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Body and DesireGregory of Nyssa's Ascetical Theology$
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Raphael A. Cadenhead

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780520297968

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520297968.001.0001

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The Integration of the Virtues

The Integration of the Virtues

(p.53) 2 The Integration of the Virtues
Body and Desire

Raphael A. Cadenhead

University of California Press

Chapter 2 highlights a potential methodological problem in recent commentaries on Gregory’s theorization of desire in which his discussion of sexual desire is treated as a self-contained area of moral reflection. According to Gregory’s rendition of the doctrine of the reciprocity of the virtues, the moderation of one’s sexual desires is placed within an overarching project of moral and spiritual transformation in which, as in Plato, physical sexual desire for other people is set in a spectrum of transformative possibilities en route to desire for the divine. This chapter argues that the reciprocity of the virtues is, for Gregory, not motivated by an abstract deliberation on the nature of the virtues (as some have suggested), but by the demands of uncompromising spiritual fidelity to Christ, which is the goal of the ascetic life.

Keywords:   reciprocity of the virtues, gluttony, fasting, lust, Augustine, Concupiscentia

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