The Chalcedonian Definition: An Example of the Difficulties and Usefulness of Thinking in Terms of Complementarity

Volume
Volume 18
Issue
Summer 1990
Title
The Chalcedonian Definition: An Example of the Difficulties and Usefulness of Thinking in Terms of Complementarity
Abstract

An appropriate analysis of the proceedings at the fourth ecumenical council (451 AD) brings to light uncommon forms of thought that are still of practical significance today. Circumstantial evidence from the record of the final editing of the Chalcedonian Definition supports the conclusion that at least some of the Fathers thought in terms of complementarity. Given one type of problem structure, that type of thinking allows in particular the coordination of competing or even conflicting explanations (parallel complementarity). Given another problem structure, it allows the linking of explanations that might previously have been considered independent or even irrelevant before (circular complementarity)). If, despite its unanimous acceptance, the Definition did not lead to lasting unity and peace within Christendom, one of the reasons could be the difficulties associated with thinking in terms of complementarity: Lack of motivation to adopt this unconventional form of thought (which goes beyond Piagetian formal operations when fully developed), unfamiliarity with its nontraditional logic, unsuitable world views, and/or an as yet insufficient level of cognitive development. Evidence for this hypothesis is presented. The usefulness of thinking in terms of complementary is also argued from the history of Christology since 451 and from modern examples.

Author
Dr. K.H. Reich
Pages
148 - 157
Price
Add to Cart $5.00