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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Political Hesychasm

In a comment to my post on "Alexander Dugin, Bishop Tikhon, and President Putin," Wurmbrand asks for an explanation of the term “Political Hesychasm.”

Hesychasm (ἡσυχασμός) is, of course, the tradition associated with the late Byzantine monk Gregorios Palamas (died 1359) that focuses on the repetition of the Jesus Prayer, a sort of Orthodox dhikr. This was accepted by the Orthodox Church and condemned by the Roman Catholic Church.

The phrase “political Hesychasm” seems to have been coined by Vladimir Petrunin in Политический исихазм и его традиции в социальной концепции Московского Патриархата (Political Hesychasm and its Traditions in the Social Thought of the Moscow Patriarchate, 2009). It describes an understanding of relations between East and West ascribed to Pavel Florensky (1882-1937), a priest and scientist who did not survive the Great Terror, and the philosopher (and monk) Aleksei Losev (1893-1998), who did survive the Terror.

In Эстетика Возрождения (Esthetics of the Renaissance, 1978) Losev developed a highly original analysis of the Renaissance in terms of the ascendency of “anthropocentric Neoplatonism” and the consequent birth of individualism. He contrasts this in his introduction to Palamas and the Hesychasts, who he sees as central to a parallel Eastern Renaissance that drew on the Orthodox Neoplatonism of Dionysius the Areopagite.

Hesychasm and the Eastern Renaissance were not Losev’s main topic, but his book provides the basis for a view of Eastern Christianity in opposition to Western Christianity and the Renaissance that fits very neatly with Alexander Dugin’s Traditionalism.

5 comments:

Nicholas Colloff said...

A couple of corrections -Hesychasm - is a theological tradition, codified by St Gregory Palamas, that articulates the importance of 'theosis' (deification) as the ultimate destination for any person involved in the Christian life and involves the practice of silent prayer, rooted, for the Orthodox, in the Jesus Prayer. It has never been condemned by the Roman Catholic Church.

St Pavel Florensky cannot be described as a 'Bolshevik' priest. He did decide to put his considerable scientific gifts at the service of Russia after the revolution but never identified with the revolution or its organs and perished as a result of one of Stalin's purges.

Mark Sedgwick said...

Thank you. My source for the condemnation was Michael Hagemeister’s article. He cites two sources that I cannot easily check, one Russian and one German. Nicholas Colloff may well be right, but the main point is perhaps not whether there was an actual condemnation but whether modern Russian “Political Hesychasts” believe there was a condemnation.

Nicholas Colloff is right that I should not describe Pavel Florensky as a Bolshevik simply because he worked with the Bolshevik government. That was wrong and I have amended the original post.

Wurmbrand said...

Thank you -- I appreciate the follow-up; though I couldn't say I yet grasp the idea, insofar as it can be expressed concisely in a sentence or a few sentences. Probably more on the concept will come to light in the future. I recognize P. Florensky's name from a book issued by the St. Herman of Alaska Press, Salt of the Earth, concerning the Elder Isidore.

Marco said...

"Hesychasm" is something that has never existed, however.

TonyPedroza said...

"A couple of corrections -Hesychasm - is a theological tradition, codified by St Gregory Palamas, that articulates the importance of 'theosis' (deification) as the ultimate destination for any person involved in the Christian life and involves the practice of silent prayer, rooted, for the Orthodox, in the Jesus Prayer. It has never been condemned by the Roman Catholic Church."

Yeah, never condemned but Theosis didnt 'work' in a thomistic theology. St Palamas great defense of Orthodoxy against Roman Catholicism was his distinction of Essence-Energies in God. Roman Catholicism never accepted such distinction mainly due to the catholic preference of Thomistic perspective (God as Pure-Act/Absolute Divine Simplicity).

For those who want to know more about this (the main difference of Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism, in my opinion, since without this there is no union with God) I recommend the reading:

The Distinction Between Essence and Energies and its Importance for Theology (C. Yannaras)
http://echipamortii.blogspot.com.br/2017/04/the-distinction-between-essence-and.html

From Theology To Philosophy In The Latin West - Philip Sherrard
http://echipamortii.blogspot.com.br/2017/04/from-theology-to-philosophy-in-latin.html

Here also are some A.F. Losev (quoted in the main post) in english:

Roman Catholic Prayer Practices and Erotomania - AF Losev
http://echipamortii.blogspot.com.br/2017/05/roman-catholic-prayer-practices-and.html

Orthodoxy against Platonism - A. F. Losev
http://echipamortii.blogspot.com.br/2017/06/orthodoxy-against-platonism-f-losev.html

Aleksey F. Losev on Palamite disputes
http://echipamortii.blogspot.com.br/2017/03/aleksey-f-losev-on-palamite-disputes.html

When Dugin writes that Orthodoxy is 'initiatic' comparated with Roman Catholicism he have in mind the Hesychast Tradition mainly of Mount Athos monks. Many perenialists were aware of this also and they prefered Orthodoxy when they needed to recommend some inquirer. Eastern Christianity and Perenialism: http://echipamortii.blogspot.com.br/2016/10/eastern-christianity-and-perenialism.html


This series of posts written by a Orthodox monk shows the incompatibility of Jesus Prayer/Hesychasm and Roman Catholicism: https://orthodoxmonk.blogspot.com.br/2010/08/byzantine-catholic-forum-takes-on-our.html