Author Topic: I Like Scholasticism/Using Aristotelian Philosophy in Christianity  (Read 10541 times)

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Offline Sam G

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Forgive me if it came out against you.  I was being critical in general, not to you personally.

I didn't take it that way.  I was just putting that out there so no one expected me to defend that position.
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Offline Sam G

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And this whole blame-game gets silly really quick because some RC polemicists will blame atheism/secularism/liberalism/etc. all on Protestants. It becomes just a matter of piling the blame on someone/something we don't like anyway.

Agreed, it prevents us from looking inward and seeing what role we ourselves play in creating and perpetrating the problems of today.
All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too
Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl

Offline minasoliman

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And this whole blame-game gets silly really quick because some RC polemicists will blame atheism/secularism/liberalism/etc. all on Protestants. It becomes just a matter of piling the blame on someone/something we don't like anyway.

Agreed, it prevents us from looking inward and seeing what role we ourselves play in creating and perpetrating the problems of today.

We have a modern-day saint in the Coptic Church, Fr. Mikhail Ibrahim.  One story I like about him is how he won over an obstinately anti-church man who insulted him by blaming himself and making himself responsible for his obstinacy:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,57503.msg1100887.html#msg1100887
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Offline Nephi

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Agreed, it prevents us from looking inward and seeing what role we ourselves play in creating and perpetrating the problems of today.

We have a modern-day saint in the Coptic Church, Fr. Mikhail Ibrahim.  One story I like about him is how he won over an obstinately anti-church man who insulted him by blaming himself and making himself responsible for his obstinacy:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,57503.msg1100887.html#msg1100887

I had missed that thread, but that was a beautiful account. Thanks for sharing it here.

Offline wainscottbl

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I posted this before and it got some negative comments. Not that it matters. I'll post it again. Some may know Mr. Dyer's work and either enjoy it, hate it, or be indifferent about it. I enjoy it and even though I like Scholasticism I think he speaks well here:

This one I came upon in my search:

http://jaysanalysis.com/2010/04/07/root-problems-of-western-scholasticism/

But here is what I was referring to:

http://jaysanalysis.com/2013/08/22/from-thomism-to-enlightenment-deismatheism/

I have run across and enjoyed Mr. Dyer's work before on Mystagogy, however, don't you find some of the other material posted on his own site a bit... out there?

Not to digress from the discussion but generally, no. I am guessing you are alluding to his conspiracy theory stuff. I think it's pretty accurate.

On the topic now, I am in between on the issue. I do not think proving God exists is wrong and Aquinas certainly knows the limits of it. I think it is helpful, especially to the atheists who like to pretend to be smart simply because they do not believe in the fairy tale. They cannot show a first and eternal cause which must exist, whether God or not. So if the universe developed out of an atom and so forth is the atom eternal? It may not be intelligent but it must be eternal or else be caused by something else. Aquinas argument is pretty good and solid. Creationists are too busy arguing the material result of creation with atheists. The reason I am not an atheist is Aquinas argument. Because otherwise I would say evil is just random and material in cause since I could not imagine a good God even allowing it. I still can hardly imagine that, but because there MUST be a God or nothing can be, I say by faith: God, that evil is and you have created its cause, the angels, makes you a fool to my human heart. But faith says only in Paradise can I truly know your providence in all this, though now it seems folly that you even created a universe with angels that would fall into hell and worse bring us down with them into sinfulness in a struggle that leads so many to hell. Without Aquinas proofs I might be an atheist or Deist. I'd likely be an Epicurean actually. I do not think the proofs of God's existence are the problem of Thomism. I think the problem is elsewhere--the use of reason to a point that it has become the main way of dealing with theological issues for the Catholic Church. Their loss of mysticism that the east has caused a certain problematic view--looking at everything divine through nature first. But of course Aquinas was devout and knew that reason had its limits. I still like Scholasticism but I do see problems with it and feel that it resulted in rationalism. Yes the rationalists rejected Scholasticism because they rejected religion but rationalism did develop organically out of Scholasticism, something that did not happen in the East, but came there from the West. But it would be fair to look at philosophy and Scholasticism in the Eastern Church before saying it is a purely Latin error.
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Offline Porter ODoran

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 I am loving this discussion, and especially where it reaches some profound depths.

Aquinas and Aristotle or Augustine and Plato are not the West's ill (and indeed species of their thinking underlay the East to some extent); however, again, they are part of a package the West has put together to explain itself, and unless one is prepared and able to tear that package back apart and analyze its each piece for Wisdom, one is likely to make of it what the Western secular apologists hope one will make of it and, well, begin to fall to the illness we see all around us. Of course this is not really a special danger of philosophy -- the deceiving demons infect so much of life, and prayer and fasting are always necessary. Yet I think it is worth pointing out that, when one encounters Aristotle, one is troublingly likely not, in truth, to be ecountering Aristotle but some piece of Western casuistry that's chosen that mask.

But: how can above thinkers be found to support Orthodoxy or nourish the Orthodox?
« Last Edit: May 22, 2014, 03:29:23 PM by Porter ODoran »
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline minasoliman

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I am loving this discussion, and especially where it reaches some profound depths.

Aquinas and Aristotle or Augustine and Plato are not the West's ill (and indeed species of their thinking underlay the East to some extent); however, again, they are part of a package the West has put together to explain itself, and unless one is prepared and able to tear that package back apart and analyze its each piece for Wisdom, one is likely to make of it what the Western secular apologists hope one will make of it and, well, begin to fall to the illness we see all around us. Of course this is not really a special danger of philosophy -- the deceiving demons infect so much of life, and prayer and fasting are always necessary. Yet I think it is worth pointing out that, when one encounters Aristotle, one is troublingly likely not, in truth, to be ecountering Aristotle but some piece of Western casuistry that's chosen that mask.

But: how can above thinkers be found to support Orthodoxy or nourish the Orthodox?

They may be found in areas to support Orthodox, but they don't nourish Orthodoxy.  Rather, Orthodoxy, or the Church, nourishes them, and uses them as a tool for the masses.  The Roman Catholic Church was not the only Church in the Middle Ages to become immersed in Aristotelian philosophy.  Practically all of Christianity was, and that should not be seen as a "dark age".  In many places, especially Islam, Aristotelian philosophy had its need to be used in the theological culture of the time.  The same goes for Plato, and the same can go for St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.  These can also be used to benefit us in some way. 

It takes a great deal and level of maturity to be able to discern how one can use this and not compromise the Orthodox faith.  St. Paul uses the "unknown God" language to support the notion of the God they did not know until now.  We have the story of St. Mark meeting Anianus, a random Monotheistic Egyptian (non-Jew), who when hurting himself in his cobbler shop, cried out "Oh the One God", giving St. Mark that opportunity to talk about the "One God".  When Plato talked about the Logos, the Apostles who taught about the Son of God as the express wisdom of the Father saw in the Greek "Logos" as the ultimate manner to win over the Greeks in the true knowledge of Christ, to the point where many even claimed Plato to have gotten his ideas from the Torah!!!

The point is, we should not deny the cultural atmosphere, but employ whatever is available for us to reveal the truth of Orthodoxy to people in the best way possible.  Thomas Aquinas attempted this, and I think we need to be a bit appreciative of his effort, despite the fact he wasn't Orthodox.  One can only wonder what would have happened if Thomas Aquinas was alive long enough to be present at the council of Florence what he would have said.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2014, 07:44:49 PM by minasoliman »
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Offline wainscottbl

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  One can only wonder what would have happened if Thomas Aquinas was alive long enough to be present at the council of Florence what he would have said.

Yeah, would have been interesting. But he seems to have defended most of the big Latin things like Purgatory and the double procession of the Holy Spirit. Still it would have been nice if he had lived to attend. He certainly would not be motivated by political or personal passions as many were there. Thomas Aquinas, even if Orthodox do not think him a saint, was no doubt a holy man. He was humble and never motivated by personal gain. He was granted according to legend the removal of concupiscence for the act of chasing a tempteress out of his room with a stick from the fire place when she tried to seduce him on order from his family. No malice or ill will in him like, alas, with others perhaps, who may have been good willed but too human--motivated by passion, never good in these sorts of debates.
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Offline Dan-Romania

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I am on for Scholasticism and systematisation anytime anywhere. I think the theology of the Trinity implies that Somehow/Somewhere people can get to a knowledge, understanding of God through creation. Let's not forget the Logos of the Greek philosophers which coincidental or not the Gospel after John used to describe the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. The whole thing about the (Christian) Logos seems to imply to me the knowledge of God through the creation. The Christian Logos is the one through which everything was done and without Him nothing was done(created). He is the means of creation, a medium between the unknown and the known. Therefore to me that implies that through this governing principle, the ruling principle and law of the world, which is the Logos we can get at the knowledge of the Unknown, Ultimate and Mystery of God. Not to mention that the Logos has gone so far into becoming a man and Incarnating as a man. Nevertheless I think that Scholasticism until now has proved to be limited concerning God. Perhaps it is too shy, people didn't there to go too far and perhaps it will take us further along with this intellectual evolution or perhaps it is just limited.
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Offline Porter ODoran

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What does anyone think of the Franciscan theology? I ask because it was perceived as a challenge or at least contrast to Thomism at one time (though now defined as complementary) -- but maybe the question should be a new thread.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2014, 08:48:18 PM by Porter ODoran »
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline wainscottbl

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I am on for Scholasticism and systematisation anytime anywhere. I think the theology of the Trinity implies that Somehow/Somewhere people can get to a knowledge, understanding of God through creation. Let's not forget the Logos of the Greek philosophers which coincidental or not the Gospel after John used to describe the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. The whole thing about the (Christian) Logos seems to imply to me the knowledge of God through the creation. The Christian Logos is the one through which everything was done and without Him nothing was done(created). He is the means of creation, a medium between the unknown and the known. Therefore to me that implies that through this governing principle, the ruling principle and law of the world, which is the Logos we can get at the knowledge of the Unknown, Ultimate and Mystery of God. Not to mention that the Logos has gone so far into becoming a man and Incarnating as a man. Nevertheless I think that Scholasticism until now has proved to be limited concerning God. Perhaps it is too shy, people didn't there to go too far and perhaps it will take us further along with this intellectual evolution or perhaps it is just limited.


I like what you said.

And Peter ODoran, I suggest starting a new thread because it might make an interesting discussion.
The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.
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Offline Papist

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Re: I Like Scholasticism/Using Aristotelian Philosophy in Christianity
« Reply #56 on: June 03, 2014, 12:16:49 PM »
What does anyone think of the Franciscan theology? I ask because it was perceived as a challenge or at least contrast to Thomism at one time (though now defined as complementary) -- but maybe the question should be a new thread.
Depends on what you mean. I have serious reservations about Blessed Scotus' view that the term "being" be applied univocally to both God and creation because it seems to do damage to the transcendence and mystery of God, in effect making God just another being like us, albeit an infinite one. I prefer the Thomist view because it asserts that God is not just another being.
"For, by its immensity, the divine substance surpasses every form that our intellect reaches. Thus we are unable to apprehend it by knowing what it is. Yet we are able to have some knowledge of it by knowing what it is not." - St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra gentiles, I, 14.

Offline Fabio Leite

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Re: I Like Scholasticism/Using Aristotelian Philosophy in Christianity
« Reply #57 on: June 03, 2014, 12:49:55 PM »
Philosophy and art play the same role to Christian life, through different means. Art brings into our imagination unimagined things and organizing our emotions and morality, therefore being the pedagogical tool par excellence, and philosophy by ordering the logical mind.

It's not what Christian life is, they may become idols themselves, but they are also incredible tools in helping us acquiring this life,
Many Energies, 3 Persons, 2 Natures, 1 God, 1 Church, 1 Baptism, and 1 Cup. The Son begotten only from the Father, the Spirit proceeding only from the Father, Each glorifying the Other. The Son sends the Spirit, the Spirit Reveals the Son, the Father is seen in the Son. The Spirit spoke through the Prophets and Fathers and does so even today.

Offline minasoliman

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Re: I Like Scholasticism/Using Aristotelian Philosophy in Christianity
« Reply #58 on: June 03, 2014, 01:32:53 PM »
What does anyone think of the Franciscan theology? I ask because it was perceived as a challenge or at least contrast to Thomism at one time (though now defined as complementary) -- but maybe the question should be a new thread.
Depends on what you mean. I have serious reservations about Blessed Scotus' view that the term "being" be applied univocally to both God and creation because it seems to do damage to the transcendence and mystery of God, in effect making God just another being like us, albeit an infinite one. I prefer the Thomist view because it asserts that God is not just another being.
i don't know much about Franciscan theology, or what that means, but in the way you present I would tend to agree with you.
Vain existence can never exist, for "unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: I Like Scholasticism/Using Aristotelian Philosophy in Christianity
« Reply #59 on: June 03, 2014, 02:33:05 PM »
Well, what I was thinking of was Bonaventure, the founder of Franciscan theology. In either school, when we get to the "how many angels on the head of a pin" period, I lose interest. At any rate, Bonaventure can sound a lot like an Eastern. (And I think he came by the mysticism organically, unlike a "oh you don't need Climacus we have a late imitation" St. John of the Cross.) ;)
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline Papist

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Re: I Like Scholasticism/Using Aristotelian Philosophy in Christianity
« Reply #60 on: June 03, 2014, 04:38:21 PM »
Well, what I was thinking of was Bonaventure, the founder of Franciscan theology. In either school, when we get to the "how many angels on the head of a pin" period, I lose interest. At any rate, Bonaventure can sound a lot like an Eastern. (And I think he came by the mysticism organically, unlike a "oh you don't need Climacus we have a late imitation" St. John of the Cross.) ;)
I think there are places where St. Thomas can sound quite eastern as well. He argues that God is utterly transcendent, unknownable in His essence for any limited mind, deifies by his own divine power, does not have an essence in the sense that we think of the term (an essence would be limiting), etc.

I think the angels dancing on the head of a pin thing is a reflection of the later decay of scholasticism that occurred after Aquinas' death.
"For, by its immensity, the divine substance surpasses every form that our intellect reaches. Thus we are unable to apprehend it by knowing what it is. Yet we are able to have some knowledge of it by knowing what it is not." - St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra gentiles, I, 14.

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: I Like Scholasticism/Using Aristotelian Philosophy in Christianity
« Reply #61 on: June 03, 2014, 04:50:24 PM »
Well, what I was thinking of was Bonaventure, the founder of Franciscan theology. In either school, when we get to the "how many angels on the head of a pin" period, I lose interest. At any rate, Bonaventure can sound a lot like an Eastern. (And I think he came by the mysticism organically, unlike a "oh you don't need Climacus we have a late imitation" St. John of the Cross.) ;)
I think there are places where St. Thomas can sound quite eastern as well. He argues that God is utterly transcendent, unknownable in His essence for any limited mind, deifies by his own divine power, does not have an essence in the sense that we think of the term (an essence would be limiting), etc.

I think the angels dancing on the head of a pin thing is a reflection of the later decay of scholasticism that occurred after Aquinas' death.

Quite right. St. Thomas in his role as philosopher was just a very able, intuitive, and Christ-inspired interpreter of Aristotle; he was a foremost mind for any era; he did not partake of the caricaturable scholiasm to follow him. But slandering their forebears served the cause of modernist thinkers ... As for comparisons with the East -- well, Aristotle was antecedent to Byzantine culture as welll -- but above all let's not forget that what is divinely true is always everywhere true and by the Spirit can be accessible.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2014, 04:51:37 PM by Porter ODoran »
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

Quote from: Seekingtrue
Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy