Paulos Mar Gregorios
(FFRRC – Theological Implications of Modernity and Postmodernity)
Presented by Fr. Jomon John K
****************************************************************************** Introduction : Paulos Mar Gregorios (1922-1996) was a renowned Philosopher, Theologian, Linguist, Orator and a reputed Organiser among the World Christian circle. He was from the Malankara Orthodox Church in India. He was well versed in Eastern and Western Philosophy along with art, science, language and cultural studies. His main Theological contribution was the demonstration of Eastern Theological perspectives from the Cappodocian Fathers especially Gregory of Nyssa. Based on the Eastern Religious foundation he evaluated the process of modernity and has provide corrective procedures. Here we are analyzing in brief the Philosophical and Theological Reflections of PMG. I) Reflection on Enlightenment and Modernity :Paulos Mar Gregorios (PMG) begins to examine critically the foundations of Enlightenment. The reflections are pointed here. a) PMG observes that the origins of modern philosophy are to be sought in natural science that is to ‘understand Nature’. It leaves what is outside nature or super-nature to theology or metaphysics.1 Renaissance separated philosophy from dogmatic theology.2 The ‘philosophy of nature’ remained heavily dependent on the older metaphysics of the Greeks. Modern philosophy turned the older metaphysics to a more empirically grounded metaphysics.3 b) The key to modernity in both Descates and Kant lay in their application of mathematics to the philosophy of nature. Descartes and Kant sought to rescue the western world from the skepticism of the Greeks by providing a “Method” of sure, certain, self-certifying knowledge not dependent on Tradition.4 c) Modernity rejected Traditional religion, and decided to place Reason on the throne with the Senses as executives and informants. Critical Rationality and empiricism thus became the watchwords of modernity.5 d) Modernity attempts to develop a critical rationality based on reason and experience without any dependence on tradition. PMG says that it is a failed attempt. Because in all acts of human understanding there is some dependence on tradition seen as the linguistic, conceptual and methodological as well as cultural equipment that we inherit from our societies.6 e) Three tier to two tier : The medieval European world lived in a three tier system- God, Man and World. Enlightenment reduced reality to two tiers : Man and World. Trained in this binary system provided by science and secular rationality, man proceeded to the mindless exploitation of the world.7 II) Reflection on Knowledge and Epistemology : a) Western natural science eclipsed philosophy and the art of asking fundamental questions. Knowledge is to go beyond the conscious reason in order to come to the experience of ultimate reality.8 b) Naive realism assumes that there are subjects and objects and that the subjects can know the objects as they are. According to this view, what cannot be known is not real or non - existent. Enlightenment rationality has no notion of transcendent knowledge that overcomes the opposition between the knower, the known and the knowledge.9 c) Enlightenment rationality put too much interest on measurement based science.10 But measurement is always of a finite space-time entity. The infinite is by definition immeasurable; because measure presupposes limit.11 We cannot measure all realities in nature and beyond nature. d) Knowledge of reality is constantly increasing. Every generation has to create its own vision of reality and shape its life in accordance with it. We have neither the responsibility, nor the possibility, to know the whole of reality before we begin to shape our lives.12 New aspects of reality will manifest themselves to us as our lives become increasingly conformed to the “image”, that is, to the good.13 e)PMG had a different approach to...
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