Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Dimitrios Moschos: Reasons of being versus uncreated energies - Neoplatonism and mathematics as means of participating in God according to Nicephorus Gregoras

Nicephorus Gregoras (1293-1361) was the third opponent of Gregory Palamas during the hesychast controversy (1341-1351) after Barlaam from Calabria and Gregory Akindynos. Gregoras was much less traditionalist than Akindynos because according to him knowledge of God as well as the real knowledge of the world is obtained neither through syllogisms nor through perception of senses but by the inherent affinity of Intellect with the godly innate "reasons of being" formed in it. Intellect (Nous) is trained in this through mathematical sciences as well as with initiation in the mysteries of revealed knowledge of Church life, while perceptions of outside experiences like visions, and the like, through ascetical life, which was claimed by the hesychasts is a deceitful knowledge. Thus, the notion of "reasons of being" elaborated in a neo-platonist fashion is contrasted to "divine energies" of Palamas. Unlike Barlaam who put some value to Aristotelian logic as source of true knowledge, Gregoras stresses the aprioristic knowledge by the Intellect, introducing directly to the philosophical substantiation of mathematical approach of the natural world and anticipating Italian Renaissance Philosophy. On the other hand Palamas using his version of "uncreated energies" insists on the plasticity of relations between God and created world which is founded on the biblically grounded free will of God instead of a compulsive emanation from a mathematically traceable archetypal form. This fundamental difference affects issues of Christian dogma as well as the perception of history, the importance of scientific knowledge etc

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