By Christian Schäfer
This booklet proposes a examining of Dionysius the Areopagite's longest and most crucial treatise 'On the Divine Names' from a philosophical perspective, instead of from a theological viewpoint which dominates the secondary literature. extra particularly, it proposes an interpretation of the perplexing constitution of the treatise which takes its place to begin from previous interpretations of medieval and smooth students. the hot examining of Dionysius' major textual content achieves extra coherence than they did accurately a result of philosophical perspective, that's intended to function a supplement, no longer an alternate, to theological and old interpretations. hence the booklet should be learn as an advent to the philosophy of Dionyius because it indicates how the writer makes unique strikes in introducing the Christian techniques of peace and production as philosophical thoughts in a Platonic framework.
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THE STATUS QUAESTIONIS ch. ch. ch. ch. 5 Their Biblical background is, as will be discussed further on, the protreptic motive for why Dionysius chose them for the purposes of his work. Yet, there is another ‘outer’ aspect to it, which the reader should bear in mind from the very beginning. ’ Scriptural revelation confers theonyms to the anonymous Divinity of Classical thought. Put simply, Dionysius wants us to understand that Greek philosophy was on the correct path in its understanding of the Divine, but it obviously needed the eye-opening ‘superaddition’ or ‘grace’ (if these are the right words) of Christian revelation in order to be released from its ultimate speechlessness and residual insecurity concerning the last Cause (which is a notion traced back, mutatis mutandis, to the Apostle Paul as well: cf.
10), and the result of the peaceful order of Creation (tranquilitas ordinis: ch. 11). As for his interpretation of the ordinatio in ﬁnem, Aquinas sees a difference between God’s active reversion of everything towards its ﬁnal aim (providentia ordinans in ﬁnem: ch. 12), and the praises of the ﬁnal aim itself in the concluding chapter 13 of the treatise (ipse ﬁnis). I beg the reader not to take offence at my pride: the interpretation of the structure of DN as given by Aquinas can be easily recognised as parallel to mine as worked out in §5 of this book, with the one, though much telling, exception of chapter 8 (on Power, Justice, and its cognates).
Ch. ch. 3 is a prayer] Good, Light, Beautiful, Love, Ecstasy, Zeal, [and the problem of evil] Being Life Wisdom, Mind, Word, Truth, Faith Power, Justice/Righteousness, Salvation, Redemption Greatness, Smallness, Sameness, Difference, Similarity, Dissimilarity, Rest, Motion 2 Von Balthasar 1962, 192ff. Von Balthasar’s theory concerning the treatise is thoroughly theological, whereas I shall try to reassess his outline of DN from a philosophical point of view (cf. below, pp. 35-42). I shall also have to readjust and, if possible, to correct von Balthasar’s plan of chapters 7-11.
The Philosophy of Dionysius the Areopagite (Philosophia Antiqua) by Christian Schäfer