Byz Moral Revolution: A Thread

Whereas talk of “social justice” (often structural in nature) is perennial in modernity, the main achievement in the ancient world was happiness. Major factors in defining happiness/virtue = Platonic, Peripatetic & Stoic philosophy.
The Platonic school denigrated the body perceiving it as a prison for the soul. They believed (since virtues pertained to the World of Ideas) that knowledge of the virtues (via intellect) was sufficient for their mastery.
This idea is a fairly shit inheritance. I much prefer the peripatetic school, which developed a hylomorphic conception of reality: the body & soul form an inseparable unity. Virtues can only be realised in practice.
For Platonists virtue was excellence (arete), while for stoics it was the strength of soul (tonos). ALL of these concepts/frameworks failed to elicit a sense of tragedy/compassion re: lepers lying on the streets.
If anything they enabled folk to be desensitized to lepers’ sight & plight. Lepers = hated as an abomination/loathed for their misfortune rather than loved for their common humanity.
Nazianzen makes his case for philanthropy for the poor by invoking the philanthropy of God towards mankind.
“Mercy & good deeds are works God loves; they divinize those who practice them and stamp them into the likeness of goodness that they may become the image of the Primordial Being, pure who surpasses all intelligence.”

THE NUB: The Cappadocians transformed fear & disgust in to pity & compassion. They upturned the consensus of the philosophical schools which made emotions/pathos out to be negative/irrational – a distraction to the rational and virtuous.
To the Cappadocians, pathos is the key to opening wider moral imaginations & a more fulsome humanity. Instead of disgust being externalised & pride being generated, we have intense pity leading to direct & practical action.
Nyssen: You’d more readily share your affection with animals in your living quarters than lepers who you have transformed into monsters. “Resolve that this inhumanity will not triumph!”
In new Christian moral universe, physically helping lepers (alms, nourishment, clothing) meant that the lepers in term would liberate Christians for the leprosy of greed, fear, hatred etc.
Nazianzen: "Extend a helping hand, offer food, bandage wounds, keep lepers company"

Nyssa: "Embrace the wretched as [you would] gold."

NB: You would think the leper sick, but the leper brings out the sickness in you.
If "strength" is indifference to lepers/weak/wronged/homeless then you are not in the Christian universe.

If enough ppl show piety/kindness/compassion (flowing from font of pity/weakness)...

Interesting coz there's a real pivot on to ontological parity of Man. To base our common nature on other realities (societies, species) = too fragile a concept. They all lead to egoism, strife, imposition. This makes arguments intelligible even to non-Christians of the period.
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