Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Making myself sick again

Took the opportunity to reread David Bradshaw's Aristotle East and West, and in light of the reading I have done recently, some of the incredibly stupid things he says about Augustine, entirely bereft of footnotes, were almost enough to make me ill all over again. For starters, he might ought to think about the connection between infinite being (it's not just act; it's infinite act) and simplicity in the energeiai. Then, rather than trying to dig things that either aren't or are barely there out of Palamas, he'd give some attention to the fact that the ideas he advocates regarding the identification of Trinitarian love with the participation of the soul in God are developed quite explicitly in the Western theology of the beatific vision, and far more to the point than the fumblings of Patriarch Gregory at Blachernae. More pointedly, maybe he would discern that identifying infinity and simplicity as energies, so that God is "even beyond them," represents a fundamental mistake in Triadology.

More proof that the most triumphalist anti-Westerners are those who are least willing to attempt to understand the Western Fathers on their own terms. The sham of "fairness," as if Bradshaw actually showed any such thing, makes it even worse. If Bradshaw would even have answered his own (sarcastic) rhetorical questions, he might have shown some insight, but this is one of the most poorly-veiled attempts at polemics in the guise of scholarly objectivity that I have seen since Romanides. The sad thing was that I actually thought this book was reasonable until I started reading up on Augustine. For Bradshaw to calumniate Augustine as he does on such thin evidence from the scholarship is inexcusable. Had he stuck to defending the Eastern view, this might have been worthwhile, but the half-truths Bradshaw ends up peddling are worse than no truth at all.