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Monophysitism Ignores The Duality In Christ's Experience






Category: MODERN PSYCHOLOGY

Such in outline is Bergson's theory of the interpenetration of psychic
states. If this psychology be adopted, the abstract character of the
catholic doctrine of Christ's being in large measure disappears. It
becomes easy to conceive the interpenetration of two natures in one
Christ. Further, the Bergsonian psychology furnishes a standpoint from
which criticism of monophysitism is easy. Psychology at the
monophysite stage of thought conceives the moments of Christ's
consciousness in their mutual externality; they follow each other as do
the ticks of a clock. They are discrete elements strung along on a
hypothetical ego. Christ's experience is conceived as unilinear. All
that He did, suffered and thought is regarded as having taken place on
one and the same plane of experience. This psychology has no room for
another plane of experience. It has no room for a positive
sub-consciousness. Consequently that one plane must be the one divine
nature, which, as the monophysites taught, absorbed the human.

The one-nature theory is not true to the facts. It overlooks the
complexity of Christ's experience. His experiences lie on two
different planes. He has different universes of thought, different
actuating wills and sets of feelings. Christ is not in one nature.
The phases of His consciousness are twofold. His experiences fall
naturally into two groups. While one group is in consciousness, the
other is below the level of consciousness. Now the human experiences,
now the divine, are uppermost. Both are always present. Life under
such conditions is inconceivable, unless full recognition be accorded
to the fact that conscious states interpermeate. If each state fall
outside the other, and consciousness be a chain of successive ideas or
emotions, a twofold nature within the one experience is meaningless.
The view of conscious states as discrete leads inevitably to
determinism. The place of one state in the chain is conditioned by its
predecessor. There is no room for the spontaneity and the creative
power which characterise conscious life. Associationism cannot
countenance the unforeseen and incalculable. So it is out of sympathy
with Christian psychology. A function of the divine in Christ is to
introduce the element of the unforeseen and incalculable into His
normal and human experience. The Bergsonian psychology thus supplies
an intellectual basis for belief in the possibility of two natures in
Christ. When ideas are regarded as psychic entities whose essential
property is mutual penetration, the ground is prepared for the catholic
formula. Where this truth is not recognised, there arises inevitably
the tendency to assert that Christ had and must have had but one
uniform level of experience, and that assertion is the essence of
monophysitism.





Next: Bergson's Theory Of Deep-seated And Superficial States

Previous: Bergson's Theory Of The Interpenetration Of Psychic States



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