Philosophical And Theological Monism

The systems that identify God and the world range from the crude

materialism of Democritus to the lofty spiritualism of Plotinus. Stoic

cosmology occupies an intermediate position. The Stoic was nominally a

pantheist, but he seems to have oscillated between a spiritual and a

materialist explanation of the universal being. The monist system that

prepared the soil for monophysitism and constantly fostered its growth

s Neo-Platonism. In the hands of Plotinus all the main elements of

spiritual monism were worked up into a speculative philosophy with a

profound bearing on practical life. The world and the human spirit,

for Plotinus, were simply manifestations of God. He taught that, as

light issues from the sun and proceeds forth on its way, growing

gradually dimmer till it passes into darkness, so the world of thought

and thing has no true being apart from God, from whom it proceeded and

to whom it returns. Spiritual monism found in Alexandria a congenial

home. Blending there with oriental mysticism it produced a crop of

gnostic speculative systems, in all of which Acosmism or a denial of

the world was the keynote. Whether the problem was conceived in terms

of being or of value, the result was the same. The world has no true

being. Its appearance of solidity is a sham. It has no value.

Compared with God, it is negligible. It is but the shadow cast by the

eternal sun.

The monophysite tenets traceable to monism will be considered in detail

in later chapters. Here our concern is to show that monism supplies

the metaphysical principle on which the heresy is based; that, as

dualism provides the a priori of Nestorian thought, monism provides

the a priori of monophysite thought.