31. THEORY IS NOT THEORIA
- BUT MORE THAN OPINION
Today's theology is often based on opinions that change from year to year and century to century. The result is that the ancient therapeutic inner-science can only be rediscovered by combining retranslation of the original with practical experiment. One implication of this concept of Theoria is that in the early Church in Greece it became a way of expressing the fact that the language of the Apostles and the early saints had no truck with personal opinion. To them, opinion thatg was not formed on experience was unable to transmit the truths of spiritual life.
The alternative is that both these activities, the practice and the language of prayer, must be learned each beside the other, in much the same way that technical skills are learned today in apprenticeships that combine theory and practice. In those early days of the Church, though, the special skills were largely therapeutic, and the traces they left were in the human psyche, and in its inmost heart or kardia. Their manuscripts dealt with how Christians might come closer to God, and because thes were based on practice, their actions usually made less disturbance in the physical world.
When the Greek philosopher Aristotle, (384 BC) said that the supreme activity of which man is capable was 'Theoria', he also defined the nous as the power of original enquiry or thought, saying that it appears to be a different kind of psyche, and that "it alone is capable of separate existence, in the way that the eternal is independent of the perishable... (384 BC): Nichomachaen Ethics.)
Aristotle's thought differed from that of Socrates and Plato, in many ways, but all three had in common a certain limitation in their ways of describing certain realities of life, and although in the philosophy of each this barrier was differently expressed, as far as we know, no doctrine of that era ever clearly defined the fundamental line beyond which it becomes possible to distinguish between knowledge of the world and knowledge of God. Aristotle's philosophy played the same part for a second time as the Christian teaching began to move into what is now Western Europe. For the last and perhaps best of the Greek philosophers, brillint as they were, what the early Church called Theoria was never clearly grasped.
Studying the pre-Christian use of the word Theoria, this word appears to have been used to describe knowledge in the form of words. By the early Christian centuries, the meaning of Theoria had become less intellectual. Ancient statements that make the same assertions exist both from the early Church, and classical Greek philosophy, but these two sources. Understanding the two uses of Theoria in context reveals exact meanings for each. The Christian use of the term is less uncertain. Theoria links with the concept of the nous as the ˜eye of the psyche', almost diagrammatically describing the perception of all that happens in our psyche. We find: "It is said that the psyche's organ of sight is the nous. Just as the eye of the senses cannot begin to act unless illumined by an exterior light, so the nous cannot begin to act as the organ of the noetic sense unless the divine light illuminates it. (Ibid. Part 3:19.)