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through study of the divine imprint on creation and then through mystical experience of the divine. In itself such a system is, of course, utterly traditional. First defined in late antiquity, it is found in many spiritual texts of the Byzantine period.83 However, it is evident that it is at odds with the hesychastic model of monastic life where there is no room for an intermediate stage between the achievement of dispassion and mystical experience. This incompatibility becomes even more obvious when we turn to the section of chapter 127 that clarifies the relation between these different stages. The 'philosopher' who represents the highest stage is characterised as a mystic. However, whereas visionary experience was previously presented as a result of the hesychastic method, it is now attributed to those who have previously concluded from their observation of creation that God is the single cause of all beings.84 The realisation that all creation is derived from one cause establishes unity, but it is a unity that is achieved through intellectual activity and not through prayer alone. This intellectual activity is necessarily 'divisive' because only by classifying all individual beings within the framework of species and genera is it possible to see them as forming a unified whole. Gregory makes that clear in his discussion of the role of the 'orator': According to those who are "truly wise in word" an orator is the one who concisely comprehends the beings through general knowledge and who both divides and joins them like one body, thereby showing them as of the same value according to otherness and sameness.' Alternatively, he could be called a 'logician in truth' and 'not one who merely applies apodictic logic'.85 Here 'distinction' and 'unification' as well as 'otherness' and 'sameness' appear in a dialectical relation instead of being mutually exclusive. There can be no doubt that chapter 127 is intended as a corrective to the first three chapters. Instead ofthe neat juxtaposition between hesychast 'saints' and depraved 'wise in word' we now find the 'truly wise in word' as a third category. Moreover, whereas before Gregory insinuated that human wisdom is inevitably linked to vainglory and material things, he now juxtaposes love of matter with love of the 'physiological' wisdom of God.86 Gregory is careful to stress that proper contemplation of nature does not merely involve use of Greek logic but also has a spiritual dimension. However, these qualifications clearly do nothingto make the tripartite system of spiritual ascent more compatible with the hesychastic framework: as we have seen, it

83 E.g. A. and C. Guillaumont, √Čvagre le Pontique, Traite pratique ou le moine (Paris: Editions du Cerf, 1971), 11, 498. Cf. the titles ofNicetas Stethatos, Centuries, in PG120, 852, 900, 953.

84 Gregory of Sinai, Words, in PG 150,1289D [= ed. Beyer, 60].

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