KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM
THE TWO LANGUAGES OF THOUGHT
Palamas uses the first section of his First Triad to distinguish between these two different kinds of knowledge which, he makes clear, are produced by what Saint Paul described, and in this First Triad Palamas says clearly that the first of these is Paul's 'wisdom of the world,' and the second his 'wisdom of God'. This means that as we continue our studies we will discover that these two ways of knowing differ from one another in a number of important ways:
1. The origin of one of them is external, the other is within us.
2. The external form of knowledge is what we today call knowledge. The other is not clearly defined by modern Western man. But we can learn to become aware of it and so understand it.
3. One of them serves 'worldly' purposes, the other is 'knowledge which leads to salvation.''
4. One is the product of certain efforts we must make, the other the result of grace which may occur as a result of those efforts.
The great problem with modern Christianity is that we no longer think of things as the first Christians thought of things. This is apparent from studying Palamas. It is clear that the world of devout Christians his writings reveal was understood very differently from the way we understand the world today, or even from the world-view of the first modern thinkers, who had recently erupted onto the scene in his Byzantine world, and whom he found himself called-on to oppose.
More than this: the changes to Christian thought that have occurred over the past thousand years or so come from man-made beliefs, not beliefs that arise from within individual Christians. Underlying this situation is the forgotten fact of the Christian religion, which is that the faith not only believes in 'inner truth', but teaches 'the faithful' how to discover it.
Some things you can describe, but other things you can't, because you can't get it through the intellect ... that has no clearly recognizable words for it. The Church had a tradition when it began to come together in 2nd-3rd Century CE, the main European Christianity was built on that language, Greek, and I am now trying to explain just how different was that way of thinking from the way we think today. In its Christian form, as it was a few centuries after the Crucifixion, it was a language that formed the basis of an education to encompass an interior world, first met within our psyche.
This situation creates a real problem in our studies: we have to look at the whole thing, and never make the mistake of debating each point separately, because you have to deal with this question of the intellectual and the noetic as a real situation, bringing them all together ... understanding sensory observation and outer and inner recognition all as parts of a single whole. To express all these in a single language, you almost have to start again by asking:
What do I know?
What can I observe?
What can be induced from this?'