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Grief and Desire, Body and Soul in Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Saint Macrina

  • Michael W. ChampionEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Studies in the History of Philosophy of Mind book series (SHPM, volume 15)

Abstract

Analysing attitudes towards grief and desire in Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Saint Macrina (Macr) illumines the question of whether or not the passions should be understood as essential to the soul. Gregory’s account of grief, and the views of body and soul on which it is founded, is controversial. I argue that despite Macrina’s strictures, grief, like other desires, is for Gregory essential to created human nature. Such desires are necessary for humans to fulfil their divinely intended nature. Gregory’s anthropology tends towards the view that the different parts of the soul can seek the same divinely sanctioned ends; while bodily desire is ultimately transfigured, it is not essentially opposed to the reasoning soul. Grief is necessary for divine contemplation, spurs humans to repentance and love of God and other people and is a generating impetus for hagiography. Framed by hagiography and the liturgy of lamentation, grief may be rationally directed towards individuals and is not incompatible with hope.

Keywords

Emotions or passions in early Christian thought Early Christian anthropology and psychology Christianity and Platonism Grief, Christian and philosophical views of 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia

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