Common usage and understanding seem to have made a definitive distinction between believers who believe and scientists who know. “To believe” would then come under religion and “to know” under science. But is it really that simple? In particular, why would it then be necessary to add “for sure” after “to know” (“to know for sure”)?

Indeed, could we know something we didn’t believe in all? Likewise, could we believe in something we don’t know anything about? In fact, behind this illusory reciprocal exclusion of belief and knowledge lies a far much more complex combinatorics. In particular, to this cognitive order, which would range from ignorance to knowledge via belief, we need to add the volitional order, i.e. the assent that implies the will.

Of course, what will be at issue here is the unfortunate double meaning of “believe”: opinion and faith, and the relationship between faith and knowledge, faith and gnosis.

Three Words and Three Meanings – Badly Distributed.

If “believe” seems to have two quite distinct meanings: “believe in” (faith) or “believe that” (opinion), we might be surprised at the redundancy between “savoir” (to know) and “connaître” (to cognize)1 even if the power of the word “co-naître”, meaning of “to be born with”, has nothing etymological about it.
In fact, the three words “savoir” (to know), “connaître” (to cognize) and “croire” (believe) are all basic words of popular origin, derived directly from Latin by continuous evolution, and which make up the greater part of the primitive fund.

  • Savoir” (“to know”), from the 9th century onwards, comes from the Latin sapere: “to have flavour”, then “to understand”, with a semantic influence from sapiens (wisdom).
  • At the end of the 11th century, “Connaître” (“to cognize”) was born from the Latin cognoscere, and in the 14th century gave rise to “reconnaître pour vrai” (“to recognize as true”), the Latin recognoscere following the evolution of “connaître” (“to cognize”) into “reconnaître” (“to recognize”).
  • croire” (“to believe”), in the 10th century, comes from the Latin credere, and we know that Credo (“I believe”) is the first word of the Apostles’ Creed (articles of the Christian faith) in Latin, while it also can express an opinion.

So, this etymology tells us little – hence, no doubt, the imprecision of current language – other than to confirm the relative equivalence of “to know” and “to recognize a true”, and the two properly distinguished of “to believe”, according to when one “believes in” (faith) or one “believes that” (opinion).

As much as several expressions exist meaning “to know”, there is one verb that seems to be missing in current usage: “to cognize”. It would remind that knowing (“cognizing”) is a matter of re-cognizing: no way indeed to get to know what is not recognized, what would not, beforehand, makes sense to us. Also, this would ease translations from German, Spanish or French, where two distinguished words are used, even if sometimes as if they were synonyms:

This verb would complete the usual English that already uses several substantives and adjectives from this same Latin root than the French “connaître” or the Spanish “conocer” (cognoscere) and its derivatives: “cognizance”, “cognition”, “cognitive”, “cognizant”, “cognoscenti”, “connoisseur”.

Perhaps, then, a lexicology – drawn from a few key authors – will be useful. As our modern era is entirely marked by the influence of reason, from the initial forms established by Kantian rationalism to recent Derridean deconstructionism, it seems only natural to begin this investigation with Kant

The Kantian ‘Reasonable Faith

Kantian critical discernment consists, in particular, in distinguishing between the subjective: the “holding-true” (Fürwahrhalten) and the objective: the objective conditions of “knowing-true”. Applied to belief, whose three degrees are for him opinion, faith and science, we observe that the first is a belief that knows itself to be both subjectively and objectively insufficient, the second a belief that is subjectively sufficient, but held to be objectively insufficient, and the last, science, a belief that is subjectively and objectively sufficient, with subjective sufficiency defined as conviction (for myself) and objective sufficiency as certainty (for everyone)2.

Yet, if Kant places faith below science in the Critique of Pure Reason, it is above it in the Critique of Practical Reason: reasonable faith, there, is made up of problematic assertions about reality but, at the same time, of theoretically probable and practically necessary beliefs, even if this necessity is here merely moral3.

For all that, this reasonable faith, which must remain “within the bounds of bare reason”4 (and not critical reason – that is, reasonable reason, not reasoning reason), is thus counterposed to reason5 (reasoning reason, this time). Hence the famous statement: “I had to do away with knowledge, in order to find room for faith”6, with which Kant sums up his entire philosophical enterprise.7

In this way, Kantian faith and reason are mutually exclusive. This is because Kantian reason is posited above all else; overhanging everything, it isolates itself by excluding everything else. In particular, Kant inverts the Cartesian confusion8 of reason (dianoia, ratio) and intellect (nous, intellectus)9 – terms that earlier philosophical tradition had almost constantly distinguished – by making reason (Vernunft) the superior faculty of knowledge, and calling understanding (Verstand, intellectus) the inferior cognitive activity that gives conceptual form to sensible knowledge.10.

And this inversion is in fact a negation, the negation of intellectus (intuitive intellect). “Intellectual intuition, in fact, is not ours, and […] we cannot even contemplate the possibility of it.”11 Yet this power of intuitive knowledge (intellectus intuitivus) – with which reason remained endowed in Cartesian confusion12 – is essential; without intellectus, no metaphysics is possible.

If Kant denies intellectual intuition, it’s because he has a very approximate conception of it. He imagines it, on the model of sensible intuition, as having an object in front of us. However, “beyond knowledge by observation, there is room for knowledge by participation”.13 To think of a thing is certainly to construct a concept, but above all it is to be “intellectually seized by a sense, an intelligible, that we ‘recognize’ more than we know it”.14

This distinction between reason and intellect is what Plato had already and for ever established.

The Platonician Degrees of Knowing

Plato distinguishes between opinion (doxa) and science (epistèmè), depending on whether the knowledge relates to things or their reflections, or to Concepts or Ideas. Knowledge by imagination and conjecture (eïkasia), like knowledge by faith in experience (pistis), belongs to opinion, whereas hypothetico-deductive knowledge by discursive reason (dianoia) and intuitive knowledge by dialectical ascent of the intellect (noèsis) belong to “science”.

Above all, these Platonic degrees of knowledge teach us to distinguish between intelligence and reason, between the intellectual intuition of metaphysical knowledge (where the mind becomes what it knows) and the discursive reason of cosmological knowledge (where reasoning is conducted as if from the outside).

If this cosmological knowledge is insufficient, it’s because any conception of the universe can only be a plausible hypothesis (ton eïkota muthon, a plausible myth, says Plato), not because our intelligence is insufficient to understand it, but because it is not entirely given, it is never entirely there. And the link between what is shown (the sensible) and what is hidden (the intelligible or semantic) is the symbol: “an ‘image’ that participates ontologically in its model”,15 whose recognition is the only possible knowledge of the incomplete being that shows itself. And if the universe is full of symbols – the sun, this lion, a mountain – it’s because it is itself entirely iconic, theophanic and vestigial of its Origin-Source.

Of course, this Platonic cosmology is not physics, but “derives, by way of sensible illustration, from that which, in itself, is invisible and transcendent”.16 On the other hand, when Aristotle reduces science to the knowledge of the sensible (physics) and the deduction of its immobile motor (rational theology), he confines all possible knowledge to the field of the rational – that of the intellect’s private reason, in a way – and truncates the universe of its thickness, of its necessarily invisible metaphysical referent to which only the symbol identified as such can lead.17

Aristotle’s science thus falls short of Plato’s. All the more so since the difference between empirical and rational knowledge is smaller than that between rational knowledge and intellectual intuition (cf. Republic).

The Aristotelian epistèmè brings together on a single plane what Plato had so clearly distinguished, because Aristotle no longer conceives what the metaphysical intuition of the Intelligibles really is, and, beyond the Intelligibles, what the superessential and superontological Good is.18

Aristotle certainly inaugurates what all scientific discourse after him will be, and the rigor of this speculative model seems to erase the Platonic distinction between modes of knowledge. But in so doing, he also inaugurates what every rational reduction – every narrow conception of reality – will be after him.

This brief lexicological approach has enabled us to position the question. Kantian “reasonable faith”, defined by the reciprocal exclusion of faith and reason, revealed, on the one hand, a faith reduced to morality (its only practical necessity) and to its own subjectivity (objectively insufficient beliefs) and, on the other, a reason that believes itself to be autonomous, denies intellectual intuition, is reduced to concepts and forgets about knowledge by participation, which alone is capable of founding any other kind of knowledge.

So, the Platonic degrees of knowledge – the highest of which surpassed that of science as definitively founded by Aristotle – confirmed the intimacy between intellect and intelligibles, without which no concept could even make sense.

As science has already been mentioned, before returning to faith, knowledge and their relationship, it seems useful to recall that all sciences, including science itself, proceeds from a belief.

Scientific Proof is Formally a Belief

In very general terms, let’s remember that science, in its constructive mode, necessarily proceeds from a belief in determinism. This may be formulated as the “principle of sufficient reason” or “belief in continuity” in the case of Poincaré,19 or “determining reason” in the case of Leibniz,20 or “deterministic hypotheses” in the case of Ernst Mach.21

But it is above all the analysis of scientific proof that shows how two beliefs are necessary for it. Indeed, “a proposition will be proved if, after having been established by a recognized method, it is the object of a belief”.22 We thus have four elements :

  • a semantic-formal element: the statement to be proved,
  • an objective device for testing the statement,
  • the recipient’s subjective belief in the efficacy of the proof,
  • and the intersubjective recognition of the validity of the proof procedures, which constitutes yet another belief.

The fundamental issue is the confrontation between the two fundamentally separate domains of statement – which belongs to the realm of language – and fact – which belongs to the realm of things.

Using a metalanguage, Alfred Tarski attempts to resolve this question by defining a theory of correspondence between a proposition in a language such as “the apple is green” and a rule from a metalanguage stating that “is true” will apply to “the apple is green” if it is indeed green. Once this has been demonstrated, “correspondence” allows us to reduce the truth of a proposition to its simple assertion. However, the result is an intralinguistic explanation that presupposes, even obscures, the possible agreement between the proposition and the fact; we’re back where we started.

The temptation to appeal to a third term, such as the categories of understanding (cf. Kant), makes it possible to posit a priori a correspondence between the given (the thing characterized), knowledge (the received) and language (the formulated expression of the received). But the result is also a mental construct that is disconnected from the fact, since the correspondence is given a priori (and therefore easily found later), but not demonstrated and not certain.

Another approach is to note that scientific propositions, which vary over time, are validated more by their consistency with other “established” propositions, than by their consistency with facts. From this point of view, experiments verify systems and not particular hypotheses (cf. Pierre Duhem), but we quickly arrive at coherent but conventional systems that fall apart when a subsequent discovery is sufficiently convincing (cf. Otto Neurath).

What’s more, the idea of reducing any scientific proposition to trivial elements shared by any “normal” person, such as the identification of a color (“the apple is green”) doesn’t work either. Indeed, observations and their interpretations are often too complex, and the experiments themselves are often already too abstract and borrowed from the conceptual context that gave rise to them. The measuring instrument itself is theoretical when it is the fruit of a theory (cf. Alexandre Koyré). Not to mention experiments that are not duplicated because of the exorbitant costs involved, whereas the elementary rule of experimental proof is: testis unus, testis nullus (a single experiment is a null experiment).

Ultimately, it is this problematic of proof – the formal disjunction between the world of words and the world of things – that gives science its fundamentally uncertain character with a probable tendency. From this point of view, science appears as an indefinite rational outgrowth on a metaphysical substratum, where belief – repetition of the same facts or coherence of the descriptive system – formally appears as a substitute for proof.

We could leave the final word on this rationally irreducible disjunction between statements and facts, words and things, to Einstein: “Insofar as the propositions of mathematics relate to reality, they are not certain, and insofar as they are certain, they do not relate to reality”.23 But, as this question has been dealt with, “from time immemorial”, by Platonic philosophy, it’s impossible not to question it here.

Plato’s Response to Sophistic Relativism

When, in the 5th century BC, the sophists became aware of the autonomy of logos (thought and speech) – master of being and non-being, fabricator of truth and falsehood – they rendered obsolete the previous regime of thought – of the “poetic-prophetic” type – and, with it, human thought found itself “stripped of its vocation to know invisible realities and to discern truth from falsehood.”24

Before the arrival of the sophists, this regime of the mind, emblematically represented by Parmenides, reigned, where thought was almost never expressed in an abstract, rational, conceptual way, but rather with the help of images or myths; in short, the reign of symbolic thought, a direct and permanent link to Being, given as perceived and not signified by concept.

This tradition was interrupted by the emergence of sophists such as Protagoras and Gorgias, who travelled the length and breadth of Greece plying their trade with the spoken word. Metaphysically, it seems to be “a question of a ‘subversion’ of speech, of logos (indissociably reason and discourse), which, from being a means, becomes an end in itself, intoxicating itself with indefinite power… Speech, once a prophecy of Being, becomes a source of profit: speech for sale to the highest bidder. Their ontological moorings are severed, and they can float ‘freely’ on the sea of human passions and lusts: the word no longer carries any weight”.25

From then on, human intelligence ceases to be actively turned towards the light of divine Reality, refusing to be merely receptive to the illuminating act, in humility and self-forgetfulness. As a result, it loses the intelligence of God’s cosmic reflections, and can no longer speak the symbolic language of things.

At the same time, it discovers its own power as a universal instrument. The intellect is both vision and relation, relation being at the service of vision or its discursive consequence; intelligence is therefore both a reading of the meaning of things and therefore a sense of being, but also a link and a distinction. It distinguishes the real from the illusory according to the original vision of Being, and links one reality to another by virtue of the perception of the common essence in which each participates. Renouncing the contemplative receptivity that constitutes it, it nonetheless retains its analytical power to distinguish and link. From then on, it becomes the (illusory) master of the universe, “of knowledge, and therefore of truth and falsehood: truth is no longer a function of being, but of the discourse that fabricates being and non-being. Such is the logos-demiurge of sophistry.

It is against this sophistic demiurgy that “the mysterious figure of Socrates stands up” and the Platonic work of his rectification. As sophistry has opened a breach in the order of contemplative intellectuality, it has definitively actualized the possibility of human thought as a purely rational instrument, and Plato must now take this analytical and dianoetic dimension into account. His “saving operation is dialectic, of which dialogue is the practical realization”. Faced with the “perpetual movement of logos”, the “manifestation of the indefinite activity of the ‘mental mill'”, dialectics proves to be a method (from meta: “trans-” and hodos: “way” hence “direction leading to the goal”) to “exhaust the energy of the sophistical logos by going to the end of its movement” (it’s the crossing) and lead to “spiritual realization”, to “awareness of the reality of Spirit”, to “non-discursive intellection: the operation of the logos by which and in which it becomes aware of its own transcendent nature”. “Only the dialectical method has this character, that, jostling hypotheses, it follows its way, by this means, to the Principle itself in order to establish itself in Him in a solid way; and the eye of the soul, truly buried in I know not what barbarous quagmire, it gently pulls it up and brings it up.”26

« In this sense, Platonism is the truth of sophistry. »27

But dialectics is also a remedy against the risk run by poetic-prophetic thought, “so absorbed is it by its transcendent object, of confusing what the logos thinks, the mental form by which it thinks it, and the symbol, linguistic or figurative, that expresses it”. Indeed, the discourse that expresses being, and therefore the true exclusively, inevitably tends to forget itself as discourse; it becomes transparent to itself. This is the paradox of logos (discourse and thought): it remains ordered to being only if it remains other than the being it aims at. To forget that logos is not being is to confuse irreducible reality with the “place” where it is revealed.

If logos is purely adherent to being, condemned to being able to speak only the truth, then the possibility of error and falsehood is no longer accounted for. Yet truth implies the distinction between logos and being, since it qualifies the relation of the former to the latter.

This weakness of the poetic-prophetic regime, this identity of logos and being, is characteristic of Parmenides: “Being and thinking are the same thing”. Above all, if the thought of non-being is the non-being of thought, i.e. if it is not possible to think non-being, because to think of what is not is not to think, then it becomes impossible even to think that it is impossible to think non-being.

Did the sophist raise the question of the value of the operations of the logos? It doesn’t seem so, and it’s clear that the logic invented by Aristotle provides the organon (instrument) for the answer.

Did the sophist question the ontological status of logos? It doesn’t seem so, either, for he said above all and only what it was not: “We reveal to them only a discourse that is other than substances”. Sophistic discourse does not oppose being to appearing; it is pure appearance, a staged illusion.

Thus, the sophistic attitude, more than just another philosophical doctrine, is the “temptation proper to intelligence insofar as it is a thinking”; and it is this sophistic possibility as such that Plato combats, hence “the anonymity of the dialogue entitled The Sophist, which mentions no names.”28

The Platonic solution “consists fundamentally in an ontological revolution: since it is the Parmenidean conception of being (being absolutely excludes non-being: it is one, immobile, eternal, spherical and full, and logos is identical to it) that leads Gorgias to his aporias, we must […] accomplish Parmenides’ ‘parricide'”. Parricide, because Parmenides is “our father” who gave birth to philosophy as knowledge of what truly is, but parricide, too, because the doctrine of being he taught us “does not allow us to ‘think the sophist'”, “to identify him ‘logically’.”

We must therefore “break with this monolithic being” and admit that “non-being is, in a certain respect, and that being in turn, in some way, is not” (ibidem). because “being is power”, “capacity for relation”. This is not the ultimate definition of being (which inevitably slips away), but it does teach us that we can only locate being as both the idea of the identity of its own affirmation and that of what enters into relation with what is not it: the idea of otherness. A being is both what it is (a man, for example) and what it is not (a man is not a cat, for example), in such a way that it never has a complete definition and, above all, that being and non-being are not opposites but simply other: “When we state non-being, it does not seem to be stating something contrary to being, but only something other (ibid., 257b). Identity and otherness are inseparable: “Being and other penetrate each other across all genres, and mutually compenetrate each other”.(ibid., 259a)

Thus, instead of rejecting the sophist’s game of demolition, dialectics shows that this game is only possible because there is play in being itself, that there is otherness at the heart of identity, and vice versa. This is “a veritable metaphysical mutation”: Parmenides rejected non-being; the sophist, in the name of logos, rejected both being and non-being; the true philosopher rejects nothing. In so doing, “it is not only being that is reintegrated into […philosophical] discourse, but it is also logos that is reintegrated into being, insofar as it is that otherness of being that does not leave being nevertheless .”29

The being of logos is truly taken into account in this metaphysical doctrine of being-non-being, to which “captured sophistry” has given access; discourse becomes this “genre of being” (ibid., 260a) where beings enter into “mutual relation”; to deprive us of such discourse “would be first, supreme loss, to deprive us of philosophy” (ibid., 259e-260a).

Philosophy is true discourse whose ontological possibility is based solely on the metaphysics of being-non-being. By capturing the sophist, we find the philosopher because “philosophy is nothing but the sophistic temptation perpetually overcome”.30

The sophistic contradiction is now brought to light: if speech would allow the creation of the true or the false, according to one’s pleasure, there would no longer be either true or false. The effectiveness of sophistic speech does not reside in speech as such but in the ideas of true and false to which those to whom it is addressed continue to adhere and, in the final analysis, in the sole power of truth over our intelligence. Thus, it implicitly recognizes the immutable value of the true which it explicitly denies. This is Plato’s “metaphysical faith” in the ontological capacity of human intelligence. No word, even the most misleading, can be situated totally outside of being and of truth. “Only the truth has ‘ultimate’ rights […], because it is present in all that is”. “Illusion can indeed veil the being, the very veil, with which it hides it, would be invisible if it were not traversed by its light”.31

The Ontological Capacity of Human Intelligence

“If, as Kant argues, intellectual intuition ‘were not ours’, the illusion of direct and living access to essence could not even arise.” If there is an illusion, it cannot be in perception, but only in the conviction that our being is up to our vision.32

Any intelligence, in the act by which it conceives what the essence of a thing is, goes through a semantic experience, an experience of meaning or of the intelligible, failing which it could not form its concept. The concept is not purely and simply abstracted from the thing, it must first of all make sense, constitute an intelligible unit, the intelligence recognizes it because it makes sense in it. There is no other “criterion of truth” than this recognition, this acquiescence of intelligence, its experience in accordance with its own intellectual nature.

This moment when intelligence passes from potency to act, cannot be acquired, nor taught, nor demonstrated; it is intuitive, direct, ungenerable. At first glance, we can say that only the non-contradictory is intelligible (we will not understand a square-circle), but it is ultimately only the extrinsic condition of intellection. The act of intellection itself is the grasping of the essence in its ‘suchness’, in its own nature, its content as such; it is then an intuitive and synthetic act of contemplation, of the revelation of essence as meaning, of suchness as meaning. This is intrinsic intelligibility: what ‘makes sense’ for intelligence, what awakens in it a ‘semantic echo’, what ‘says something to it’, what ‘speaks to it’.

We designate by active intellect, this act of the intellective nature as such, which illumines intelligibly, the things that the passive intellect receives. And when the passive intellect sleeps, in the sleep of “ignorance of all things, the active intellect watches, solitary, in the pure light of the Logos”.33

This semantic experience of suchness is so radical and so original that it escapes our notice. And yet, it is it that allows us to semantically welcome all the forms of which we had no idea a priori, which we were unable to imagine, and which are revealed to us by sensory experience. It is it that gives us the rose as ‘rose’ and, “although we cannot call the rose anything other than ‘rose’, our experience of it is perfectly distinct and recognizable in its unspeakable and obscure identity.34

“Obscurity”, because what is given to intelligence is not the very being of essence but essence as meaning. Because if the ‘semantic presence’ of the essence comes into intelligence, its reality is only in God. “For now we see in a mirror, darkly,” says St. Paul (1 Cor. 13:12).

This experience is the common act of the one who receives the meaning (intelligence) and the intrinsic intelligibility (the rose), union of subject and object, but a semantic union only and not an ontological one. For “it is not essence, which is outside of existence, it is existence which is outside of essence, and which is this very ‘outside’ (ex-sistere = stays out of). This is why, if the first is immediately present to the second, the second, when it comes to man, is present to the first (first noetically, then really) only by means of a mediation and a revealed mediation, that is to say a form in which the essence has become existence so that existence rediscovers its essence: ‘”No one comes to the Father except through me’” (Joa. 14:6)”.35

Faith: Intelligence, Will and Receptivity

The three essential components of faith are its objective content, its subjective mode and the very being who receives it36:

  • The objective content of the faith are the sacred mysteries reminded by the dogmas; it appeals to intelligence.
  • Subjective faith appeals to the will but cannot do without the objective content of faith, because, just as intelligence cannot understand what no will would indicate to it, the best will shall never provide what no intelligence would understand.37
  • And the Christian being himself, or the person himself, for whom the adhesion of the intelligence and the movement of a free will is based, upstream, on the very receptivity of the spiritual or personal being to the supernatural grace of faith.

This third element is fundamental and, to a certain extent, governs the first two. Indeed, in light of the modernist crisis:

  • In a human nature closed in on itself, grace can no longer penetrate. Subjective faith is reduced “to the feeling of faith and feeds psychically on its own affirmation” to the detriment of the “intellectual intuition of the supernatural”;
  • Collectively, faith reduced to the love of humanity, “ideologically feeds on the spectacle of its own goodness”;
  • The disappearance of the objective benchmarks of faith in dogma, Scripture and the liturgy makes the Christian himself a stranger to the objective world of faith;
  • The capacity for the supernatural is actualized only by Revelation. Nature is not able by itself to have access to the supernatural, just as the eye does not produce the light by which its capacity to see is revealed. To realize this ability is to perform a free act of obedience. By refusing it, the Christian becomes estranged from his own theomorphic nature: his essence as the image of God which, in particular, is expressed in his will to believe. (Le sens du surnaturel, pp. 85-92.)

Why don’t we then go straight to radical atheism? It is certainly not the denied metaphysical difficulty that can stop “modernism”; there therefore remains the psychological and historical order, that is to say the human order, from which he does not know how to evacuate religion, such an important and persistent part of human life; so close therefore to the Kantian God: a simple “postulate of practical reason”.

In Protestantism, the content of faith is faith itself: “Faith in doctrine has become the doctrine of faith. With modernism, “the loss of the sense of the supernatural renders meaningless” all doctrinal affirmations which “have, strictly speaking, no conceivable object”. But, moreover, the subjective process of the believing will “is itself stripped of the doctrinal value attributed to it by Luther, its only supernatural significance. Human nature becoming radically foreign to the supernatural, the subjective act of the will of faith also. Faith is no longer anything other than human behavior, the history of this behavior, a purely and strictly historical reality.

It is thus in this fundamental “theological place” of modernism that “all the affirmations of contemporary exegesis and pseudo-theology are born: the Gospels record in writing the first religious construction of the Christian conscience […] and the dogmatic declarations which followed […] are engendered by continuity or by reaction according to variations in religious consciousness (ibid., pp. 94-95).

“Religious agnosticism and the relativism of knowledge are inseparable” (p. 96); this means that, for modernism, there is no more “speculative statement [which] can have [any] ontological significance than there is a religious speculative statement [which] can have an objective meaning for a relative and historical being” (p. 97).

The Küng or the Drewermann illustrate this modern refusal of an ontological significance to dogmas reduced to “historical truth, as a momentary expression of religious consciousness” (p. 98). These ‘theologians’ also cause divine grace to disappear; God no longer intervenes; He is no longer here. That is simply because, having suppressed the being-Christian, they suppress the “being-in-God, from down here and from now on.” Their project, openly announced, is “to substitute humanization for the deification of man. Yet man, limited to man, is already dead: “Behold, the blind have risen to demonstrate to the last seers that light does not exist” (p. 101).

To say that the objective and subjective aspects of faith must necessarily coexist is to say, especially, that faith does not replace dogma. In other words, theology and mysticism necessarily complement each other. If the mystical experience is a personal enhancement of the content of the common faith, theology is an expression, for the benefit of all, of what can be experienced by each one. Apart from the truth kept by the whole of the Church, personal experience would be deprived of all certainty, of all objectivity; it would be a mixture of true and false, of reality and illusion, of mysticism (in its pejorative sense).

On the other hand, the teaching of the Church would have no hold on souls if it did not express in some way an intimate experience of the truth given, in a different measure, to each of the faithful. There is therefore no Christian mysticism without theology, nor theology without mysticism.38

This is why “the Eastern tradition has never clearly distinguished between mysticism and theology, between the personal experience of the divine mysteries and the dogma confessed by the Church. It has never known either divorce between theology and spirituality, or devotio moderna. If the mystical experience lives the content of the common faith, theology orders it and systematizes it. Thus, the life of every believer is structured by the dogmatic element of the liturgy and the doctrine relates the intimate experience of the Truth revealed and offered to all. Theology is mystical and the mystical life is theological, this is the summit of theology, theology par excellence, contemplation of the Trinity”.39

“If you are a theologian, you will really pray, and if you really pray, you are a theologian”, said St. Evagrius Ponticus

St. Evagrius Ponticus40.

With theologal virtues, faith is hope and charity, and vice versa41. Indeed, if ‘theologal’ relates to God, ‘virtue’ relates first to man, and “the characteristic of theological virtues is to teach the human substance to conform to its divine finality”. But virtue itself, which is, in its essential reality, a divine quality, is therefore already a grace in which creatures participate. The theologal virtues are thus existential in their human reality and essential in their divine reality. Moreover, having a common essence, each virtue must be found in the two others, their reciprocal immanence making only one in three aspects; what the analysis of faith shows:

“Insofar as faith is the first of the virtues [because founding], it has a maximum ‘essential polarity’ and a minimum ‘existential polarity’. It constitutes the minimum required on the part of man in response to the divine Initiative, which is Word and therefore announcement of the Truth. As it is announcement, man must hear it, as it is Truth, man must believe it. What hears is intelligence; what makes it possible to adhere to the content of what the intelligence receives is the will. If man were pure intelligence, which means: if man’s being were made of pure intelligence, his intellection would also be his being and the reception of the Word would be instantly deifying. But man is not made of pure intelligence, and virtue, supernatural in its essence, requires an effort of human nature.”

Thus, faith, the prototype of theologal virtue, highlights these three aspects of all virtue: a human existence, a divine essence and an effort or a tension of existence towards the essence. And the triad of theologal virtues is found in this prototypical virtue:

  • “faith corresponds more directly to the divine essence, because it is wholly determined and absorbed by its objective content, the Word of God;
  • hope corresponds to […this] tension […] of existence towards essence;
  • [and] charity […] to human existence insofar as it gives itself, that is to say insofar as it accepts to be determined by its relationship to God”.

In fact, faith is the transparency of intelligence. Indeed, the fact that the essence pole predominates in faith “means that our adherence is somehow absorbed by the content of Truth to which it adheres; failing which, [this] content […] is crushed under the weight of volitional adhesion and faith becomes blind, that is to say pure formal affirmation, devoid of this content of Truth which only [can] determine it and accomplish it. To adhere to the divine Word is therefore to step aside, to be silent, to be silent in oneself and of oneself. Faith demands this transparency.

Now, this transparency belongs specifically to intelligence, since intelligence is the only modality of the human being whose nature matches the light of Truth. From then on, we understand that the corruption of faith can only come from a clouding of the intelligence, and not from a failure of the will. Conversely, the intelligence “can never understand what [that the will would not adhere to] in any way”, nor moreover the will, to be willing what is absolutely ignored. In any case, thanks to this transparency of intelligence, it is not “the human subject who absorbs the divine Object, [but indeed] the divine Object, considered as Truth, which penetrates and absorbs the human subject”.42

Intelligence is Supernatural by Nature

To think that there is an entirely natural and perfectly autonomous (therefore self-sufficient) reason in its order derives from the adoption of a schematized Aristotelianism then reduced to its fundamentally naturalistic tendency43. “On the contrary, Dionysius teaches, with Plato, the heteronomy and the incompleteness of reason (there is no pure nature) and its natural requirement for a supernatural accomplishment of an intellective order and even supra-intellective or supra-noetic, if you will”.44

In addition to its incompleteness, there is a conscious need for a transcendent illumination capable of transforming this reason into spiritual intelligence, and thereby truly changing it. To do this, it requires a spiritual and almost supernatural capacity to receive Gnostic illumination and to be deified by it.

From this perspective, intelligence is supernatural in nature; “it is of metaphysical essence: just as ‘in St. Thomas, all the divine mystery already is present in the very nature of the intellect45; similarly, for Dionysius and the Platonists, the intellect (nous) is already something divine (theios)46.”47

The mind is the cognitive modality of the psyche. The mirror seems to be a good descriptive image of this as the specific nature of this knowledge seems to be its indirect character: the mind “reflects” what it knows. He does not penetrate the object in its own essence, but it is the object which ‘penetrates’ into him, as an abstraction. Of course, what is known is indeed the object, not the abstraction, “but this object is known by mode of abstraction […]; the mind is the ‘medium of refraction’ through which the object passes to be known” (La charité profane [Love and Truth…, op.cit.] pp. 121-122).

This knowledge by ‘mental impression’ – indirect or reflected – “thus introduces between man and the world what Ruyer calls a ‘psychic distance’48 (ibid., p. 122)

Consequently, the conceptible (the conceptible is to reason what the intelligible is to intelligence) therefore exists not only in things but also, in a way, ‘in itself’, since human knowledge actualizes, in a separate state, the ‘intelligible’ modality of things. Especially since, and this is what distinguishes man from animals, it is not so much a question of ‘thinking or expressing something’ as of thinking about something or talking about something. As it is therefore an ‘absent’, “we see that mental knowledge involves not only conceptual thought, but also memory and imagination, a function of absence in time and in time” (ibid.).

“Mental cognition does not merely receive and elaborate ‘impressions’. It organizes them together by linking them according to determined relationships that impose themselves on the mind like rules. All of these rules constitute the proper architecture of the mind: this is the reason. […] In this activity, the mind remains, if not passive, at least submissive. Indeed, and this is a very important point, the rational structure of the mind appears, in the mind itself, as an ‘alien’ presence which the mind cannot account for. The mind is thus situated between two requirements:

  • the object, of course, towards which he turns: the interior or exterior world which imposes itself on him,
  • but also, its own internal structure, the reason: the coherent set of logical principles that govern all human knowledge.

And these two “requirements which impose themselves on him with equal authority” are indeed two objectivities: that of things (even the psyche) and that of logical relations. Hence this double obedience of the mind, its “submission to logical principles as well as to the nature of things” (ibid., p. 123).

This mental knowledge, subject to reason as well as to its ‘impressions’, therefore goes “from the order of the world to reason and from the order of reason to the world. At their meeting is the concept: the means, the mediation of this knowledge, which will therefore be called discursive (discursion being a race subject to duality, to division). In fact, it is not this knowledge, which is in itself discursive, but its process of perpetual confrontation between the demands of things and those of reason, because knowledge itself is nothing but pure intuition, ‘vision’ (or hearing), direct and unitive perception of its object.

“That there is only knowledge being intuitive is obvious, not the conclusion of reasoning. […] It is primary, irreducible; it cannot be generated. The process of acquiring knowledge (and that of establishing its validity) is not intuitive: to discover what it does not know, the mind proceeds discursively, by inquiry, reasoning, deduction. But the proper act of knowledge “can only be direct reception of the intelligible given”; the cognitive act as such is that “by which a known object unites directly with a knowing subject, in a kind of reciprocal transparency which is the very experience of the intelligible” (ibid., p. 124).

This distinction between reason (dianoia, ratio) and intellect (nous, intellectus) is not, however, a “total separation, since the ratio is the broken and fragmentary light of the intellect. But they cannot be confused, no more is it possible to deny one or the other of these modes of cognitive activity.”

Let us conclude on the paradox of the intellect. He “can only receive in him the knowledge of all things because he is none of the things he knows […] He well deserves the name of speculative intellect because he is a mirror (speculum in Latin) that reflects the world. The price it must pay for its lucidity is a kind of distancing from the real, thanks to which, moreover, the real as such is revealed to man, but by which man is also placed at the deviation from being, in its very being. Knowledge is indeed the intelligible communion of the knower and the known, but it is in a way a communion at a distance. Everything happens, in cognitive activity, as if man had kept the memory of an ontological communion between himself and the world, but that he can no longer realize (by his natural forces alone) except in speculative mode. Knowledge is this very possibility, this ultimate possibility, this memory of the lost Paradise. It is an anticipated fusion of subject and object, but it only anticipates it because it does not realize it” (ibid., p.131). Sauf véritable « pneumatisation de l’intellect », l’intellect n’est que l’aspect cognitif de l’esprit et, même s’il lui est donc essentiellement identique, l’expérience ordinaire n’est jamais que celle de l’intellect seulement. Cette « pneumatisation de l’intellect », qui permet l’identité de l’intellectus et du spiritus (tel que Maître Eckhart par exemple la montre), est précisément l’objet de la dernière partie de La charité profanée.))

The ‘principles of reason’ (such as the first of them: the principle of non-contradiction) are evidence that is only revealed from their forgetting or the consequences that their negation would entail. They are not demonstrable—they would no longer be principles—but constitute an internal requirement of reason, a requirement to which reason acquiesces “by a true intellectual intuition, the necessity of which is properly ‘irrefutable’.” These principles are therefore “meta-logical, or meta-rational, in the sense that logic and reason designate the order of a purely discursive knowledge, that is to say purely mediate (and therefore demonstrative). They can therefore only be grasped, in their true meta-logical nature, by the philosophy which transcends logic (without contradicting it). So :

  • “Logic is nothing other than the set of intellectual operations by which the human mind subordinates itself to principles in its cognitive activity.”
  • “Philosophy is not subordinated to principles, […] they are reflected in it and are connatural to it; […] intelligence knows them implicitly by knowing itself.”

This is why “one cannot consider these natural structures of intelligence in a Kantian way, as if they were conditioning the intelligence a priori. On the contrary, they are perfectly transparent to him, they are the intelligence itself, they are the Logos.” For what belongs to the order of intelligence is necessarily meaning, Logos. Intelligence cannot speak of unintelligible principles, which it would obey without understanding them, nor judge that the understanding it would have of them would be purely illusory.

“The principles are therefore indeed the reflection of the structures of the intellect in objective knowledge, we agree, but these principles also are those of the Logos per se, necessary and purely intelligible, because this is the only proposition that the Intelligence can intelligibly hold – which implies that there cannot be an essential heterogeneity between our intelligence and the Logos (ibid., pp. 281-283).

Doctrinal Gnosis, Faith and Integral Gnosis

“Man is, in essence, a primarily intellectual being, a being primarily of knowledge, even of the humblest sensible knowledge; however loud and strong desire speaks within it, it speaks to someone who listens to it and recognizes it and for whom it makes sense or who repudiates it. Man is never a desiring machine. But neither is he a believing machine, a “religious automaton” who would receive in his pure exteriority a revelation and a salvation radically heterogeneous to his nature” (Jean Borella, La gnose au vrai nom)49

The reception of revelation—supernatural—in the intelligence of the believer requires that it has a natural capacity for intelligibility. “In understanding revelation, it is also itself that intelligence understands […] and if this self-understanding is not an idealist reduction of what is revealed to the a priori conditions of knowledge of the human subject, it is because these intelligible forms are naturally ordered to metaphysical and supernatural realities (ibid.).

Here is the ‘gnostic moment’ of the act of faith: this intellective receptivity appropriate to revelation is taught and communicated through language; it is therefore an act of knowledge which is, moreover, necessarily a speculative one. But, therefore, it is impossible to substitute the word ‘gnosis’ for the word ‘faith’. However, it is not a question of a simple exercise of natural reason but “the actualization of these theomorphic possibilities that the creation of man “in the image of God” implies, […] intrinsically sacred intellectuality […made] of these spermatikoi logoi, of these Forms of the divine Word inseminated in all intelligence (“the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world”, Joa., 1:9), and therefore a kind of interior and congenital ‘revelation’, by immanence in the soul of these intellective icons that are metaphysical Ideas” (ibid.).

This doctrinal gnosis rests on the awareness of the sanctity of metaphysical and theological intellectuality. As intellectuality, it is only the natural act of an intelligence working according to its own requirements; “as sacred, it grasps its own contents as a grace of the Word radiating within it”. This is why above all, this doctrinal gnosis—ordered to the reception of revelation: a true metaphysics of reception—is not the whole of gnosis; “The Gnostic premises of the act of faith take on their full meaning only in faith itself”.

A scriptural basis for this doctrine and, more generally, for the order required for the performance of the act of faith is found in the Prologue of the Gospel of Saint John, very precisely by the order of its enunciation. First is taught the metaphysical science necessary for the revelation to make sense for the intelligence: the divine Word is the eternal Gnosis of the Father, and it is this Word which communicates to each human intelligence its capacity for cognitive illumination. Then only: he reveals that the Word “came unto his own, that He “was made flesh”, that He “dwelt among us”, etc.

“When, thanks to the light of gnosis, we see the Light-made-flesh” […], the initial and initiating light is erased in its very transparency, the presence of the divine Object blinds all other knowledge, and the gnostic consciousness must, in a way, renounce itself”. By renouncing itself, gnosis, in a certain way, enters into the darkness of faith: what was light (of knowledge) becomes darkness (of faith). But it is only by this renunciation that it can transform itself in its very nature, that it can convert itself to its Object. This is what “philosophism refuses, from Hegel to Heidegger, namely, the absorption of knowledge into its own transcendent content” (Ibid.).

The severed head of the Forerunner (St. John the Baptist) realizes the truth of ‘partial gnosis,’ that which St. Paul tells us is ours now (1 Cor. 13:12); “By losing its ‘head’, the Johannine gnosis enters the mystery of infinite ignorance. The created being, he-who-is-not-God, identifies himself with his own ontological ignorance”.

“This consumption of partial gnosis which becomes unknowing conditions the realization of integral gnosis. This, as St. Paul teaches (1 Cor. 13:13), consists in knowing as we will be known”. Thus, not only is the analogical reciprocity of divine and human gnosis postulated, but, fundamentally, their essential identity. “When the intellect is stripped of all special knowledge, immersed in infinite ignorance, it attains a state of perfect nakedness and pure transparency. Having thus become what he is at the bottom, nothing in him can oppose his entire investment by divine Gnosis. God knows Himself in this intellect and as this intellect, which thus becomes one with the Immaculate Conception that God has of Himself. This is why of this mystery of the supreme gnosis, only Mary is the key” (Ibid.).

Gnosis and Theology

Gnosis, or mystical theology (in Christian language), is therefore sacred knowledge, according to its object, which is the divine Essence, and according to its mode, which is participation in the knowledge that God has of Himself. Such participation, which pertains more to being than to knowing, is an actualization which is necessarily the work of the Holy Spirit. This actualization is the internal foundation of holy theology, just as Revelation is its external foundation. On this double foundation, speculative theology is the mental objectification of mystical theology, the imperfect expression of perfect contemplation. And it is this imperfection of speculative theology which will call for its own overcoming, which will invite reason to submit to spiritual intelligence and which will allow access, by grace, to gnosis. And this gnosis is the Kingdom of God, according to the correspondence between “the key of gnosis” (Luke 11:52) and “the key of the Kingdom of God” (Matt. 23:13) which establishes in the Scriptures this identity of gnosis and the Kingdom of God.50

This is why theology cannot be the work of pure rational reason (in the sense that an atheist could be theologian) but must be mystical. Mystical, not in that the theologian must tend to mystical states, but in the sense that he keeps in mind that the light of intelligence is “quasi derived from God” (St. Thomas Aquinas), according to this doctrine of knowledge in the light of the Word which forms the basis of Augustinian and Dionysian theology. “Awareness of the quasi-divine nature of human intellection actualized under the light that radiates from the object of faith, which is itself an objective concretion of the Word, […prevents theological intelligence] from falling into the traps of its formulations. In the very act of knowing, such an intelligence already rightly tastes something of the Holy Spirit. And that is gnosis”.51

Gnosis, from Science to Love

As such, true gnosis is not a science but a nescience, because in this supreme gnosis, it is God who knows Himself, as soon as intelligence is completely stripped of itself. Only ignorance can lead to over-knowledge: “if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know” (1 Cor. 8:2). And the power which alone can realize this necessary renunciation, it is the charitable power which makes that “Charity is the door of gnosis” (St. Evagrius Ponticus) 52

According to the will of Christ, it is a question of becoming one as the Father and the Son are One, and Love is the unification which precedes Unity; because love is the substance of gnosis, and gnosis the essence of love. The gnostic dimension of Charity allows the radical disinterestedness of pure love and gnosis is centered on the Truth, the only one that delivers. “Gnosis is the vertical, immutable and invisible axis that the dance of love envelops like a flame”.

Thus, prayer is the only activity which conforms the dignity of the intelligence, and which is the act by which the intellect realizes its deiform nature. Prayer is therefore gnosis; “it is the intellect which prays within knowledge and which knows within prayer” (St. Evagrius Ponticus, Centuries IV, 43) ; knowledge is the prayer of the intellect. Prayer and gnosis est la prière de l’intellect. Prière et gnose are thus the two uprights of Jacob’s ladder which meet in the infinity of God.

If there are steps on this spiritual ladder, they are those of stripping down: desires of the body, passions of the soul, thoughts of the mind. Thus, the virtues of the body (somatic) can lead by grace to the virtues of the soul (psychic), the virtues of the soul to the spiritual virtues (pneumatic) and the spiritual virtues to essential gnosis.

Love and Gnosis are the origin and the end of the journey. Having reached Christ, eternal Gnosis of the Father, through charity, one participates in His Outpouring of Love, which is the Holy Spirit. The intellect, unified by charity, “is raised to an infinite dignity, a dignity which it possesses by virtue of its intellectual nature”. And “the naked intellect is that which is consummated in the vision of itself and which has deserved to commune in the contemplation of the Holy Trinity”.53

Only “the nudity of the intellect, or infinite ignorance (St. Evagrius), or the cloud of unknowing (St. Dionysius) represents the non-modal mode under which the creature can become immanent in divine transcendence”. And “this non-modal mode is the highest degree of charity”. And “as long as the intellect is not God, its light is not the true Light”. He must realize his own non-divine substance, that is, his ontological ignorance. “The Blessed Virgin knew this secret, She who was the pure darkness where the Light of the World took flesh” (Love and Truth…).


Rational knowledge and intellectual cognizance

This survey has shown us how rational knowledge can only be a plausible hypothesis and formally, in the same way as scientific proof, is a belief. In a world that is not entirely there, the symbol only makes the link between what is shown (the sensitive) and what is hidden (the intelligible or the semantic). Recognizing this ‘image’, which ontologically participates in its Model, makes the only possible knowledge of the incomplete being which shows itself.

Moreover, reversing the Kantian inversion which places reason above the intellect, makes it possible to realize the purely intellectual nature of this only true cognizance (by participation): identity (noetic, non-ontological) of intelligence and the intelligible or the semantic. Such experience of meaning which goes unnoticed but allows, downstream, that concepts take shape in reason. It is because, there, this identity is noetic only that we discover its vestigal character: cognizance is never anything but re-cognition, a memory of “lost Paradise”.

In doing so, we discovered the Platonic dialectic as the answer to the two pitfalls (and permanent temptations) of all thought, of all discourse:

  • On the one hand, Parmenidian discourse which, expressing being, therefore exclusively truth, becomes transparent to itself and confuses irreducible reality with the “place” where it reveals itself. Whereas the logos (speech and thought) remains ordered to being only if it remains other than the being it aims at.
  • On the other hand, sophistic discourse which, having detached discourse from any ontological reality, believes it can say the true as well as the false at will. While finally its contradiction can be unveiled: it implicitly appeals to the true that it explicitly rejects.

Faith and Intelligence

The analysis of faith has shown that neither reason nor knowledge is alien to it. In particular, if its objective content (revealed dogmatics) makes sense, it is indeed through this (supernatural) identity of nature between the intelligible and intelligence. This is why religious agnosticism and the relativism of knowledge are inseparable in modernism (no speculative statement that could have any ontological scope, or any speculative religious statement that could have an objective meaning for a relative and historical being).

Moreover, faith has proven to be the first of the virtues, constituting the minimum required on the part of man in response to the divine Initiative (Word and therefore Truth). If the announcement is addressed to the intelligence, the will makes it possible to adhere to the content of what the intelligence receives.

Above all, we have seen faith as being the “transparency of intelligence”, intelligence—“supernatural by nature”—to be the only modality of the human being whose nature matches with the light of Truth. Thus, to adhere to the divine Word is therefore to step aside and make silence in oneself and of oneself. This means that intelligence and will are not enough but essential is the natural capacity for spiritual receptivity, this “sense of the supernatural”.


Finally, the double paradox of metaphysical knowledge was revealed: on the one hand the passage from the ontological (the “knowable”) to the superontological (the “Unknowable”) through the symbol; on the other hand, the “contradictory identity” between gnosis and the radical ontological renunciation of all knowledge: the inescapable sacrificium intellectus of the Dionysian “intelligence that closes its eyes”.

In particular, we have seen that man cannot be a believing machine, a “religious automaton”. Thus appeared this ‘gnostic moment’ of faith, where doctrinal gnosis allows the reception of revelation. But, communicated by language, this doctrinal gnosis favors a necessarily speculative act of knowledge. So this gnosis must renounce itself and, in a certain way, enter into the darkness of faith: what was light (of knowledge) becomes darkness (of faith). And it is in this very renunciation that it can be converted to its Object (which philosophism refuses, from Hegel to Heidegger: the absorption of knowledge into its own transcendent content). This is what the severed head of St. John the Baptist teaches: entry into the mystery of infinite ignorance (the created being, the one-who-is-not-God, identifies himself with his own ontological ignorance).

This consumption of partial gnosis which becomes unknowing conditions the realization of integral gnosis: “to know as we will be known” (1 Cor. 13:13). Only the intellect stripped of all particular knowledge reaches a state of pure transparency, which is its true foundation, where nothing can oppose its entire investment by divine Gnosis: God knows Himself in this intellect and as this intellect, which thus becomes one with the Immaculate Conception that God has of Himself (mystery of the supreme gnosis of which Mary alone is the key).


  1. French langage disposes of two words for “to know”: “savoir” and “connaître”, which helps once distinctive meanings are properly established.[]
  2. cf. Kant, reflection called Canon of pure Reason, chapter III Vom Meinen, Wissen und Glauben (About opinion, science and faith).[]
  3. “Pure reason can be practical by itself and really is such, as consciousness of moral low proves it” Kant writes in Practical Reason, Dial., chap. II, iii.[]
  4. cf. Kant’s work, Religion within the Bounds of Bare Reason.[]
  5. cf. Jean Borella, Lumières de la théologie mystique [Lights from mystic theology], coll. Delphica, L’Age d’Homme, Lausanne, 2002, p. 60.[]
  6. Critic of pure reason, Foreword to 2nd edition, Ak., III, p. 19 ; Œuvres philosophiques (Philosophical Work), « Pléiade », t. I, p. 748; our translation.[]
  7. cf. Jean Borella, Le sens du surnaturel [The sense of the supernatural], Ad Solem, Genève, 1996, p. 46, note 8.[]
  8. Jean Borella, Love and Truth, the Christian Path of Charity (Angelico Press, 2020), utilized here the éd. du Cèdre, 1979, pp. 126-127.[]
  9. cf. The equivalence between ratio and intellectus is shown in the Second metaphysical meditation (Deuxième Méditation métaphysique).[]
  10. “All our knowledge starts in senses, reaches then understanding and finishes into reason […] We have defined understanding as the power of rules; we now distinguish reason from understanding in calling it the power of principles”, Critic of pure reason, utilized here the French version (tr. Alexandre J.-L. Delamarre et François Marty in Œuvres philosophiques, édition Ferdinand Alquié), tome I, Paris, Gallimard (Bibliothèque de la Pléiade), 1980, pp. 1016-1017; our translation.[]
  11. Critic of pure reason, French ed. P.U.F., trad. Tremesaygues et Pacaud, P.U.F., p. 226.[]
  12. As example: “I would not be able to doubt what natural light let me see as true […] And I have got in me no other faculty, or power, to discriminate between true and false, that could teach me what this light shows me as true is not, and on which I could so much rely than it”, Meditations, AT IX-1, p. 30; our translation.[]
  13. Jean Borella, Lumières de la théologie mystique [Lights from mystic theology], op.cit., p. 106; our translation.[]
  14. Ibidem.[]
  15. Jean Borella, The Crisis of Religious Symbolism & Symbolism and Reality (Angelico Press, 2016), utilized here the French version La crise du symbolisme religieux, coll. Delphica, L’Age d’Homme, Lausanne, 1990, p. 31, note 37.[]
  16. Ibid., p. 41.[]
  17. This reductionist interpretation hides, from Aristotle, its supernaturalism of intelligible forms : ‘‘Intelligence comes through the door’’ or ‘‘from outside’’, he says (On the generation of animals I 3, 736a, 27-b 12).[]
  18. Ibid., p. 46.[]
  19. In La science et l’Hypothèse, 1902, p. 244.[]
  20. ‘‘Nothing happens, without a cause or at least a determining reason, that is to say something that could, a priori, give a reason for that to exist rather than not exist and why that is so rather otherwise’’, Essais de théodicée, 1° partie, § 44, Garnier-Flammarion, Paris, 1969, p. 128; our translation.[]
  21. Any defect of individual prevision is compensated by an overall prevision, a ‘‘large number law [, which] cannot be deducted but from determinist hypothesis, and the propositions of probability calculations have value only if fortuities are hidden regularities masked by complications’’, in La connaissance et l’erreur (1905), p. 279; our translation. In English: Knowledge and Error, Springer Dordrecht, 1976.[]
  22. Fernando Gil, Preuve (‘épistémologie’), Encyclopædia Universalis, 1985, corpus 15, p. 109; our translation.[]
  23. in La géométrie et l’expérience (1921) p. 4; our translation.[]
  24. We follow here Jean Borella in Penser l’analogie [Thinking analogy] Ad Solem, Genève, 2000, p. 143 ; our translation.[]
  25. Ibid., pp. 147 sq.[]
  26. Cf. Plato, Republic.[]
  27. Penser l’analogie, p. 150.[]
  28. Ibid., p. 156.[]
  29. Penser l’analogie, pp. 158-159.[]
  30. Penser l’analogie, pp. 159.[]
  31. Ibid., p. 161.[]
  32. We follow here Jean Borella, in Esotérisme guénonien et mystère chrétien [Guénonian Esoterism and Christian Mystery, Sophia Perennis, 2004] coll. Delphica, L’Age d’Homme, Lausanne, 1997, chap. II, § iv – ‘L’intuition des essences comme expérience sémantique’, pp. 47-51.[]
  33. Ibid., p. 49.[]
  34. Ibidem.[]
  35. Ibid., p. 51.[]
  36. Nous suivons ici Jean Borella dans Le sens du surnaturel, op.cit. [The Sense of the Supernatural…, op. cit.][]
  37. « C’est pourquoi, comme l’indique Paul Evdokimov, les défaillances subjectives d’un croyant ne touchent point la valeur objective de sa foi. Le vrai sujet de la foi n’est pas l’individu isolé mais son ‘‘moi liturgique’’, lieu transsubjectif de la foi-révélation » (cf. L’amour fou de Dieu).[]
  38. cf. Vladimir Lossky, Essai sur la théologie mystique de l’Église d’Orient.[]
  39. cf. Paul Evdokimov, L’amour fou de Dieu.[]
  40. Traité de l’oraison [De oratione] 60.[]
  41. Nous suivons ici Jean Borella dans La charité profanée, op.cit., chap. 1, §1 pp-39-41 (cf Love and Truth, op. cit.[]
  42. Ibidem. This summary of Jean Borella’s thinking about this theme was published in Bruno Bérard, Introduction à une métaphysique des mystères chrétiens, L’Harmattan, Paris, 2005.[]
  43. After Frithjof Schuon’s formula: « The intellect is naturally supernatural or supernaturally natural ».[]
  44. Lumières de la théologie mystique, p. 92. We emphasize.[]
  45. Lettres de monsieur Etienne Gilson au père de Lubac, Cerf, 1986, pp.75-76 ; Lumières de la théologie mystique, p. 93.[]
  46. Roques, Structures théologiques. De la gnose à Richard de Saint-Victor, P.U.F., p. 166. Also: Denys, Œuvres, EP. VIII, 1193 A, p. 343; ibid.[]
  47. Ibid., p. 93. « L’Esprit est celui du Père, et du Fils, et le nôtre », dit saint Augustin (De Trinitate, V, 14).[]
  48. Cf. Raymond Ruyer, L’Animal, l’Homme et la Fonction symbolique, Gallimard, 1964.[]
  49. Revue Krisis n°3, septembre 1989.[]
  50. We follow here Jean Borella in La charité profanée [Love and Truth, op. cit.] op.cit.,chap. XXII, Amour et gnose dans l’intellect pneumatisé, pp.387-408, which refers, in particular, to Stromata from St. Clement of Alexandria (140-200) and to le Traité de l’Oraison from St. Evagrius Ponticus (346-399), the later using translations and comments by Father Irenée Hausherr in Les leçons d’un contemplatif, Beauchesne, 1960.[]
  51. Jean Borella, “Gnose chrétienne et gnoses anti-chrétiennes”, La Pensée catholique, n°193, 1981, p. 53.[]
  52. Lettre à Anatolios, P.G., t. XL, col. 1221 C. Nous suivons à nouveau Jean Borella dans La charité profanée.[Love and Truth…, op.cit.][]
  53. Father Hausherr, Les leçons d’un contemplatif.[]