May 13, 2009

Panagia Platytera

From OrthodoxWiki - Panagia Platytera (Greek: Πλατυτέρα; "wider" or "more spacious") is an icon of the Theotokos, facing the viewer directly, usually depicted full length with her hands in the "orans" position, and with the image of Christ as a child in front of her chest, also facing the viewer directly. Sometimes the image of Christ is contained within a medallion. Poetically, by containing the Creator of the Universe in her womb, Mary has become Platytera ton ouranon, which means: "More spacious than the heavens." This type is sometimes called the "Virgin of the Sign" or "Our Lady of the Sign," a reference to Isaiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel." Such an image is often placed in the apse above the altar. Also see Our Lady of the Sign (Wikipedia).

The icon shown here: Great Panagia Platytera from the Saviour Monastery in Yaroslavl (source).

May 5, 2009

"Naming Infinity..." - out of press in March 2009

Naming Infinity: A True Story of Religious Mysticism and Mathematical Creativity - by Loren Graham and Jean-Michel Kantor (Publisher: Belknap Press; 1st edition, March 31, 2009).

A topical review (in romanian) - around the ideas in a 2006 paper of Graham and Kantor - in Sinapsa Nr. 1, 37-46, 2008 ("Infinit, numiri, descoperire – o perihoreză a cunoaşterii. O incursiune în istoria ştiinţei" by Florin Caragiu and Mihai Caragiu).

The new book brings into the open an important chapter in the History of Mathematics. In our view, though, the grounds of the creativity manifested in the Russian School of Mathematics around the beginning of the 20th century do not depend in an essential way on the unorthodox elements that emerged from the temptation of pushing Name worshiping to a metaphysical extreme. These is no need (even if it might be tempting in a (post-)modern secular environment experiencing a continuous thirst for spectacular/heretical) to overemphasize the controversy of Imiaslavie: in fact, an Eastern Orthodox theology of the naming, completely orthodox, hesychast, traditional, with solid Patristic and Scriptural grounds, is not at all opposed but is indeed truly favorable to such creativity outbursts of the human knowledge in synergy with God, both in the intelligible and the sensible realms. The "naming" experiences of the Russian Orthodox mathematicians in that period can be reformulated and understood easily in terms of such a fully orthodox theology, as reflected in the traditional liturgical proclamation of the Church: "And grant us with one mouth, and one heart, to glorify and hymn Thy most honorable and majestic name: of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages".