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Florensky. Bad infinity Category: Nature Asteroid 99942 Apophis

Bad infinity
In the works of Fr. Sergei Bulgakov

7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

Bad infinity which seems to be eternity

Creaturely nothingness contains in itself any new sources whatsoever of life and creativity apart from God. Such an illusion is a self-deception, bad infinity which seems to be eternity.

It is erroneous to think that creaturely nothingness in its freedom contains in itself any new sources whatsoever of life and creativity apart from God which contain something completely new that would enrich God Himself. Such an illusion is a self-deception: emptiness which seems to be depth, bottomlessness which seems to be inexhaustibility, bad infinity which seems to be eternity. In reality creaturely nothingness contains nothing in itself20) (and in this sense it is the opposite of Divine Nothingness in the entrails of which all is concealed). One thing is accomplished by it: the potentialization of being, the reception of reality as possibility, the conversion of on into me on, meonization. Deceiving through its unformed and amorphous state, meonality as the condition of an as yet undefined definiteness, of an unaccomplished possibility, seems richer and deeper than itself. The theme of a being, its divine idea and task, is given in the general Sophianicity of creation, but it is afforded to creaturely freedom to have the theme not as a given but as a possibility, which is realized by creaturely freedom. Therefore creaturely creative activity is not creation out of nothing; the very idea of such an absolute creation is godless and anti-Sophianic (this is the posture of Lucifer which deceives and attracts others). Creaturely creative activity has its own theme which becomes its own only inasmuch as it is appropriated, and not rejected for the sake of the non-existent, in the emptiness of rebellious nothingness. But this does not prevent such thematic creative work from being not only unlimited but also infinite, for this theme is divine, and thus contains in itself unlimited possibilities of realization. "Be perfect as your heavenly Father" (Matthew 5:48).


20) Cf. Unfading Light, the section on creation: Creaturely Nothingless.

Fr. Sergei Bulgakov
Jacob's Ladder: On Angels
V. The Life of Angels. p.107

The world continues into God, so to speak, and God descends to the world, is immanent in it, as its (impersonal) foundation. Aristotle's doctrine of the eternity of the world in space and time corresponds to this duality and can simultaneously and with equal justice be understood both as bad infinity.

Aristotle's entire system is marked by the limitations of antiquity. First of all, it does not contain the creation and createdness of the world and therefore the doctrine of God the Creator (together with the corresponding problematic). Second, Aristotle's system is essentially impersonalistic, since the absence of the idea of the person generally characterizes Hellenism in its entirety: The Prime Mover, God, is not a Person. The Prime Mover is a kind of it, to erōmenon, to agathon. It is true that life, to zōon, is attributed to it, but this definition does not lead thought to personalism.

… The world continues into God, so to speak, and God descends to the world, is immanent in it, as its (impersonal) foundation. Aristotle's doctrine of the eternity of the world in space and time corresponds to this duality. This eternity can simultaneously and with equal justice be understood both as bad infinity, or indeterminate and in this sense unlimited spatiality and temporality, and as the supratemporality and supraspatiality of the Absolute.

In general, as a doctrine of God, Aristotle's system cannot be translated into the language of Christian theology and expressed in the terms of this theology. (This was attempted in the system of Thomism, though not to the great benefit of Christian theology.)

Fr. Sergei Bulgakov
The Bride of the Lamb
3. The Sophianicity of the World
3. b) Aristotelianism. pp.10-11

Pharisaic legalism,
proud of its own rigorism and bad infinity

Religious immanentism to which the essence of psychologism in religion is reduced is directed hostilely against faith in a transcendent God and hereby annihilates the original nature of religion, by subjecting fundamental religious concepts to a false and forced interpretation. Ethics turns into pharisaic legalism, proud of its own rigorism and bad infinity in which it sees the exact manifestation of the unconditional quality of moral law. Therefore where the paths of Providence do not coincide with ethics, and where divine love, measurelessly forgiving the prodigal son, does not take legalistic fairness into consideration, ethics unalterably must cast its veto.

Fr. Sergei Bulgakov
Unfading Light
IV. Religion and Ethics. p.50

The number of angels is finite

The number of angels is finite, determinate, limited. The fact that the angelic world is internally finished or full in no wise requires bad infinity or unlimitedness.

Enormously important for us is the fact that the angelic world is given as full and finished in the instantaneous creation of this world. The creation of this world does not go beyond this, and we just conclude that the number of angels is finite, determinate, limited. But this finiteness is not connected with any external boundary or limit, beyond which God's omnipotence, wisdom, and love grow weak and are nullified. Clearly, there can be no such weakening. Rather, this boundary expresses the fact that this world is internally finished or full, which in no wise requires bad infinity or unlimitedness. Otherwise, the angelic world would run the risk of lacking fullness or of being unfinished. And if our faith teaches us the contrary this means that not only a negative ("bad") finitude but also an actual, positive finitude is possible, at least in the angelic world.

Fr. Sergei Bulgakov
The Bride of the Lamb
I. 5. The Eternity and Temporality of Man. p.104

The determinate completeness of the creation

The divine fullness of the creation is combined not with a negative ("bad") infinity that is powerless, but with a determinate completeness. Such completeness is characterized by an inexhaustible depth of eternity and by an eternal life realized in creaturely temporality.

Such a positive, finite infinitude is, in general, revealed to us through the creation of the world, in which the divine all is implanted. But this all is realized in a definite, limited period of time («the six days of creation»), and is implanted in definite, limited forms, or modes, of being. Otherwise, the world could not have been fully created, fully finished. And the divine sabbath could not have come, just as it would not have been said: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made” (Gen. 2:1-2). The divine fullness is therefore combined not with an infinity that is powerless to exhaust itself and in this sense is genuinely bad, but with a determinate completeness, which is nevertheless characterized by an inexhaustible depth of eternity, by an eternal life realized in creaturely temporality. By virtue of this combination, every atom of being, however small it might be, potentially contains its entire actual infinity, which is manifested not only in the static profile of its being but also in its dynamic, energetic realization.

Fr. Sergei Bulgakov
The Bride of the Lamb
I. 5. The Eternity and Temporality of Man. p.105

Bad infinity cannot encompass fullness.

fullness belongs to the nature of the hypostatic spirit, and this fullness is experienced as infinite, inexhaustible depth, creaturely eternity, aeviternitas. In its hypostatic multi-unity, this fullness presupposes the diversity and therefore the multiplicity of individual modes, but by no means is this multiplicity a bad infinity, incapable of ending, of exhausting itself. Such a bad infinity would be precisely lack of fullness. Bad infinity is by no means synonymous with self-enclosed, self-sufficient eternity, with which it is sometimes equated (e.g., in eschatological discussions of "eternal" bliss and "eternal" torments, although it is obvious that two different modes of "eternity" are distinguished and opposed here; see below). Bad infinity would indicate only that creaturely being cannot encompass fullness.

Fr. Sergei Bulgakov
The Bride of the Lamb
I. 5. The Eternity and Temporality of Man. p.121

History, as a concrete time, has both a beginning and an end. History represents an eon, a certain completion that is disclosed in time sequentially.

Objective time contains sufficient foundation for the order of generations and the succession of historical nations, by which the skeleton of history is determined. If history in general is the birth of humanity, then it is realized with an internally defined plan and consistency. History is connected with "times and seasons," having their foundation in the spiritual organization of humanity. Therefore it is not "bad infinity" naturally inherent in formal time, but has a bounds and in particular necessarily presupposes both a beginning and an end, which abstract time does not do at all. … concrete time, which history is, has both beginning and end; in other words, it represents an eon, a certain completion that is disclosed in time sequentially. We have the fullest analogy to the historical eon in our own personal life, which likewise represents concrete time. By regarding it as abstract time we in essence encounter no logical hindrances for extending this time into eternity, at least from the side of the future, for this abstract time does not know death, which represents a kind of end of time itself. Concretely, human life shows in itself the alternation of ages, necessarily terminating in death, and for this reason time that has suddenly blazed up just as suddenly goes out. In this sense an individual human life is also a certain particular eon, similar to a historical eon.

Fr. Sergei Bulgakov
The Unfading Light
III. 1. Concrete Time. p.361

The Pentecost of our aeon is not a bad infinity, which has neither completion nor fullness. The life of grace in the Holy Spirit leads us beyond the limits of earthly, empirical life.

But, to be sure, this continuing Pentecost of our aeon is not a bad infinity, which has neither completion nor fullness. On the contrary, it strives to accomplish itself to the end, to the point where "God will be all in all." And in this sense the Pentecost leads to the eschatological culmination and to a new aeon; it merges with the parousia. At the same time, the life of grace in the Holy Spirit leads us beyond the limits of earthly, empirical life, insofar as it unites us with the world on the other side, with the kingdom of saints and angels, with the glorified church.

Fr. Sergei Bulgakov
The Comforter
Ch. 5. IV. The Pentecost. p.284

The Holy Trinity is a triunity

The Holy Trinity is not three, but a triunity; and It is not a series but an enclosed whole, which has the fullness of Its being, Its power, precisely in trinitarity.

The Trinity is not a simple juxtaposition of three, distinct but united externally (by analogy with three lights that merge into one another). Such a trinity is, first of all, not self-enclosed; rather, it is open for continuation: the juxtaposition presupposes a series continuing into (bad) infinity, although it can be broken off at any number of terms, in particular at three. It is solely as such a juxtaposition that trinitarity was conceived by early patristic theology, which thus found itself in a state of perplexity and helplessness before the fact of the Third hypostasis as the end of the series. But the Holy Trinity is not three, but a triunity; and It is not a series but an enclosed whole, which has the fullness of Its being, Its power, precisely in trinitarity. It is necessary to understand the necessity of this trinitarity — not more and not less — of the hypostases. And one must take as one's starting point this necessity when considering the Holy Trinity-Unity, as well as the separate hypostases, and in particular when considering the Third hypostasis and His place in the Holy Trinity.

Fr. Sergei Bulgakov
The Comforter
I. Trinitarity and the Third Hypostasis. p.54

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