• For users new and old: the forum rules were streamlined when we transitioned to the new software. Please ensure that you are familiar with them. Continued use of the forum means that you (a) know the rules, and (b) pledge that you'll abide by them. For more information, check out the OrthodoxChristianity.Net Rules section. (There are only 2 threads there - Rules, and Administrative Structure.)

Natural Ethics in Orthodoxy?

Papist

Toumarches
Joined
Aug 24, 2006
Messages
13,771
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
40
Location
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Hello Everyone,

It is my understanding that Orthodox Christians, for the most part, reject the concept of there being a Natural Moral Law . While I am not starting this thread for the purpose of debating the finer points of Thomistic Natural Law Theory, what I am interested is whether or not Orthodox Christians believe that there are pre-religious moral truths, and if there are, how one goes about coming to know these truths. In the Orthodox view, are morals a matter of Divine Revelation, or can we know some of what is good and what is evil by reason alone?

Again, I am not trying to debate here; I'm just asking for an explanation of the Orthodox view.
 

Porter ODoran

Toumarches
Joined
May 8, 2014
Messages
12,135
Reaction score
6
Points
38
Age
48
Location
Eugene, OR
Natural Law rises anew every few intellectual generations -- my point is that there have come to be many versions of Natural Law. To how Thomism has been embraced or rejected in Orthodox tradition, I can't speak (there are those here who can), but I can point out that an earlier version of Natural Law was of the greatest importance to ancient Greek thinking and philosophy -- really was the kernel of every moral system and school and science -- and I can say that many Fathers assumed and interacted with this in their writings. St. Paul himself appealed to φύσις.
 

Papist

Toumarches
Joined
Aug 24, 2006
Messages
13,771
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
40
Location
Albuquerque, New Mexico
katherineofdixie said:
Papist said:
In the Orthodox view, are morals a matter of Divine Revelation, or can we know some of what is good and what is evil by reason alone?
Yes.  ;D

Generally speaking, in Orthodoxy, it's not either/or but more often both/and.
Thanks for the response.

Do you know of any Orthodox writers who discuss this?
 

ialmisry

Strategos
Joined
Aug 17, 2007
Messages
41,813
Reaction score
8
Points
38
Location
Chicago
Papist said:
katherineofdixie said:
Papist said:
In the Orthodox view, are morals a matter of Divine Revelation, or can we know some of what is good and what is evil by reason alone?
Yes.  ;D

Generally speaking, in Orthodoxy, it's not either/or but more often both/and.
Thanks for the response.

Do you know of any Orthodox writers who discuss this?
you mean besides St. Paul?

I know someone at Church who is doing his doctorate on something similar. I'll ask him.  Btw, our priest is a big believer in Natural Law theory (something from his Vatican days I think), but I don't think he has written anything on it specifically.
 

ialmisry

Strategos
Joined
Aug 17, 2007
Messages
41,813
Reaction score
8
Points
38
Location
Chicago
Porter ODoran said:
Natural Law rises anew every few intellectual generations -- my point is that there have come to be many versions of Natural Law. To how Thomism has been embraced or rejected in Orthodox tradition, I can't speak (there are those here who can), but I can point out that an earlier version of Natural Law was of the greatest importance to ancient Greek thinking and philosophy -- really was the kernel of every moral system and school and science -- and I can say that many Fathers assumed and interacted with this in their writings. St. Paul himself appealed to φύσις.
you have to watch how you interpret that: Romans 11:24 would leave all you gentiles lost in your sins.
 

Porter ODoran

Toumarches
Joined
May 8, 2014
Messages
12,135
Reaction score
6
Points
38
Age
48
Location
Eugene, OR
ialmisry said:
Porter ODoran said:
Natural Law rises anew every few intellectual generations -- my point is that there have come to be many versions of Natural Law. To how Thomism has been embraced or rejected in Orthodox tradition, I can't speak (there are those here who can), but I can point out that an earlier version of Natural Law was of the greatest importance to ancient Greek thinking and philosophy -- really was the kernel of every moral system and school and science -- and I can say that many Fathers assumed and interacted with this in their writings. St. Paul himself appealed to φύσις.
you have to watch how you interpret that: Romans 11:24 would leave all you gentiles lost in your sins.
Good catch (altho I'm still thinking about your interpretation). I had only specifically thought of "Doth not nature itself teach you ..." in I Cor 11.
 

ialmisry

Strategos
Joined
Aug 17, 2007
Messages
41,813
Reaction score
8
Points
38
Location
Chicago
Porter ODoran said:
ialmisry said:
Porter ODoran said:
Natural Law rises anew every few intellectual generations -- my point is that there have come to be many versions of Natural Law. To how Thomism has been embraced or rejected in Orthodox tradition, I can't speak (there are those here who can), but I can point out that an earlier version of Natural Law was of the greatest importance to ancient Greek thinking and philosophy -- really was the kernel of every moral system and school and science -- and I can say that many Fathers assumed and interacted with this in their writings. St. Paul himself appealed to φύσις.
you have to watch how you interpret that: Romans 11:24 would leave all you gentiles lost in your sins.
Good catch (altho I'm still thinking about your interpretation). I had only specifically thought of "Doth not nature itself teach you ..." in I Cor 11.
every barber's slogan.
 

Papist

Toumarches
Joined
Aug 24, 2006
Messages
13,771
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
40
Location
Albuquerque, New Mexico
ialmisry said:
Papist said:
katherineofdixie said:
Papist said:
In the Orthodox view, are morals a matter of Divine Revelation, or can we know some of what is good and what is evil by reason alone?
Yes.  ;D

Generally speaking, in Orthodoxy, it's not either/or but more often both/and.
Thanks for the response.

Do you know of any Orthodox writers who discuss this?
you mean besides St. Paul?

I know someone at Church who is doing his doctorate on something similar. I'll ask him.  Btw, our priest is a big believer in Natural Law theory (something from his Vatican days I think), but I don't think he has written anything on it specifically.
:D Yes beside St. Paul. Thank you for your willingness to ask your acquaintance.
 

Papist

Toumarches
Joined
Aug 24, 2006
Messages
13,771
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
40
Location
Albuquerque, New Mexico
katherineofdixie said:
http://palamas.info/orthodox-criticism-of-natural-law/

I was just googling and found this.
Thank you! :)

Unfortunately, the author seems to think Natural Law Theory is based on science, which most Thomist Natural Law Theorist would reject outright.
 

Asteriktos

Strategos
Joined
Oct 4, 2002
Messages
39,585
Reaction score
331
Points
83
katherineofdixie said:
http://palamas.info/orthodox-criticism-of-natural-law/

I was just googling and found this.
Funnily enough that that would be the domain name, because I was just reading Topics of Natural and Theological Science and on the Moral and Ascetic Life by St. Gregory; it might be worth checking out and of interest for some of you...
 

Porter ODoran

Toumarches
Joined
May 8, 2014
Messages
12,135
Reaction score
6
Points
38
Age
48
Location
Eugene, OR
Papist said:
katherineofdixie said:
http://palamas.info/orthodox-criticism-of-natural-law/

I was just googling and found this.
Thank you! :)

Unfortunately, the author seems to think Natural Law Theory is based on science, which most Thomist Natural Law Theorist would reject outright.
Oh gosh the sheer volume of misunderstandings of this subject nowadays ...
 

ialmisry

Strategos
Joined
Aug 17, 2007
Messages
41,813
Reaction score
8
Points
38
Location
Chicago
Papist said:
katherineofdixie said:
http://palamas.info/orthodox-criticism-of-natural-law/

I was just googling and found this.
Thank you! :)

Unfortunately, the author seems to think Natural Law Theory is based on science, which most Thomist Natural Law Theorist would reject outright.
yes, disingenuousness comprises an essential ingredient.
Not to argue that, but to point out the distinction without a difference Orthodoxy doesn't buy. (remember, what we call science now was called natural philosophy in Aquinas' day).
 

Porter ODoran

Toumarches
Joined
May 8, 2014
Messages
12,135
Reaction score
6
Points
38
Age
48
Location
Eugene, OR
It was called that, yes -- and what was called 'scientia' in ancient times also differed quite a bit from today -- yet what things were and are called matters almost not at all compared to what things contain by way of thought-processes and presuppositions and methods. For example, the Greek idea of "nature" was what was to be discerned, by the wise and practiced mind, as the tendency toward what would be best for any given creature or situation. The discernment served a practical purpose, too -- the good man or good healer or good ruler would then work to add his own talents and efforts to further "nature's" true goal. The idea was not entirely different from Orthodoxy's 'synergeia.' Surely there is some contrast between all this and the thinking and outworking of science today.
 

Papist

Toumarches
Joined
Aug 24, 2006
Messages
13,771
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
40
Location
Albuquerque, New Mexico
ialmisry said:
Papist said:
katherineofdixie said:
http://palamas.info/orthodox-criticism-of-natural-law/

I was just googling and found this.
Thank you! :)

Unfortunately, the author seems to think Natural Law Theory is based on science, which most Thomist Natural Law Theorist would reject outright.
yes, disingenuousness comprises an essential ingredient.
Not to argue that, but to point out the distinction without a difference Orthodoxy doesn't buy. (remember, what we call science now was called natural philosophy in Aquinas' day).
I understand that, but what natural science/philosophy meant something quite different in Aquinas' day than it means today.
 

ialmisry

Strategos
Joined
Aug 17, 2007
Messages
41,813
Reaction score
8
Points
38
Location
Chicago
Justin Kissel said:
katherineofdixie said:
http://palamas.info/orthodox-criticism-of-natural-law/

I was just googling and found this.
Funnily enough that that would be the domain name, because I was just reading Topics of Natural and Theological Science and on the Moral and Ascetic Life by St. Gregory; it might be worth checking out and of interest for some of you...
"The work in question,
One Hundred and Fifty Chapters: Natural and Theological, Ethical and Practical,
and on Purification from the Barlaamite Defilement"
http://www.sagotc.edu.au/sites/default/files/files/doru/D._Costache_-_Theology_and_Natural_Sciences_in_Palamas.pdf
or
"One hundred and fifty chapters on topics of natural and theological science, the moral and the ascetic life, intended as a purge for the Barlaamite corruption"
https://www.google.com/search?tbm=bks&hl=en&q=%22One+Hundred+and+Fifty+Chapters+on+Topics+of+Natural+and+Theological+Science%2C+the+Moral+and+the+Ascetic+Life%2C+Intended+as+a+Purge+for+the+Barlaamite+Corruption%22
of course, we know what Barlaam of Calabria was famous for, and the nature of his corruption.
 

ialmisry

Strategos
Joined
Aug 17, 2007
Messages
41,813
Reaction score
8
Points
38
Location
Chicago
This afternoon on Relevant Radio they had some speakers which touched on this thread.  The one was debating that a development of doctrine is occurring, in which capital punishment is becoming an "intrinsic evil," such that the "magisterium" will ban capital punishment (how something that wasn't "intrinsic" becomes "intrinsic" he didn't say. The monseigneur seemed oblivious to the contradiction in all his talk about "innate human dignity").

Later a speaker was contrasting Islam with its idea of "God as pure will" and Christianity-i.e. the Vatican-with "natural reason" and "natural law." The difference between Jihadis and Crusaders (my word-he seems to have quite forgotten the Crusades) he identified as the latter admitting a morality open to all, and the former obeying commands given to them by God, overriding and in spite of reason.

To which I reply that God mandated capital punishment to Noah as he came off the ark.  Until and unless He commands otherwise, that mandate stands, whether natural law likes it or not.

As for the other, we pray "Thy will be done." Not "let us be reasonable."
 

Minnesotan

Archon
Joined
Sep 14, 2014
Messages
3,329
Reaction score
1
Points
0
Age
31
ialmisry said:
Justin Kissel said:
katherineofdixie said:
http://palamas.info/orthodox-criticism-of-natural-law/

I was just googling and found this.
Funnily enough that that would be the domain name, because I was just reading Topics of Natural and Theological Science and on the Moral and Ascetic Life by St. Gregory; it might be worth checking out and of interest for some of you...
"The work in question,
One Hundred and Fifty Chapters: Natural and Theological, Ethical and Practical,
and on Purification from the Barlaamite Defilement"
http://www.sagotc.edu.au/sites/default/files/files/doru/D._Costache_-_Theology_and_Natural_Sciences_in_Palamas.pdf
or
"One hundred and fifty chapters on topics of natural and theological science, the moral and the ascetic life, intended as a purge for the Barlaamite corruption"
https://www.google.com/search?tbm=bks&hl=en&q=%22One+Hundred+and+Fifty+Chapters+on+Topics+of+Natural+and+Theological+Science%2C+the+Moral+and+the+Ascetic+Life%2C+Intended+as+a+Purge+for+the+Barlaamite+Corruption%22
of course, we know what Barlaam of Calabria was famous for, and the nature of his corruption.
Wasn't Barlaam essentially a nominalist?
 

ialmisry

Strategos
Joined
Aug 17, 2007
Messages
41,813
Reaction score
8
Points
38
Location
Chicago
Minnesotan said:
ialmisry said:
Justin Kissel said:
katherineofdixie said:
http://palamas.info/orthodox-criticism-of-natural-law/

I was just googling and found this.
Funnily enough that that would be the domain name, because I was just reading Topics of Natural and Theological Science and on the Moral and Ascetic Life by St. Gregory; it might be worth checking out and of interest for some of you...
"The work in question,
One Hundred and Fifty Chapters: Natural and Theological, Ethical and Practical,
and on Purification from the Barlaamite Defilement"
http://www.sagotc.edu.au/sites/default/files/files/doru/D._Costache_-_Theology_and_Natural_Sciences_in_Palamas.pdf
or
"One hundred and fifty chapters on topics of natural and theological science, the moral and the ascetic life, intended as a purge for the Barlaamite corruption"
https://www.google.com/search?tbm=bks&hl=en&q=%22One+Hundred+and+Fifty+Chapters+on+Topics+of+Natural+and+Theological+Science%2C+the+Moral+and+the+Ascetic+Life%2C+Intended+as+a+Purge+for+the+Barlaamite+Corruption%22
of course, we know what Barlaam of Calabria was famous for, and the nature of his corruption.
Wasn't Barlaam essentially a nominalist?
I know that St. Gregory found him dangerously agnostic.
 

sakura95

OC.Net Guru
Joined
May 9, 2014
Messages
1,437
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
25
Location
Brighton, UK
Papist said:
Hello Everyone,

It is my understanding that Orthodox Christians, for the most part, reject the concept of there being a Natural Moral Law . While I am not starting this thread for the purpose of debating the finer points of Thomistic Natural Law Theory, what I am interested is whether or not Orthodox Christians believe that there are pre-religious moral truths, and if there are, how one goes about coming to know these truths. In the Orthodox view, are morals a matter of Divine Revelation, or can we know some of what is good and what is evil by reason alone?

Again, I am not trying to debate here; I'm just asking for an explanation of the Orthodox view.
I think we may count St Justin Martyr as an Orthodox Church Father who seems to accept the concept of the Natural Moral Law, particularly when he explicitly stated that the Classical Greek Philosophers received Divine Inspiration from God and went as far as to call them "unknowingly Christian". He does however critiques them for their errors as well. Maybe Clement of Alexandria could be another example of this since he thought that Greek Philosophy serve the same role the Law have to the Jews.

Personally I believe that there is a Natural Moral Law, particularly when there are many aspects on morals that differing cultures globally universally accept.
 

ialmisry

Strategos
Joined
Aug 17, 2007
Messages
41,813
Reaction score
8
Points
38
Location
Chicago
sakura95 said:
Papist said:
Hello Everyone,

It is my understanding that Orthodox Christians, for the most part, reject the concept of there being a Natural Moral Law . While I am not starting this thread for the purpose of debating the finer points of Thomistic Natural Law Theory, what I am interested is whether or not Orthodox Christians believe that there are pre-religious moral truths, and if there are, how one goes about coming to know these truths. In the Orthodox view, are morals a matter of Divine Revelation, or can we know some of what is good and what is evil by reason alone?

Again, I am not trying to debate here; I'm just asking for an explanation of the Orthodox view.
I think we may count St Justin Martyr as an Orthodox Church Father who seems to accept the concept of the Natural Moral Law, particularly when he explicitly stated that the Classical Greek Philosophers received Divine Inspiration from God and went as far as to call them "unknowingly Christian". He does however critiques them for their errors as well. Maybe Clement of Alexandria could be another example of this since he thought that Greek Philosophy serve the same role the Law have to the Jews.
the problem is that the fulfillment of the Old Testament in the New Testament leaves the given by God on Sinai as passed away, while it is claimed that Natural Law of the Greeks goes on.

One has to remember that St. Justin was addressing Greek philosophers, and Clement of Alexandria was trying to make Christianity into a worthy opponent in the eyes of the same.
 

Volnutt

Hoplitarches
Joined
May 22, 2011
Messages
15,089
Reaction score
3
Points
0
Age
35
But aside from a handful of areas, Christ's Law of Love is the same as the Law of Moses, especially in Orthodoxy were so much of the ceremonial cultus has been transformed into the rituals of the Church. Nobody is arguing that natural revelation is all that God has given to man.
 

Volnutt

Hoplitarches
Joined
May 22, 2011
Messages
15,089
Reaction score
3
Points
0
Age
35
Papist said:
katherineofdixie said:
http://palamas.info/orthodox-criticism-of-natural-law/

I was just googling and found this.
Thank you! :)

Unfortunately, the author seems to think Natural Law Theory is based on science, which most Thomist Natural Law Theorist would reject outright.
The subsequent posts in that blog consider other options and start trying to formulate an Orthodox conception of natural law partially using the words of Pope John Paul II.
 

ialmisry

Strategos
Joined
Aug 17, 2007
Messages
41,813
Reaction score
8
Points
38
Location
Chicago
My friend recommended something that Fr. Christopher Knight wrote. I'm looking for its availability on the web, but here's something else.
In some Western traditions - and especially in late medieval scholasticism - the effects of the fallenness of
human nature have been seen as applying less to discursive reason than to other human capacities. The Eastern notion of original sin has, however, meant that Orthodox theology has tended, if anything, to move in the opposite direction to that taken in the scholastic approach, seeing the unaided human reason as potentially misleading, and focusing, in its natural theology, on other capacities. (In their understanding of the way in which natural law affects ethical decision-making, for example, Orthodox writers have tended to stress the importance of conscience rather than developing the kind of reasoning from observations of the world that has characterized the Western development of the natural law concept.)
http://www.antiochian-orthodox.co.uk/lectures/89-faith-science.pdf

Here's what he recommended, Fr. Knight: "Natural Theology and the Eastern Orthodox Tradition" in The Oxford Handbook of Natural Theology  edited by Russell Re Manning
https://books.google.com/books?id=Zp5pAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA213&dq=%22Natural+Theology+and+the+Eastern+Orthodox+Tradition%22+%22no+separation+between+natural+and+supernatural+revelation%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=WC8WVbyDFsinNqTlgegN&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22Natural%20Theology%20and%20the%20Eastern%20Orthodox%20Tradition%22%20%22no%20separation%20between%20natural%20and%20supernatural%20revelation%22&f=false
 

sakura95

OC.Net Guru
Joined
May 9, 2014
Messages
1,437
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Age
25
Location
Brighton, UK
ialmisry said:
sakura95 said:
Papist said:
Hello Everyone,

It is my understanding that Orthodox Christians, for the most part, reject the concept of there being a Natural Moral Law . While I am not starting this thread for the purpose of debating the finer points of Thomistic Natural Law Theory, what I am interested is whether or not Orthodox Christians believe that there are pre-religious moral truths, and if there are, how one goes about coming to know these truths. In the Orthodox view, are morals a matter of Divine Revelation, or can we know some of what is good and what is evil by reason alone?

Again, I am not trying to debate here; I'm just asking for an explanation of the Orthodox view.
I think we may count St Justin Martyr as an Orthodox Church Father who seems to accept the concept of the Natural Moral Law, particularly when he explicitly stated that the Classical Greek Philosophers received Divine Inspiration from God and went as far as to call them "unknowingly Christian". He does however critiques them for their errors as well. Maybe Clement of Alexandria could be another example of this since he thought that Greek Philosophy serve the same role the Law have to the Jews.
the problem is that the fulfillment of the Old Testament in the New Testament leaves the given by God on Sinai as passed away, while it is claimed that Natural Law of the Greeks goes on.

One has to remember that St. Justin was addressing Greek philosophers, and Clement of Alexandria was trying to make Christianity into a worthy opponent in the eyes of the same.
I thought the understanding is that the philosophical ideas point and is perfected in Christ.

I guess this is true for St Justin since he is addressing the Roman Emperor so if he can show similarities between Christianity and the Greek Philosophers, he can somehow change his mind on persecuting Christians. At one point he even appeals to the similarities between Greek Mythology and Christianity but adds that the gods of Greek Mythology are known to commit vices and are in fact tampered with by Satan.

Clement of Alexandria does show at times that the Greek Philosophical ideas were taken from the Hebrews so in some sense you are right.
 
Top