IMC 2013: Sessions

Session 317: Paths of Spiritual Pleasure

Monday 1 July 2013, 16.30-18.00

Moderator/Chair:Elena Ene D-Vasilescu, Faculty of History, University of Oxford
Paper 317-aMetaphysical Difficulties in the Epektasis Doctrine of Gregory of Nyssa and How We Could Improve It
(Language: English)
Marius Portaru, Patristic Institute 'Augustinianum', Roma
Index terms: Anthropology, Monasticism, Philosophy, Theology
Paper 317-bGregory Palamas on Pleasure
(Language: English)
Michael Mantzanas, Advanced Theological Academy, Athens
Index terms: Byzantine Studies, Philosophy, Religious Life

Paper -a:
Gregory of Nyssa describes the spiritual pleasure produced by the mystical union with God through his well known doctrine of perpetual progress (epektasis). Against Origen’s notion of satiety (koros), Gregory grounds his vision of the endless progress in enjoying divine presence on God’s infinite nature, on human finitude and its infinite possibility of growing. In this study I will try to clarify a number of metaphysical difficulties of Gregory’s account of epektasis by closely comparing his view with that of subsequent Byzantine (especially Maximus the Confessor and Symeon the New Theologian) and modern authors

Paper -b:
Gregory Palamas, the most influential Byzantine scholar of the 14th century, holds that pleasure is a good and a standard of moral evaluation, insofar pleasure expresses internal happiness, which, in most cases, is a consequence of genuine faith to the God. In addition, Palamas distinguishes between sensual and spiritual pleasures and he strongly supports the preponderance of the latter. This paper explores the Palamite philosophy of pleasure in terms of its accordance with the classical Greek philosophy, which indentifies happiness with pleasure, introducing a form of sensual utilitarianism, and its connection to the preponderant line of Byzantine philosophy, which claims that the timeless and incorruptible happiness is the outcome of pure faith.