Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thomas Aquinas and the betrayal of the mystical, classical, tradition

In my opinion at least. One could see the synthetic philosophy of Thomas Aquinas as representing the final triumph of the barbarians over Rome, the final capitulation of ancient philosophy to a people who neither understood it or really cared. The synthesis of Aquinas makes definite things that for a millennia before him had been seen as being indefinite and not easily describable. For instance, the attitude toward the nature of God flowing from the apophatic tradition would have lead to a less all encompassing theology. The apophatic tradition says that God can only be defined negatively by what it can be demonstrated that he is not, rather than what he is. God is therefore not finite, not composed of matter, not subject to natural laws, not limited in space, not possessed of the same organs of sense that man has, on and on. If you approach life with the notion that you can never directly know the final answer, it counsels against trying to synthesize Christianity and Aristotle in order to make a system. By exalting logic over the skepticism that says that logic may not be enough to understand the mysteries of life and of the world, Aquinas started a coarsening of philosophy that ended with the old ways of thinking about things, ways that were mostly rooted in Plato, being forgotten altogether.

The Orthodox Churches, on the other hand, never went down that road and so still preserve some of the ancient attitudes towards life and thought, and philosophy, although they're looked on as being archaic and strange these days.

Yet I am not a Christian, so what would I know.

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