Does Jesus have two consciousnesses?


I would certainly agree with the fact that Christ has both a divine and a human intellect that are wholly distinct (not that facts are predicated on my agreement :wink: ) and you are correct that my formulation can lead to a form of miaphysitism where His intellect is a composite ad mixture of the two.

I guess where I question your supposition is that because Christ could experience two distinct qualia that it leads to two distinct persons in a psychological sense. Because of the hypostatic union Christ would have “access”, for lack of a better term, to the experience of either nature/intellect. That is kinda what I was trying to get at with stretching the concept of communicatio idiomatum. While that is really more focused on the communicability of the attributes of His dual nature, I think one could argue that if quallia describes the essential self awareness of who we are that His dual qualia would exist in a unique harmony not as two separate persons, but as a union of the two.

I guess the mental challenge I have is that I do not believe that Christ’s human intellect wondered what it would be like to be divine or vice versa; he is “I AM” in both his human and divine natures. While you can describe your sense of being to me I can never experience it because we are two distinct persons, but in Christ those barriers don’t exist the same way they do for us. Everything He is can be freely shared between the dual natures at will; I strongly doubt His divine and human intellects sit there and kibitz in His head.

That is the real sticking point for me in the supposition that two intellects <=> two qualia <=> two psychological persons. I would still posit that His sense of self transcends our understanding precisely because of the hypostatic union but that his being subsists in a single person.I don’t think it is possible for him to not know Himself as both man and God.


I do agree with you for the most part, and as @FrDavid96 said, if somehow there was a modern day version of an early Council, the conclusion would probably be that Christ does indeed have two qualias that are in perfect harmony with each other via the hypostatic union. It has to be noted that Aquinas taught that Christ’s human intellect was infused with certain supernatural traits, and it could be said these are the reason how Christ in his human nature understood who he was; yet of course, Aquinas also teaches Christ acquired knowledge in his human nature since, being fully human, he had certain limitations. Clearly, Aquinas supposes Christ must’ve have more than one center of consciousness, yet that they are in perfect harmony with each other.


Certainly a reasonable postulate. With regard to Aquinas, it was once described to me that Christ could make use of his Divine intellect, but rather chose not to at times.


I think this is hard for people to wrap their brains around because we only have one consciousness, so trying to imagine how two could function in the one person of Christ is mind boggling. In the past I, I have struggled to try to comprehend whether Jesus had primarily a divine consciousness while being ever aware of His humanity, or if He had a primarily human consciousness while being ever aware of His divinity.

Being unable to resolve this dilemma, I came to conceptualize it as (just as in all Jesus’ hypostatic properties) two complete and perfect consciousness that function simultaneously. He does not have to “toggle” between them or “step” up to the divine level and then back down to the human level. Rather, each nature functions in tandem. Each is distinct and unique, not blended or mixed, though at the same time in complete union, harmony, and conformity to eachother.

It is fascinating to ponder, but very hard to wrap my brain around.


Anything having to do with God is hard to wrap our brains around, he is just so beyond us, it’s impossible for us to comprehend him in his full glory, and this is why it’s so easy to fall into heresy, even for well meaning people. I remember when I really first began to investigate the faith, I, out of ignorance, fell into a form of Modalism, yet I thought I was completely in line with orthodoxy. I then discovered, upon further investigation, that my idea of the Trinity was not orthodox or in line with the Catholic faith, and at that moment I abandoned my original thought that was out of ignorance for the true doctrine.


It is a mystery. Don’t forget that Jesus was a divine Person before he took on flesh. This taking on flesh does not represent fracturing himself into 2 different persons. But rather he joined a complete human nature to his already complete divine nature in the hypostatic union. The human nature is limited which explains why he learned and grew in wisdom while he was here on the earth. It is a mystery just how this hypostatic union works. Thus we will never really know all the answers in this life how it works. Just like we won’t know in this life how exactly the Trinity works.


That’s true, of course.

At the same time though, I do think we can build on what we already do know, what has already been decided by the Church. Since we’ve already determined that the one Person has 2 natures, and we then say that He must have 2 wills because 2 natures necessarily means 2 wills; then likewise 2 natures necessarily means 2 intellects…

…the necessary conclusion would be that He would have 2 qualias, one divine and one human. That is, if we were ever to make “qualia” into a theological topic.


You could argue that. But couldn’t you also argue that Christ having 2 intellects could be like one consciousness having 2 forms of access to information? Where he has instant access to information from the divine nature while at the same time having access to information through the senses?


Yes. I don’t see any conflict though between what you wrote and what is settled doctrine.

In contrast:
if we substitute “one person” as a synonym for “one consciousness” then I would disagree.

If, by the term “one consciousness” you mean to say that the Divine and human natures work in harmony, then I would agree.

So I would say it depends on what exactly you mean by “consciousness.”

Because I would also add that if by consciousness, one means “self-awareness” then I would say (must say) that He has both a divine and a human. The Divine is aware of itself; the human is aware of itself.

Certainly this is established doctrine. There’s no disputing that Christ had/has both Divine and human knowledge and information. Surely I’d agree with your sentence.


I think the issue this question raises is how could we assert that Jesus has 2 complete natures while asserting he is only one person? The answer to this question that I have heard is that a nature is what something is while a person is who someone is. Nevertheless, when consider who someone is that is talking about a person’s identity. Thus when we talk about 2 egos or ‘I’ 's of Christ then one could argue we are talking about 2 Persons.

Similarly, when we talk about conjoined twins that share the same body (2 heads with one body) we usually differentiate them as 2 persons who share the same body precisely because they have different minds that can even disagree with each other.

Now, I found an article on this issue which I will quote some of it here as well as the link. I think you will find it interesting but it is more complicated than we have talked about here.

"In Christ, as we know through Revelation and faith, there are two natures, one divine, the other human. That is, there are two principles of operation. Consequently, consciousness is immediately a quality of the nature, there are two consciousnesses in Christ: one divine, the other human.

However, all the actions of the human nature of Christ, all the actions posited by this human nature, are ultimately ascribed to the divine Person of the Logos acting through its human nature. (Let us not forget that the same Logos, Son of God, acts both as God, as possessing the divine nature, and as man, through his human nature.) So the acts of human consciousness of the Incarnate Son of God are always posited by his divine Person acting through his human nature. The divine Ego of the Son is always both the Subject and the ultimate object of these acts.

In other words, due to the unique Person of Christ which is divine, there is no human consciousness of Christ which would be the consciousness of a Person only human. When Jesus says I, his divine Person expresses in this human word and concept his human consciousness of a divine Self.

This means that the same and unique divine Ego knows himself divinely on one side, humanly on the other. It is not a human ego who would know itself humanly, as in our case. It is a divine Ego who knows Himself not only divinely, but also humanly."



I will quote also the next few paragraphs from the same article as they are quite interesting to our topic.

"How? On the ultimate basis of the New Testament, on the more proximate basis of traditional Catholic theology (recognizing since the thirteenth century, at least, the existence in Jesus, since his conception, of the act of Beatific Vision as affecting his human intelligence), several modern Catholic theologians have concluded that there is a connection between this act and His human consciousness of his divine Self. Without the permanent elevation of the human mind of Jesus to the act of Beatific vision, that is to say, to the face to face vision of His Eternal Father and of His own eternal and divine Ego, there is no possible explanation of His permanent consciousness of His divine identity.

If consciousness is Intimate knowledge and experience of self, if the Subject in Christ is a divine Person, He can not humanly experience Himself in an immediate way without the act of Beatific Vision. Neither sense experience, nor reflection or reasoning on the basis of it could lead Jesus Christ–in his human mind–to an intuitive consciousness of His divine Person. Not even an infused conceptual knowledge of Prophetic type could achieve such a result.5

In other words, nothing short of a permanent act of Beatific Vision, given to Jesus ever since the first moment of the creation of His human, immaterial, immortal soul and of its assumption by the Logos, could give to this soul the immediate awareness of belonging to a divine Person.

That Jesus enjoyed the Beatific Vision on earth, from the moment of his conception, has been the conclusion to which came all the schools of Catholic theology since at least the twelfth or thirteenth century."


So what the article seems to be saying to me is that while Jesus has 2 complete natures, with 2 consciousnesses, his sense of self, the I, or the ego, is of the divine Person. And his 2 natures participate in his sense of divine self, but that his human nature in order to have a proper sense of the divine self must have been experiencing the beatific vision since conception, in order for him to understand himself as a divine Person.

I think ultimately there has to be some unifying principle that ties the human nature with the divine nature into one person. Otherwise what would distinguish a Jesus with 2 natures and is one person from a Jesus who has 2 natures and is 2 persons? And perhaps what ties the 2 natures to one person is the one ego or sense of I as the divine self. So as the article says whatever the human nature of Jesus does can be thought of being done by the divine Person. So if qualia is the same as ego or the I then it must be of the divine self. But I am not sure what qualia is or if it something related only to the senses (how I experience the world through the senses). If it is related only to the senses then of course it would be a feature only of sense experience which would relate only to the human nature.

According to a definition online it does relate only to the senses as I suspected - qualia is “the internal and subjective component of sense perceptions, arising from stimulation of the senses by phenomena.” Thus Jesus could only have one qualia since he has only one human nature that experiences human sensations.

So Christ is one divine Person because he has one divine ego, one I, despite having 2 natures, where both natures share in this one divine ego that is only possible through the beatific vision. Of course this is a mystery that we can not fully understand.


To top it off Jesus himself identified himself as the divine I AM, divine ego, when he said, “before Abraham became, I am” (John 8:58).


According to a definition online it does relate only to the senses as I suspected - qualia is “the internal and subjective component of sense perceptions, arising from stimulation of the senses by phenomena.” Thus Jesus could only have one qualia since he has only one human nature that experiences human sensations.

That is a correct definition of qualia, but it does go deeper with that, and it’s linked to the philosophy of mind. The very feeling of existence is qualia. For example, being able to see the color red and then actually experience or have an awareness that you’re seeing the color red is qualia. You could be able to see or have sight yet not have qualia, and this is called a philosophical zombie, which is nothing more than an organism that may have very complex sense perception built into it in order to react to stimuli without having any kind of awareness of it; or basically a robot. A philosophical zombie would be a biological rock. Now, going even further, the awareness that you have awareness is qualia as well. Qualia is consciousness at the deepest level. Qualia is what Descartes meant when he said, “I think, therefore I am.”


What you are talking about though is a consciousness through the senses and through thinking. The divine nature does not think as we do nor does it experience the senses. So it can not have qualia as we do. Thus Jesus could only have this qualia through his human nature. The divine nature or God is an eternal act. There is no thinking or reasoning to a conclusion as we do. God simply knows all true propositions past, present and future in an eternal now or act. He does not experience a sense of consciousness coming through qualia or sensorial knowledge. Now, Jesus could have this but only through his human nature.


Well I’m approaching this in very simple terms, I very much understand that God in all his ways is much much much above us. He doesn’t have qualia like we do, but there’s simply no other way to describe it. I suppose it would be better to characterize God as having an “infinite qualia”, much higher and greater than anything we could understand, and much higher than any sense we have of our existence.

And again, because qualia is often used in the philosophy of mind, it’s often related to the experience of sense, but it goes deeper than that, and it’s characterized as the self or awareness.


Well, you could say that God thinks because that is the only way you can understand it. But it would not be technically correct. Nor does God have a body and therefore does not have anything like qualia which is informed through the sense experience of humans. We can speak analogically of God to help us understand him, but it is not technically the same thing. For instance we can say God is like a father, but he is technically less like a father than he is like one. But we speak of him like a father to help us recognize his fatherly characteristics.


Well I’m relating to the idea of self, God has self, though in a much more higher and uncomprehending way than we do. He does not “think” like we do, because in fact that requires a brain, yet when our souls are separated from our body neither will they think as we do now because they will not have brains.

God does have mind, and this is a teaching of the Church. He’s not some abstract force.


As I said before Jesus has one divine self, or divine ego. It is Catholic teaching that Jesus is a divine Person. He is not a human person. It would be heretical to say that Jesus is a human person. He has a human nature, but he is not a human person.

If I remember my philosophy of mind qualia is related to knowledge gained through the senses. However, qualia is not the same as the Intellect. The intellect is like a power of the soul. Whereas sensory data informs the intellect. Thomas Aquinas thought that humans can only gain knowledge through either the senses or through an infused knowledge from God (like a prophet). It is Catholic teaching that Jesus from his conception knew all things since he is divine. But he was also able to have access to information through his human nature. And this taking in of information would be the same as us through learning. So he has 2 modes of accessing information. Through his divine nature he knows all things and through his human nature he can experience what he already knows from his divine nature. In this way we can say he experienced being human like us in all things except sin. While still being divine and knowing all things.

I should mention there is another source of knowledge, the beatific vision, this is where a person’s mind is united to the mind of God. This is how the Saints in heaven can know our prayers here on earth. Because their mind is in union with God through the beatific vision.


The part towards the end that I put into bold is why I would say “yes, 2 qualia.”

I understand what you’re saying (or think I do, at least). You’re saying that to have a qualia necessarily requires physical senses, and since God has no physical senses, there is no such thing as a divine qualia. Do I have that right? If so, my response would be that somehow God still perceives the physical world. Not with eyeballs and fingers, of course not. That gets me back to your text: He does have “2 modes of accessing information” one of them Divine, not sensory.

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