The place of Greek philosophy in the Orthodox East: A study of Saint Gregory Palamas

  1. Lemma
  2. Ἡ θέση τῆς ἑλληνικῆς φιλοσοφίας στήν Ὀρθόδοξη Ἀνατολή: Σπουδή στόν Ἅγιο Γρηγόριο Παλαμᾶ
  3. English
  4. Koutalis, Vangelis
  5. Conflict - Orthodox theological tradition and practice > Status of theology - Concepts of knowledge and modes of reasoning > Orthodox gnosiology - Orthodox Anthropology - Concepts of knowledge and modes of reasoning - Concepts of knowledge and modes of reasoning > Sources of knowledge (empiricism/rationalism) - Key thinkers
  6. 22-11-2017
  7. Terezis, Christos [Author]. The place of Greek philosophy in the Orthodox East: A study of Saint Gregory Palamas
  8. Ἡ θέση τῆς ἑλληνικῆς φιλοσοφίας στήν Ὀρθόδοξη Ἀνατολή: Σπουδή στόν Ἅγιο Γρηγόριο Παλαμᾶ : Φιλοσοφική καί Θεολογική Βιβλιοθήκη 32 - Thessaloniki: P. Pournaras, 1995.
  9. St. Gregory Palamas - Divine energies - Aristotle - Plato - Aristotelianism - Platonism - apodictic syllogism - essence-energies distinction - deification - Greek philosophy - Uncreated light
    1. <p>Terezis, C. [Τερέζης, Χ.] (2002). <em>Ἡ θέση τῆς ἑλληνικῆς φιλοσοφίας στήν Ὀρθόδοξη Ἀνατολή: Σπουδή στόν Ἅγιο Γρηγόριο Παλαμᾶ</em>. Φιλοσοφική καί Θεολογική Βιβλιοθήκη 32. Thessaloniki: P. Pournaras.</p>
    1. In this historical-philosophical study, the philosophical implications of Gregory Palamas’ work are thoroughly touched upon, especially with regard to the relation between Greek philosophy and Christian theology, and more generally to the relation between philosophical or scientific reasoning and theological argumentation.

      The first part of the book is dedicated to the place held by philosophy in the theology of Palamas. His explicit critical stance towards the ancient Greek philosophers notwithstanding, Palamas acknowledges certain positive elements in the Greek philosophical tradition. Secular knowledge is a natural gift supplied by God to all human beings through the possibilities that are inherent in nature, and if properly handled it may indeed lead to a spiritual improvement. His principal concern, however, was to highlight the peculiarity, the novelty, as well as the primacy, in terms of spiritual edification, of Christian theology. The teachings of Christ are not to be seen as an extension of the Greek philosophy, but as something radically new, which necessitates a re-interpretation of human history and a new understanding of human society in the light of Divine Revelation. Under such prism, the meaning of philosophizing and the very notion of truth undergo fundamental remolding. A belief can be judged as true, not in so far as it proceeds from correct logical syllogisms, but in so far as it is testified and verified by the actual life of the living human subject that maintains it. This is why faith is superior to knowledge: faith is a meta-logical activity by which the noetic activity is transended and the preconditions of an actual communion with divinity are actualized.

      In the second part of the book, the gnoseological validity of theology is discussed. Palamas does not downplay the significance of empirical knowing, and in his writings it seems that he shows a preference for Aristotelian empiricism over Platonic rationalism. The knowledge of an object has to be firmly grounded on the real nature of this object. Then, due to the synthetic functions of the human mind, this knowledge may be properly articulated and further elaborated. Palamas always emphasizes the limitations of human reasoning and knowing abilities, as for the comprehension of divine mysteries, such as that of the Holy Trinity. The essence of God can neither be named nor defined. We are able to know that the divine essence does exist, but only through its powers and energies. Theological argumentation does not refer to the essence of divinity, but to whatever emanates from the activity of the divine being. The apodictic syllogism, which is based on premises that are universally true, is the type of syllogism that pertains to Christian theology, since the latter has God as its object, an entity the existence of which is necessary, and which always retains its hypostatical attributes. The dialectical syllogism, by contrast, pertains to the examination of entities and situations which are changing, variable, or contingent. Christian theology undertakes an apodictic inquiry in order to render possible a dynamical contemplation of the divine being in its manifestations. In this regard, the author speaks of a ‘Christian transformation’ of Aristotelian thought by Palamas.

      The limits of theologizing is the topic examined in the third, and final, part of the book. The divine essence, as for the way in which it can be knowable to the human mind, has an inexaustible number and rhythm of realizations. Theological knowledge is not but an attempt to approach what is impossible to grasp by means of reasoning. The divine light, the light that transforms the human beings, can only be reached through faith.