https://doi.org/10.31979/2151-6014(2019).100105">
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Abstract

For Martin Heidegger the story of Western philosophy ended basically in egocentrism or the metaphysics of “subjectivity”; however, he acknowledged the possibility of another path in Greece: that of pre-Socratic thinking. Yet, there is a further path he did not acknowledge: the tradition of Orthodox philosophy and theology. The paper focuses on some key works of the prominent contemporary Greek philosopher Christos Yannaras, for a long time professor in Athens. Taking over the notions of “Being” and ontology, Yannaras construes them (with Heidegger) not as ontic “substances” amenable to epistemic knowledge, but as guideposts to “relational” or participatory experience. His early text On the Absence and Unknowability of God: Heidegger and the Aeropagite explores the (at least partial) affinity between the German thinker and the Orthodox stress on “apophaticism.” For Yannaras, apophaticism profoundly reorients philosophical inquiry; it also has important implications for human “personhood” and “freedom.” Far from denoting individuation, personhood for him means a face (prosopon) standing out toward others, just as freedom transcends self-will in the direction of a relational event. By way of conclusion, I probe the status of relational “community.” For Yannaras, I ask, is community a concretely achieved way of life (exemplified by the Orthodox Church); or does it point more apophatically (and prophetically) to a future advent?

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