This paper seeks to explore the way Giovanni Pico della Mirandola treated the Orphics and the Pythagoreans in his Conclusiones nongentae, his early and most ambitious work, so that he formulates his own philosophy. I do not intend to present and analyze the sum of Pico’s references to Orphics and Pythagoreans, since such an attempt is beyond the scope of this paper. Rather, I aim to highlight certain Pico’s aphorisms that allow readers to understand and evaluate his syncretic method and (...) his goals. In addition, I attempt to trace Pico’s sources and evaluate his proper knowledge, understanding and treatment of the Orphics and the Pythagoreans. Pico resorts to the Orphics and the Pythagoreans because he wants to give a practical and applied dimension to his philosophy. He attempted the revival of the original wisdom that underlies the traditions he combined. He was not a fan of the Aristotelian θεωρίης ἢνεκεν. Philosophy does not aim at proper knowledge, but is the key for the manipulation of the cosmos, physically and metaphysically speaking. Pico probably thinks of himself as the modern Orpheus: he does not intend to reveal the paths which cross the sensible and the intelligible, but he aspires to tread them. (shrink)
Georgius Trapezuntius Cretensis (or George of Trebizond) (1396-1472), an eminent humanist scholar who immigrated to Italy from Crete, is well appreciated for his translations, commentaries and treatises on philosophy, rhetoric and science. While there is a good deal of scholarship on Byzantine scholars in the Italian Renaissance, the topic of their contribution to mathematics and science in general has not to date been thoroughly addressed. This paper purports to fill this lacuna. On the basis of major evidence, I will attempt (...) to show the way Trapezuntius treated mathematics and physical sciences in order to serve his personal goals in the mid 15th century. (shrink)
Die ethische und politische Philosophie al-Fārābīs beruht auf einer philosophischen Anthropologie, die die Menschen als von Natur aus als ungleich betrachtet und der Natur eine fundamentale Bedeutung zuschreibt. Die Natur stattet nur wenige Menschen mit besonderen Fähigkeiten aus, sodass die Verwirklichung der höheren theoretischen, geistigen, moralischen Tugend und der praktischen Kunst nur jene betrifft, die von der Natur dafür ausersehen wurden. Die Anthropologie ist darüber hinaus auch ein wichtiges Instrument politischen Handelns. Der Herrscher muss sich kontinuierlich dem Studium der menschlichen (...) Natur widmen und die jeweiligen Eigenschaften benennen, die bestimmten Menschengruppen zugeschrieben werden. Dadurch kann er die geeigneten Mittel identifizieren, mit denen jede Gruppe zur Glückseligkeit geführt werden kann, und wählt die für jeden Fall geeigneten Argumente. Niccolò Machiavelli stützt sein gesamtes politisches Denken auf die Anthropologie. Ein zweiter Pfeiler der politischen Philosophie Machiavellis ist, wie bei al-Fārābī auch, die Religion. Beide machen sich Gedanken über die politische Dimension der Religion, ohne dass Machiavelli aber bis zur Entgeistigung der Religion gehen würde, wie es al-Fārābī gewagt hatte. Neben der Anthropologie, die ein integrales Element des politischen Denkens al-Fārābīs und Machiavellis darstellt, teilen sie sich die Auffassung von der Religion als Instrument politischen Handelns. Beide versuchten den Menschen zu zeigen, dass auf dem Gebiet des öffentlichen Lebens die Regierungskunst der Religion überlegen ist, ohne sich im Besonderen mit ihrem Wert an sich und ihrer Bedeutung für das private Leben zu befassen. Der substantielle Unterschied zwischen beiden liegt in der Breite der politischen Mittel. Hier ist die Innovation Machiavellis offensichtlich, weil sich seine Anthropologie von der al-Fārābīs unterscheidet. (shrink)
In this article the impact of the dialogue Peri Politikis Epistimis in the political philosophy of the first Arab philosophers is highlighted and analyzed. This dialogue, whose importance was pointed out relatively recently in the relevant literature, contains material that guides the researcher to understand in a different way the intake not only of the classical but also of the early Byzantine political philosophy by Al-Farabi. The text focuses on the handling of the relationship between politics, religion and heresy in (...) the early Byzantine treatise and in the work of Al-Farabi, an issue that has not been dealt with thoroughly by modern research. (shrink)
During the Renaissance, psychology was enriched and refined by the recovery of ancient texts. The study of the soul became critical for the understanding of man and supportive to other fields of philosophy. Utopian texts refer to the soul and its significance for human nature. Almost all the writers of utopian texts focus their attention on the question of the immortality of the soul. In this position, they rely heavily on the happiness of their state, since, without faith in the (...) immortality of the soul, the citizens will be led to wrongdoing and illegality. It is interesting enough that these writers do not attempt to prove the immortality of the soul through rational argumentation. Their main concern is the imposition of this doctrine in order to strengthen the state. (shrink)
al-Fārābi was well aware that ecumenism can easily convert to tyranny if a certain city–state attempts to impose its laws outside its territory. State legislation depends on specific cultural and historical factors which deprives it from being universal because culture and history could not unite different nations in an ecumenical state. Legislation has to be built on universal premises, e.g. on philosophy, so as to serve the needs of a global state. Philosophy is the bond which unites humans and communities, (...) while religion and legislation are disruptive factors. Despite the fact that in our days there are different philosophies, philosophy encourages dialogue, not hatred. As a result, al-Fārābi was right when he founded his ecumenical state on philosophy. Consequently, philosophers ought to persuade the citizens through rational arguments, dialectic, symbols and religion so as to accept the existence of an ecumenical state. The goal of this state is the supreme good, understood as the theoretical living. Al-Fārābi’s ecumenism is a means for the perfection of human beings and societies and not simply for the augmentation of wealth, as it is seen today. Al-Fārābi dreams of an anthropocentric ecumenical state. I support that this should be the form of modern ecumenism. While modern scholars have strong objections to the governing of philosophers, we should agree that philosophy is the appropriate universal language. The persistence on power and other divisive factors, such as religion or tradition, is doomed to fail. (shrink)
This article attempts to provide a summary of the European and Greek philosophy of the 16th century, so that the contribution of the two Zygomalas to philosophical education can be evaluated along with the philosophical preferences of their cycle. Contributions of this study would be considered the restoration of incorrect positions in the bibliography concerning the doctor-philosopher Leonardo Mindonios and the analysis of the philosophical corpus in Istanbul in the second half of the 16th century.
In this article the treatment of animals by the early Christian and Arabic philosophy has been developed, focusing mainly on the work of Isidore of Seville and Al-Farabi. The contribution of this study is to highlight the insufficiently considered aspects of the ontology of animals and of their endorsement as moral "subjects" in both Latin and Arabic literature up to our days.
The article focuses on an unexamined so far aspect of byzantine philosophy, namely the influence of Arabic philosophy upon byzantine thinkers. Despite the vicinity of Byzantium and Arabic territories, the philosophical interactions were minimal. Scholarios claimed, in a dedicatory epistle to Constantine Paleologus (1405-1453), that he had studied the treatises of Avicenna, Averroes, and other Arab and Persian philosophers. He admitted that Averroes was beyond doubt the best commentator of Aristotle. Scholarios acknowledged that the study of the Arabs contributed immensely (...) to his philosophical education and particularly to the proper understanding of the Aristotelian philosophy (Scholarios, vii.1-6). Scholarios aimed at the enrichment and renewal of Byzantine philosophy. Besides his high esteem for Arabic philosophy, he devoted a large part of his life translating and paraphrasing the Scholastics, especially Aquinas. Despite Scolarios’ claim about his erudition on the Arab and Persian philosophers, a detailed examination of his works proves that in most cases he simply reproduced and incorporated sections from Aquinas’ works, without resorting to the original sources. Scholarios’ references to the Arabs are multiplied in his translations and compendia of Aquinas’ works, but are reduced significantly in his original texts. Frequently Scholarios refrained from mentioning the Arab philosophers, despite the fact that he commented on Aquinas’ passages, which are dedicated to Avicenna or Averroes. On the contrary, Scholarios did not avoid mentioning in detail Aquinas’ Christian or ancient Greek sources. It is obvious that Scholarios did not have a consistent approach towards Arabic philosophy. Most of the times he reproduced loosely Aquinas’ passages, where the latter commented on the Arabs. (shrink)
This article examines the philosophical position of Plutarch on death through the way that he faces the deaths of prominent and non-prominent Lacedaemonians. Then, an analysis of Plutarch's positions by Georgius Trapezuntius in the Renaissance period is attempted, so as to illustrate the degree and the method of using the classical philosophical thought in the Renaissance.
In this article, the cosmological positions of George of Trebizond are regrouped and an attempt to evaluate his offer to the philosophy of nature in the Renaissance is presented. George of Trepizond dedicated a huge part of his work to the philosophical and scientific study of the world; he also renewed the way the Greek letters are studied and used.
Since the 19th century Renaissance studies gained gradually autonomy from the Medieval and the Early Modern studies. In countries like Greece, where the traditional view was that no Renaissance occurred in the Balkan Peninsula during the 14th -16th century as a result of the Turkish occupation, Renaissance studies had to struggle to gain autonomy and distinct presence in the curricula of Greek universities. This article aims to present the current status of the Renaissance studies in the Greek universities and to (...) give a critical account of it. The interest for Renaissance studies in Greece is not increased. Usually, Greek scholars and students feel awkward towards that period because they think of Renaissance as something alien to their culture. It is common among scholars of humanities when they refer to the period from 1450-1600, to use the term “post-byzantine” instead of Renaissance. Also, Renaissance studies do not have a rich tradition in Greek universities. There were no major academic figures who were experts in the period so as to promote Renaissance studies and leave a legacy of students and written works. Other Greek scholars hold that the Renaissance is not a distinct period and should be studied in the pattern of the Modern European period. (shrink)
This is a translation of an article published in the journal Argeiaki Ge, which was asked from me by the scientific journal Journal of Classical Studies Matica Srpska. The Argive Hapocration was a philosopher and commentator from the second century A.D. His origin is not disputed by any source. However, there is still a potential possibility that he might have descended from a different Argos: namely that which is in Amfilochia, Orestiko or that in Cyprus. Yet, the absence of any (...) additional geographical designation in his name in ancient sources is likely to disprove such claims. Simply mentioning ‘Argos’ can only indicate the most notable of the cities with this name, namely the Argive Argos. As will be revealed later in this paper, the close relationship between Hapocration with the Atticus family may well support his Argive origin. I support that it is obvious to assume that there is a close affinity of philosophical activity in Phlius and in Argos which remains to be investigated in more detail in the future. The research of written and archaeological sources can flourish further still. I hope that in the near future there will be evidence enough for a fuller presentation of philosophical activity in ancient Argos. (shrink)
Those who work with topics related to Modern Greek identity usually start discussing these issues by quoting the famous Georgios Gemistos Pletho (c.1360-1454): we, over whom you rule and hold sway, are Hellenes by genos (γένος), as is witnessed by our language and ancestral education. Although Woodhouse thought of Pletho as the last of the Hellenes, others prefer to denounce him the last of the Byzantines and the first and foremost Modern Greek. During the 14th and 15th centuries, a number (...) of influential intellectuals in the Eastern Roman Empire preferred the term Hellene (Ἓλλην) to identify themselves, instead of the formal Roman (Ρωμαῖος) and the common Greek (Γραικός). According to the prevalent view of modern scholarship, the shift should not be interpreted only as a statement of proto-national identity, but also as the outcome of growing archaism. As Vryonis pointed out, the historian Critoboulos used to call the Balkan nations with their archaic names: Byzantines became “Hellenes,” Albanians became “Illyrians,” etc. Chalkokondyles followed in the same path. Furthermore, in order to lament the decline of their Empire, byzantine intellectuals tended to compare their sad present to the glory of ancient Greece. Besides archaism, proto-nationalism and Hellenism, I suggest that a careful reading of the sources would lead us to reappraise the ways 15th century intellectuals perceived identity. Whilst I do not accept Vakalopoulos’ views on diachronic Hellenic identity, I support that, in the 15th century, Byzantine scholars attempted to create an identity based on cultural and historical continuity and otherness. Moreover, Laiou’s definition of Greek identity as a resultant of language, history, tradition and interests does not cover the case of 15th century Byzantine philosophers, since the latter strived to enrich and enlarge Greek identity with additional elements. It is worth noting that those philosophers who fled to Italy deliberately chose to describe themselves as Greeks (Greci/Γραικοί) or Hellenes (Ἓλληνες) and not as Romans (Ρωμιοί/Ρωμαῖοι), according to the Byzantine official terminology. During the 15th century a major shift occurred in the Byzantine intelligentsia and its prominent members revisited matters of identity. In this paper, I attempt to scrutinize the ways Byzantine philosophers of the 15th century, who lived in the territories of the Byzantine Empire and in Italy, perceived identity and otherness. In my research, I include not only Greek, but also Latin sources, since their works is written in both languages. (shrink)
Pico’s view on emanationism is ambiguous. Moreover, his position viz. emanation seems to change at times. He made his emanationism more elaborate and complex by incorporating in it Neoplatonic ideas and the Kabbalistic hierarchy. He attempted a reconciliation of emanatio and creatio ex nihilo, as certain Christian Neoplatonists like Augustine did before, but Pico’s main intention was not the defense of the Christian dogma. To illustrate this point, I note that he did not hesitate to interpret even the book of (...) Genesis through Neoplatonism and Kabbalah, despite the resistance of the Roman Church. Philosophical accuracy and integrity was not always Pico’s main concern since he intended to prove the concordia of all the major previous philosophies and theologies. Furthermore, he disagreed with Aquinas’ solution for the problem of emanatio and creatio ex nihilo. He went on defending emanationism by relying on scholastics like Albertus Magnus. The aim of this paper is to explore Pico’s dependence on Proclus concerning the relation of emanatio and creatio ex nihilo. (shrink)
In this article the views of George of Trebizond on death are regrouped and presented as they were expressed in various of his works over a long period. From their study, their dependence of classical Greek philosophy is demonstrated and his overall turn from Neo-Platonism to Aristotelianism is also adequately proved.
Georgius Trapezuntius Cretensis (1395-1472), an eminent humanist scholar who immigrated to Italy from Crete, is well appreciated for his treatises on philosophy and rhetoric, his commentary on Ptolemy’s Almagest (Syntaxis Mathematica) and his translations of Plato, Aristotle as well as of some Christian fathers. Trapezuntius’ works, although heavily criticized at times, contributed to Italian and Northern Renaissance. On the basis of major evidence, we will attempt in this paper to show the way Trapezuntius treated the Aristotelian and Platonic mathematics in (...) order to serve his personal goals in the rather peculiar intellectual climate of the mid 15th century. (shrink)
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) focuses on Anaxagoras (ca. 500-428 BC) because he considers him as a precursor of the the later Neoplatonic concept all things exist in all things in their own mode, which became the core of Pico’s metaphysics. Anaxagoras’s philosophy permits Pico to establish his doctrine that all things share a portion of God within them, in their own way. Pico rejects the fixed position of man in the ontological hierarchy. Man has the chance to become everything. (...) Pico asserts that man contains all things in himself as their center, just like God contains all things as their origin. As a consequence, Anaxagoras’s principle is supportive to Pico’s metaphysics. Furthermore, Anaxagoras’s metaphysical principle is supportive of Pico’s method of allegorical interpretation, which is indispensable for his syncretism and his attempt to reveal hidden truths in every text or level of reality. (shrink)
In this article Machiavelli's attitude towards Greek antiquity and philosophy is presented and interpreted, in particular his preference to Sparta and his critical attitude towards Athens and also the way of perception on behalf of him for the general political influence of classical literature and philosophy. Finally, the special way he comprehends Renaissance, as this is expressed in Machiavelli’s philosophy of history, is presented.
This special volume of Forum Philosophicum, entitled “Sharing in the Logos: Philosophical Readings of Maximus the Confessor,” makes available five papers selected from those presented at the conference “Maximus the Confessor as a European Philosopher,” held at the Freie Universität, Berlin, from the 26th to the 28th of September, 2014. We are happy to open up our journal to the contributions of a number of scholars who all share a specific methodological stance when it comes to reading Patristic texts. Rather (...) than discussing the philosophy of Maximus the Confessor, they seek out the philosophical involvements and implications of Maximus’ theology. They respect the distinction between philosophical and theological modes of thinking, while recognizing how those modes of thinking influence and complete each other. (shrink)
Main figures in Byzantium after the Byzantium were Ioannis Zygomalas (1498-1584) and his son and fellow Theodosius (1544-1607) who drew a spiritual path that left many and rich traces and presumptions. They served in the Patriarchate of Constantinople in key positions. There they taught the ancient Greek language and they copied and distributed manuscripts of works of ancient and byzantine writers. Their mailing correspondence with European scholars and travelers is well known. Thanks to that, the humanistic Europe met not only (...) the Greek scholars of the 16th c. but also their spoken language of that era, as a continuation of the Greek classical times and the Byzantine world. The historical information concerning them that has been saved is of interest to many categories of specialists of human sciences: Theology and Philosophy, Social History, History of Law and Institutions, Literature and Linguistics, Palaeography and Codicology, Letter-writing. Authors: Hans Eideneier, Ernst Gamillscheg, Christian Gastgeber, Andreas Rhoby, Dora E. Solti, D. G. Apostolopoulos, Athanasios E. Karathanasis, Vassilis Katsaros, R. Georgios D. Metallinos, Machi Paizi-Apostolopoulou, Stavros Perentidis, Konstantinos Pitsakis, Georgios Steiris, Notis Toufexis, Andronikos Falaggas. (shrink)
The question of Modern Greek identity is certainly timely. The political events of the previous years have once more brought up such questions as: What does it actually mean to be a Greek today? What is Modern Greece, apart from and beyond the bulk of information that one would find in an encyclopaedia and the established stereotypes? This volume delves into the timely nature of these questions and provides answers not by referring to often-cited classical Antiquity, nor by treating Greece (...) as merely and exclusively a modern nation-state. Rather, it approaches the subject in a kaleidoscopic way, by tracing the line from the Byzantine Empire to Modern Greek culture, society, philosophy, literature and politics. In presenting the diverse and certainly non-dominant approaches of a multitude of Greek scholars, it provides new insights into a diachronic problem, and will encourage new arguments and counterarguments. Despite commonly held views among Greek intelligentsia or the worldwide community, Modern Greek identity remains an open question – and wound. (shrink)