Bishop Gregory (hgr) wrote,
Bishop Gregory

Дионисий Ареопагит современным языком (1)

начну потихоньку выкладывать
это про "патристику современным философским языком". главный философский автор -- однозначно, Дионисий Ареопагит. поэтому статья о нем.

Philosophy of Dionysius the Areopagite in the Modern Philosophical Context.

Part One: Intensional Language and Modal Ontology



Bird’s eye view on the Corpus Areopagiticum allows discerning, at least, four main philosophical knots of Areopagite’s thought:

1.       “Divine names,” that is, a theory of reference and designators: this is a classical problem of analytical philosophy sensu stricto but applied to the relations between the created world and the God.

2.       The logic of created being: Areopagite understands it as a quite specific system of modal logic, different from such systems as S4 or S5 (which are normally considered as the logics of the real being in the modern philosophy, which, in turn, follows Aristotle’s views on the alethic modality).

3.       A paraconsistent logic of divine being: to my knowledge, not identical to any of the paraconsistent logics proposed by the modern logicians.[1]

4.       A paraconsistent epistemic logic: a docta ignorantia doctrine much more radical than that of Nicholas of Cusa.[2]

These four main “blocks” are certainly not exhaustive for the philosophical contents of the Corpus but they represent the philosophical “skeleton” of Areopagite’s thought. Regardless of other preoccupations of Dionysius, theological and liturgical, his philosophy was one of the main raisons d’être of the Corpus as a whole and the main topic of the De divinis nominibus and the De mystica theologia.

Now I will focus attention on Areopagite’s theory of reference and modal logic of the created being, taking apart his paraconsistent logic of divine being and knowledge of God. Therefore, here I will treat Dionysius the Areopagite as an analytical philosopher.

It is impossible to give a formal definition of what analytical philosophy is. It is, nevertheless, clear, that, at least, it is a philosophy taking the natural language very seriously. There is as well a peculiar way to define what means “analytical philosophy”: it is a philosophy that discusses the topics dealt with by Wittgenstein in his Tractatus logico-philosophicus. These two explanations are sufficient to define the philosophy of Dionysius the Areopagite[3] as analytical one—whereas quite opposite to that of the Tractatus of Wittgenstein.[4]

Indeed, Wittgenstein concludes his Tractatus with the sentence “7. Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen.” Areopagites develops a doctrine about two ways of speaking about “unspeakable” (ἄρρητον), cataphatic and apophatic, although both of them are leading to the “mystical theology” which is beyond the words. Wittgenstein insists that “6.432. Wie die Welt ist, ist für das Höhere vollkommen gleichgültig. Gott offenbart sich nicht in der Welt.” Areopagite expands a picture of created hierarchies transmitting the divine revelation which is the God himself. Finally, the famous opening phrase of the Tractatus, “1. Die Welt ist alles, was der Fall ist” [Pears/McGuinness’ tr.: “The world is all that is the case”], is, in Areopagite’s system, applicable rather to the divine names than to the world, unless we accept that inexistence (μὴ ὄν) is a part of the world, too. I doubt that such a proposition would be in agreement with Wittgenstein, but, for Dionysius, inexistence is also one of the names of God, as well as every created thing or event.

Thus, a philosophy of created being as a universe of “divine names” has certainly something to do with the modern analytical philosophy.

Dionysius’ theory of reference is much more elaborated—and, oddly enough, much lesser studied—than its predecessor in patristics, the theory elaborated by the Cappadocian Fathers against Eunomius in the second half of the fourth century.

Normally, the philosophy of Areopagite is studied in a historical and comparative way, against its Neoplatonic background.[5] This is a necessary stage of investigation, but it has a danger of overshadowing more formal contents of Areopagite’s thought. Indeed, Dionysius was, among others, a poet, in wide sense of word, and even a poet belonging, most probably, to the literary network of Nonnus Panapolitanus.[6] Nevertheless, his philosophical method itself was very strict and formal, as I hope to demonstrate below. His highly poetical wording is enveloping the contents that may be converted into formulas—in the same way, as, say, the contents of Aristotle’s Analytics.

There is a specific reason to present a paper on philosophical contents of the Corpus Areopagiticum in a volume dedicated to the memory of Shalva Nutsubidze. My personal admiration toward the scholarly intuition of Nutsubidze who recognized in Dionysius the Areopagite Peter the Iberian was not the principal reason for this decision. My main reasons are located in the field of purely philosophical interests of Nutsubidze, which, I believe, leaded him to Dionysius. In his “alethology,” or “alethological realism” doctrine Nutsubidze proposed a theory of truth and knowledge, where the distinction between subject and object of knowledge losses its sense because the knowledge has nothing to do with the psychology, and the truth has priority before the existence. Areopagitic roots of such concepts are clear to everybody acquainted with Dionysius. Therefore, I have a humble hope that my following introduction in some philosophical themes of Areopagite will contribute to stimulating scholarly interest toward the philosophical ideas of Shalva Nutsubidze.

[1] But relatively close to the logic of the “unconscious as infinite sets” of Ignacio Matte Blanco; cf. Matte Blanco, Ignacio. The Unconscious as Infinite Sets. An Essay in Bi-Logic. Maresfield Library. London: H. Karnac (Books) Ltd., 1998, with previous bibliography.

[2] Usually, the modern history of the paraconsistent logic jumps from Plato and his epoch directly to the Nicholas of Cusa, ignoring the fact that Cusanus was an assiduous reader of Areopagite. See especially Priest, Graham. Beyond the Limits of Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995, pp. 23-24; cf. Priest’s sketch on the history of the paraconsistent logic in: Priest, Graham, Richard Routley, Jean Norman, and Aynes Ignez Arruda. Paraconsistent Logic: Essays on the Inconsistent. Munich: Philosophia Verlag, 1989, pp. 20-21. There are certainly some parallels here, in the “logic of divine being,” between Areopagite and, at least, some Neoplatonic non-Christian philosophers, but even they are still not studied properly by the historians of philosophy.

[3] I prefer to call this author as he called himself, without the prefix “pseudo-.” To my opinion, the core of the Corpus Areopagiticum was produced by Peter the Iberian in the 460s, and the current pseudonymised version—by the Palestinian monastics close to Peter the Iberian shortly after his death in 491, ca 500. See Lourié, Basil. “Peter the Iberian and Dionysius the Areopagite: Honigmann—van Esbroeck’s Thesis Revisited.” Scrinium 6 (2010): 143-212, where I try to prove the hypothesis put forward for the first time in 1942 by Shalva Nutsubidze.

[4] Will be quoted according to the electronic edition: Wittgenstein, Ludwig. “Tractatus logico-philosophicus. Logisch-philosophische Abhandlung.” Side-by-side-by-side edition, version 0.27 (January 30, 2012). (5 April 2012), which is based on: Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Tractatus logico-philosophicus. German text with an English translation en regard by C. K. Ogden. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1922, and idem. English tr. by David Pears and Brian McGuinness. London: Routledge, 1961.

[5] As a recent example of such an approach I would recommend Schäfer, Christian. Philosophy of Dionysius the Areopagite. An Introduction to the Structure and the Content of the Treatise On the Divine Names. Philosophia Antiqua 99. Leiden—Boston: Brill, 2006.

[6] First observed by Sergei Averintsev: Аверинцев, Сергей. Поэтика ранневизантийской литературы [Poetics of Early Byzantine Literature]. Moscow: Nauka, 1977, p. 137-140 [the monograph is available in several reprints and in Italian translation: Averincev, Sergej S. L’anima e lo specchio: l’universo della poetica bizantina. Tr. G. Ghini. Collezione di testi e di studi. Bologna: Il Mulino, 1988]. See, for futher details, Lourié, Peter the Iberian..., 172-180.


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