Eraunetes greets his friend Epiphenomenos,
I apologise, my dear friend, for the untimely delay in responding to your letter. The truth is I gave myself an unfortunate injury while whipping a slave. The whip hand is a little rusty these days, apparently I didn’t get the correct angle for my follow-through. The slave, a lousy son of Scythian dog, had left your correspondence lying around open on my desk. Grammates read the letter and informed me. (did I tell you he was staying for a while?) Now, I don’t mind in the slightest that he read it, and I’m sure you won’t either, but it’s the principle of the matter. If we are unwilling to flex the whip hand on matters of principle, all too soon we will be overrun by barbarians. I felt that I needed to take a personal interest in disciplining the slave, hence the personal damage. That, and the fact that my amanuensis has been visiting his dying mother, have conspired to delay my reply.
Grammates informed me that he found your letter interesting. He assured me he intended to reply to some of the matters you raised himself. Consequently, now that my amanuensis has returned, I’ve decided to send a copy of this letter to him, and request that you would do likewise with your reply.
Now, with that matter dealt with, let us turn to the question you raised in your letter: why do you study philosophy at a theological college? Perhaps I could rephrase it as the larger question, what is the relation between Theology and Philosophy? What, if I may be pardoned for quoting a Carthaginian, does “Jerusalem have to do with Athens”?
I’ve been casting around for a while to know how to address this question, it’s not that I am short for ideas, I’m just unsure where to begin.
Perhaps here: why is the relation problematic? Why is it that you would fret over this relation rather than the relation, say, between Theology and Beards?
Let me outline 2 principal areas of difficulty:
1. Philosophy has not always been what it is, or taken the same cultural space as it currently does. How we understand what is meant by the term “Philosophy” makes a great deal of difference to whether we find the relation difficult. In fact, Philosophy’s relationship to Theology is a significant part of both their identities. The problematic nature of the relationship is an indicator of larger shifts within the conceptual landscape. We shall have give an account of what we believe Philosophy (and Theology) to be, while realising that this account is the product of a history that includes the tensions between the two disciplines.
2. Why are they related? Why is there a relation that we believe is worthy of notice and articulation? What is the structure of this relation?
How do we hold them together – as lovers of the unity of truth?
How do we hold them apart – as those who have been confronted by the Otherness of God?
As you see, I have much more thinking to do.