Vita passibilis, imperturbatio (apatheia), vita passiva

Die pathische Bedingtheit des Menschen im theologischen Denken von Maximus dem Bekenner


  • Picu Ocoleanu University of Craiova



ways of life, contemplation, passion, apatheia, Maximus the Confessor, Denys the Areopagite


Maximus the Confessor distinguishes three stages in the spiritual becoming of man: vita passibilis i.e. the way of life in that man is living under the reign of the bodily passions, apatheia as state of liberation from the reign of the lower passions, and vita passiva as modus vivendi in which the human makes the personal experience of the revelation and the presence of God. Thereby being man means according to Maximus suffering under the rule of someone - divine or demonic - or something. The human condition is especially passive. Even contemplation (theōria) becomes in this approach a kind of passion: the passive experience of the presence of God. Although there is an old tradition in the classical Greek culture concerning the equivalency mathein-pathein (from Aeschylus to Aristotle and until Neo-Platonist thinkers like Proclus) which is received in the Christian tradition first of all by Denys the Areopagite, Maximus the Confessor is one of the first Christian theologians who tries to reconstruct the classical conception concerning the typology of the human ways of life (vita activa-vita contemplativa) as being based on passion: passion of lower impulses, passion of the demonic temptations and sins, but also passion of the overwhelming divine presence. Man can only lead a passionate life as slave of the lower passions (pathēmata) and as such of the devil or as slave of God in the Holy Spirit.




How to Cite

Ocoleanu, P. (2023). Vita passibilis, imperturbatio (apatheia), vita passiva: Die pathische Bedingtheit des Menschen im theologischen Denken von Maximus dem Bekenner. Diakrisis Yearbook of Theology and Philosophy, 6, 67–77.