Sane Speech

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This page is a translated version of the page Речь разумная and the translation is 98% complete.

παῤῥησία, honest (moral) communication based on selfless and apractical love for the Truth. Confession, comprehended in the true way, sincere and plain (straightforward) speech.

Sane speech is a marker of wisdom, literacy, shame, right-mindedness and right-doing. It is opposite to prolixity and pathological speech.

Sane speech conveys the Truth. Pathological speech conveys opinions. Sane speech informs about spiritual sanity, imparts the Truth and true notions and reveals spiritual diseases, lies and the father of lies. It also helps to heal gnostic illnesses of stupidity, illiteracy and shamelessness.

One can speak and think right about God only in terms of sane speech. The Holy Scriptures are protected from profanation so heretics can only torment the body of the Scriptures, having no power to destroy its soul.


παῤῥησία - plain speech (John 10:24-27;11:14;16:25,29).


A person's speech reveals its thoughts:

For just as our word, proceeding as it floes out of the mind, is neither wholly identical with the mind nor utterly diverse from it (for so far as it proceeds out of the mind it is different from it, while so far as it reveals the mind, it is no longer absolutely diverse from the mind, but being one in nature with the mind, it is yet to the subject diverse from it). [1].

— St. John of Damascus

Sane speech reveals right thought of a person and order in its soul, i.e. mind(ratio) which is common for all the people.

Sane speech is percieved by gnostics as a curse word. In gnostic society sane speech is deprived of social importance and it is allowed only as speech of a private person.

how to speak

unambiguity, clarity

The word (in its nature) is unambiguous, clear and understandable.

As in demonstrations the power of syllogizing must necessarily be inherent, so also perspicuity must be in definitions, and there will be this, if through things which are singularly enunciated, what is in each genus be separately defined; as with the similar, not every similar, but that which is in colours and in figures, and the sharp that which is in voice, and so to proceed to what is common, taking care that equivocation does not occur. But if it is not right to use metaphors in disputation, we must clearly not define by metaphors, nor by those things which are spoken by metaphor, otherwise it will be necessary to use metaphors in disputation.[2].

— Aristotle

For everywhere when he has said anything obscure, he interprets himself again.[3].

— Saint John Chrysostom


μἰκρολογία. Sane speech is laconic, it is said not more than needed:

«Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit...»[4].

— William Shakespeare


What is it that he most condemns in Basil's words? Is it, that he accepts the idea of the Ungenerate, but says that the actual word, as misused by those who pervert it, should be suppressed? Well; is the Faith in jeopardy only as regards words and outward expressions, and need we take no account of the correctness of the thought beneath? Or does not the Word of Truth rather exhort us first to have a heart pure from evil thoughts, and then, for the manifestation of the soul's emotions, to use any words that can express these secrets of the mind, without any minute care about this or that particular sound? For the speaking in this way or in that is not the cause of the thought within us; but the hidden conception of the heart supplies the motive for such and such words; "for from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." (Matthew 12:34).

We make the words interpret the thought; we do not by a reverse process gather the thought from the words. Should both be at hand, a man may certainly be ready in both, in clever thinking and clever expression [5].

— St.Gregory of Nyssa

plain and honest speech

For that one needs right judgement.

whom to speak to

One must proceed from the assumption that the number of decent (those who hath ears to hear) are so few that it would be wisest to consider that there are no such people at all.


Do not try to teach people at large about devoutness and right living. I say this, not because I begrudge them such teaching, but because I think that you will appear ridiculous to the stupid. For like delights in like: few -

indeed, hardly any - listen to such instruction. It is better therefore not to speak at all about what God wills for man's salvation.[6].

— Saint Antony (Anthony) the Great

one should speak only to those who are decent

One should speak only with those who deserve it and who wants to hear.

Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.(Matthew 13:9).
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you (Matthew 7:6).
He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee (Proverbs 9:7-8).

Wisdom exalteth her children, and layeth hold of them that seek her. He that loveth her loveth life; and they that seek to her early shall be filled with joy. He that holdeth her fast shall inherit glory; and wheresoever she entereth, the Lord will bless. They that serve her shall minister to the Holy One: and them that love her the Lord doth love. Whoso giveth ear unto her shall judge the nations: and he that attendeth unto her shall dwell securely. If a man commit himself unto her, he shall inherit her; and his generation shall hold her in possession. For at the first she will walk with him by crooked ways, and bring fear and dread upon him, and torment him with her discipline, until she may trust his soul, and try him by her laws. Then will she return the straight way unto him, and comfort him, and shew him her secrets.

But if he go wrong, she will forsake him, and give him over to his own ruin. (Sirah 4:11-19).

one must examine whether a person is decent


He who advises a sick man, whose manner of life is prejudicial to health, is clearly bound first of all to change his patient's manner of life, and if the patient is willing to obey him, he may go on to give him other advice. But if he is not willing, I shall consider one who declines to advise such a patient to be a man and a physician, and one who gives in to him to be unmanly and unprofessional. In the same way with regard to a State, whether it be under a single ruler or more than one, if, while the government is being carried on methodically and in a right course, it asks advice about any details of policy, it is the part of a wise man to advise such people. But when men are travelling altogether outside the path of right government and flatly refuse to move in the right path, and start by giving notice to their adviser that he must leave the government alone and make no change in it under penalty of death-if such men should order their counsellors to pander to their wishes and desires and to advise them in what way their object may most readily and easily be once for all accomplished, I should consider as unmanly one who accepts the duty of giving such forms of advice, and one who refuses it to be a true man. Holding these views, whenever anyone consults me about any of the weightiest matters affecting his own life, as, for instance, the acquisition of property or the proper treatment of body or mind, if it seems to me that his daily life rests on any system, or if he seems likely to listen to advice about the things on which he consults me, I advise him with readiness, and do not content myself with giving him a merely perfunctory answer. But if a man does not consult me at all, or evidently does not intend to follow my advice, I do not take the initiative in advising such a man, and will not use compulsion to him, even if he be my own son. I would advise a slave under such circumstances, and would use compulsion to him if he were unwilling. To a father or mother I do not think that piety allows one to offer compulsion, unless they are suffering from an attack of insanity; and if they are following any regular habits of life which please them but do not please me, I would not offend them by offering useless, advice, nor would I flatter them or truckle to them, providing them with the means of satisfying desires which I myself would sooner die than cherish.

The wise man should go through life with the same attitude of mind towards his country. If she should appear to him to be following a policy which is not a good one, he should say so, provided that his words are not likely either to fall on deaf ears or to lead to the loss of his own life. But force against his native land he should not use in order to bring about a change of constitution, when it is not possible for the best constitution to be introduced without driving men into exile or putting them to death; he should keep quiet and offer up prayers for his own welfare and for that of his country[7].

On my arrival, I thought that first I must put to the test the question whether Dionysios had really been kindled with the fire of philosophy, or whether all the reports which had come to Athens were empty rumours. Now there is a way of putting such things to the test which is not to be despised and is well suited to monarchs, especially to those who have got their heads full of erroneous teaching, which immediately my arrival I found to be very much the case with Dionysios. One should show such men what philosophy is in all its extent; what their range of studies is by which it is approached, and how much labour it involves. For the man who has heard this, if he has the true philosophic spirit and that godlike temperament which makes him a kin to philosophy and worthy of it, thinks that he has been told of a marvellous road lying before him, that he must forthwith press on with all his strength, and that life is not worth living if he does anything else. After this he uses to the full his own powers and those of his guide in the path, and relaxes not his efforts, till he has either reached the end of the whole course of study or gained such power that he is not incapable of directing his steps without the aid of a guide. This is the spirit and these are the thoughts by which such a man guides his life, carrying out his work, whatever his occupation may be, but throughout it all ever cleaving to philosophy and to such rules of diet in his daily life as will give him inward sobriety and therewith quickness in learning, a good memory, and reasoning power; the kind of life which is opposed to this he consistently hates. Those who have not the true philosophic temper, but a mere surface colouring of opinions penetrating, like sunburn, only skin deep, when they see how great the range of studies is, how much labour is involved in it, and how necessary to the pursuit it is to have an orderly regulation of the daily life, come to the conclusion that the thing is difficult and impossible for them, and are actually incapable of carrying out the course of study; while some of them persuade themselves that they have sufficiently studied the whole matter and have no need of any further effort. This is the sure test and is the safest one to apply to those who live in luxury and are incapable of continuous effort; it ensures that such a man shall not throw the blame upon his teacher but on himself, because he cannot bring to the pursuit all the qualities necessary to it.[8].


see also


For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.

— Luk 21:15

We were endowed with reason at birth and through word avidly pursue the Word [9].

— St. Gregory of Nazianzus

And in reply Father Maximus said: 'The silencing of words is the abrogation of words: through the prophet the Holy Spirit says: "There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard." Therefore the word which is not uttered, in no way exists.' And Troilus said: 'Believe in your heart as you wish—nobody is preventing you.' And Father Maximus said: 'But God did not enclose all salvation in the heart, when he said: "The one who does not confess me before human beings, neither shall I confess him before my Father who is in heaven." And the divine apostle teaches with the words: "One believes in the heart for justification, but confession is made with the mouth for salvation." If, therefore, God and the prophets and apostles of God order the verbal confession of the mystery of holy things, which is great and fearful, and for the salvation of the whole world there is no need in anyway to silence a word which proclaims this, lest the salvation of those who are silent be diminished [10].

— St. Maximus the Confessor



  1. [/ Saint John of Damascus.An Exact Exposition Of The Orthodox Faith. Book 2, Chapter 21] //
  2.  Aristotle. Posterior Analytics // In Two Volumes. — London: Henry G.Bohn,York Street, Covent Garden, 1853. — Т. 1. — С. 344-345.
  3.  John Chrysostom, st. Homily 9 on Second Corinthians // Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 12.. — Buffalo,NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1889.
  4.  Shakespeare,William. The Tragedy of Hamlet,Prince of Denmark // [1].
  5.  Gregory of Nyssa,st. Against Eunomius // Works. P. 5. — New York: Aeterna Press, 2016. — С. 92.
  6. Saint Antony (Anthony) the Great: On the Character of Men and on the Virtuous Life // Philokalia. — «Артос-Медиа». — С. 239. — 1246 с.
  7. Saint John of Damascus. Seventh letter by Plato, translated by J.Harward //
  8. Saint John of Damascus. Seventh letter by Plato, translated by J.Harward //
  9.  Gregory of Nazianzus, st. Oration 25,In praise of Hero the Philosopher // [2]. — The Catholic University of America Press, 2003. — С. 157. — 251 с.
  10.  Maximus the Confessor, st. Dispute at Bizya // Saint Maximus the Confessor. Documents from exile. — Oxford: University Press, 2002. — P. 113.