Friday, 1 May 2015

Dionysios Skliris: The Philosophical Implications of Maximus the Confessor’s Eschatology

As the last thinker of Late Antiquity, Maximus could be examined in relation to the past as a bold reformer of Aristotelianism. He could also be observed in relation to the future: Some innovative elements of his thought, such as his historical dialectic, entail a Christian transformation of the Platonic-Aristotelian legacy in the direction of its greater historization and interiorization. Maximus is thinking of the end (telos) just like Aristotle, as entailing a passage from potentiality (dynamis) to actualization (energeia). He also has a particularly Aristotelian sense of retroactive final causation, namely the fact that we can understand a being only from its end. He also uses a notion of “attraction” (helxis, cf. PG 90,1389A) that is causation and motion take place mainly through attraction and not through impulsion. But Maximus transforms the Aristotelian teleology radically by putting it in historical and eschatological terms. The field of passage from potentiality to actuality is not Biology or nature but History. And the end which attracts is not natural maturity but the eschaton which presents nevertheless a gap of radical discontinuity in relation to natural evolution. Eschatology at the same time confirms teleology and “crucifies” it. In our presentation, we shall try to examine how Maximus receives but also modifies Aristotelian teleology as well as the relation of his thought with the later development of dialectics. We shall also endeavour to develop the philosophical implications of his eschatology especially in what concerns the theory of being, motion, time and activity (energeia).

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