Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Diaphonous wings, diaphoric world

Some weeks ago, I was rhapsodizing on the pain that is pleasure from reading head-bending books, particularly, Alexei Nesteruk's Light from the East. Well, while I alluded to the book's content, I did only allude to it. Just now, however, while I was stopping by Energetic Processions, I happened to emit a brief summary of the book's thesis. It came in reply to the following quote from Michel Barnes:

While Gregory [of Nyssa] is regularly described by scholars as a “Platonist’, in fact he contrasts the inherent certainty of sense knowledge with the inherent uncertainty of abstract knowledge (or in Gregory’s terms, knowledge of sensibles verses knowledge of intelligibles). Sense knowledge is clear and certain; knowledge by intellect alone is neither. This positive evaluation of the world of sensibles leads Gregory to see creation as a trustworthy sign of its Creator; indeed, one striking feature of Gregory’s theology is the confidence with which he believes that the evidence of creation bears out his theology. This confidence depends on Gregory’s theological shift from the one Creator reasoning to the one God reasoning I have outlined, but in Gregory’s case this shift is supported by his definite sense of the veracity and the virtue of material creation.

Dunamis in Gregory of Nyssa’s Trinitarian Theology, p. 254.

I was struck by the beauty––and potency, vis-à-vis the threat methodical naturalism poses to science––of this passage and replied thus:

A. Nesteruk, in *Light from the East* (on Orthodoxy and science), sheds some good light on this train of thought, going through a number of major issues in big science to show how each one ends up at an antinomy (Kantian style) which can only be “resolved” by seeing the tension itself as a divinely mandated pointer towards the diaphora in all creation. The universe, in other words, points to God not only because it is coherent, but also because it is incoherent (in se); as these two premises clash antinomically, they point even deeper to the very nature of Nature as diaphoric (split) between realities manifest to dianoia and the logoi, rooted in God, known by the nous by grace.

I hope that helps whet your appetite for Nesteruk's book.

Incidentally, the contrast between the veracity of sense knowledge and the corrigibility of abstract knowledge, while certainly not looking like my cup of tea prima facie, suggests interesting directions for the whole perspicuity/infallibility of qualia debate in cog sci and phil of mind.

Ah, but: memento mori!

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