Relation as a Marker of Historicity in Byzantine Philosophy (Категорията „отношение” като маркер на историчност във Византийската философия)
Knezevic, M. (ed.), The Ways of Byzantine Philosophy, Sebastian Press 2015, 225-239
The Christocentric re-interpretation of Dionysian thought by Maximos establishes Christology as the central metaphysical concept, from which the methods of ontology and gnoseology are derived. As history gains importance, in contrast to the intellectual standards of neo-Platonism, movement transcends the circumstances of the individual existential trajectory and expresses the inner depths of being. Maximos interprets the concepts, characterizing movement and peace, namely Aristotle’s categories, as the pattern of being-with-God (Capita theologica et polemica, Ad Marinum), whereas for the Capadocians they are only holographic markers of created things. Although divine being is beyond any relations, the essential divine energy interacts with the world through a unifying relation, its principle being the Body of the incarnate Son of God. Created essences are relational not because they are bound to return to God, but as they are led from being to divinized, i.e. good, being (Mystagogia). Divinization takes place in a relational union, the later bearing the connotation of encounter, rather than of causal change. The category “relation” is applicable to the life of the Trinity, as well as to God’s activity in the world. All these relations are polyadic; unlike polyadicity in Scholasticism, the participants are boundaries and not subjects of relations. This concept of polyadicity has special gnoseological relevance: human sole internalizes contingent relations by overcoming the temporal and local divisions and uniting the principles (λόγοι) of all essences. The structure of this gnoseological unification follows the epistemological order of human knowledge, but its scope transcends the natural capacity of man. Internalizing the relations is for Maximos adding historicity to the inner depths of human soul, revealing at the same time the formats of divinized existence. Through the virtues man becomes mature enough, so as to unite all things in love-relations and bring them to the Son of God, who became man in person (Ambigua). Thus relations explicate the role of human person in the plot of Christ’s incarnation; they are a manifestation of man’s freedom in Christ. This anthropological dimension shows that in Maximos’ thought practical philosophy has the status of transcendental science. His concept of relation is a step forward in the attempts – strongly present in the commentary tradition of Aristotle (Porphyrius, Plotinus and Olympiodoros) – to integrate all types of relations (potential and actual, unilateral and reciprocal) into one coherent system.
Relation, hiatoricity, communion, hypostasis.