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Author Topic: Berdyaev on Thomism  (Read 1464 times) Average Rating: 0
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Jetavan
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« on: November 08, 2009, 11:20:48 AM »

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In the mindset of the Thomists, the strict division between the natural and the supernatural is a cornerstone of Christianity. Every deviation of this opposition between the natural and the supernatural leads to pantheism with the considering of this world as divine. And the Thomists suspect Platonism in this regard. For Platonism the empirical and natural world is rooted in the world of ideas, and the ideas dwell within God, and between the world and God there is no sort of chasm. This is the Platonic ontologism, which is present in the modern philosophy of Malebranche and Rozmini. The ontologism of Rozmini was condemned by the Vatican. Eastern Christianity, Orthodox thought is likewise in view a Platonic ontologism, and not Aristotelian. Thomism asserts, that Aristotle once and forever established the fundamentals of natural philosophy, which knows reality and is connected with being, not allowing of any sort of confusion between God and the world. St. Thomas Aquinas moreover developed and harmonised this eternal philosophy with the Christian revelation. This is a singularly sound, stable equilibrium, not permitting of extremes or fractures, a classical philosophy. Every philosophic mysticism appears to the Thomists as dangerous and susceptible of heresy. They fear the gnosticism, towards which inclined the Eastern teachers of the Church, St. Clement of Alexandria, Origen, St. Gregory of Nyssa, -- all Platonists in their tradition. Gnosticism, mysticism, ontologism of the Platonic type is likewise hostile to the Thomists, just as also is the modernist irrationalism and agnosticism.
-- Berdyaev
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« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2009, 11:44:35 AM »

Grace and Peace,

This view is far too radicalized to be accepted as Roman Catholic. Even in Platonism the dualism isn't an ontological one as 'everything' ultimately emanates from the One and thus 'everything' will eventually be re-absorbed into the One thus there is no ontological (i.e. I use this term to say 'essential') distinction between the natural and supernatural world. Our Holy Father Benedict XVI is a Thomist and even he recognizes fulfillment of this within the God-Man Himself (Jesus). Perhaps I am missing the authors point?
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« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2009, 12:24:42 PM »

Grace and Peace,

This view is far too radicalized to be accepted as Roman Catholic. Even in Platonism the dualism isn't an ontological one as 'everything' ultimately emanates from the One and thus 'everything' will eventually be re-absorbed into the One thus there is no ontological (i.e. I use this term to say 'essential') distinction between the natural and supernatural world. Our Holy Father Benedict XVI is a Thomist and even he recognizes fulfillment of this within the God-Man Himself (Jesus). Perhaps I am missing the authors point?
I believe he's critiquing Thomism as too dualistic.
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« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2009, 05:37:55 PM »

I believe he's critiquing Thomism as too dualistic.

Seriously, what's new? Orthodoxy has spent generations looking into everything Roman in order to find fault. In more recent generations it has been spent more to determine what they are not or don't want to be or don't want the early Church interpreted as.

In Roman Catholicism there exists several competing philosophic frameworks, Thomism is simply one of them. I don't think Roman Catholics mistake these systems for 'reality' but only a philosophical system used to look at reality. It is merely 'a finger pointing at the mysteries' and not 'the mystery itself'. In any Theistic system there must be 'a safety valve' or 'stop gap' for what we describe as Pantheism. Clearly Thomism creates such a 'gap' within it's philosophic concepts of the natural and supernatural but please don't confuse this as some sort of Dogma of the Catholic Church. It is a system. Nothing more. The inherent pseudo-Platonist frameworks present within Orthodoxy must also be understood as simply a means in which to 'understand' cognitively the mysteries of our shared faith. Once they are not seen as such, they become 'idols' and man then grasps at control of reality through concepts instead of being awed by it in firsthand encounter. It is true The Roman Church as fallen into such errors from time to time but has always managed to transcend them. Not always with much elegance, mind you, but transcend them non-the-less. Every cogent articulations of the mysteries of our faith have always been preceded by an affirmation that we only, as St. Paul, look as through a glass darkly. Thomism is no different and neither is any other Philosophic Framework, Eastern Orthodox or otherwise. The only true expression of the mysteries is through 'gnosis' (i.e. as in the classic sense of the word "lived experience"). Systems point and some more crudely then others but all simply point to such 'lived experiences' of the faithful. Asking us, inviting us too to join them.
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« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2009, 02:25:24 PM »

I don't think the natrual v. supernatural dichotomy is as stong in Thomism as this article suggest. In fact, Thomas' philosophy recognizes that being finds its source in God and even uses the word "being" for God and his creation, even though the term is used by analogy and has a different meaning when applied to God. Because of this analogical application of the term being we are protected from the two extremes of pantheism and too strict a dichotomy between natural and supernatural. Even though created (i.e. natural things) are not God, they all find the source of their being in God.
And to clarify a point further, Thomas' philosophy of being is not strictly Aristotilian. He incorporates some aspects of platonism in the Summas as well.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2009, 02:28:55 PM by Papist » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2009, 02:05:09 PM »

I think that one has to read a little bit more Berdiaev than this to state his opinion of Roman Catholicism.
In his Smysl tvorchestva. Opyt opravadniya czel'ovyeka Moskva 1915, he writes something to the effect that the Roman Catholic hierarchy and the Mystical Body of Christ are two different things which have nothing in common. True, he praised Pope Pius XII but he was firmly grounded in Russian national messianism which sui generis rejects Roman Catholicism as something ignoble. Berdiaev has to be read as a part of the Russian system, that means he cannot be separated from the bulk of Russian experience and history. His philosophical arguments lack lustre for me. His philosophy reads like a sermon.
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« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2012, 01:34:28 PM »

I love me some Nikolai Berdyaev!
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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2012, 01:50:33 PM »

I love me some Nikolai Berdyaev!
Since you asked....

"I know that the Catholic world is very rich, complex and manifold, that there are many currents in it. But it is no accident that in the Christianity of the West Aristotelianism prevails. The way of Western Christianity can be expressed in the categories of the Aristotelian philosophy, in the Aristotelian doctrine of form and matter [forma et materia], of potentiality and act [potentia et actus]. The form organizes the matter of life, the matter of the world; the world must be assigned finally to the organizing form. The ecclesiastical hierarchy which is assigned to a uniform highest center, the ecclesiastical doctrine is a forming, organizing principle, which must rule and cannot tolerate that matter which would flow chaotically or separating itself off. Potentiality is imperfect, is non-expressed being which has not yet found its expression, half not-being, -- only the act is true and full being. God is pure act [actus purus], and in Him there is no potentiality. So the Catholic Church is longing to be on earth pure act and not to tolerate the dominance of the potentiality, the not-coming to expression with all its manifold possibilites. In this regard the Christianity of the West, Catholicism, has inherited antiquity’s thinking: it is classical, it fears infinity, it sees in finiteness, in definiteness the sign of the perfectness of being. In Christianity of the East there prevails another spirit. For the East Platonism is far nearer than is Aristotelianism. Orthodoxy is more meditative and eschatological, less bellicose and actual. In the Orthodox Church one finds more the potential, the historically not yet worked out, and it does not regard this as a sign of imperfection or a half not-being. The eschatological perspective of life must maintain moreso the potential possibilities."

Doesn't the Church need both the Aristotelian and the Platonic? (And the Socratic, for good measure?)
« Last Edit: December 08, 2012, 01:54:08 PM by Jetavan » Logged

If you will, you can become all flame.
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« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2012, 01:56:19 PM »

I absolutely love Plato.
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« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2012, 02:58:25 PM »

Plato? I prefer the scholar that ran his academy a half dozen generations later: Carneades  Cool

But regarding Berdyaev, his sorta-Orthodox-sorta-out-there thoughts would be interesting to explore, e.g. his his idea that freedom preceeds being/existence and God.
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« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2012, 03:04:24 PM »

Berdiaiev is only re-hashing Slavophile arguments. Slavophilism and the subsequent birth of modern orthodox theology are the result of Russia's adoption of romantic German idealist philosophy
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« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2012, 03:06:08 PM »

Plato? I prefer the scholar that ran his academy a half dozen generations later: Carneades  Cool

I love the story where he was expelled from Rome after his two speeches  Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2012, 03:20:16 PM »

Plato? I prefer the scholar that ran his academy a half dozen generations later: Carneades  Cool

I love the story where he was expelled from Rome after his two speeches  Smiley
Do Romans have something against Platonists?
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In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
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« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2012, 03:24:06 PM »

Plato? I prefer the scholar that ran his academy a half dozen generations later: Carneades  Cool

I love the story where he was expelled from Rome after his two speeches  Smiley
Do Romans have something against Platonists?

No. Something against Cynics and relativists. Especially in the age of Cato Maior. Carneades delivered two speeches in Rome, on the first day he fiercely argued that justice was the most important thing in the world, the next day he argued just as fiercely that justice is folly. That wasn't appreciated in Rome and he was expelled.
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« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2012, 01:34:35 AM »

Fwiw some argue that he wasn't being a relativist, but was trying to make a point about certainty and "knowing" by arguing both sides of an issue. Unlike Arcesilaus before him, Carneades did believe that you could be more sure of some things than others, it's just that he still thought you could not say "I know X" with certainty.  Anyway... Smiley
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