Journal of Visual Culture 12 (1):3-29 (2013)

Authors
Emmanuel Alloa
Université de Fribourg
Abstract
As Hegel once said, in Byzantium, between homoousis and homoiousis, the difference of one letter could decide the life and death of thousands. As this article seeks to argue, Byzantine thinking was not only attentive to conceptual differences, but also to iconic ones. The iconoclastic controversy (726-842 AD) arose from two different interpretations of the nature of images: whereas iconoclastic philosophy is based on the assumption of a fundamental 'iconic identity', iconophile philosophy defends the idea of'iconic difference'. And while the reception in the Latin West of the controversies over the image as a mere problem of referentiality of the letter explains why its originality has remained underestimated for centuries, reexamining Byzantine visual thinking in the light of today's 'pictorial turn' reveals its striking modernity.
Keywords Hegel  Byzantium  iconoclasm  Theodore Studites  John of Damascus
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