Why nominalism is important.

“Now, what do we mean by nominalism, and why is it important? There are many aspects of the nominalist position, but the main one is just the denial that this created world is an icon of a heavenly reality. Instead, nominalists hold this world’s form to be arbitrary, a product of sheer divine will.

“As Orthodox, we still comfortably assert that the world is an icon of heaven, or is meant to be. But in the West this union of the symbolic and the real became rather vexed. Now, we have even developed this destructive iconoclasm around gender, the human body, human sexuality, and so forth. Outside the Church, we have come to think that we can simply posit whatever reality we wish about these things.

“The nominalist and the realist positions must be reconciled. We must see that the reality of the world depends upon its being a symbol of heavenly realities. If creation is not a symbol of heaven, then its essence, its substance, would be of little importance. For example, if the world is just the arbitrary product of God’s will, then God could have made some other world, or not have given us gender, and so forth. And if the world’s form is arbitrary, then it is no longer ‘good,’ no longer beautiful and holy.”

-Timothy G. Patitsas,  The Ethics of Beauty

4 thoughts on “Why nominalism is important.

  1. Thank you so much for this quote, Gretchen. It pretty much cuts right to the heart of it all, doesn’t it? Perfect and “simple” explanation.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been wanting to read this book, but it is so comforting and reassuring, when I read what you quote here, to observe how harmonious the various Orthodox writings are… the history (especially of iconography and the ancient Christian paradisaical understanding of the cosmos) presented in The Age of Division so closely mirrors this, as does Fr. Thomas Hopko’s lectures on the liturgy etc. etc. It is a lovely and gentle reminder that we can trust and rest in Christ and his church, and not be constantly trying to figure things out for ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

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