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The
Other
Path
in
Science,
Theology
and
Spirituality:
Pondering
a


Fourteenth
Century
Byzantine
Model

Revd
Dr
Doru
Costache


St
Andrew’s
Greek
Orthodox
Theological
College


(A
Member
Institute
of
the
Sydney
College
of
Divinity)


My
paper,
‘The
Other
Path
in
Science,
Theology
and
Spirituality’,
endeavours
to
explore
the

parameters
of
a
medieval
paradigm,
more
precisely
the
cultural
framework
as
represented
by

the
fourteenth
century
Byzantium.
In
my
views,
the
long
and
painful
antagonism
between

science
and
theology,
together
with
the
disinterest
in
the
path
of
spiritual
becoming
–
so

characteristic
to
modern
times
–
could
have
been
easily
avoided
if
the
Byzantine
approach

were
seriously
considered
in
the
West.
My
goal,
therefore,
is
to
point
out
the
relevance
of
the

Byzantine
solution
(as
illustrated
by
its
fourteenth
century
representatives)
to
our
present

efforts
to
bridge
the
gap
between
science,
theology
and
spirituality.


[Slide
2]


The
discourse
unfolds
in
four
stages.
First,
I
lay
a
broader
context,
addressing
the
current

conflicting
views
with
reference
to
the
significance
of
medieval
culture
and
briefly
analysing

the
causes
that
led
to
the
split
between
science
and
theology.
Emphasis
is
placed
on
some

basic
features
pertaining
to
the
Renaissance
and
the
role
played
by
the
Byzantine
migrants

as
catalysts
of
the
Renaissance
phenomenon.
Second,
my
paper
explores
the
main
trends

and
representatives
of
Byzantine
scholarship
in
the
fourteenth
century,
pointing
out
the

weaknesses
and
strengths
of
this
cultural
framework.
A
brief
discussion
of
the
reasons
why

many
Byzantine
scholars
were
marginalised
and
exiled
by
their
compatriots
will
serve
as
a

bridge
to
the
third
part,
dealing
with
the
fascinating
synthesis
of
science,
theology
and

spirituality
achieved
by
St
Gregory
Palamas.
Fourth,
I
try
to
highlight
the
wisdom
of
this

synthesis
and
its
relevance
to
our
current
endeavours
to
bring
together
science,
theology
and

spirituality.


[Slide
3]


(1)
Setting
a
context


It
is
well
established
that
in
regards
to
the
significance
of
medieval
culture
basically
there
are

two
conflicting
views,
namely
the
warfare
theory
(represented
in
the
nineteenth
century
by

e.g.
Andrew
White)
and
the
alliance
theory
(represented
in
the
twentieth
century
by
e.g.

Pierre
Duhem).
The
first
approach
takes
medieval
theology
as
an
obstacle
for
the

development
of
sciences
whereas
the
second
considers
theology
a
“necessary
condition”
for

the
development
of
sciences1.


[Slide
4]



























































1
Cf.
David
C.
Lindberg,
‘Medieval
Science
and
Religion’,
in
Gary
B.
Ferngren
(ed.),
Science
and


Religion:
A
Historical
Introduction
(Baltimore
&
London:
The
Johns
Hopkins
University
Press,
2002)
57-
8.



 1

For
instance,
illustrating
the
first
approach
yet
without
mentioning
the
role
of
theology,
John

Gribbin2
states
that
nothing
really
happened
in
science
after
the
ancient
Greek
science
until

Copernicus,
throughout
a
period
of
“fifteen
centuries
of
stagnation”.
On
the
other
side
of
the

spectre,
David
C.
Lindberg3
maintains
that
within
the
Middle
Ages
can
be
found
“the
roots,
the

sources,
of
modern
scientific
disciplines
and
practices”.
Without
any
doubt,
the
various
and

conflicting
understandings
of
the
medieval
legacy
are
still
very
much
present
today.


[Slide
5]


Beyond
such
paradoxes
of
perception,
at
least
during
the
last
century
there
have
emerged,

along
with
more
nuanced
understandings,
a
range
of
new
trends
(such
as
the

multidisciplinary,
interdisciplinary
and
transdisciplinary
approaches)
whose
explicit
goal
is
to

build
a
comprehensive
and
holistic
framework.
Within
such
a
framework,
not
only
the
various

scientific
fields
can
creatively
interact,
but
also
the
sciences
and
other
domains
of
the
human

knowledge
and
expression
(like
theology,
philosophy
and
the
arts).
There
is
no
time
now
to

elaborate
on
these
aspects.


What
should
be
noted,
however,
is
that
against
these
new
trends
stand
a
series
of
internal

obstacles,
pertaining
to
the
western
mindset,
the
very
matrix
of
modern
sciences.
I
refer
here

to
a
range
of
famous
oppositions
such
as
matter
vs.
spirit
or
visible
vs.
invisible,
which

constitute
the
ideological
building-blocks
of
the
western
framework.
Built
as
they
are
upon

such
slippery
foundation,
modern
sciences
cannot
escape
from
being
influenced
by,
and
in

turn
contributing
to,
this
culture
of
oppositions.
It
would
be
a
truism
to
reiterate
here
in
detail

how
modern
sciences
are
thought
of
as
representing
a
naturalistic
standpoint
with
no

reference
to
what
lays
beyond
the
“natural”
realm.


[Slide
6]


Thus,
in
order
to
ensure
the
success
of
current
undertakings
in
regards
to
bridging
between

science,
theology
and
spirituality,
one
has
to
be
fully
aware
of
the
western
roots
of
the
various

problems
we
face.
The
ultimate
source
of
these
problems
seems
indeed
to
be
the
scholastic

division
between
natural
and
supernatural.
This
opposition
originally
contributed
to
the

dissociation
of
theology
and
spirituality,
leading
to
the
transformation
of
theology
into
a

science
(or
the
queen
of
all
sciences)
and
to
the
marginalisation
of
spirituality
(considered
as

belonging
with
the
“illogical”
realm
of
affectivity).
The
same
opposition
furthermore
led,
and

perhaps
indirectly,
to
the
split
and
warfare
between
science,
as
a
privileged
field
of

exploration
of
the
natural
domain,
and
theology,
as
a
philosophical
and
logical
exercise

whose
object
is
constituted
by
the
supernatural.
I
have
indicated
elsewhere
that
this

background
has
no
relevance
whatsoever
to
the
Byzantine
framework
and
the
tradition
of
the

Orthodox
Church4.


[Slide
7]



























































2
Cf.
Science:
A
History
1543-2001
(London:
Penguin
Books,
2003)
4.


3
Cf.
‘Medieval
Science
and
Religion’,
in
Gary
B.
Ferngren
(ed.),
Science
and
Religion:
A
Historical


Introduction
(Baltimore
&
London:
The
Johns
Hopkins
University
Press,
2002)
58.


4
Cf.
Doru
Costache,
‘Irelevanţa
Controversei
Creaţionism
vs.
Evoluţionism
pentru
Tradiţia
Bisericii


Ortodoxe:
Deconstrucţie
Logică
şi
Teologică
a
unui
Mit
Modern’,
Noua
reprezentare
a
lumii:
Studii

interdisciplinare
3
(Bucureşti:
XXI
Eonul
dogmatic,
2004)
51-67.



 2

Getting
closer
to
the
topic
and
period
of
interest
here,
along
with
these
traditional
western

roots
of
the
conflict
should
be
likewise
noted
the
revival
of
Platonism
and
other
dualistic

systems
during
the
Renaissance.
Endorsing
the
culture
of
oppositions,
the
Platonic

propensities
of
many
Renaissance
scholars
has
greatly
added
to
the
existing
problems,

widening
the
chasm
between
natural
and
supernatural.
Beyond
the
equally
fascinating

interest
they
displayed
for
the
occult,
these
scholars
have
precipitated
the
further

estrangement
of
science
and
theology.



[Slide
8]


For
what
is
worth,
it
is
certain
that
after
centuries
of
preeminence
of
the
religious
perspective

due
to
the
phenomenon
of
the
Renaissance
we
live
now
in
an
era
dominated
by
science5.

The
supernaturalist
paradigm
of
the
western
Middle
Ages
has
been
replaced
in
modern
times

by
the
naturalist
paradigm.


[Slide
9]


Given
the
above,
more
precisely
given
the
western
parameters
of
the
issues
concerning
the

rapports
between
science,
theology
and
spirituality,
why
would
anyone
be
interested
in

fourteenth
century
Byzantium?
In
fact,
the
legitimate
pride
of
the
west
notwithstanding6,
the

Renaissance
cannot
be
thought
of
without
considering
the
impact
of
the
Byzantine
migrants,

intellectuals
and
Platonists7,
to
the
west,
little
before
the
fall
of
Constantinople.
These

migrants
of
the
fifteenth
century
were
the
inheritors
of
a
culture
that
was
highly
illustrated
by

the
Byzantine
scholars
of
the
previous
century.


[Slide
10]


Perceptively,
Claude
Allègre8
notes
that
the
Byzantine
migration
to
Italy
(caused
by
the

Turkish
invasion)
brought
to
the
west
the
flexible
attitude
of
the
Orthodox
clergy,
which
far

from
posing
obstacles
against
science
encouraged
its
development.
I
shall
soon
return
to
this

very
significant
aspect.


[Slide
11]


For
the
time
being,
it
is
worth
noting
just
in
passing
the
crucial
role
played
by
a
series
of

Byzantine
scholars9,
some
of
them
marginalised
in
their
homelands
and
who
found
refuge
in

Italy.
Thus,
Manuel
Chrysolaras
(d.
1415)
was
the
first
true
teacher
of
classical
Greek
in
the

west,
activating
in
Florence.
Also
in
Florence,
George
Gemistus
Plethon
(d.
1464),
the
last

philosopher
produced
by
the
Byzantine
culture,
has
contributed
to
the
foundation
of
the
local

Platonic
Academy.




























































5
Cf.
Claude
Allègre,
Dieu
face
à
la
science
(Paris:
Fayard,
1997)
7-8.


6
Frederick
Copleston
maintains
that
the
signs
of
the
Renaissance
have
been
manifested
as
early
as


the
twelfth
century;
cf.
his
A
History
of
Philosophy,
vol.
3:
Late
Medieval
and
Renaissance
Philosophy

(London
&
New
York:
Continuum,
2003)
207.


7
Cf.
David
Bradshaw,
Aristotle
East
and
West:
Metaphysics
and
the
Division
of
Christendom


(Cambridge:
Cambridge
University
Press,
2004)
263.


8
Cf.
Dieu
face
à
la
science
(Paris:
Fayard,
1997)
218.


9
Cf.
Frederick
Copleston,
A
History
of
Philosophy,
vol.
3:
Late
Medieval
and
Renaissance
Philosophy


(London
&
New
York:
Continuum,
2003)
207-11.



 3

[Slide
12]


Similar
Platonic
views
were
defended
by
the
controversial
John
(Cardinal)
Bessarion
of

Trebizond
(d.
1472),
a
Byzantine
convert
to
the
Latin
Church.
Last
but
not
the
least,
John

Argyropoulos
(d.
1486)
worked
as
a
teacher
of
the
Greek
language
both
in
Florence
and

Rome.


[Slide
13]


Contemplating
the
role
played
by
the
medieval
Greek
scholars
as
catalysts
of
the
western

Renaissance,
why
then
wouldn’t
anyone
be
interested
in
fourteenth
century
Byzantium?
Is

there
a
history
behind
their
mindset
and
attitude?
What
made
these
men
be
so
open
minded

with
reference
to
the
classical
culture
which
they
promoted
so
assiduously?


[Slide
14]


These
questions
lead
us
to
the
story
that
is
never
told:
far
from
constituting
an
obstacle

against
the
progress
of
free
thinking
and
the
development
of
science,
Byzantium
displayed
a

very
different
unfolding
of
the
rapports
between
science
and
theology.
For
me,
precisely
this

different
history
is
relevant
to
the
current
quest
for
an
interdisciplinary
and
transdisciplinary

articulation
of
the
fields.


[Slide
15]


(2)
Scholars
and
representatives
of
tradition
in
fourteenth
century
Byzantium


I
shall
begin
the
presentation
of
the
Byzantine
cultural
environment
by
evoking
an
emblematic

event10.
In
1330,
Barlaam
the
Calabrian
(d.
1348),
a
Greek
monk
from
southern
Italy,
went
to

Thessaloniki
and
Constantinople
in
an
attempt
to
demonstrate
that
–
beyond
the
doctrinal

issues
arising
between
east
and
west
–
the
“Barbarians”
(Westerners)
were
capable
of

philosophy,
mathematics
and
science.


[Slide
16]


His
efforts
were
however
ridiculed
by
the
noted
Byzantine
scholar
Nikephoros
Gregoras
(d.

1360),
who
alleged
in
turn
that
the
“Barbarians”
remained
Aristotelians
whilst
the
Byzantines

were
much
more
advanced
than
that.


[Slide
17]


It
does
not
matter
here
how
right
or
wrong
Gregoras
was
in
his
line
of
argumentation;

likewise,
it
is
not
important
how
well
informed
or
misinformed
he
was
with
reference
to
the

west.
What
matters
is
the
awareness
he
expressed
that
after
centuries
of
cultural
and

civilisational
development,
although
still
in
love
with
Aristotle,
the
Byzantines
moved
beyond

any
servile
approach
to
the
Stagirite’s
philosophical
and
scientific
legacy.
If
this
was
the
case,

then
to
what
extent
remain
valid
the
numerous
and
repeated
allegations
that
Byzantium
and

the
Orthodox
Church
have
contributed
to
the
decline
of
civilisation?
Indeed,
there
can
be

acknowledged
a
slow
and
inexorable
process
of
decline
of
the
scientific
spirit
and

inquisitiveness,
but
this
phenomenon
of
degradation
had
its
beginning
already
in
late

antiquity.
Nevertheless,
although
perhaps
nothing
occurred
in
Byzantium
as
significant
as
the



























































10
Cf.
Basil
N.
Tatakis,
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
Patristic
and
Byzantine
Tradition,
trans.
by
G.D.


Dragas
(Rollinsford:
Orthodox
Research
Institute,
2007)
156-7.



 4

Aristotelian
science,
it
is
obvious
that
some
progress
was
made
in
various
areas.
Addressing

these
aspects,
Basil
Tatakis11
points
out
the
Byzantine
contributions
to
the
development
of

humanities,
such
as
literature,
historiography,
law.


[Slide
18]


From
a
different
angle,
one
might
wonder
why
sciences
were
not
prioritised
by
the

Byzantines.
Tatakis12
gives
a
tremendous
answer:
living
and
working
within
a
culture

perceived
as
the
embodiment
of
the
heavenly
kingdom,
the
Byzantines
channelled
their

immediate
and
consistent
interests
toward
exploring
the
spiritual
path.
In
other
words,
they

elaborated
within
a
hierarchical
scheme
which
prioritised
theology
and
spirituality
not

necessarily
because
these
were
“more
truthful”
to
reality
than
the
sciences,
but
because
they

served
the
greater
good,
the
goal
of
achieving
perfection.
I
shall
further
illustrate
this

dimension
of
the
Byzantine
culture
by
pointing
out
a
few
elements
pertaining
to
the
Palamite

synthesis.


[Slide
19]


Returning
to
the
advancements
realised
by
the
Byzantines
in
various
areas
of
expertise,

surprisingly,
there
can
be
noted
a
series
of
very
important
developments
within
fourteenth

century13.
They
were
interested
both
in
what
Tatakis14
designates
as
the
official

(mathematics,
astronomy,
medicine)
and
apocryphal
(astrology,
arithmology,
alchemy)

sciences.


[Slide
20]


Contrary
to
the
established
opinion,
significant
progresses
were
made
in
mathematics
and

astronomy
through
the
works
of
scholars
like
Maximos
Planoudes
(d.
1330)
who
used
for
the

first
time,
before
the
westerners,
the
Arabic
numbers.


[Slide
21]


The
already
mentioned
Nikephoros
Gregoras
perfected
the
calculus
of
eclipses
and
prepared

the
reform
of
the
calendar
before
the
one
implemented
by
Pope
Gregory
XIII;
unfortunately,

fearing
the
impact
on
the
masses,
his
reform
was
aborted
by
Emperor
Andronicus
II.


[Slide
22]


Theodore
Metochites
(d.
1332),
to
whom
I
shall
soon
return,
advocated
the
freedom
of

astronomy
from
superstitions
and
astrology,
emphasising
the
purely
mathematical
bases
of

this
science,
long
before
Galileo.



























































11
Cf.
Basil
N.
Tatakis,
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
Patristic
and
Byzantine
Tradition,
trans.
by
G.D.


Dragas
(Rollinsford:
Orthodox
Research
Institute,
2007)
286-90.


12
Cf.
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
Patristic
and
Byzantine
Tradition,
trans.
by
G.D.
Dragas
(Rollinsford:


Orthodox
Research
Institute,
2007)
283-4.


13
The
following
information
is
drawn
from
Basil
N.
Tatakis,
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
Patristic
and


Byzantine
Tradition,
trans.
by
G.D.
Dragas
(Rollinsford:
Orthodox
Research
Institute,
2007)
294-5.


14
Cf.
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
Patristic
and
Byzantine
Tradition,
trans.
by
G.D.
Dragas
(Rollinsford:


Orthodox
Research
Institute,
2007)
286-90.



 5

[Slide
23]


Finally,
Theodore
Meliteniotes
(d.
after
1360)
composed
the
most
comprehensive
Byzantine

compendium
of
astronomy,
the
Astronomical
Manual.


[Slide
24]


But
the
Byzantine
genius
found
its
expression
not
only
in
the
field
of
various
theoretical

sciences.
The
Byzantines
were
quite
ingenious
and
developed
throughout
their
millennium
of

civilisation
new
technologies,
such
as
the
‘liquid
fire’
(τὸ
ὑδρὸν
πῦρ),
the
famous
weapon

used
by
the
imperial
navy,
a
prototype
of
the
steam
engine
and
an
advanced
astrolabe

(Gregoras
composed
a
treatise
on
the
use
of
this
instrument),
to
mention
just
the
most

important
among
them15.



[Slide
25]


This
inventive
spirit
was
not
based
on
uneducated
guesses.
The
above
mentioned
Theodore

Metochites
strongly
believed
that
technological
progress
is
only
possible
due
to
the

applicability
of
theoretical
mathematics.


[Slide
26]


In
his
Miscellanea
Philosophica
et
Historica,
he
notes:


I
cannot
see
any
evil
in
these
practical
applications.
No
damage
is
incurred

by
them
on
the
value
of
theoretical
mathematics.
Indeed,
it
would
be
good
to

seek
to
find
in
all
the
branches
of
mathematics
useful
means
for
the
life
of

humanity16.


This
explicit
defence
of
the
practical
outcomes
of
the
theoretical
sciences
and
mathematics

proves
once
again
the
solidity
of
Gregoras’
statement
according
to
which
the
Byzantines
have

moved
beyond
Aristotle.
In
light
of
the
above,
it
is
obvious
that
his
statement
does
not
simply

allude
to
his
mistrusting
Aristotelian
logic.
It
actually
and
unequivocally
refers
to
the

advancement
of
the
Byzantines
beyond
the
Stagirite’s
dissociation
of
theoretical
and
practical

disciplines.
The
earlier
assertion
of
Lindberg,
that
the
roots
of
modern
sciences
should
be

looked
for
in
the
Middle
Ages,
is
thus
substantiated.
Unfortunately,
Lindberg
altogether

ignores
the
scientific
contributions
of
the
Byzantines,
who
anticipated
by
centuries
the
now

common
place
that
each
science
encompasses
both
theoretical
and
practical
dimensions.


[Slide
27]


One
of
the
most
fascinating
aspects
pertaining
to
the
Byzantine
culture
is
that
beyond
the

various
understandings
they
illustrated,
all
the
scholars
mentioned
above
claimed
they
were

also
faithful
representatives
of
tradition.
For
people
acquainted
with
medieval
scholarship

perhaps
such
claim
does
not
represent
a
surprise.


[Slide
28]



























































15
Cf.
Basil
N.
Tatakis,
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
Patristic
and
Byzantine
Tradition,
trans.
by
G.D.


Dragas
(Rollinsford:
Orthodox
Research
Institute,
2007)
293-4.


16
Apud
Basil
N.
Tatakis,
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
Patristic
and
Byzantine
Tradition,
trans.
by
G.D.


Dragas
(Rollinsford:
Orthodox
Research
Institute,
2007)
294.



 6

Lindberg17
aptly
points
out
that


…all
medieval
scholars
were
both
theologically
and
scientifically
informed,

and
all
understood
that
theological
beliefs
necessarily
entailed
scientific

consequences
and
conversely.


[Slide
29]


This
profile
is
excellently
embodied
by
a
scholar
whose
name
has
become
already
familiar,

being
mentioned
a
few
times.
I
refer
here
to
Theodore
Metochites,
an
imperial
dignitary
and

logician,
an
Aristotelian
teacher
and
a
true
sceptic,
astronomer
and
mathematician,

benefactor
of
the
famous
church
of
Chora
and
defender
of
the
spiritual
tradition
of
the

Byzantine
Church.
As
a
mentor
of
many
fourteenth
century
scholars
(among
whom
feature

the
equally
famous
Nikephoros
Gregoras
and
St
Gregory
Palamas),
Metochites
exercised
a

powerful
and
lasting
influence
upon
the
Byzantine
intellectual
milieus.


[Slide
30]


One
aspect
is
worth
mentioning
here,
given
its
significance
for
the
understanding
of
Palamas’

own
scholarly
trajectory.
Although
steeped
into
Aristotelianism,
Metochites
nurtured
a

profound
scepticism
with
reference
to
our
capacity
of
solving
the
undecidable
conundrums
of

knowledge
by
way
of
such
logical
devices
as
the
syllogisms.
More
precisely,
he
was

convinced
we
cannot
be
certain
of
either
the
veracity
or
the
falsity
of
our
knowledge
with

reference
to
the
nature
of
things18.
His
attitude
is
currently
associated
with
the
ancient
school

of
scepticism,
which
is
not
necessarily
an
unsound
assessment,
yet
by
this
attitude
he
clearly

aligned
with
the
traditional
apophaticism
of
early
Christian
and
Byzantine
theologians.
One

way
or
the
other,
or
rather
both
in
his
case,
it
is
clear
that
like
many
other
Byzantines

Metochites
cultivated
a
critical
approach
to
the
Aristotelian
legacy.
What
is
nevertheless

proper
to
his
approach
is
the
uncompromising
denial
of
the
validity,
never
questioned
before,

of
the
logical
principles
of
non-contradiction
and
the
excluded
middle.
Beyond
their
different

understandings,
these
aspects
can
be
likewise
found
in
the
thinking
of
his
illustrious
disciples,

Palamas
and
Gregoras19.
These
being
considered,
it
would
not
represent
an
exaggeration
to

count
him,
and
his
disciples,
among
the
precursors
of
the
transdisciplinary
logic
of
the

included
middle.


[Slide
31]


The
lesson
of
Metochites,
and
many
other
Byzantine
scholars
of
fourteenth
century,
is
clear:

science,
technology,
theology
and
spiritual
life
are
not
mutually
exclusive,
on
the
contrary.

By

this
fourteenth
century
Byzantium
seems
to
perpetuate
the
legacy
of
St
Maximus
the



























































17
David
C.
Lindberg,
‘Medieval
Science
and
Religion’,
in
Gary
B.
Ferngren
(ed.),
Science
and
Religion:


A
Historical
Introduction
(Baltimore
&
London:
The
Johns

Hopkins
University
Press,
2002)
58.


18
Cf.
Börje
Bydén,
‘“To
Every
Argument
there
is
a
Counter-Argument”:
Theodore
Metochites’
Defence


of
Scepticism
(Semeiosis
61)’.
In
K.
Ierodiakonou
(ed.),
Byzantine
Philosophy
and
its
Ancient
Sources

(Oxford:
Clarendon
Press,
2002)
186,
207.


19
Bydén
(op.
cit.,
190)
considers
only
Gregoras
as
faithful
pupil
of
Metochites.
The
same
attitude,


however,
is
reiterated
by
Palamas
in
his
One
Hundred
and
Fifty
Chapters,
although
he
was
not
so
eager

to
dismiss
the
validity
of
natural
sciences;
see
Topics
of
Natural
and
Theological
Science
and
on
the

Moral
and
Ascetic
Life
1
&
354,
in
The
Philokalia,
vol.
4
(London:
Faber
&
Faber,
1995)
346,
354.



 7

Confessor20,
who
strongly
believed
in
the
possibility
of
a
comprehensive
and
interactive

framework
within
which
all
these
pieces
would
fit
and
complement
each
other
in
a
creative

manner.


[Slide
32]


If
this
was
the
case,
in
other
words
if
the
sense
of
complementarity
was
so
strong,
why
then

many
scholars
have
been
marginalised
and
condemned
by
the
Byzantines?
The
answer
to

this
question
is
simple:
like
their
western
counterparts,
some
Byzantine
scholars
have

manifested
overconfidence
in
the
competence
of
philosophy
(mainly,
Platonic)
and

transgressed
the
boundaries
between
science/philosophy
and
theology/spirituality.


[Slide
33]


For
example,
Barlaam
the
Calabrian,
Palamas’
first
opponent,
considered
theology
as
based

on
‘science
and
knowledge’,
therefore
depending
on
philosophy
in
order
to
achieve
its

goals21.
Or,
for
a
man
like
Palamas,
who,
along
with
the
effort
to
better
articulating
the
fields

of
knowledge
militated
for
their
distinctiveness
and
autonomy22,
such
affirmations
were

outrageous.
He
points
out
with
clarity:


[Slide
34]


To
know
God
truly
in
so
far
as
is
possible
is
incomparably
superior
to
the

philosophy
of
the
Greeks,
and
simply
to
know
what
place
man
has
in
relation

to
God
surpasses
all
their
wisdom23.


With
this
quote,
establishing
the
independence
of
theology
from
philosophy
or
any
other
field

for
that
matter,
we
arrive
to
the
Palamite
synthesis.


[Slide
35]


(3)
The
Palamite
synthesis


Given
that
in
a
recent
article24
I
have
extensively
treated
the
Palamite
synthesis,
in
the

following
I
shall
just
briefly
mention
a
few
of
his
most
important
accomplishments,
illustrative

of
the
Byzantine
fourteenth
century
cultural
environment.



























































20
Cf.
Doru
Costache,’
Going
Upwards
with
Everything
You
Are:
The
Unifying
Ladder
of
St
Maximus
the


Confessor’
(in
B.
Nicolescu
&
M.
Stavinschi
(eds.),
Science
and
Orthodoxy,
a
Necessary
Dialogue.

Bucharest:
Curtea
Veche,
2006)
135-144.


21
Cf.
Basil
N.
Tatakis,
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
Patristic
and
Byzantine
Tradition,
trans.
by
G.D.


Dragas
(Rollinsford:
Orthodox
Research
Institute,
2007)
157;
Katerina
Ierodiakonou,
‘The
Anti-Logical

Movement
in
the
Fourteenth
Century’,
in
K.
Ierodiakonou
(ed.),
Byzantine
Philosophy
and
its
Ancient

Sources
(Oxford:
Clarendon
Press,
2002)
228.


22
Cf.
Doru
Costache,
‘Queen
of
the
Sciences?
Theology
and
Natural
Knowledge
in
St
Gregory


Palamas’
One
Hundred
and
Fifty
Chapters’,
Transdisciplinarity
in
Science
and
Religion
3
(Bucharest:

Curtea
Veche,
2008)
40-1.


23
Topics
of
Natural
and
Theological
Science
and
on
the
Moral
and
Ascetic
Life
26,
in
The
Philokalia,


vol.
4
(London:
Faber
&
Faber,
1995)
356.



 8

St
Gregory
Palamas
(ca
1296-1359)
remains
in
the
memory
of
the
Orthodox
Church
as
a

spiritual
author,
noted
theologian
and
a
polymath.
Indeed,
his
efforts
to
integrate
science,

theology
and
spiritual
life
within
a
hierarchical
scheme
that
anticipates
the
transdisciplinary

vision,
are
less
known
or
less
appreciated
within
the
Church.
Nevertheless,
these
efforts
are

very
relevant
to
our
interests
in
finding
the
appropriate
ways
for
bridging
between
the
fields.


[Slide
36]


Following
in
the
footsteps
of
St
Basil
the
Great
(d.
379)
and
the
already
mentioned
St

Maximus
the
Confessor,
Palamas
made
consistent
use
of
the
Aristotelian
term
“energy”

(ἐνέργεια),
achieving
its
theological
integration.
In
my
article
I
provided
numerous
examples
of

his
expert
and
creative
use
of
many
other
elements
pertaining
to
the
Aristotelian
science
and

other
sources25.


[Slide
37]


Very
interesting
is
that
he
privileging
natural
explanations
of
cosmic
phenomena
against
the

mythological
‘world
soul’
advocated
by
some
‘Platonising’
scholars26.


[Slide
38]


Likewise,
it
is
worth
mentioning
here
his
courageous
integration
of
scientific
elements
within
a

scripturally
based
worldview,
a
demarche
that
places
him
within
the
fall
of
fame
of
the
most

creative
Christian
contributors
to
the
conversations
in
science
and
theology.


[Slide
39]


Of
particular
interest
is
Palamas’
attitude
in
regards
to
logic.
Although
it
made
an
integral
part

of
the
educational
curriculum
since
the
ninth
century
and
St
Photios
the
Great,
many

fourteenth
century
Byzantines
either
feared
Aristotelian
logic
or
just
distrusted
it
(e.g.

Metochites,
Gregoras).
Both
Barlaam
and
Palamas
were
however
in
favour
of
logic27.


[Slide
40]


There
was,
however,
a
significant
difference:
whereas
Barlaam
remained
truthful
to
Aristotle,

Palamas
‘misused’
Aristotelian
logic
by
ignoring
the
principle
of
non-contradiction
(the

excluded
middle),
like
his
mentor,
Theodore
Metochites28.


































































































































































24
Cf.
Doru
Costache,
‘Queen
of
the
Sciences?
Theology
and
Natural
Knowledge
in
St
Gregory


Palamas’
One
Hundred
and
Fifty
Chapters’,
Transdisciplinarity
in
Science
and
Religion
3
(Bucharest:

Curtea
Veche,
2008)
27-46.


25
Cf.
Doru
Costache,
‘Queen
of
the
Sciences?’
36-40.


26
Cf.
Doru
Costache,
‘Queen
of
the
Sciences?’
32.


27
Katerina
Ierodiakonou,
‘The
Anti-Logical
Movement
in
the
Fourteenth
Century’,
in
K.
Ierodiakonou


(ed.),
Byzantine
Philosophy
and
its
Ancient
Sources
(Oxford:
Clarendon
Press,
2002)
219-20,
224;

Börje
Bydén,
‘“To
Every
Argument
there
is
a
Counter-Argument”:
Theodore
Metochites’
Defence
of

Scepticism
(Semeiosis
61)’,
in
K.
Ierodiakonou
(ed.),
Byzantine
Philosophy
and
its
Ancient
Sources

(Oxford:
Clarendon
Press,
2002)
190.


28
Cf.
Katerina
Ierodiakonou,
‘The
Anti-Logical
Movement
in
the
Fourteenth
Century’,
in
K.
Ierodiakonou


(ed.),
Byzantine
Philosophy
and
its
Ancient
Sources
(Oxford:
Clarendon
Press,
2002)
233.



 9

[Slide
41]


Precisely
because
he
elaborated
within
an
inclusive
logic
was
Palamas
capable
of

maintaining
the
distinct
validity,
and
autonomy,
of
science
and
theology.
There
was
no
doubt

in
this
regard:
whilst
science
deals
with
the
laws
of
nature,
theology
deals
with
spiritual

matters29.


[Slide
42]


In
a
more
nuanced
way,
St
Gregory
followed
a
hierarchical
approach
which
ascribed
each

domain
its
proper
area
together
with
acknowledging
their
specific
contributions
to
the
well-
being
and
progress
of
humanity.
Thus,
he
worked
with
a
tripartite
scheme,
were
science

explores
the
world
and
leads
to
technological
inventions;
theology
interprets
reality
within
the

parameters
of
the
Christian
mindset;
and
spirituality
is
the
privileged
path
toward
personal

transformation30.


[Slide
43]


In
light
of
the
above
it
becomes
emphatically
obvious
that
someone
anchored
in
the
spiritual

life
and
theology
can
be
also
a
practical
person
and
a
contributor
to
the
progress
of

knowledge
and
science.
The
aspect
is
aptly
pointed
out
by
Tatakis31:


…generally
speaking,
mysticism,
at
its
best
moments,
does
not
deny

knowledge,
the
outer
knowledge.
What
it
denies
is
that
this
knowledge
leads

to
the
roots,
to
theory
and
to
the
deification
of
man.
For
this
great
enterprise,

it
summons
the
whole
man,
contracts
the
antinomies
and,
with
Hesychasm,

gives
primacy
to
the
heart.
The
mind
can
find
itself
only
if
it
is
baptised
in
the

heart.



[Slide
44]


(4)
Wisdom
for
today


The
Palamite
model,
and
the
whole
landscape
of
fourteenth
Byzantine
scholarship,
illustrates

a
holistic
understanding
of
the
human
journey.
For
the
Byzantines,
it
was
never
a
matter
of

antagonism
between
science
and
theology
or
technology
and
spiritual
life.
Once
more,
I
am

firmly
convinced
that
they
had
the
tremendous
intuition
of
a
generous
transdisciplinary
vision,

to
which
they
remained
faithful
and
within
which
they
consistently
created.
It
is
true,
having

science
as
a
starting
point
of
a
process
that
leads
through
theology
to
the
culminant

experience
of
the
spiritual
life,
the
hierarchical
scheme
presented
earlier
can
deceive.
In
fact,

for
them
tackling
science,
theology
and
spiritual
life
was
not
a
matter
of
validity
or
superiority.

The
scheme
cannot
be
accurately
understood
if
we
ignore
the
transformative
goals
to
be

found
behind
any
other
Byzantine
demarche.


[Slide
45]



























































29
Cf.
Topics
of
Natural
and
Theological
Science
and
on
the
Moral
and
Ascetic
Life
20,
in
The
Philokalia,


vol.
4
(London:
Faber
&
Faber,
1995)
354.


30
Cf.
Doru
Costache,
‘Queen
of
the
Sciences?’
41-2.


31
Basil
N.
Tatakis,
Christian
Philosophy
in
the
Patristic
and
Byzantine
Tradition
(Rollinsford:
Orthodox


Research
Institute,
2007)
165.



 10

Thus,
there
is
no
theological
validation/invalidation
of
science.
Likewise,
there
is
no
scientific

validation/invalidation
of
theology.
Science
and
theology
can
complement
each
other,

however,
within
the
broader
picture
of
the
human
spiritual
becoming.


[Slide
46]


The
west
has
always
manifested
disinterest
in
knowing
and
understanding
the
Byzantine

message,
both
in
the
late
Middle
Ages,
during
the
Renaissance
and
today32.
Nevertheless,

learning
from
the
traditional
Byzantines
(not
only
from
the
secular
Byzantine
scholars)
would

have
spared
the
west
the
painful
modern
schism
between
science
and
religion.


[Slide
47]


In
summary,
the
fourteenth
century
Byzantine
lesson
is
the
quest
for
edifying
a
holistic
culture

open
both
to
the
scientific
undertakings
and
the
transformative
goals
of
spirituality.
We
could

learn,
if
it
is
not
too
late,
from
the
wisdom
of
this
lesson.



























































32
Cf.
David
Bradshaw,
Aristotle
East
and
West:
Metaphysics
and
the
Division
of
Christendom


(Cambridge:
Cambridge
University
Press,
2004)
263-4.



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