Thursday 9 June 2011

Inner and Outer Learning in Byzantine intellectual life - Steven Runciman


From The Last Byzantine Renaissance, by Steven Runciman, 1970:

'...what the later Greeks had to say in general was restricted by their distinction between the Inner and the Outer learning.

'The Inner learning dealt with eternity, with truths that had existed before the beginning of time; and man could only know what God in his goodness had chosen to reveal. The rest was unknown and unknowable.

'The student of the Inner Learning might be able to expound and explain these revealed truths, but he could not add to them unless the Holy Spirit vouchsafed further revelations.

'The mystic might be permitted to penetrate a little further into the unknown but his experience was not an intellectual exercise. (...)

'The sophists who arrogantly explained the universe in terms intelligible to the intellect had no place in Byzantium.

'Philosophy could not open the door to Inner Learning.'


1 comment:

The Crow said...

"Philosophy could not open the door to Inner Learning."
Philosophy prevents inner learning; the two are mutually exclusive. I have seen this again and again in dealings with devotees of philosophy, discussing religion and/or mysticism.
They don't get it, won't get it, can't get it.
Philosophy analyses what it is able to perceive.
Anything that lies beyond the senses may as well not exist at all. And to a philosopher, it generally doesn't.
Maybe they are right. Or partly right.
Maybe their sensory apparatus is limited, and that is why they veer toward philosophy.