To be or to will

by Andrea Elizabeth

After defining terms in Orthodox Interventions (see previous posts for more identifying characteristics), the last section of the introduction on theology and man’s relationship to God from an Orthodox perspective contrasts the eastern and western approach thusly,

“Concepts are built upon presuppositions, premises or assumptions. As stated, the axiomatic building blocks of the east-west paradigm divide are energy and ontology versus volition and juridicality. Juridicality is related to the power of the will over reality. The juridical framework emphasizes the primacy of will and allows it to create a virtual reality that is, for all practical purposes, more real than ontological reality. The ontological framework emphasizes being and reason over will, without falling into a rationalist approach to the Holy Mysteries. Paradigms, or cognitive frameworks, (i.e. ideologies, worldviews, orientations, etc.), are constituted of combinations of axioms or assumptions about reality (Kalimiros, 1998). A paradigm is like a lens that filters in some light and excludes other light waves. Words can have different meanings and/or implications in different paradigms. Therefore the following Orthodox concepts must be explained in order to avoid the superimposition of Western theological paradigms that could lead to misunderstanding the presuppositions underlying this study.”

Since Archimandrite Dr. Andrew is approaching this mostly from a theological view, I find it less bridge building than if it were also from a psychological point of view. But he did point out that he is more in line with Christian existentialism. Still, I do think that geographic world views are shaped by theology, even if this is unconscious if not outright denied. Therefore I find his distinction above very interesting and far reaching beyond theological discussions. If western self-help is aimed at the will and juridical judgments affecting change, then no wonder they are looking to eastern religions to learn how to just be and what is.