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Title: Les conceptions anthropologiques de Grégoire Palamas et de Georges Gémiste Pléthon
Subtitle: Un débat sur le rôle de l'homme dans l'univers
Author(s): SÉNINA, Tatiana A.
Journal: Journal of Eastern Christian Studies
Volume: 73    Issue: 3-4   Date: 2021   
Pages: 139-158
DOI: 10.2143/JECS.73.3.3289995

Abstract :
Georgios Gemistos Plethon (1355/60-1452) was a representative of philosophical Hellenism which was sometimes at odds with the Byzantine Christian mainstream: his attempt to restore Hellenism was a response to patristics and, ultimately, to Gregory Palamas (1296/97-1359). This article deals with the anthropological concepts of Palamas and Plethon; in particular, it reflects on their views about man as a divine creation, his mission on earth, his sins and virtues; further about the essence of human nature, the role of consciousness, and perception of God and life after death. By comparing the Christian doctrine promoted by St. Gregory Palamas with Plethon’s views, we discover a paradox of Orthodox Christianity particularly in its ascetic appearance. Christians admire and praise the Universe as a beautiful creation of God, and humankind’s God-given natural traits as a gift, but at the same time the Christian ascetic doctrine urges the Christian to renounce all worldly activity, including secular education and science, in particular if devoted to knowledge about the laws of the universe. Ascetic doctrine, understood this way, rather suggests that we are to give up this search for knowledge in the name of spiritual life and irrational faith in God and his supernatural power. For Plethon, this paradox does not exist: he argues that consciousness is given to us for the sake of understanding the universe, seeking knowledge about man’s relationship with God, and reveling in the bond between Creation and Creator. Overall, Plethon’s choice of scholarly pursuits and philosophy over Palamas’ devotion to contemplative Orthodox hesychasm appears to be more attractive to modern people.

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