Fantasy: a post-Fall phenomenon

Hegumen Fr.Athanasios Mitilinaios
Stomio, Larissa.

From the moment that the first-fashioned couple looked at the forbidden fruit of the tree (of the knowledge of good and evil) “with different eyes”, they acquired a new element, which they didn’t have before: fantasy[i].

Adam didn’t originally possess fantasy; he acquired it after the Fall. All the descendants of Adam develop the trait of fantasy. Therefore it is a post-Fall phenomenon[ii].

With the term “fantasy” we mean the space that is interposed between the “nous” (mind) and the senses. On the one hand there is the nous and on the other there are the senses. The nous draws information from the outside world through the senses. Fantasy is “wedged” between the nous and the senses. Fantasy is something “thicker” than the nous, but “thinner” than the senses. The space of fantasy is repository and it stores the elements collected by both the nous and the senses. It is there that impressions and images are heaped together, and the senses can utilize the material that fantasy supplied them with.

Aristotle calls fantasy “a communal sense” (κοινή αίσθησις, sensus communis) because it is the common space of the five senses. All five senses deposit their material in the space of fantasy. This explains why – for example – in cinemas there is an effort to stimulate other senses as well, by implementing various tangible changes inside the movie theater (a drop in room temperature whenever snow is displayed; scents dispersed when flowers are displayed etc.). “On screen” there is no reality, so all those stimuli are implemented for the purpose of better imprinting the screen’s imagery within the space of fantasy.

Furthermore, fantasy has a recreative ability. Of course this ability is firstly attributed to the nous. The nous has the recreative ability of adding and removing; but fantasy also has this ability. A sense cannot alter anything of what it sees. If – let’s say – at this moment we were looking at the interior of a store, we would not be able to add or remove anything from that space. However our fantasy can add and remove whatever it wants. It can add more products or imagine the store to be empty or sporting other colours etc. The senses cannot change anything of what is actually apparent. This recreative ability of fantasy does have a certain merit, but it can also contain significant danger from an ethical standpoint.

Fantasy also “moves” within the space of sleep. Even when one is asleep, fantasy continues to work. Even when the senses are inactive (eyes are closed, ears do not hear, and the nose does not smell), fantasy continues to work. The nous also continues to work while the brain is in sleep mode. In order to understand this, we can liken the nous to a melody, and the brain (being the simple instrument of the nous that it is) to a guitar. Melody is one thing, and a guitar is another. Thus, the nous expresses itself through the brain, just as a melody is made audible with the help of the guitar.

So, we see dreams while we sleep, which are mainly part of our fantasy. However the nous does have a certain control and criticism in our dreams. We can deny or agree with something during the duration of a dream. If a certain dream displeases me, I can give a command with my nous to wake up from it.

This element of fantasy entered man, after the dialogue that Adam had with the devil in the Garden of Eden. Prior to that event, the senses and the nous of the first-fashioned couple were pristine; however the devil approached them, stirred up their fantasy by telling them of their god-likeness if they were to eat of the forbidden fruit, prompting them thus to disobey God’s command. The devil created a false image in the space of their fantasy – something that was generated for the first time, in the first-fashioned couple.

Moreover, fantasy also functions in the following manner: When, for whatever reason, man doesn’t have enough time, his fantasy will rapaciously collect material like a predator and will unfold that material later, during a quieter hour, and enjoy it – in the same manner that ruminant animals enjoy their meals.

Thus, during his leisure time, a person will recall whatever his fantasy had stored earlier, and, with his ability to add and remove, he will add, remove, alter, supplement… in other words, he will create images. That is where the devil – who is standing by – will use those images that the person had seen, and will “embellish” and “present” them the way he wants, in order to mislead that person.

As the material of fantasy unfolds, the senses and the instincts become active again. As a result, man may create conditions that are unpleasant for his body, and he may reach points of abasement – even of suicide, if there are analogous images and impulses in his life. A permanent state of “fantasy affliction” could actually lead a person to live with illusions. For example, many experience the delusion that their pet is their child and they equate it to a human being, thus blaspheming God.

This, we could say, is how the devil exploits fantasy. Of the dreams that are projected, some are ours – drawn from our existence – and others are demonic. The devil was created, like all the angels, with a simple, unformed and without fantasy nous. When he came up with the idea of god-likeness, he processed it in his own fantasy – that is, in the space that was created the moment he thought about it. He himself created fantasy, so he also moves within it.

God said to the devil: “you will eat dust all the days of your life”. (Gen.3:14). This implied that after man’s Fall, the devil would “enjoy” every sin through man, given that he himself does not have a body; he is fleshless. We could say that passions are his “sustenance”. So, when God says to him “you will eat dust”, this means he will move within the material world, within material forms, and within passions. Thus was the devil condemned, who used to be an angel of light.

Fantasy, as we have seen, has the ability to alter its material, to add and remove. Consequently, its kinship with images is extremely powerful. An example is given by Saint Nicodemus the Hagiorite in his counsels for the deification of man and for the safeguarding of the five senses. When someone is eating a lemon and I watch him, my own mouth salivates. How did that happen? It was because an image formed in my fantasy, that I was eating the lemon. This proves what a stimulatory power the image has in a fantasy. Therefore, when filthy and harmful images are imprinted in one’s fantasy, they can cause immense disaster to one, especially when he insists voluntarily and with an irrational desire on seeking such images. The spiritual damage wrought in such cases could be rendered permanent.

Let it be noted here, that in one of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion it is written that they desire to corrupt mankind with the superabundance of images. Since man’s nous creates images when reading books for example, this could be very beneficial to his life, provided that what he reads will make him a better person. Man benefits incomparably, even through to eternal life, by reading the divine scriptures, i.e., the Gospel. But when the human nous stores images that come prepared by various contemporary transmitters (television, cinemas, internet) man doesn’t create anything on his own; he doesn’t produce images; he only reproduces the images imposed on him, resulting in him falling into a peculiar inactivity. Therefore the superabundance of images gives rise to idleness of the nous, causing it to cease thinking. We can perceive the potential level of uselessness that the nous can reach, when the images provided are different to the phronema (conscience) that is beneficial to man.

It is however impermissible for a faithful and pious person, who is aware of what is truly in his best interest, to gaze upon obscene images. Even if he unintentionally sees or thinks of something wicked, he must arrest that which passed through his mind in order to escape from it. His fantasy is useful, when utilized for good things, such as the theory of existing things, the observation of Creation, the preoccupation with Christ’s earthly life, how He lived, how He preached, what He promised us. And all these things are possible, with the necessary prerequisite of a pure heart that doesn’t reflect on anything wicked, because that is what is demanded by the truth and the reality of the Holy Triadic God, Who created us and is familiar with our constructional specifications.

Notes:

[i] A reminder, that the scientific meaning of the term “fantasy” differs from its spiritual definition as used by the Holy fathers.

[ii] The abolishment of fantasy is the result of partaking in uncreated Grace by the deified, which is why it is named “therapy”. Adam partook of the Grace of God before the Fall, but when he lost that Grace, fantasy became a part of his fallen state.


Translation by O.D.V.

Source: This article is a concise covering of the content of the speech of Fr.Athanasios Mitilinaios of blessed memory, hegumen of the Monastery of Saint Demetrios and the Dormition of the Mother of God at Stomio, Larissa.

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How to Keep Feelings under Control

What Jealousy Leads to? MP Metropolitan Anthony Speaks on How to Keep Feelings under Control

The sin, which entered our lives, has perverted the best characteristics of a human soul. For example, jealousy, which, according to the Creator’s plan,was supposed to be a stimulating force on the path to God, now does not help people, but even corrodes them.

Jealousy is simply unnatural to common sense. Every person is born free, but intense jealousy kills both the freedom of others and our own.

Thus, we distort God’s plan for each of us. These distortions block the life-giving spring of grace, joy, and peace to us primarily.

A jealous person loses peace. They are constantly nervous, anxious, and lose the main thing, which is trust. Trust inpeople and God. Yes, as a result others stop trusting them as well, seeing their constant anxiety.

Suspicion creeps into one’s heart, and one becomes unable to love, make friends, and believe. They always suspect everyone. They stop feeling joy. Doubts and evil thoughts take possession of them completely.

Jealousy is the mother of anger. It breeds bitterness and rage. If one does not control it and does not fight it, it burns one’s heart and mind, driving one insane. Unfortunately, jealousy often leads to insanity. In a state of blind rage, such people can do the most terrible and irreparable deeds.

It is essential for a person to identify this characteristic in time and to ask the merciful God for help to overcome it. A person cannot do it on their own. Too quickly jealousy takes deep roots and takes control of people, breaking their will.

Jealousy is a sign of weakness. However, true bravery and courage are based on humility and meekness. Therefore, the Church calls her children to acquire humility. When a person is truly humble before God, they are given real fortitude and courage.

With the help of humility one can defeat any disease, any passion, including jealousy. Jealousy is weakness and humility is strength.

Humility is one’s victory over oneself. It is an ability to open one’s heart to God, so that He may reign in it, blessing and changing one’s life with His grace. Even if God allows trials, they will be for our benefit, because by humbly overcoming them we thus express our hope for God and His all-powerful help”.


Translated by Julia Frolova
For Pravmir.com.Source: Orthodox Life (Russian)

Theo-Ontology, Zizioulas & Heidegger

Theo-Ontology: Notes on the Implications of Zizioulas’ Engagement With Heidegger

Marilynn Lawrence, MA (Phil.)

Introduction

In his essay, “Personhood and Being,” in Being as Communion,[1] John Zizioulas presents an important challenge to the relationship between theology and philosophy, namely, by questioning the use of Heideggerean philosophy for support of patristic theology. His discussion, and tentative conclusion that Heidegger’s philosophy cannot support Trinitarian theology, takes place in a substantial footnote. Certainly, this is not the only, or the most important challenge presented by Zizioulas in this work, but it is in many ways central to his brand of personalism, and deserves further treatment. His comments are particularly worthy of attention in the current climate of post-modern theology, which is largely ‘founded’ on Nietzsche, Heidegger, and their successors such as Jean-Luc Marion.[2] Because he relegates his comments to a footnote, it seems as though Zizioulas is not emphasizing his challenge to the relationship between Heideggerean thought and theology, but is getting it out of the way, so that his readers can dismiss any possible relationship and move on. This note is rather strangely placed given the many parallels throughout his work to Heideggerean concepts, such as the ontological relation/dependency of God and communion and that of Being on Dasein, and the historical analysis of the treatment of person as substance in Western theology.[3]

More recent discussion, such as found in Laurence Paul Hemming’s, Heidegger’s Atheism,[4] argues that certain readings of Heidegger, particularly influenced by Karl Löwith, prematurely closed the door to theological readings and uses of Heidegger’s corpus. For Zizioulas, grounding theology on philosophy is the main problem (*Therapéia Journal editor’s italics). In the climate of contemporary philosophy (largely grounded in issues that have arisen when confronting Heideggerean ideas), a reversal of theo- and onto- prefixes in the uncomfortable discussion between philosophy and theology may not be as far-fetched as previously thought.

Zizioulas’s areas of contention pertain to the concepts of ekstasis, subjectivity, time, and horizon in Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit ontology.* While outlining the series of problems presented by Zizioulas for the use of Heidegger’s program in Being and Time for theology (in Karl Barth and Christos Yannaras, for instance), it is not the scope of this paper to solve these problems or to answer his objections. It is simply my intention to bring Zizioulas’ personalism and his understanding of Trinitarian theology of Orthodoxy to the table of postmodern theo-philosophical discussions that are already largely grounded both on use of, and confrontation with, Heidegger’s philosophy. While Zizioulas’ note on Heidegger seems to take a position that shuts down discussion of the relation of existential-phenomenological ontology and Orthodox theology, it may have the reverse effect of opening up a world of thought.

Taking the position (against earlier interpreters)[5] that Being is not God for Heidegger, and that his criticisms of Christianity as a part of the metaphysical machinery in works such as Introduction to Metaphysics are toward a theology found largely in the Western development of Christian thought (culminating in Scholasticism), I can only wonder what the outcome of Heidegger’s thinking would have been had he been confronted from the outset with a more authentic reading of the Church Fathers, such as that of Zizioulas.

Ecstatic Temporality

Although not posited as central to his own criticism, Zizioulas opens his note[6] with an alignment of the concept of ekstasis in the Church Fathers[7] and in Heidegger:

The concept of ekstasis as an ontological category is found in the mystical Greek Fathers (particularly in the so-called Areopagitical writings and in Maximus the Confessor) and also totally independently in the philosophy of M. Heidegger.[8]

If we are to find any comparison between Heidegger’s Being and Time philosophy and early Christian theology, it will not be in the ekstasis or ecstases of temporality. It is safe to say that Heidegger’s ecstatic temporality is not of the same order as the ekstasis of Maximus. Lack of comparison, however, does not entail incompatibility.

To summarize Heidegger’s position on ekstasis in Division II on “Dasein and Temporality”,[9] our everyday thinking of time as a succession of a series of ‘nows’ as past-present-future, a conception that privileges the Present as a moment on an infinite continuum, is a derived and ‘inauthentic’ (meaning less than what is actually fundamental to our human existence and which makes such concepts possible). We grasp this temporality as an object in which other entities or objects of pastness, presentness, and futureness, appear. This sense of temporality is derived from a more primordial experience of time, with ecstases of temporality that are described as having “the phenomenal characteristic of the ‘coming-towards-oneself, the ‘having-been’ and the ‘letting-oneself-be-encountered-by’.[10] In a lecture series shortly following Being and Time, he refers to these moments of primordial phenomenological time as ‘expectancy’, ‘retention’ and ‘making present’.[11] ‘Expectancy’ is listed first for “[t]he primary meaning of existentiality is the future.”[12] The ekstasis of this temporality is future, since as human beings we can project our wishes, expectations, visions onto a blank screen of possibilities that we recognized as limited by our unknown span of existence in body on earth. Experience of authentic temporality (as a contemplatory vehicle for the authenticity of Dasein) is not attained like a level or step of being, but is a continual effort—choices are made, we create our personal fate in the taut pull between the forgetful automation of inauthentic living and the pull of our mortality and unfulfilled possibility and striving. This being-toward-death need not be morbidity, but can be a gift of positive anxiety and highly personal relating of our potential divine nature and the realization of it through our lives, through our sense of finite worldly time. While I momentarily attribute a value of impoverishment to the inauthentic ‘leveled’ temporality, authentic time in the Heideggerean sense not have an equal and opposite positive value. It is rather an ontological structure that grants free possibility—good or bad. That such a structure is unearthed does not answer why it is, just that the meaning of temporality is care.[13] Zizioulas rather uses theo-ontology to answer the ‘why’ question that the phenomenologist not dare—God as the source of being.

Heidegger contrasts ecstatic temporality in Being and Time with the infinite inauthentic mode of temporality.[14] In Christian theology, the finite and infinite times can be (incorrectly) interpreted as the reverse—infinite as authentic, finite as inauthentic. However, we have two types of ‘infinite’—the ecstatic time-space of the Church Fathers introduces a third temporality—the eternal and divine. Taken by itself, Heidegger’s temporality does not contradict theological temporality because the eternal is not an indifferent flatline extending into the infinite but the Son as the basis of and intrusion into history—a history bursting with kairotic moments of creation, descent, ascent, and salvation.[15] An eternal time beyond our finitude is not impossible in the Heideggerean phenomenology, but inaccessible to the philosopher, insofar as philosophy defines itself by an abysmal gulf between philosophy and faith. However, Dasein’s care as sein-zum-tode may by all rights include, even prioritize, a concern for being-beyond-death. Zizioulas claimed that only theology can treat of the authentic person, for God’s free being as a person gives us our possibility of authentic personhood (freedom).[16] From the access point of Dasein, we move from the infinite, to finite, to eternal. From the top-down theoria of theology, the eternal is ontological starting point. The human person, ontologically granted personhood by God’s being as person, in communion moves from the inauthentic oblivion to authentic participation in the eternal. Faith may emerge as a possibility of Dasein in its authentic finitude. Whether or not faith is to be shunned or set aside by the philosopher depends on her hermeneutic motivation.

While Zizioulas does not elaborate on “ekstasis as an ontological category is found in the mystical Greek Fathers,” we can glean the meaning by looking at God and temporality in the early mystical Maximus. As Hans Urs von Balthasar says of the difficult Centuries on Knowledge:

[T]he Logos appears in the world here only by way of being outside of himself, in a guise that is deceptive, but meant for the world’s instruction; he is ‘Logos in essence, flesh in external appearance.’ (2, 60). The human Christ appears hardly at all.[17]

He also states that for early Maximus:

God is simply above time and the ages, above the movement of the world, above beginning, middle, and end, and therefore God inconceivable, only to be approached through faith (I, 1-10)…[18]

Balthasar is concerned that this ontology presents God as ecstatic to world and time creates a “groundless abyss that separates the absolutely transcendent ‘essence’ of God from the world” and does not account for the Trinitarian entrance of God into time and history. Whether or not he is correct in his interpretation, this example illustrates a perennial problem in Orthodox theology as reflected in the different ontological (and existential) accounts among the church fathers and even within a single thinker such as early and later Maximus. As E. Moore has shown, how the theologian conceives of human freedom, either as “a series of fumbles and false starts” attempting to reach the external God within worldly temporality, or as the “unfolding of an indeterminate history that is the result of free acts of human souls,”[19] is the issue at the heart. The ontological must at some point reach the existential if the questions of Being are to have any meaning for us.

A meeting point may be proposed as such: For Zizioulas’ in his interpretation of the Orthodox faith, God is no Being apart from communion (the ecclesial union of beings-toward-God); for Heidegger in his existential ontology, Being is no Being apart from Dasein, which has the structure of Being-with-others. These statements are not equivalent, but complimentary. Notions that Being is equated with God for Heidegger are convincingly dispelled by Hemming,[20] and we need only quote his 1951 Zurich seminar to ward off any doubt:

Being and God are not identical, and I would never attempt to think the essence of God through being. Some of you perhaps know that I came out of theology, and that I harbor an old love for it and that I have a certain understanding of it. If I were yet to write a theology—to which I sometimes feel inclined—then the word ‘being’ would not be allowed to occur in it.[21]

Unlike the theologian, the philosopher does not have the theoretical commitment to God as the source of Being. However, the philosopher has the advantage of phenomenological access to our relation to and striving toward God through our Being.

We cannot say with any biographical certainty to what extent Heidegger’s phenomenological concepts in Being and Time are derived from his early research in theology (comparisons such as the notion of the Fallenness of Dasein with the primordial Fall of Adam and Eve are made and disputed). We can be sure that the question of God and the divine was in the background of his thought and philosophical career.[22] Regardless of his often silent struggle with theology, Zizioulas’ next statement in his footnote points to a core weakness in Heidegger’s thought in Being and Time for theology. The notion of personhood may have been prematurely shunned due to his (mis)understanding of Person as having the trapping of a static metaphysics and a Cartesian subjectivity. We, however, cannot dismiss the dynamic ontology of Personhood as found in works such as Being as Communion, and are challenged to face the difficulties personalism creates for the philosopher faced with questions about Subject and subjectivity in contemporary Continental philosophy.

Subjectivity, Person, Other

Papanikolaou is correct to identify a conscious influence of Emmanuel Levinas on Zizioulas.[23] He is also correct to point out that Zizioulas’ interpretation of the Cappadocians as developing a “relational ontology of trinitarian personhood” is not far-fetched. If existentialism and personalism for theology happens to be compatible with patristic thinking, then so it is. Therefore, I believe Zizioulas’s next critical statement in the footnote of Heidegger, borrowed directly from Levinas, is motivated by a concern for the preservation of a dynamic and existential ontology, a concern of which Being and Time ontology falls short.  Zizioulas acknowledges that:

Heidegger represents an important stage in the progress of Western thought, especially in the liberation of ontology from an absolute “ontism” and from philosophical rationalism, though not in fact from the concept of consciousness and of the subject. (See the critique of Heidegger by the important contemporary philosopher, E. Levinas, in his brilliant work, Totalité et Infini. Essai sur l’Exteriorité [1971], p. 15: “Sein und Zeit n’a peut-être soutenu qu’une seule thèse: l’être est inséparable de la compréhension de l’être [que se déroule comme temps], l’être est déjà appel à la subjectivité.”)[24]

The first statement about the inability of Being and Time to shake off the ‘subjectivity’ is not only Levinas’ critique from reading Sein und Zeit, but is a self-criticism that Heidegger himself offered; the work was in danger of unwillingly “becoming only a new strengthening of subjectivity.”[25] The goal of liberating ontology from the subjectivity meant, for Heidegger at least, to come to a language in which the mystery of Being is left open for rare glimpses, rather than to attempt to capture it as a subject grasps and dominates an object, as is the case in the calculative thinking and its resulting technologies. As he wrote, “the essential worth of man does not consist in his being the substance of beings, as the ‘Subject’ among them, so that as the tyrant of Being he may deign to release the beingness of beings into an all too loudly bruited ‘objectivity.'”[26] Levinas, Zizioulas, andHeidegger criticize the phenomenological language of ‘horizon’ for the comprehension of beings that appear on horizon appear for the sake of manipulation, consumption, and appropriation, thereby totalizing, and (I would argue in spite of all vehement claims otherwise, that this is true of Heidegger as well) subsuming Otherness. All three thinkers, however, may have different reasons for wishing to not lapse into subjectivity. For Zizioulas, subjects as merely independent individuals are not Persons capable of entering into the liturgical communion with God.[27] For Heidegger, any metaphysical discussion of the ‘essence’ of man (as body, soul, spirit or some composite), and any talk of objectivity, etc, lapses into a broader ‘subjectivism’, although it is questionable whether or not in his later works he really intended to overcome subjectivity rather than uncover its means in an essential way.[28]

Zizioulas makes another statement in his footnote that shows why Levinas’ criticisms of Heidegger’s ontology are of importance to Trinitarian theology:
With our insistence here on the thesis that God is ecstatic, that is, that He exists on account of being the Father, we deny simultaneously not only the ontological priority of the substance over the person, but also a “panoramic” ontology (the term belongs to the critique of Heidegger by E. Levinas, op. cit. p. 270 ff.; cf. p. 16 ff.), which would view the Trinity as a parallel co-existence of the three persons, a kind of multiple manifestation of the being of God.

The type of panoramic ontology that Levinas accuses Heidegger of espousing is further expressed in “Is Ontology Fundamental?,”[29] an essay in which he claims that Heidegger’s contribution of Dasein, the philosophy of existence, is ‘effaced’ by his ontology as comprehension. Levinas strongly differentiated his philosophy from that in Heidegger by placing what he called ‘metaphysics’ as prior to ontology, and by introducing an absolute Other as the source of ethical relations to others. Because Zizioulas deals with the meaning of ecclesiastical communion as a relating based on persons, it is not difficult to see the appeal in Levinasian ideas for him and the rejection of Heidegger based on Levinas’ critique.

It is true, and self-admitted, that Heidegger did not overcome subject and horizon in Being and Time, however, while he does not use the word Other in the same manner as Levinas, his preservation of the mystery of Being has the connotation of Other—never fully within our reach—always more than we can comprehend. I put forth that his struggle with question of Being was in fact a struggle with Otherness—an otherness that continues to reappear at the margin between the languages of philosophy and theology. This notion of grasping Being, subsuming the Other is one that occurs in the fundamental history of metaphysics that Heidegger intended to uncover through his works. Heidegger’s Being is ultimately incomprehensible to thinking, uncontainable by language, but not nothing. All originary concepts of Being, including Moira, Phusis, One, etc, tell a history of an inadequate ontology (the forgetting of the ‘ontological difference’ between beings and Being) that cannot encompass or fully know the mystery of the meaning of Being. Heidegger’s motivation to break free of metaphysical language, to establish a new mood and path for thinking is to break through the nihilism of metaphysics by first bringing it forth and undergoing it. His real incentive to push ontology to the limits may have been based on what he understood to be the result of metaphysical ontology—an increasingly nihilistic and meaningless way of living on earth.

The power of metaphysics that hinders a meaningful existence, for Heidegger and other ‘prophets of technological nihilism’,[30] is the same force that depersonalizes—although it is not expressed in his works in terms of person. Heidegger’s unfortunate failure to link his fundamental ontology to any theological explorations (in spite of his undying interest in theology) may be primarily due to his rejection of explorations of what a person means in Dilthey, Bergson, Husserl and Scheler.[31]He illustrates the problem with a rejection of Scheler’s definition of the person as the performer of intentional acts. He thought of his predecessor’s notions of person as “thoroughly coloured by the anthropology of Christianity and the ancient world, whose inadequate ontological foundations have been overlooked by both philosophy of life and personalism.”[32] His identifies these foundations as 1) man as a rational animal; and 2) man as the image and likeness of God. What he says of the latter is that the “Being of God gets Interpreted ontologically by means of the ancient ontology” [an interpretation as the “Being-present-at-hand of other created thing”], and the Being of the human more so. Heidegger makes a fundamental mistake in assuming that all ancient ontology is alike, betraying an ignorance of Origen, the Cappadocians, Maximus, and all thinkers that comprise the diverse history of Eastern ontology, one that may be conceived of as a tension between the existential and metaphysical. In this light, Levinas’ criticism, while crudely placing Heidegger’s efforts in light of the same comprehensive ontology that he battles, is well-considered by Zizioulas for a theology of Persons. However, it remains to be seen whether Levinasian theology of absolute Other is in fact compatible with Trinitarian theology, or whether it can only be one of God as Father alone who is called out every relation with others.

Heidegger’s major shortcoming, the same that has spawned not only criticisms but rejection of his whole philosophical work, is that ethical relations with others (in philosophy and in life) and the meaning of the person were postponed in his question of Being. The theologically-minded post-Heideggerean need not be restricted by this same deficiency, and would do well to consider the Orthodox notion of theosis,[33]for instance, to open the relating of Being to God, our being to God through Christ and Spirit.

Conclusion

Zizioulas’ note on the use of Heideggerean philosophy for Orthodox theology leaves more questions than answers. While I have argued that Heidegger’s concepts of ecstatic temporality is not discovered ‘totally independently’ of the eternal temporality of the Church Father, the differences between these notions of ekstasis provide an example of a phenomenological approach to our being that is not a supplement to theology, but a path out of inauthentic thinking that can meet in the middle ground of our modern and post-modern experiences and our decisions to hold and practice spiritual faith.

Zizioulas does not claim to have the all answers to the challenging questions he asks, but does appear to take the position that the ‘philosophy’ of Heidegger is incompatible with the Orthodox faith. His mistake, I believe, is in the treatment of the work of a philosopher, any philosopher, as a whole, without loose ends and without unanswered problems. Karl Jaspers had a simple but elegant definition or understanding of philosophy as a continual dynamic of questioning that he called ‘philosophizing’.[34] My reason for drawing attention to this highly-charged footnote is not to argue that Heidegger, as a philosopher, was always (or even sometimes) correct in his thinking or consistently useful for Trinitarian theology, but to 1) destabilize the notion held by some theologians that the term Being in Heidegger can be replaced with God – that the mystery of Being and of God are identical; 2) acknowledge (for the sake of contemporary Orthodox thinking) the debt to this highly influential 20th century thinker, not just for contemporary non-analytical philosophy but in the 21st century turn of philosophy toward theology. For the theologically-minded philosopher, perhaps Orthodox thinking will provide some content to the relation of the divine that emerges in the opening of Being. For both philosophizing theologians and theologizing philosophers who attempt to think upon these difficulties, I leave the following questions by Zizioulas for further thought:
(a) Is it possible to conceive of an ontology outside time in Heidegger, or of an ontology within time predicated of God in the Greek Fathers? (b) Is it possible for death to be an ontological concept in the Fathers, who regard it as the last enemy of being? (c) Is it possible to regard the concept of truth (alêtheia), in the sense of a manifestation of or outgrowth from oblivion (lêthê), as an inevitable attribute of the ontology predicated of God?[35]

Notes:
[1] Zizioulas, John. Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church(Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1985).

[2] See, for instance, Jean-Luc Marion, God Without Being, tr. Thomas A. Carlson (Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, 1991).

[3] Zizioulas writes, “the truth of creation is a dependent truth, while the truth of God’s being is communion itself” and “God and the world cannot be placed side by side as self-defined entities.” (Being as Communion,p. 94). Both Heidegger and Zizioulas (in Being as Communion, see, for instance, the Western trinity as ousia [substance] rather than hypostasis [person], p. 88-89) marveled at transformations in ontological concepts in Western history, such that occur as transmogrifications of Greek ideas into the Latin language. Such transformations are central to Heidegger’s account of the history of metaphysics throughout his career. See, for instance,Introduction to Metaphysics, tr. Gregory Fried and Richard Polt (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000), p. 59 ff.

[4] Hemming, Laurence Paul. Heidegger’s Atheism: The Refusal of a Theological Voice(Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002).

[5] See, for instance, John Macquarrie Principles of Christian Theology, Second Edition (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1977) , p. 115 ff.

[6] Being as Communion, p. 44, n. 40.

[7] A succinct account of ekstasis in the Church Fathers can be found in The Westminster Handbook to Patristic Theology, ed. John Anthony McGluckin (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), p. 113-114.

[8] Emphasis mine.

[9] Being and Time, tr. J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1962), p. 274ff; Sein und Zeit 231.

[10] Ibid., p. 372ff; Sein und Zeit 325 ff.

[11] Metaphysical Foundations of Logic, tr. Michael Heim (Indianapolis: Indian University Press, 1984), p. 203. “To repeat: expectancy, retention and making-present are not merely the way we grasp the then, the formerly, and the now. Expectancy is not a mode of being conscious of time, but in a primordial and genuine sense is time itself.”

[12] Being and Time, p. 376; Sein und Zeit, 327.

[13] Ibid., p. 370; Sein und Zeit 323.

[14] Unlike the ekstasis of Christian thought, the meaning in Heidegger is to stand outside one’s will, projections and interpretations (of time as a thing, for instance). Although not entirely incomparable to Kant’s transcendentals of time and space that make experience possible, Heidegger’s phenomenological time is partly in response to them—the existential perspective of time-space (emerging from lived-experience) the primary one.

[15] This ekstatic (and eschatic) temporality is symbolized and played out in the Divine Liturgy. See more about the ‘atemporal foundation of the liturgy’ in E. Moore, “On Time and the Calendar in Orthodox Liturgical Theology,” Theandros, Vol. 1, num. 2, Winter 2003/2004.http://www.theandros.com/time.html.

[16] Being as Communion, p. 44.

[17] Balthasar, Hans Urs von. Cosmic Liturgy: The Universe According to Maximus the Confessor, tr. Brian E. Daley, S.J, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2003), p. 345.

[18] Ibid., p. 346.

[19] Moore, Edward. Origen of Alexandria and Maximus the Confessor: An Analysis and Critical Evaluation of Their Eschatological Doctrines (Boca Raton, FL: Universal Publishers, 2004), p. 153.

[20] Hemming begins the introductory chapter of Heidegger’s Atheism with this claim by Löwith and how it influenced other interpreters of Heidegger.

[21] Heidegger’s answer to a question “May being and God be posited as identical?” is reprinted and translated by L. P. Hemming in Heidegger’s Atheism, p. 291-292.

[22] In addition to Hemming’s Heidegger’s Atheism, also see Otto Pöggeler Martin Heidegger’s Path of Thinking, tr. Daniel Magurshak and Sigmund Barber (New York: Humanity Books, 1991, pp. 211 ff) for the importance of the question of God and faith in Heidegger’s ontology.

[23] Papanikolaou, Aristotle. “Is John Zizioulas and Existentialist in Disguise? Response to Lucian Turcescu,” Modern Theology, Vol. 20, issue 4, p. 601-607.

[24] Being as Communion, p.45, n. 40. The passage Zizioulas quotes in the French is translated in Totality and Infinity, tr. Alphonso Lingis, (Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 1969) as follows: “Being and Time has argued perhaps but one sole thesis: Being is inseparable from the comprehension of Being (which unfolds as time); Being is already an appeal to subjectivity.” Levinas then argues that Heidegger in his approach places existents as subordinate to Being, thereby placing freedom (not as something man possesses but something that is granted in obedience to Being) above ethics. The criticism that ‘Being is an appeal to subjectivity’ is not explained in this passage, but we can guess what Levinas means in light of his preface to Totality and Infinity, in which he says, “This book then does present itself as a defense of subjectivity, but it will apprehend the subjectivity not at the level of its purely egoist protestation against totality, nor in its anguish before death, but as founded in the idea of infinity.” (p. 26). The first definition is criticized because this subjectivity promotes freedom above the guilt in the face of the other. The second clause is a criticism of what he sees as an unaccountable individualism in authentic Dasein as being-toward-death.

[25] Translated from the Nietzsche lecture, Der Wille zur Macht als Erkekenntnis (Neske edition, p. 194ff) by Otto Pöggeler, Martin Heidegger’s Path of Thinking, p. 145.

[26] “Letter on Humanism,” in Martin Heidegger: Basic Writings, Second Edition(San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1993), p. 234.

[27] Being as Communion, p. 105-107.

[28] See, for instance, Heidegger’s discussion of subjectivity in his Nietzsche lecture “The Will to Power as Knowledge,” tr. by David Farrell Krell in Nietzsche Vols. 3 and 4, (HarperSanFrancisco, 1991) (Refer to Vol 4, p. 141ff.)

[29] In Emmanuel Levinas: Basic Philosophical Writings, ed. Adriaan T. Peperzak, Simon Critchley, and Robert Bernasconi (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1996), p. 1-10.

[30] These prophets are identified by Arthur Kroker (in The Will to Technological and the Culture of Nihilism, University of Toronto Press, 2004) as Heidegger, Nietzsche and Marx. I would add Ernst Jünger, Karl Jaspers, and any thinker of the early half of the 20th century that showed an existential concern for the essence and effects of technology.

[31] Being and Time, p. 72-74.

[32] Ibid., p. 74.

[33] See, for instance, Origen’s existential conception of theôsis in E. Moore, “Some Notes on Orthodox Ethics and Existential Theology,” Theandros, Vol. 1, number 3, Spring 2004, http://www.theandros.com/existential.html.

[34] “Philosophizing, as it occurs in each historical age, involves penetration, without limit, into the unity of the revelation of Being,” from “On My Philosophy,” in Existentialism from Dostoyevsky to Sartre, ed. Walter Kaufman (New York: Plume Books, 1988), p. 162; “[P]hilosophizing is an act which works upon the inwardness of man, but whose final meaning he cannot know,” from “Kierkegaard and Nietzsche” in Existentialism, p. 209.

[35] Being as Communion, p. 45, n. 40

Source: this article first appeared in the (now defunct) Theandros Journal of Orthodox Christian Theology & Philosophy (Volume 3, number 2, Winter 2005/2006).

AFR: Oneness in Marriage

Oneness in Marriage Conference

Oneness in Marriage Conference

January 2015

Sponsored by the Center for Family Care of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the 2015 Oneness in Marriage Conference, which was hosted by St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church in Irvine, California, focused on growing and protecting the blessed communion of marriage. The conference took place January 29 – 31 in Santa Ana, California, and attendees included clergy, seminarians, pastoral care workers, lay assistants, professional counselors, ministry leaders, and lay people.

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Video: Transfiguring Voluptuous Choice

Transfiguring Voluptuous Choice

Rev’d Deacon Dr. Stephen Muse, Ph.D., L.M.F.T.

This keynote address was given at the 2nd Pastoral Challenges in Marriage Conference hosted by the Center for Family Care on Oneness: Growing and Protecting the Blessed Communion in Santa Ana, CA from January 28-31, 2015.

An article by Deacon Steven by the same title here:  Transfiguring-Voluptuous-Choice-Logos-Vol-541-2-Muse1

BOOKSHELF: Psychology in … the Church

Psychology in Service to the Church

by Rev’d. Dr. Vasileios Thermos
Published by: Sebastian Press

Man, being in the image of God and “an animal in the process of deification” (according to St. Gregory Nazianzen)—whose brain and nervous system are largely shaped by evolution, who is both restricted and boundless through his genes, sealed by his early experiences, moderated by his hormones, and under a great diversity of other influences—can display a wide range of behaviors, some of which are abnormal.

At the beginning of the third millennium, instead of advocating a “soul therapy approach,” Fr. Thermos offers an inter-disciplinary medical-theological study of such a fundamental and fascinating topic. By keeping the focus on modern ways of thinking about these ideas, Professor Thermos facilitates an exchange of views and experiences between the fields of theology, psychology and psychiatry. The ultimate purpose of this exchange is to serve mankind wishing the Church as well as in the context of the medical sciences.

Language: English
ISBN: 978-19367-733-29
Published: 2017
Number of pages: 166
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