The dignity of the divine image in Gregory of Nyssa in the face of present-day slaveries

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Francisco Bastitta Harriet


In this presentation we propose to reflect on the way in which the thought of Gregory of Nyssa sought to
restore to their place of greatness persons and entire social groups that had been demeaned or neglected in the
society of his time. We will attempt to confront this living thought of the Nyssene with the painful reality of
the enslavements of our century. Although this approach might be considered to go beyond the specific scope
of the History of Philosophy, those of us who investigate philosophical ideas find that many of them have an
enduring influence and transcend their original historical context. First, we will briefly discuss the phenomenon
of social slavery and asymmetries, both in Gregory of Nyssa's era and in our own. Then, in the section entitled
“A Call to Conscience,” we will analyze the novel Gregorian anthropological theory, which rests on his radical
interpretation of the divine image in the human being, and we will indicate some of its philosophical sources
and its main elements: the fullness of perfections, its intrinsic dignity, equality and freedom. The final part of
the paper, “A Call to Action,” will dwell on the practical consequences of Nyssen’s anthropology, his original
conception of compassion, of the possible transformation and equalization of humanity according to the divine
image, as well as the powerful relevance of these ideas for our time.

Philosophy Anthropology Ethics Freedom Equality Patristics Rights


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