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The Noetics of NatureEnvironmental Philosophy and the Holy Beauty of the Visible$
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Bruce V. Foltz

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823254644

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823254644.001.0001

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Traces of Divine Fragrance, Droplets of Divine Love

Traces of Divine Fragrance, Droplets of Divine Love

The Beauty of Visible Creation in Byzantine Thought and Spirituality

(p.232) Chapter 12 Traces of Divine Fragrance, Droplets of Divine Love
The Noetics of Nature

Bruce V. Foltz

Fordham University Press

Byzantine spirituality transforms the ancient Greek sensitivity for manifestations of divinity in nature, demonstrating richly that criticisms of Christianity (such as Nietzsche’s and White’s) for not appreciating nature are misdirected. The noetic contemplation of nature (thēoria physikē) first articulated by third century Cappadocians is brilliantly developed in the philosophical and theological work of Pavel Florensky, and its manifestation in lived spirituality is powerfully presented in the recorded talks of Elder Paisios and Elder Porphyrios, both monks of twentieth century Greece. Cautions in ancient Christianity concerning the beauty of nature are directed not toward its contemplation or even its aesthetic appreciation, but toward the dangers of possessiveness and idolatry in response to natural beauty, whose holiness consists in its saturation with divine energies. Indeed, its appreciation for the goodness and beauty (kalos) of nature was influential in ancient Christianity’s affirmation, against Gnosticism and some modes of Platonism, of materiality itself.

Keywords:   Friedrich Nietzsche, Lynn White Jr, thēoria physikē, Pavel Florensky, Elder Paisios, Elder Porphyrios, Natural Beauty, Materiality, Idolatry

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