The Cosmology of St Maximus the Confessor as a Basis for Ecological and Humanitarian Ethics

Teologikon 1 (3):126-140 (2014)
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This paper explores the cosmology of St Maximus the Confessor and its relevance for contemporary ethics. It takes as it’s starting point two papers on Maximus’ cosmology and environmental ethics (Bordeianu, 2009; Munteanu, 2010) and from there argues that we can not consider environmental ethics in isolation from other ethical issues. This, as both Ware and Keselopoulos have also pointed out, is because the environmental crisis is actually a crisis in the human heart and in human attitudes toward everything about us. The paper goes through some key areas in Maximus’ cosmology according to his own formula of creation – movement – rest and considers at each stage the implications of this theology for the way the human should be living and treating other beings. The main sources for this exploration are Ambiguum 7, Ambiguum 41, and The Mystagogia with especial focus on the doctrine of the logoi and the divisions of nature. The paper concludes that Bordeianu and Munteanu are right to consider Maximus’ theology to be of ecological relevance, but that this relevance comes from the radical ethical statement being made about human activity. Maximus’ theology points the human toward becoming in the likeness of Christ who unites heaven and earth through love. The love of Christ when considered in an ethical context stands as a formidable challenge to current attitudes and institutions that advocate the exploitation and destruction of human or non-human creation.

Author's Profile

E. Brown Dewhurst
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München


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