Saint Gregory Palama and philosophy

7 February 2020

The aim of this study is to show the nuanced stance of the Eastern Orthodox Church concerning Philosophy. At the local Councils which took place in Constantinople  in 1076-1077 and 1082 respectively, Chalcedonian Orthodoxy condemned all the theories of the Ancient Philosophers including the Platonic theory of forms, while at the same time permitting young men to moderately exercise their minds by reading the works of Plato, Aristotle etc. Thus Christians must not believe any of the doctrines of  the Greek Philosophers, but they may use Ancient Philosophy just as a means of streghtening their intellect so that they may even get to pray (talk to God) better since they become acquainted with focusing for a long time. However, before reaching old age any Christian should eventually quit studying Sciences, Philosophy and actually any type of human knowledge in order to dedicate themselves exclusively to God through fasting and the Jesus Prayer (Hesychasm). Saint Gregory Palamas shows that each piece of knowledge needed for Salvation is found in the Holy Scripture and in the Patristic writings of the Holy Fathers. Hence lack of secular knowledge and ignorance in what regards Philosophy or Sciences do not endanger in any way the Salvation or even the Deification (θέωσις) of those Christians who are more practical-minded.