Thursday, December 8, 2011

Alexander of Lycopolis

Was apparently not a fan of Philosophy. I'm starting to agree with the Orthodox on this, philosophy is not good. Or as Tertullian said: what has Athens to do with Jerusalem?

(although I'm cooking up a clever phenomenological philosophy of intersubjectivity that I plan to unleash on my thomistic opponents eventually)

Anyway, Alexander of Lycopolis, who NewAdvent informs me, was a Church Father, said:

"The philosophy of the Christians is termed simple. But it bestows very great attention to the formation of manners, enigmatically insinuating words of more certain truth respecting God... For Christians leaving to ethical students matters more toilsome and difficult, as, for instance, what is virtue, moral and intellectual; and to those who employ their time in forming hypotheses respecting morals, and the passions and affections, without marking out any element by which each virtue is to be attained, and heaping up, as it were, at random precepts less subtle— the common people, hearing these, even as we learn by experience, make great progress in modesty, and a character of piety is imprinted on their manners, quickening the moral disposition which from such usages is formed, and leading them by degrees to the desire of what is honourable and good.

But this being divided into many questions by the number of those who come after, there arise many, just as is the case with those who are devoted to dialectics, some more skilful than others, and, so to speak, more sagacious in handling nice and subtle questions; so that now they come forward as parents and originators of sects and heresies. And by these the formation of morals is hindered and rendered obscure; for those do not attain unto certain verity of discourse who wish to become the heads of the sects, and the common people is to a greater degree excited to strife and contention. And there being no rule nor law by which a solution may be obtained of the things which are called in question, but, as in other matters, this ambitious rivalry running out into excess, there is nothing to which it does not cause damage and injury.

the deception caused by discourse of this sort has drawn over to itself some of those who have pursued the study of philosophy with me..."

Not exactly an Augustinian word-smith this Alexander. Nonetheless the general sense seems to be:

1. Christianity is a simplistic philosophy dealing with God not virtue (Theology is probably a better term)
2. Heretics use philosophy, and it has led people away from the truth.
3. Heretical philosophy can be discerned experientially / by seeing it lead to immoral lifestyles.

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