Marsilio Ficino is well known for his efforts to expand the philosophical canon of his time. He exhibited great interest in Platonism and Neoplatonism, but also endeavoured to recover understudied philosophical traditions of the ancient world. In his Theologia platonica de immortalitate animorum, he commented on the Presocratics. Ficino thought of the Presocratics as authorities and possessors of undisputed wisdom. This article seeks to explore the way in which Ficino treated the philosophy of Heraclitus in the Theologia platonica in order (...) to formulate his own philosophical ideas. (shrink)
This Handbook contains forty essays by an international team of experts on the antecedents, the content, and the reception of the Dionysian corpus, a body of writings falsely ascribed to Dionysius the Areopagite, a convert of St Paul, but actually written about 500 AD. The first section contains discussions of the genesis of the corpus, its Christian antecedents, and its Neoplatonic influences. In the second section, studies on the Syriac reception, the relation of the Syriac to the original Greek, and (...) the editing of the Greek by John of Scythopolis are followed by contributions on the use of the corpus in such Byzantine authors as Maximus the Confessor, John of Damascus, Theodore the Studite, Niketas Stethatos, Gregory Palamas, and Gemistus Pletho. In the third section attention turns to the Western tradition, represented first by the translators John Scotus Eriugena, John Sarracenus, and Robert Grosseteste and then by such readers as the Victorines, the early Franciscans, Albert the Great, Aquinas, Bonaventure, Dante, the English mystics, Nicholas of Cusa, and Marsilio Ficino. The contributors to the final section survey the effect on Western readers of Lorenzo Valla's proof of the inauthenticity of the corpus and the subsequent exposure of its dependence on Proclus by Koch and Stiglmayr. The authors studied in this section include Erasmus, Luther and his followers, Vladimir Lossky, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Jacques Derrida, as well as modern thinkers of the Greek Church. Essays on Dionysius as a mystic and a political theologian conclude the volume. (shrink)
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)
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)
The Contribution of Byzantine Scholars to Renaissance Aristotelianism It is widely known that the Byzantine scholars who fled to Italy during the fifteenth century contributed to Renaissance philosophy. They brought with them manuscripts and produced editions and translations of Greek philosophical texts. Despite the common view that their works were seminal for the development of Renaissance Platonism, a closer examination of the texts and their activity proves that they were mainly interested in Aristotelian philosophy. The vast majority of them did (...) not support Renaissance Platonism. On the contrary they defended both the Scholastic and Byzantine Aristotelianism. I argue that their stance was not the outcome of dogmatic reasons; in other words, a projection of the heated debate between Hesychasm and Thomism in late Byzantium. Rather, they realized that the Latin philosophical community actually ignored the rich commentary tradition of Late Antiquity, which had reinterpreted the Aristotelian corpus. As a result they offered to the Latin audience a different Aristotle, capable of overcoming the predominant Scholastic one, which was heavily attached to Averroism. (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)
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)
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)
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) decided to study all the ancient and medieval schools of philosophy, including the Pre-Socratics, in order to broaden his scope. Pico showed interest in ancient monists. He commented that only Xenophanes’ One is the One simply, while Parmenides’ One is not the absolute One, but the oneness of Being. Melissus’ One is in extreme correspondence to that of Xenophanes. As for Xenophanes, Pico seems to have fallen victim of ancient sources, who referred to Xenophanes and (...) Parmenides as members of the Eleatic “tribe”. In the case of Parmenides Pico draws mainly on the Platonic dialogues Parmenides and Sophist and not on intermediaries such as the Neoplatonists and other commentators. Despite of Pico’s knowledge of Empedocles’ philosophy, it is worth noticing that Pico was also strongly influenced by the medieval kabbalistic literature and the pseudo Empedocles. While Neoplatonists, such as Proclus, commented Empedocles and interpreted him according to the Neoplatonic spectrum, Pico’s appreciation of the philosophy of Empedocles was mediated through Arab and Jewish mysticism. Pico counted among his sources the Pre-Socratics, but the way he read them was not always direct and consistent. He intentionally chose to interpret them through the spectrum of intermediaries such as the ancient Commentators, the Neoplatonists, the Arabs and Jews mystics. (shrink)
This volume constitutes an attempt at bringing together philosophies of time—or more precisely, philosophies on time and, in a concomitant way, history—emerging from Christianity’s and Islam’s intellectual histories. Starting from the Neoplatonic heritage and the voice of classical philosophy, the volume enters the Byzantine and Arabic intellectual worlds up to Ibn Al-Arabi’s times. A conscious choice in this volume is not to engage with, perhaps, the most prominent figures of Christian and Arabic philosophy, i.e., Augustine on the one hand and (...) Avicenna/Ibn Sina on the other, precisely because these have attracted so much attention due to their prominence in their respective traditions—and beyond. In a certain way, Maximus the Confessor and Ibn Al-Arabi—together with Al-Fārābi—emerge as alternative representatives of their two traditions in this volume, offering two axes for this endeavor. The synthesis of those approaches on time and history, their comparison rather than their mere co-existence, is left to the reader’s critical inquiry and philosophical investigation. (shrink)
Although the two worlds, Arabic and Byzantine, were in proximity for many centuries, the influence of Arabic philosophy on the Byzantine intellectual tradition has not been studied thoroughly. Recent studies have substantiated the influence of the Arabic and Persian thought over Byzantine science. However, in the field of philosophy, research is still at an early stage and the impact of Arabic thought on Byzantine and vice versa has not been examined widely and in depth. Direct references to philosophers in the (...) Islamic world are rare and, apart from occasional studies, there is not an organised, in-depth account of the influence the Arabic philosophy exercised on Byzantine scholars. The present study is a wider, complete, and renewed presentation of the initial conclusions of my research, which aims to bring out and evaluate the perception of Arabic philosophy by the Byzantine intelligentsia during the 14th and 15th centuries. As exemplary cases Ι have chosen Georgios Gemistos Pletho (c.1360-1454) and Georgios Scholarios (c.1400-1472), whose rivalry defined Byzantine philosophy of the 15th century to a considerable degree. (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)
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.
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 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.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
This book focuses on the intellectual relations between the Byzantine world and Renaissance Italy in the 15th century. The book consists of five independent chapters, which aim to present the complex ways the two cultures interacted. In the first chapter I present the way Modern Greek identity is attached to philosophical discussions and debates among the Byzantine scholars of the 15th century. In the following two chapters I focus on the transmission of knowledge from Western Europe and the Arabic culture (...) to the Byzantine philosophical community and its reactions. The last two chapters are dedicated to George of Trebizond and his efforts to transfer the Byzantine philosophical and scientific research to Renaissance Europe in order to renew philosophy and science. In sum, I support that, besides mutual reservations and skepticism, the two worlds, Byzantine and Renaissance, interacted in mutual benefit. (shrink)
The study of Maximus the Confessor’s thought has flourished in recent years: international conferences, publications and articles, new critical editions and translations mark a torrent of interest in the work and influence of perhaps the most sublime of the Byzantine Church Fathers. It has been repeatedly stated that the Confessor’s thought is of eminently philosophical interest. However, no dedicated collective scholarly engagement with Maximus the Confessor as a philosopher has taken place—and this volume attempts to start such a discussion. Apart (...) from Maximus’ relevance and importance for philosophy in general, a second question arises: should towering figures of Byzantine philosophy like Maximus the Confessor be included in an overview of the European history of philosophy, or rather excluded from it—as is the case today with most histories of European philosophy? Maximus’ philosophy challenges our understanding of what European philosophy is. In this volume, we begin to address these issues and examine numerous aspects of Maximus’ philosophy—thereby also stressing the interdisciplinary character of Maximian studies. (shrink)
Michael Apostolis (c. 1422–1478),¹ the Greek scholar and prolific author of the fifteenth century, studied in Constantinople under John Argyropoulos (1395/1405–1487)² and taught at Katholikon Museion (Xenon). After the fall of Constantinople, Apostolis shared his time between Crete, Constantinople and Venice, where he improved his Latin. He became Bessarion’s (1408–1472) protégé only briefly, because the latter did not like the polemic overtone of his treatises and came quickly to dismiss his views on the preponderance of Platonic over Aristotelian philosophy. After (...) losing Bessarion’s favor Apostolis returned to Crete, where he worked as a copyist. In addition he established a school.³ In several letters sent to his friends and colleagues he complained about his poverty and the difficulties he faced.⁴ Apostolis appreciated the Platonic philosophical tradition, particularly the philosophy of Georgios Gemistos Pletho (c. 1360–1454). Apostolis’ religious views seemed to be influenced by Pletho’s polytheism, despite his claim that he was nothing but Christian, namely a supporter of the Union of Orthodox and Catholic Church.⁵ Apostolis took part in the dispute between Platonists and Aristotelians that embroiled also the Greek speaking philosophical community throughout the fifteenth century.⁶ Apostolis wrote in favor of Plato with enthusiasm and in a polemic tone. Specifically, he confronted Theodoros Gaza⁷ (1398–1475), a well-known scholar, translator and author of the treatise Adversus Plethonem pro Aristotele,⁸ who was also Bessarion’s protégé. In his Ad Theodori Gazae pro Aristotele de substantia adversus Plethonem obiectiones⁹, Apostolis turned to Bessarion in order to gain his favor and support. (shrink)
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)
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. (shrink)
Recently, seminal publications highlighted the Romanitas of the Byzantines. However, it is not without importance that from the 12th century onwards the ethnonym Hellene (Ἓλλην) became progressively more popular. A number of influential intellectuals and political actors preferred the term Hellene to identify themselves, instead of the formal Roman (Ρωμαῖος) and the common Greek (Γραικός). While I do not intend to challenge the prevalence of the Romanitas during the long Byzantine era, I suggest that we should reevaluate the emerging importance (...) of Hellenitas in the shaping of collective and individual identities after the 12th century. From the 13th to the 16th century, Byzantine scholars attempted to recreate a collective identity based on cultural and historical continuity and otherness. In this paper, I will seek to explore the ways Byzantine scholars of the Late Byzantine and Post Byzantine era, who lived in the territories of the Byzantine Empire and/or in Italy, perceived national identity, and to show that the shift towards Hellenitas started in the Greek-speaking East. (shrink)
During the European Renaissance, scholars and members of the bourgeoisie showed a stronginterest in practical philosophy, namely ethics and politics. This shift was expressed in works that described ideal societies, also known as utopias. Meanwhile, the Renaissance philosophy of nature, influenced by Late Ancient philosophy and mysticism, imposed a new worldview, according to which nature was seen as a living entity. Renaissance political thinkers attempted to imbue their socio-political visions with a sense of natural philosophy. A principal idea in utopian (...) literature is the strong presence of science, a key factor in the transformation of nature. In its search for the ideal political order, humanity was not content with maximising nature’s benefits but envisioned creating a new nature, one that better served the socio-political ideals of the Renaissance and the early modern era. I would like to argue that the prominent role of technocracy in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century utopias led gradually to the disruption and perversion of nature. Despite of the intentions of the utopian thinkers, their views on nature –which range from the unconditional respect to nature to its advancement through science – encouraged finally the mastery of nature, because they connected the socio-political progress with the exploitation of nature and the control of natural forces. In particular, a discussion on the relationship between humanity, nature and science in Renaissance utopian thought can shed some light on how early technocracy progressively led to the ravaging of nature. Departing from the major Renaissance philosophers’ all-encompassing perspective, political philosophers of the time, especially those who contributed to utopian literature, predominantly viewed nature as an instrument at the disposal of humanity and its science – a playground for human inventiveness and resourcefulness. With their works, they provided a new rationale, non-religious this time that defended humanity’s full exploitation of nature. (shrink)
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)
Despite the fact that Aristotelian philosophy prevailed during the middle Ages, the philosophy of Plato and his interpreters –Christian and Arabic- marked the intellectual tradition of the medieval era. Among the medieval Muslim thinkers, al-Fârâbî achieved the incorporation of Plato’s thought into the Arabic cultural milieu. The Alexandrian school of philosophy, according to which the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle could be harmonized, heavily influenced him. Later, Avicenna and Averroes read Plato through the lens of Neoplatonist commentators and presented a (...) new version of Platonism. Their approach on the Platonic texts was predominantly theological. In Western Europe, Platonic philosophy prevailed until the 11th century. It is noteworthy that the vast majority of the philosophers back then did not read the Platonic texts. Rather, their views on Plato were shaped by commentaries and secondary sources. After the 12th century and the translation movement, Aristotle dominated the Latin-speaking world. Plato and the Platonists regained their popularity in the 15th century, among Renaissance humanists. (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.
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)
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola decided to study all the ancient and medieval schools of philosophy, including the Pre-Socratics, in order to broaden his scope. Pico showed interest in ancient monists. He commented that only Xenophanes’ One is the One simply, while Parmenides’ One is not the absolute One, but the oneness of Being. Melissus’ One is in extreme correspondence to that of Xenophanes. As for Xenophanes, Pico seems to have fallen victim of ancient sources, who referred to Xenophanes and Parmenides (...) as members of the Eleatic “tribe”. In the case of Parmenides Pico draws mainly on the Platonic dialogues Parmenides and Sophist and not on intermediaries such as the Neoplatonists and other commentators. Despite of Pico’s knowledge of Empedocles’ philosophy, it is worth noticing that Pico was also strongly influenced by the medieval kabbalistic literature and the pseudo Empedocles. While Neoplatonists, such as Proclus, commented Empedocles and interpreted him according to the Neoplatonic spectrum, Pico’s appreciation of the philosophy of Empedocles was mediated through Arab and Jewish mysticism. Pico counted among his sources the Pre-Socratics, but the way he read them was not always direct and consistent. He intentionally chose to interpret them through the spectrum of intermediaries such as the ancient Commentators, the Neoplatonists, the Arabs and Jews mystics. (shrink)
Confucius associates the good and the beautiful. Li (translated variously as “ritual propriety,” “ritual,” “etiquette,” or “propriety”) embodies the entire spectrum of interaction with humans, nature, and even material objects. I argue that Confucius attempts to introduce an ethical ontology, not of “what,” but of “the way.” The “way” of reality becomes known with the deliberate participation to the Dao. In other words, through interaction. The way people co-exist demonstrates the rationality of the associations of living and functioning together. Li, (...) as an aesthetic-moral principle, embodies the entire spectrum of one’s interaction with humans, nature, and even material objects. Li is a constitutive element of Confucian ethics and politics, highlighting the importance of beauty, and not only goodness, in human action. The worthiness of human action is judged both aesthetically and morally. Moreover, I hold that Confucius’ ethical ontology is not an ontology of “whatness” but of “howness,” according to the Dao, since Confucius primary concern was not to define the Dao, but to restore the Dao of the ancient sage-kings. The morality of the action is dependent on the way it is performed, according to the mandates of the Dao. (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.
We are most thankful to Forum Philosophicum, and its Editor-in-Chief Marcin Podbielski, for the invitation to act as guest editors in a special issue dedicated to looking at Maximus the Confessor from a philosophical perspective—by which we mean both the philosophical efflorescence of Maximus’ thought per se, approached within its historical context, and the attempt to find Maximian solutions to contemporary philosophical problems or to engage Maximus’ thought in dialogue with modern philosophy. In many ways, this special issue is a (...) sister volume to the book Maximus the Confessor as a European Philosopher. Both form parts of a sustained attempt at highlighting Maximus the Confessor’s relevance for philosophical inquiry, without denying the explicitly theological nature of his thought in doing so. Believing that there is much philosophical fecundity in this approach, we remain with the hope that it will be continued. (shrink)
The canon in the history of philosophy, as has been crystallized, needs revision with an emphasis on intercultural studies. Especially the view of self-contained cultures and communities, since antiquity up to the fifteenth century, forms an ahistorical construct, which is already being attacked and is in no position to offer anything fruitful to research. Within our complicated globalized environment, historians of philosophy ought to give priority to, and lay emphasis on, comparative study and “interculturality.” A comparative history of philosophy aims (...) to the understanding of the presuppositions of the act of philosophizing. (shrink)