I've yet to come across an Orthodox theologian that has much nominalistic thought.
I myself lean strongly toward nominalism, which makes it rather difficult for me to deal with, like, all of Orthodox theology.
Most modern people would have a hard time understanding essentialism, and I think we could benefit from learning to express our theology using different metaphysics.
Hey I was posting while you were. I agree with the bolded.
I don't hang around such sophisticates. So I never have really encountered a serious self-proclaimed nominalist like yourself.
Could you expound a little (I ain't looking for some argument) on how you reconcile your nominalist bent and belief in God and just some stuff in general. In short, could you talk a little about how you think?
I typically don't ask such open questions, but really, I've rarely (outside certain mathematics courses) heard anyone take nominalism seriously.
(FWIW, if you don't hang on every word with issues forth from my mouth, I think nominalism and "essentialism" or belief in universals (which I find in the end to be the same although many would argue otherwise) stem from the same less than productive method.)
Again just curious, if you care to take a little to expand a bit on your thinking.
As fascinating as I find theology, I find philosophy equally dull, but I'll just try to set out how I think about stuff. I'm not interested in arguing for it. I'll just put it out there.
-We think about things in terms of labels based on patterns, which may be illusory.
-Universals don't quite exist (at least not at our level of experience).
-Individuals and discrete objects don't really exist either.
Unfortunately, it looks like there's not much left to exist.
Theologically, I struggle with the Greek concepts of essence
, which are typically treated by us Orthodox as having objective and borderline concrete existence. I would say that essence and nature are purely artificial constructs that we have invented in order to reduce the world to more manageable categories that we can think about easily. I don't think there's objectively any such thing as a nature or an essence.
Think about incarnational theology. I have trouble with this statement: Christ transformed the human nature through His redemptive acts.
If nature is just a convenient abstraction, then how do Christ's redemptive acts affect us? They should only affect Him personally. Similarly, Western theories of atonemet stop making sense, because they presuppose an objective connection between Christ and the rest of humanity.
Now, I absolutely do not think that a nominalism undermines the doctrine of redemption. But it requires a completely different
explanation--a less abstract one. I don't believe either explanation would contradict the other, or that we'd truly be inventing anything new, although I might call one explanation more precise.
This is just an example of a theological question that's affected by a nominalist theory, because the traditional Orthodox explanation supposes the existence of universal commonalities in a very strong sense.
I noticed you seemed to ask how I reconcile nominalism with belief in God. Unfortunately, I'm not sure what the contradiction would be, but I'd be glad to hear.