De Sacramentis 1.1.10

1.1.10 “That visible and invisible light were made simultaneously, and equally divided from darkness.” The argument of this chapter is an odd and even troubling one. According to Hugh, when God was dividing visible light from darkness, at that same moment he was also dividing the “invisible light” of angelic moral goodness from the fallen or falling angels’ moral “darkness of sin.” This separation occurred through the good angels “being turned toward the light of justice and illumined by light.” This concurrence of the separation of visible and invisible light, however, was no mere coincidence, for Hugh suggests that it was in some sense necessary or fitting that these two events coincide, indeed, that the separation of visible light from visible darkness was in some sense even dependent upon the separation of the good angels from the bad: “For thus the exemplars of God’s work had to be in harmony, so that those works of wisdom which were visible might follow the productions of the invisible.”

This I find very strange and disturbing. In 1.1.5 Hugh made the claim that the “likenesses” of corporeal creatures were “preceded already in the angelic spirits,” suggesting that the angelic natures exercise some kind of exemplar causality relative to corporeal creation. It would seem, therefore, to be precisely this dependence of the visible order upon the invisible that Hugh has in mind when he states that the separation of light from darkness in the visible world must have its antecedent exemplar in the invisible world. This by itself would be fine, except that what Hugh identifies as the exemplar for the separation of light from darkness in the visible world is a separation of moral light and darkness in the invisible world. The problem with this, of course, is that it implies that something negative, namely sin or evil, specifically the sin or evil of the fallen angels, is an exemplar or positive pattern for an otherwise created good, namely physical darkness. Evil, in short, has been unwittingly enfranchised and elevated to the level of form: the moral darkness of the fallen angels is what provides the formal pattern upon which physical darkness is said to depend. Put differently, angelic evil is what makes physical darkness possible, is what gives physical darkness its darkness? The irony, however, is that Hugh himself seems to see his thesis about invisible, moral light and darkness providing the exemplary pattern for physical light and darkness as being required rather than contradicted by his otherwise Augustinian privation theory of evil: “God indeed divided both, and named both; but He did not also make both. For God is not that author of darkness but of light, because sin is darkness and sin is nothing… God said: ‘Be light made.’ … God never said: ‘Be darkness made.’”

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