical theology” (ibidem).

The three axes of early Christian theology

For the Greek Fathers, “the one theology radiates along three inseparable axes […]: Sacred Scripture, the Science of God, pure and contemplative prayer; in other words: revelation, gnosis, deification” (p. 22).

It was with Eusebius of Caesarea (265-339) that the word “theology” was definitively freed from pagan tradition and became the proper property of Christianity. At this point, theo-logy is the Word of God, “God’s teaching to man, before being man’s reasoning about God”10.

As we have seen, it was in the 4the century that “theology” came to be identified with Trinitarian knowledge.

Finally, “theologia” will become the supreme degree of divine gnosis and, “according to a fundamental teaching of Saint Gregory of Nyssa, the Father of mystical theology, we can distinguish three degrees in this divine gnosis: knowledge in the Burning Bush, knowledge in the Cloud, knowledge in the Darkness. These three designations are borrowed from three moments in the life of Moses, the prototype of the spiritual man: ”The manifestation of God was first made to Moses in the light (of the Burning Bush); then he spoke with him through the Cloud (which led the Jews out of Egypt); finally, having become more perfect, Moses contemplated God in the Darkness (on Mount Sinai)”11. The stage of the Burning Bush corresponds to praxis. It is the time of virtue, i.e. purification. The degree of the Cloud is properly that of theoria, contemplation, gnosis, intellection, which, using creatures as symbols, frees itself from the sensible to reach the theoria of the Intelligibles. Finally, the third degree is that which reaches ”the mountain of Theognosy”12. This knowledge, which has renounced all knowledge, is truly theologia” (pp. 25-26). If theoria is a science of the Trinity, theologia is its “co-naissance”, its nescience.

The three sources of theological science

According to Denys, the grace of theological knowledge can be received in three ways: Scripture, oral Tradition and inner illumination; the third requiring the first two and distinguishing itself from Tradition, as “theoretical knowledge” or mathôn (from mathein: to know), as pathôn (from pathein: to experience): “the lived experience”13.

These three sources correspond to three modes of theological gnosis:

  • theophathic” intellection is the subjective mode,
  • Writing the objective mode
  • and Tradition has both: transmission of the objective deposit between living subjects.

This Illumination is in no way an illuminism; it is inseparable from prayer and, in particular, the sacraments. It is a “divine initiation”, an “intellectual light that assimilates us inwardly to its divine Object”, “a kind of sacrament […] because it occurs only under the effect of the sacrament, which is itself an ‘illumination'”. Even if “the intellect naturally possesses the power to receive illumination, it still has to receive it”: “there can be no theognosical initiation without the initiation of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist”. “The power of the intellect to be naturally ordered to the supernatural is actualized only through sacramental initiation into divine filiation” (p. 86). Only then are we “partakers of the divine nature” (S. Pierre) or “ontologically grafted onto God through baptism” (Jean Borella); from then on, we “subsist divinely” (Saint Denys).

The fundamental principle of Scripture is, for Denys in particular, that it contains all possible knowledge of God: “we must avoid rashly applying any word, or even any thought, to the superessential and secret Deity, with the exception of what the Holy Scriptures have divinely revealed to us”14. Of course, this is not “the limit of all theology: it is only the limit of what can be said” (p. 87).

As for Tradition, it should be noted first of all that it is through this that Scripture is transmitted, as its “living continuity” with, moreover, “the key to the intelligibility of the divine Word” (p. 88). This living, comprehensible transmission is, along with the administration of the sacraments, the major role of the ecclesial institution. If Tradition is written or oral, and in the latter case may be secret (kruphia paradosis), sacramental Tradition may be called symbolic (symbolikê paradosis): “this initiation, so to speak, symbolic of the holy birth of God in us (baptism) […] contains […] no sensible image, but rather reflects the enigmas of a worthy contemplation of God in natural mirrors adapted to human faculties”15.

The four paths of theology

This Dionysian context has made it possible to specify the conditions for a theology that is far more initiatory than speculative; what remains is to present the four modes or paths that can lead, through grace, to the knowledge of God.

Starting with the Scriptures – which is the rule – we see that they speak of God through images: the Rock, the Light, or notions: Good, Being, Life. The former will correspond to a symbolic theology, the latter to a cataphatic (affirmative) theology. From then on, divine transcendence demands that all statements about God be denied: this is apophatic (negative) theology. Finally, beyond all negation (the saying of what God is not), apophatic theology ends in the non-modal mode of mystical theology, the “place” of that which is without place.

These four paths or modes thus appear as “the four degrees of a single ascent of knowledge” (p. 94), of which we shall see that Love is the elevator.

Symbolic theology

Symbolic theology consists in making explicit the theological nature of symbols. Essentially cosmological (by nature), symbols taken from Scripture are offered to the intelligence so that it can “read in these forms a teaching that escapes all form”16, so that she can grasp “in the figure of these realities, the realities without figure” (p. 95): the Rock, the Light, etc., which symbolize (or presentify) God.

If the symbol links a visible to an invisible, it is because it is a “dissimilar likeness”17 and this antinomy is intrinsic to the nature of the symbolic link:

  • the resemblance that statically links the visible to the invisible: this is the analogical nature of the symbol,
  • the dissimilarity that makes us renounce the image and, dynamically, ascend towards the model, that is its anagogic virtue (the act of anagogy being, literally, “the ascent upwards”)

Theology being a path, it was only natural to find a movement in it; here it is vertical, rectilinear and ascending.

Affirmative theology

With affirmative theology, we enter the field of conceptual intelligibility, of discursive reason and therefore of language, necessary for understanding notions or ideas about God. As these are initially used in Scripture and then transmitted by Tradition, this notional theology is fully legitimized and, from then on, it is even the theologian’s duty (p. 102) to comment on and explain all these notions derived from Scripture: Life, Cause, Principle, etc., as well as to explain the meaning of these concepts.

What’s more, his discourse must operate from top to bottom, so that the successive assertions are initially founded as close to God as possible. This descending order is an imitation of the proodos, the procession of divine immanence according to the degrees of Creation: One or Good, Being, Life, Intelligence… This descent, which on the one hand anchors affirmative theology as close to God as possible, on the other hand, as it moves further and further away, means that it tends to be “less and less true, and in a way exhausts its own possibility” (p. 98).

But this “descent” is merely methodological, and has nothing to do with the movement of the soul that accompanies this affirmative theology, distinguishing it from symbolic theology and introducing negative theology as their necessary complement:

  • as already mentioned, the soul’s movement is upward and longitudinal when, seeing God in nature, it ascends from effect to Cause, from figure to Model (symbolic theology);
  • it is helical when the soul moves according to discursive reason (affirmative theology);
  • it is circular when the soul “detaches itself from the multiplicity of external objects” and unifies, in concentration, “its powers of intellection” (negative theology). Only this movement is conducive to eventual “intelligible union” 18 (mystical theology).

Note here the intermediary role of affirmative theology, illustrated by the helical movement that combines rectilinear and circular motion (p. 99, note 215). Similarly, while discursive intelligence (diexodikos is the Dionysian term) plays a role in affirmative theology, intuitive intelligence (noeros) corresponds to negative theology (p. 110).

Finally, if we want to put into words the fundamental contribution of each of the three theologies: symbolic, affirmative and negative, it seems that vision, discourse (rational) and intuition (intellectual) are appropriate.

Negative theology

Negative theology consists in “denying every symbol and every notion applied to That which is beyond every figure and every name” (p. 99). Moreover, far beyond a simple negation that would nullify what has been previously affirmed, negative theology emerges as the anagogy of affirmative theology: the negated concept ceases to simply indicate a mental object to become “the sign of an operation to be performed by the theological intelligence”; conceptual language has been transformed into a metaphysical operator!

Indeed, just as the symbol, by its anagogic virtue, enables the image not to be taken for Reality, so the word (or the notion it designates, or the concept through which the notion is thought) acquires its true utility when the mind becomes aware of the concept’s inadequacy to its Object, when the anagogic intelligence ceases to regard it as a mental thing but realizes the transcendent reality it designates.

Thus, theological intelligence perceives “the model as transcendent to its reflection in thought” (p. 111), and we call anagogic tension (pp.101, 107, 111)19 the awareness of this “tension that reigns between the intellective essence of the notion and the mental mode of its existence, between the transcendent content of what is thought and the act (the concept) that thinks it” (p. 111).

Put another way, negative theology can enable us to “realize the unity of seeing (symbol) and conceiving (notion), of the symbol, vision without intellection, and of the concept, intellection without vision, in intellective vision” (p. 99). This intellective vision, which is a “gnosis by nescience” having renounced all conceptual knowledge, is then a matter for mystical theology.

Mystical theology

From then on, mystical theology differs from negative theology only as the end of the road from the road itself. When the latter has denied all symbols and concepts, mystical theology can appear. When intelligence no longer sees the concept as a mental thing, because it has denied it, because it has closed its eyes, then it can realize the informal and anonymous Reality. Then it makes “the decisive and paradoxical experience of its own limits, and [can] suddenly experience itself as a pure capacity for contemplative adoration” (pp. 10-11).

For such an achievement, of course, requires both knowledge and love. But what kind of love and what kind of knowledge are we talking about?

  • Fundamentally, “anagogical power is the work of Love, and expresses the operation of the Holy Spirit at the heart of the intellect” (p. 110): “Love is but the very movement of theologia, the dynamic power that makes it […] go beyond names and forms. And this erotic power in the created intellect is none other than its participation in the divine Erôs itself, in the Spirit of Love who is God in his Trinitarian ecstasy” (p. 108).
  • The Knowledge in question is also by participation. Saying “God” and denying it as a concept, what remains is intellectual intuition – which “is the very life of the mind” (p. 106) – the seizure of intelligence by a sense, to the exact extent that the intellect becomes one with this intelligible. Metaphysical objectivity, in which the knowing, the known and knowledge are unified, is intrinsic and qualitative, whereas “physical objectivity is extrinsic and relative: it is only the reflection of the previous one, which founds it ontologically” (p. 106). We have then gone beyond any noetic operation (an order of knowledge that implies, even in the case of intellectual intuition, a certain speculativeness) (p. 112), for an ontonesis in which being and knowing are indissociably unified.

If anagogical power is the work of the Spirit in the intellect, this operation is possible because it finds “in the intellect itself, a supra-conceptual capacity that is awakened and actualized by the apophatic task: grace presupposes the nature it perfects” (p. 110). The deepest nature of intelligence is thus pure intuition: not as an intellective act, but as a supernatural nature, a virtual identity between itself and the sense that has grasped it. By transcending the noetic, “it obeys not only the attraction of divine Love, but also its own internal necessity.” This is why the soul’s circular movement symbolizes the conversion of intelligence to itself (p. 110). And this conversion is a permanent necessity.

Negative and mystical theologies thus prove to be “a ‘Passover’ of the intellect” (p. 108), a spiritual path involving death and resurrection: “death to affirmative concepts […] which become signs of their own surpassing; resurrection, because the intellect which has consented […] to its own erasure, to its own crucifixion, is established in a supereminent state of ‘gnosis by nescience'” (pp.108-109).

These two moments – extinctive and unitive – are precisely revealed by Christ’s death and resurrection. The stripping away of all intellectual operations, the renunciation of all determined objects, in order to recognize the only divine Object, is the death of an intellect crucified with Christ, and which, like Him, having renounced all intelligible form of the divine, can only cry out: ‘Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani‘” […] Baptized in the death of Christ, the Paschal intellect rises with Him. […] Baptized in Christ’s death, the paschal intellect rises with Him” (pp.115-116).

For in Christianity, “there can be no other path to gnosis than Jesus Christ Himself, incarnation of the Logos, that is, of the Knowledge that God takes of Himself. […] And this is why, from Origen to Master Eckhart, and among the greatest mystics, knowledge of God, true gnosis, is identified with divine filiation: to know God is to become ‘Son'” (p. 43).

Footnotes

  1. Jean Borella, Lumières de la théologie mystique – LTM – Delphica, L’Age d’Homme, Lausanne, 2002.[]
  2. Saint Denys the Areopagite, Divine Names, 585 B-588 A, p.67. quoted by Jean Borella, op.cit, quoted by Jean Borella, op.cit., p. 87.[]
  3. Descartes, Discourse on Method, I.[]
  4. Leibniz, Theodicy, Discourse… 1.[]
  5. René Roques, L’Univers dionysien, Aubier, 1954, p.v217.[]
  6. Saint Denys the Areopagite, Hierarchy of the Heavens, 120B-121A; trans. Maurice de Gandillac, Œuvres complètes du Pseudo-Denys l’Aréopagite, Bibliothèque Philosophique, 1943, 2e edition 1980, p. 185, quoted by Jean Borella, op.cit., p. 61.[]
  7. Saint Denys the Areopagite, Noms divins, 585 B-588 A, p.67, quoted by Jean Borella, op.cit., p.87.[]
  8. Letter IX, 1105 D ; translation Ysabel de Andia, L’union à Dieu chez Denys l’Aréopagite, Philosophia Antiqua, vol. LXXI, E.J. Brill, Leiden-New York-Köln, 1996 , p. 447, n. 26, quoted by Jean Borella, op.cit., p. 49.[]
  9. According to Diogenes Laërce, Vie et doctrines des philosophes illustres, VII, 41; Pochothèque, 1999, p.817; Jean Borella, op.cit., p.19.[]
  10. Ceslas Pera, “Denys le mystique et la Théomachia”, Revue des Sciences philosophiques et théologiques, Paris, Vrin, 1936, N°1, p.12, quoted by Jean Borella, op.cit., p. 23.[]
  11. Basil of Caesarea, Traité du Saint Esprit, collection Sources Chrétiennes 17, Cerf, Paris, 1947, p. 106, quoted by Jean Borella, op.cit., p. 25.[]
  12. Saint Gregory of Nyssa, De vita Moysis, II, 152.[]
  13. According to Aristotle’s wordplay reported by Synésius of Cyrène, cf. N. Turchi, Fontes Historiae Mysteriorum Aevi Hellenistici, Roma, 1930, no. 83, p. 53 Jean Borella, op.cit., p. 85.[]
  14. Saint Denys the Areopagite, Noms divins, 585 B, p.67; Jean Borella, op.cit., p.87.[]
  15. Saint Denys the Areopagite, Hierarchia ecclesiastica, 397 A-B, p. 256 ; Jean Borella, op.cit., p. 89.[]
  16. René Roques, Introduction à la Hiérarchie céleste, S.C. 58, p. XXI; Jean Borella, op.cit, p.c95.[]
  17. René Roques, L’univers dionysien, op.cit., p. 201, note 2; Jean Borella, op.cit., p. 103.[]
  18. Saint Denys the Areopagite, Divine Names, 705 A-B, pp.102-103; Jean Borella, ibid.[]
  19. See also Jean Borella, La crise du symbolisme religieux, L’Âge d’Homme, pp. 328-329.[]