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28 - Evagrius of Pontus on Λύπη: Distress and Cognition between Philosophy, Medicine, and Monasticism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 October 2023

Lewis Ayres
Affiliation:
University of Durham and Australian Catholic University, Melbourne
Michael W. Champion
Affiliation:
Australian Catholic University, Melbourne
Matthew R. Crawford
Affiliation:
Australian Catholic University, Melbourne
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Summary

This chapter explores Evagrius of Pontus’ contribution to a uniquely Christian construction of the human being as knowing subject and known object. Evagrius includes distress (λύπη) among the ‘Eight Evil Thoughts’. Evagrius, following Paul, distinguishes between ‘worldly’ or ‘demonic’ λύπη and godly λύπη. This chapter probes this distinction in context of ancient passion-lists, which create affective lexica and cultural scripts for the articulation and management of emotions. In them λύπη is a deleterious emotion and an impediment to proper cognition. Evagrius emulates these lists but modifies their logic: he replaces classical with biblical exemplars, and he inserts the Pauline distinction between godly and worldly λύπη. Evagrius thus differentiates between positive and negative emotion on the basis of cause or intentional object. This results in λύπη becoming a valid dimension of human knowing, while creating a new need for a hermeneutic of λύπη and organisation of human emotion and knowledge.

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The Intellectual World of Late Antique Christianity
Reshaping Classical Traditions
, pp. 530 - 547
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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