Original Research - Special Collection: Theology and Nature

The logic of antinomy in religious discourse: Pavel Florensky’s meta-language of theology, science and art

Johan Buitendag, Antonino Puglisi
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 3 | a6635 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i3.6635 | © 2021 Johan Buitendag, Antonino Puglisi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 March 2021 | Published: 29 July 2021

About the author(s)

Johan Buitendag, Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Antonino Puglisi, Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa; Department of Nanobiotechnology, Institute for Biologically Inspired Materials (BIMat), University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria


Pavel Alexandrovich Florensky is a towering figure of the 20th century. He is recognised among many significant thinkers of the world’s cultural and philosophical panorama of the previous century. In the face of cultural repression and religious persecution of the Soviet regime, he preferred martyrdom to exile and not to deny his faith. The legacy of Florensky is incredibly multifaceted. His works span across the most varied fields of science and knowledge with clear competence. Florensky was the first scholar who attempted to combine Orthodox theology with modern logic. He argued that religious truth transcends known categories and Christianity tends to be antinomical. This article argues that a paradoxical notion would be more appropriate than antinomy in his thinking.

Contribution: The authors introduce Pavel Alexandrovich Florensky to Western theology and share some thoughts of this much-neglected scholar. The focus is mainly on the spiritual vision of this Orthodox priest-scientist about Nature, exploring his legacy in the theology and science debate. Florensky taught us that there is a distinctive trait of the Christian faith’s attitude to Nature and that there always lies a surplus of meaning that remains inaccessible to reason alone and, therefore, Nature should be approached fundamentally with a contemplative approach and regarding a theology and science resonance, a creative mutual interaction could materialise.


Pavel Alexandrovich Florensky; logic; science and religion; ontology; epistemology; faith; mysticism; paradox; antinomism


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