DID THERE EXIST A NOMINALISTIC DIRECTION IN THE MEDIEVAL ARMENIAN PHILOSOPHY? – 2019-3

Summary

Seyran A. Zakaryan
Since the 50-60s of the XX century the Armenian philosophy shapes a methodological paradigm according to which nominalism was born and developed in the Medieval Armenian philosophy of the XIII-XIV centuries. The Soviet Armenian researchers separated the nominalism as a philosophical trend based on the assessment of the philosophical directions (nominalism was viewed as progressive, “the first expression of materialism’’, and realism was viewed as a regressive direction), as well as on the misinterpretation or the confusion of the general issues including the differentiation between the importance of the individual and the general, the element and the many, the part and the whole. The issues of the universals do not refer to the importance of an individual and the whole, but rather to the status of the existence of the universals. According to the Armenian researchers, the Medieval Armenian philosophers (Vahram Rabuni, Hovhan Vorotnetsi, Grigor Tatevatsi) were nominalists because they defended the statement according to which particular things are primary to the universals and are the basis for their existence. Accepting the primary importance of particular things over the universals (genus and species) does not mean that the existence of the universals is being denied. On the contrary, the notion stated that the universals exist after the individual things and thanks to them. Based on the fact that Medieval Armenian philosophers not only accepted the real existence of the universals, but also developed the triple formula of their existence (the universals exist before the things, in the things and after the things), and as they follow the Aristotelian hylomorphic ontological and epistemological tradition, we can state that they are not nominalists, but rather moderate realists and in the Medieval Armenian philosophy they developed not a branch of nominalism but that of the moderate realism. In this regard, the ideological and dogmatic conflict of the XIV century between the ideologists of the unitary movement and the Armenian Church is solved alike. The reason lies under the explanation that the representatives of both directions are Aristotelians and they both treat the problem of universals in the same way. The difference between their points of view is in the interpretation of the relationship between the individual and the general and that of the single and the many. If the representatives of the unitary movement emphasized the priority of the general over the particular and by that they tried to explain the priority of the Catholic Church of Rome over the particular national churches, in the case of the Armenian Church they defended the self-sufficiency of the individual things and the notion of the priority of the particulars over the general and, thus, proved the autocephaly and the right of honorable existence of the Armenian Church in the family of the Christian churches.

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