Basil of Caesarea's Anti-Eunomian Theory of Names Open Access

DelCogliano, Mark Edward (2009)

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Abstract Basil of Caesarea's Anti-Eunomian Theory of Names By Mark DelCogliano Basil of Caesarea's debate with Eunomius of Cyzicus marks a turning point in the fourth- century Trinitarian controversies. For the first time in their history the participants acknowledged that more fundamental differences--methodological and epistemological--lay at the core of their specifically theological differences. This dissertation explores one of these fundamental points of contention between Basil and Eunomius: the proper theory of names. A theory of names explains how names operate, which is to say it gives an account of what names signify when they are applied to objects. Eunomius and his teacher Aetius--the leaders of a movement commonly called "Heteroousian"--maintained that those names uniquely predicated of God communicated the divine essence. In response, Basil formulated a general theory of names wherein all names fall short of disclosing essence, but nonetheless provide accurate and useful knowledge of those who bear the names. This dissertation contains two parts. The first offers a revisionist interpretation of the Heteroousian theory of names as a corrective to previous ahistorical approaches and contests the widespread assumption that it is indebted to Platonist sources. It is demonstrated that their theory represents a later stage of a debate over divine names that began in the early fourth century and that it was developed by drawing upon proximate Christian sources. The second part argues that in response to Eunomius Basil developed and consistently applied a "notionalist" theory of names wherein names signify primarily notions and secondarily properties, not essence. It is demonstrated that Basil has a complex account of how names give rise to notions and that his well-known theory of epinoia is but one aspect of a wider notionalism. An extensive inquiry into Basil's sources is conducted, revealing that Basil's theory of names draws eclectically upon ancient philosophical and grammatical sources, while at the same time being heavily influenced by previous Christian reflections, particularly those of the ecclesial alliance known as the Homoiousians.

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Document Outline Title page, Abstract, and other front matter Acknowledgements Table of Contents Abbreviations Introduction Chapter 1. The Heteroousians on Names and Naming Chapter 2. The Heteroousians and Philosophical Naturalism Chapter 3. The Heteroousian Theory of Names in its Christian Context Chapter 4. Basil's Critiques of Eunomiuss Theory of Names Chapter 5. Basil's Notionalist Theory of Names Chapter 6. Basil's Decentralization of 'Unbegotten' Chapter 7. Basil on Names as Revelatory of Properties General Conclusion Appendix: The Fragments and Testimonia of Aetius Bibliography

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