“Seeking Maximus’ the Confessor philosophical sources: Maximus the Confessor and al-Fārābī on representation and imagination”

In Maximus the Confessor as a European Philosopher. Eugene OR (USA): Cascade Books / Wipf and Stock. pp. 316-331 (2017)
Authors
Georgios Steiris
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Abstract
It has been repeatedly stated that Maximus the Confessor’s (c. 580–662) thought is of eminently philosophical interest, and his work has been approached from a philosophical point of view in a number of monographs. However, no dedicated collective scholarly engagement on Maximus the Confessor as a philosopher has been produced. Although Maximus’ treatises reflect a strong philosophical background, prior research has failed to determine with clarity his specific philosophical sources and predilections. Besides apologetic purposes, he referred occasionally to purely philosophical topics, which are more adequate to reveal Maximus’ philosophical education and knowledge. Among these topics are representation and imagination, which have a significant role in epistemology. Maximus’ epistemology proves his dependence on ancient Greek philosophy, especially Aristotle, Stoicism and Alexandrian Neoplatonism. A few centuries later, Abū Naṣr Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad Al-Farabi (c.870—c.950), the founder of medieval Arabic philosophy, dealt with the same topics in his epistemology. Al-Farabi’s philosophy has been studied extensively and we have a good idea about his possible sources. There are several indications that Al-Farabi and Maximus the Confessor share common insights, for they resort to the same ancient Greek tradition. In this paper, I attempt to compare Maximus’ and Al-Farabi’s epistemology in order to reveal affinities and differences that permit us to analyze and assess Maximus’ philosophical education.
Keywords Al Farabi  Maximus the Confessor  Byzantine Philosophy  Islamic Philosophy
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