Aristotle's Criticism Of Dualism A Weapon In The Hands Of The Monophysites

Leaving the formal element in Aristotle's system, we come to its

material content. Some of the prominent ideas of the Aristotelian

cosmology and psychology reappear in the heresy we are studying. We

shall take first the rejection of the Platonic dualism. Aristotle's

repeated criticism of his master's theory of ideas is not merely

destructive. It formed the starting-point for his own metaphysic. The

ideas, he says,
simply duplicate the world of existent things. They do

not create things or move them; they do not explain genesis or process;

they merely co-exist with the ideates. The participation which Plato's

later theory postulated is inadequate. A more intimate relation is

required. The theory of ideas confronts God with a world, and leaves

the relation between them unformulated and inexplicable.

This criticism is of first importance for theology. Faith as well as

reason demands a real relation between idea and ideate. The Christian

student in the fifth century, familiar with Aristotle's criticism of

Plato, would inevitably apply it in Christology. Any theory of

redemption that ascribed duality to the Redeemer would seem to him to

be open to the objections that Aristotle had urged against the theory

of ideas. The Nestorian formula, in effect, juxtaposed the ideal

Christ and the real Jesus, and left the two unrelated. This was

Platonism in Christology. Aristotle's attack on Plato's system

provided a radical criticism of Nestorianism. The monophysite

theologians were blind to the difference between the Nestorian position

and that of the orthodox. They saw that Aristotle had placed a

powerful weapon in their hands, and they used it indifferently against

both opposing parties.