In this work, I examine how we can use St Gregory Palamas’ views on hesychasm and asceticism to solve key problems associated with Aristotelian eudaimonia, Stoic apatheia, and Epicurean ataraxia. The problems of social interaction and lack of knowledge regarding the intentions of others presents a serious problem for Aristotelian eudaimonia. For Epicurean ataraxia, the fleeting nature of pleasure presents further problems, and the Stoic ideal of apatheia is too stable to be real. St Gregory Palamas knew these limitations of Ancient Greek ethics very well and proposed hesychia and ascesis as the true answer to moral dilemmas and the pursuit of true eudaimonia.
The article revisits the use of certain Augustinian expressions and passages in the works of St Gregory Palamas, mainly regarding the Trinitarian reflections in man, the imago Dei, and the notion of eros (love). First, we present Palamas’ theology regarding the eros of the nous (intellect) for its logos. Second, we provide a brief review of the literature regarding the Augustinian presence in Palamas, and then continue with our assessment of this presence. We demonstrate that Gregory does indeed borrow phrases from Augustine, but he does not always use or incorporate the latter’s ideas; sometimes (e.g., in the case of the Filioque) he even comes to the opposite conclusion. In other words, despite similarities, one also finds crucial differences between Augustine’s and Palamas’ relevant approaches. Finally, four possible reasons—not often stressed in scholarship; the third probably mentioned for the first time—are proposed to explain why Palamas takes up the notion of eros from the Bishop of Hippo: a) the ‘eternal rest’ (ἀίδιος ἐπανάπαυσις) of the Holy Spirit on the Son; b) his willingness to oppose the Filioque; c) the appeal to a major notion in Palamas’ anthropology, namely the ‘vivifying power’ (ζωοποιὸς δύναμις) of the human soul; and d) the Holy Spirit’s ‘eternal resplendence’ (ἀίδιος ἔκλαμψις/ἔκφανσις). In conclusion, it is argued that this endeavour of Palamas could nowadays also inspire Orthodox theology in its effort to engage in dialogue with Western thought and in its attempt to articulate a genuine and persuasive voice in our era.
Georgios Scholarios, Patriarch of Constantinople from 1454 under the name Gennadios II, formulated the ‘essence-energy’ distinction, emblematic for the Byzantine tradition, using the scheme of Duns Scotus: the figure of distinctio formalis a parte rei. Today, some scholars attempt to contrast Scholarios’ solution with the concept of distinctio realis, which they ascribe to Palamas, thereby seeking to demonstrate an incom- mensurability between the two. The thesis suggested by this perspective is that, in making use of Latin (Thomistic, but also Scotist) metaphysical logic, Scholarios shsows a way out of the deadlock to which the philosophical clumsiness of Palamas and of his direct successors had lead. From this point of view, many assert that Scholarios’ position is non-Palamite or at best nominally Palamite. The purpose of this text is to critically compare the positions of Scholarios and Palamas, thus clarifying the following questions: Does the Palamite tradition dispense with its own internal resources to formulate Scholarios’ solution? What is Scholarios’ attitude towards the Western tradition?
The expression ‘political hesychasm’ was coined by late Soviet historiography. It designates the contribution of the spiritual renewal initiated by Gregory Palamas to the dramatic rise of the Muscovite State between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. The present paper argues that this influence runs much deeper than previously assumed. Behind what foreign visitors described as a species of oriental despotism, there is a brilliant translation of the hesychastic process of divinisation into political terms.
Does a direct experience of God and the associated grace-filled transformation make people infallible, or can even saints still be wrong when they interpret who can be saved and who cannot, what forms of life people should choose, which political systems, figures and positions they should support? This article examines what St Gregory Palamas says on the nature of the saints’ experience and knowledge, how stability and progress are interrelated in his notion of deification, and what the consequences are of his differentiation between knowledge coming from above and natural knowledge.
Saint Gregory Palamas, continuing the teaching of the earlier Fathers, distinguishes between man’s two cognitive faculties: reason (dianoia), which is related to logic, and the intellect (nous), which is related to immediate, intuitive perception. While reason is the vehicle of created knowledge, the logical power that can be expressed through reasoning about sensible and spiritual things, the intellect is the intuitive (noera) energy within man’s heart, which constitutes the means of divine vision, and becomes the only vehicle of the uncreated knowledge of God. The discovery of the intellectual (noera) energy within the heart of a man that lives in repentance contributes to the unification of the powers of the soul, to the purity of the heart, and to the acquisition of self-knowledge and firm faith, thus signalling the spiritual completion of man through participation in the uncreated deifying energies.