Maximus went on to interpret the “image of God” not in terms of essence,but of
, i.e., the biblical reference to humanity’s creation in God’simage cannot mean that humanity shares in the
of God, which isbeyond being,
but rather participates in God’s energies (
). Thisparticipation enables the soul to serve as a mediator between the divinityand the rest of creation.
As Maximus explains, “the soul is a middlebeing between God and matter and has powers that can unite it with both,that is, it has a mind that links it with God and senses that link it withmatter” (
This means that human beings, whileontologically equal to all the divine
, are given the task of unitingcreation with the creator; it does not imply that humanity has a monopolyon reason, or on God’s providential care. Regarding animals, for example,Maximus writes:[I]f we approach [animals] in a rational way we shall find a trace of theintelligible in them which is a not unworthy imitation of what is abovereason. For if we look at those beings that naturally care for their offspring,we are encouraged to define for ourselves reverently and with godlyboldness that God exercises providence in his sovereign uniqueness over all beings ...” (
. 10, 1189B-C, tr. Louth)The human being’s status as an “image of God” means that he or she is apartner or co-operator with God, for the purpose of uniting the creation withthe creator, and achieving the divine end. Other beings, like animals, arepursuing their own
, and are equally
of God.So how, then, can the human soul possibly be understood as superior tothe cosmos, if it is ontologically equal to the existents comprising thecosmos? Maximus’ answer is elegantly simple. Beings in motion, heargues, are not existing according to their nature, but to their
;therefore, they are not perfected and, for that reason, are equally imperfect.The cosmos is the “empty space” in which this motion toward perfection of natures occurs;
whenthis motion ceases, and all existents return toGod as unified
, they will have transcended this place of motion andtemporality and will be equal not in their mutual
perfection, but in theperfection of their unique natures. As Basil Tatakis has adequately andsuccinctly explained:Maximos’ philosophical and theological analysis reduces itself to thefollowing: The principle of operation belongs to one’s nature and not toone’s person. This Aristotelian concept is not the only one in his work.