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Download Aristotle East and West eBook

by Bradshaw

Download Aristotle East and West eBook
ISBN:
0521035562
Author:
Bradshaw
Category:
Humanities
Language:
English
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (March 26, 2007)
Pages:
312 pages
EPUB book:
1716 kb
FB2 book:
1389 kb
DJVU:
1658 kb
Other formats
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Rating:
4.2
Votes:
375


Aristotle East and West: Metaphysics and the Division of Christendom David Bradshaw angered a lot of people with this, though when one looks at what is actually said, it's hard to see how Bradshaw said anything new.

Aristotle East and West. Metaphysics and the Division of Christendom. Bradshaw, David 2018. Aristotle East and West. God as the Good: A Critique of H. Tristram Engelhardt, J. s After God. The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy: A Forum for Bioethics and Philosophy of Medicine, Vol. 43, Issue. Online ISBN: 9780511482489.

This book traces the development of conceptions of God and the relationship between God's being and activity from Aristotle, through the pagan Neoplatonists, to thinkers such as Augustine, Boethius and Aquinas (in the West) and Dionysius the Areopagite, Maximus the Confessor and Gregory Palamas (in the East). The result is a comparative history of philosophical thought in the two halves of Christendom, providing a philosophical backdrop to the schism between the Eastern and Western Churches.

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This book traces the development of conceptions of God and the relationship between God's being and activity from Aristotle, through the pagan Neoplatonists, to thinkers such as Augustine, Boethius and Aquinas (in the West) and Dionysius the Ar. .

This book traces the development of conceptions of God and the relationship between God's being and activity from Aristotle, through the pagan Neoplatonists, to thinkers such as Augustine, Boethius and Aquinas and Dionysius the Areopagite, Maximus the Confessor and Gregory Palamas.

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Winner of the Journal of the History of Ideas's Morris D. Forkosch prize This book traces the development thought about God and the relationship between God's being and activity from Aristotle, through the pagan Neoplatonists, to thinkers such as Augustine, Boethius, and Aquinas (in the West) and Dionysius the Areopagite, Maximus the Confessor, and Gregory Palamas (in the East). The resulst is a comparative history of philosophical thought in the two halves of Christendom, providing a philosophical backdrop to the schism between the Eastern and Western churches.
  • Samugor
Prof. Bradshaw has written a brilliant but readable book for serious thinkers. The subject itself is difficult, but Bradshaw does a masterful job of making it as plain as possible. The reader who perseveres will be rewarded with a clear and compelling contrast between two very different Gods: a Western God who can be rationally comprehended but only seen from some distance, in the Beatific Vision, and an Eastern God who is beyond comprehension but whose divine nature is not seen but shared, through participation in the divine energeia. Bradshaw clearly favors the latter, but the reader is left to judge for himself which view better fits the biblical testimony, in which we are called to be "joint heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17) and "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). The book should be especially enlightening to Protestant and Evangelical readers, to whom the Orthodox teaching on "divine energy" sometimes seems bizarre. After they read this book, it will not seem so.

The book also provides a scholarly corrective to the ignorant notion that the coming of Christianity meant the end of reason and the "closing of the Western mind." The truth is exactly the opposite. As Bradshaw shows, the neoplatonist school of late pagan philosophy was edging its way toward Christianity and ultimately approximated the Christian understanding of God with its own trinities of "the One, Intellect, and Soul" and "Being, Life, and Intellect." What neoplatonism lacked was a sense of divine personhood and a compelling reason to believe its own speculation. Christianity satisfied such deficiencies with an incarnate Christ, a convincing historical narrative, a rich liturgical heritage, and a welcoming human community, in addition to a theology that in time far surpassed anything the philosophers were capable of. Far from being the end of philosophy, Christianity was its fulfillment.

The book should furthermore prompt readers to rethink the false dichotomy of philosophy and theology. As Bradshaw shows, the great Greek philosophical tradition of Plato and Aristotle was fundamentally theological. Take out the theology and the philosophy dies. The proof is in today's academy, where philosophy is taught as archaeology, a field of dead ideas of interest only to academics, leading students not to truth but to doubt and despair. No wonder that Christians themselves have taken to talking in terms of a Christian "worldview," when what they mean is what the ancients called philosophy. With this book and others like it, perhaps we can recover a better appreciation for the "Holy Wisdom" that enlightened the ancient world before darkness entirely overtakes our modern one.
  • Runeshaper
This wonderful book underrates itself in its modest title. Bradshaw virtually offers a deep and deeply interesting account of Christian philosophy in the first millennium, with a serious and helpful look at the consequences in later medieval thought. These include not only the schism, in which the West fell away from its spiritual unity with the central tradition of the Orthodox Faith, but also an impoverished understanding of the notions of power and energy. Though Philip Sherrard addressed some of these themes in his comparative works--still well worth consideration--, he did so far less accessibly than Bradshaw.

The Latin tradition is intelligently and even sympathetically discussed in a predominantly irenic spirit. Bradshaw manages to balance the prevailing atmosphere of Western ignorance and prejudice (well illustrated in a couple of the less sympathetic reviews here) with a lucid account of the thinking of important but underemphasized figures in philosophical scholarship; e.g., the Cappadocians, St. Dionysius and St. Maximus. While there have been a number of helpful studies of these thinkers in recent years, they have been mostly concerned with what is now called spirituality, or with dogmatic theology. The unity of faith, practice and intellectual life which has prevailed in the Christian East has not been generally appreciated. Bradshaw appreciates it.

I have shared this fine book with colleagues and students; they have always profited and appreciated its helpful treatment of an issue and of thinkers who are still far too little appreciated or ill understood in prevalent schools of philosophical scholarship. It is hard reading, but well worth the effort.
  • Grari
Aristotle East and West: Metaphysics and the Division of Christendom
David Bradshaw angered a lot of people with this, though when one looks at what is actually said, it's hard to see how Bradshaw said anything new. Even where he suggests new readings, he is not reconstructing the readings in any major way.

A few words beforehand: this book cautions against reading later concepts into an earlier word. Contrary to the nonsense at Credenda Agenda, the Eastern fathers' use of "energies" stems not from Plotinus (since Plotinus did not invent either the word or the concept) but rather was an older word that was continually reinterpreted around increasingly Christian categories.

Aristotle was the first to use this word, energia (or any of its semantic cognates). Aristotle's use suggests something along the lines of actuality and activity. Other thinkers took the word and gave it different applications, but the term itself did not have much of a philosophical impact until Middle Platonism (the biblical use of the term will be dealt with later).

Plotinus makes several interesting suggestions. Plotinus expands energia from Aristotle's actuality to the intrinsic productivity of all things (77). Plotinus' Two Acts: Intellect comes from the One, leaving the one unchanged. The lower hypostasis goes forth from the higher hypostasis and looks to that higher hypostasis to attain being (81). The second act is the internal energia contemplating the return back to the higher hypostasis.
Palamas and Eastern theology in general have been accused of simply regurgitating Plotinus per salvation (cf. Doug Wilson's moronic essay to this title). But given that many Eastern writers were saying similar things before Proclus and Plotinus, and that later Eastern writers fundamentally changed key moves in Plotinus' system, it's hard to say that the Eastern view is simply neo-Platonic .

The highlight of Bradshaw's book is the comparison between St Gregory Palamas and the Augustinian-Thomist synthesis. Bradshaw got in a little trouble for this argument, but it's hard to see why, since Western authors have said the same thing. Bradshaw points out that for Augustine's view of divine simplicity (and truth in general), a number of reductios entail: if God's will and God's essence are identical, it's hard to see how God could have willed otherwise (since God's essence cannot be otherwise). Hence, a most radical form of fatalism. Thomas accepts this argument, but Bradshaw's critique focuses mainly on Thomas' inability to rise out of his presuppositions. He wants to have a form of participatory metaphysics in the afterlife, but this cannot square with his emphasis on the beatific vision.

While it is true that Roman Catholicism espouses a form of synergism, it's hard to see how. Since Aquinas says that God wills all things in a single act of willing (which is identical with his essence), creatures cannot contribute anything to their salvation (or even spiritual life). Thus, all that remains is the relationship of grace manifested in an extrinsic and causal way (254).

While inviting opprobrium from the academia (who do nothing in response but chant "De Regnon" and sneer "neo-Palamite"), Bradshaw has clearly outlined his case. Even accepting that he has misread Proclus and Plotinus at places, it can no longer be gainsaid that the theological vision of Augustine and Aquinas is fundamentally at odds with the Eastern fathers. And since Christianity came from the East, and developed its theological expression in the East; ergo....

Addendum:
About ten years ago Joseph P. Farrell advanced similar claims, and the scholarly world laughed at him, dismissing him because he believed in space pyramids or something. The unspoken implication was that all rejections of Augustinian Triadology reduce to this same absurdity. David Bradshaw, writing from a peer-reviewed and university position, says exactly the same thing. However, his book was only published by Cambridge. Since then Andrew Radde-Galwitz (Oxford 2009) has gone even further. More importantly, his book was published by Oxford. The point in all of this is modern university scholarship is catching up to what Farrell said fifteen years ago. It's easy to laugh at Farrell. However, other academically-published authors are saying the same thing. Farrell's detractors are finding themselves increasingly marginalized.