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Aristotle East and West : David Bradshaw :

As the subtitle of the book indicates, Bradshaw attempts to explain the division of Christendom through metaphysics: the way the Aristotelian concept of energeia was adopted and transformed in the East and West respectively. In the first part of the book, Bradshaw traces the development of the concept energeia from Aristotle through Plotinus.

The heritage of Plotinus is furthered and transformed through Iamblichus and Proclus and is then picked up by Christian Neo-Platouists. The chapter on the formation of the Eastern tradition follows the development of energeia through the Cappadocian Fathers, Dionysius the Areopagite, Maximus the Confessor, Simeon the New Theologian and finally Gregory Palamas.

The distinction between ousia and energeia between God as He "remains beyond our reach" and "God as He "comes down to us" is first forged by the Cappadocians. Thus God's energeiai, his manifestations ad extra, are not creatures "but God himself appearing in a certain form" p.

This distinction will receive its best formulation in Gregory Palamas whom Bradshaw regards as the completion of the Eastern tradition. The Wests trajectory after Plotinus goes through the anonymous commentator on the Parmenides, Marius Victorinus, Augustine, and ultimately Thomas Aquinas. The most important development to occur in the West was the association between energeia and esse: energeia as activity is transformed into esse.

Bradshaw, David. Aristotle East and West: Metaphysics and the Division of Christendom.

So, Bradshaw wants to argue not just that the Unmoved Mover is a paradigm of intelligibility and as such the goal of natural development, but also active in the world. The way he puts this is, however, odd. If not, it is difficult to see the grounds for the inference from formal and final to efficient, for formality and finality in themselves do not constitute efficiency. What is the difference? The Demiurge is complex in a way that the Unmoved Mover is not supposed to be. That complexity is subordinate to the simple Idea of the Good which itself evidently exercises a type of efficient causality see Republic vi b, pareinai, proseinai.

So, why not suppose that the Unmoved Mover is an efficient cause not as is the Demiurge but just as the Idea of the Good is?

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Indeed, this is the path along which the Latin theological tradition moves. It is not created in the Christian sense by what would have to be a complex first principle of all. The interpretation is crucial for Bradshaw because for him Plot- inus is a central turning point in the Christian appropriation of the Aristotelian idea.


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The second is the external energeia of the first, and the third is the external energeia of the second. Bradshaw interprets this to mean that the sole product of the One is Intellect. This matters for Bradshaw because he wants to reject an absolutely simple first principle of all that is the cause of all being; rather, the first principle of all needs to be sufficiently rich in properties so that it can account fully for all reality and also be participated in by creatures.

Bradshaw has a particularly illuminating discussion of the successors to Ploti- nus, Porphyry, and Iamblichus, and how they attempted to develop Plotinian themes in response to the increasing challenges of Christianity. I cannot speak with any confidence about the last part of this book, the survey of Orthodox theological reflection on the Aristotelian legacy. I can say, however, that I found it illuminating to see displayed a living tradition evidently animated by the interpretation of technical ancient philosophical texts.

One of the central virtues of this book, which deserves to be called a tour de force, is that it builds bridges without employing rhetorical gimmicks. The gulfs between Eastern and Western Christianity, philosophy and theology, and ancient philosophy broadly and narrowly conceived all here come under attack. Beginning with the ancient concept of energeia, Bradshaw is able to cast light on a plethora of deeply divisive issues. Scholars of ancient philosophy primarily or exclusively devoted to the fourth century BCE are hereby invited to a little hori- zon expansion.

Theologians in Conversation: The Division of Christianity between East and West

Related Papers. By Lloyd Gerson. Harry Potter. Popular Features. New Releases. Description 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.

Evolutionary Theory in Light of Plato, Aristotle & Neoplatonism

Table of contents Preface; 1. The Aristotelian beginnings; 2. The prime mover; 3.


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