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Finite Humanity and Infinite Goodness: Gregory of Nyssa and the Ethics of Striving

All Stanford undergraduates are invited to join Zephyr for this two-part exploration of the ethics of Gregory of Nyssa, led by Thomas Slabon (University of South Florida)

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Finite Humanity and Infinite Goodness: Gregory of Nyssa and the Ethics of Striving
Finite Humanity and Infinite Goodness: Gregory of Nyssa and the Ethics of Striving

Time & Location

Feb 15, 2024, 6:00 PM – 9:30 PM

Palo Alto, 2345 Dartmouth St, Palo Alto, CA 94306, USA

About the Event

This two-part intensive seminar offers an introduction to several of the key works and ideas of St. Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335–395), one of the so-called ‘Cappadocian Fathers’ and a pivotal figure in late antique philosophy and early Christian theology.

In our first session, we will reconstruct Gregory’s philosophical anthropology through the careful reading of key parts of his On the Soul and the Resurrection (a dialogue with his sister Macrina concerning the possibility of human immortality) and On the Making of Man (a discussion of the biblical account of the creation of humans in Genesis). Gregory’s philosophical anthropology turns on the finitude of human nature, and this seminar will close by considering how this essential finitude can be connected to the essentially infinite nature of divine goodness (drawing on excerpts from Gregory’s polemical attack Against Eunomius).

In our second session, we will consider the ethical implications of Gregory’s account of human finitude and divine infinity. Looking at extended parts of his Life of Moses, we will see how Gregory develops a unique ethics of striving out of his philosophical anthropology: because humans are limited by our finite nature, ethical perfection is found not in the attainment of a stable and unchanging state, but in the constant striving after further perfection. We will end our seminar by considering what place Gregory’s ethics of striving might have in the modern world.

Dinner will be provided. Please register in advance so that Zephyr can obtain an accurate headcount.

Event schedule

Session I (6:00–7:30pm): the philosophical athropology of Gregory of Nyssa

Dinner (7:30–8:00pm)

Session II (8:00–9:30pm): Gregory of Nyssa and the ethics of striving

About the speaker

Thomas Slabon is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. His research specializes in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, focusing on questions of methodology, ethical theory, and philosophical theology. His dissertation (An Outline of Outlines: Typological Reasoning in Plato and Aristotle​) is the first extended study of the role of 'outlines' or typoi in the work of Plato and Aristotle.  

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