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CONSTANTINOS ΤΗ.

PETSIOS

T H E BEGINNINGS O F M O D E R N G R E E K P H IL O S O P H Y :
A SYSTEM ATIC IN T R O D U C T IO N *

I. IN T R O D U C T O R Y REM ARK S

A . On the Beginnings.

M odern G reek Philosophy has been th e o b ject of sy stem etic re ­


search for th e p a st few decades, ev er since th e s tu d y of th e philoso­
phical te x ts w ritte n d u rin g th e T u rk ish O ccupation w as in itia lly a tte m ­
pted w ith historical-philosophical c riteria, an d since facets of th e Mo­
dern Greek th in k in g were reco n stru cted w ith a view to d raw ing a tte n ­
tio n to its conceptual co n ten t. T he focussing of m odern research in te ­
rest on th e form s through w hich th eo retical contem p latio n wfas c ry ­
stallised in th e rea lity of M odern Hellenism resulted in th e fo rm u latio n
of th e prerequisites t h a t enable us to d a y to com prehend th e h isto ri­
cal n a tu re of idea form ation. A t th e sam e tim e, a n aly tic a l tools have
been generated th ro u g h w hich we are now able to eschewf re so rtin g to
descriptive lite ra ry analysis. I t is also possible to critic a lly in sp ect
M odern Greek th in k in g , w hich to a g rea t e x te n t continues to be u n ­
know n, as th e m a jo rity of evidence on w hich it is docum ented rem ain s
unpublished. By exploring th e th e m a tic c o n stitu e n ts and by su b sta n ­
tia tin g th e connections and affinities of M odern G reek Philosophy
w ith its A ncient Greek and B y zan tin e th o u g h t, an d w ith E uropean
th o u g h t in p articu lar, th e p rerequisite scientific foundations h av e been
laid so th a t th e n a tu re of th e M odern G reek th eo retical expression
can be approached on several s tr a ta a n d com e in to view , and th e self-

* The present study constitutes a part of a synthetic w’ork on Modern Greek


Philosophy. We shall therefore limit ourselves to presenting the absolutely essen­
tial references.
254 Konsiantinos Th. Petsios

e x is ta n t im p o rtan ce of th e philosophical and scientific production du­


rin g th e T u rk ish O ccupation can be unequivocally established.
T he d ifficu lty in u tilisin g aspects of intellect as a quide to segm ent
H isto ry is in tensified w hen dealing w ith th e H istory of Philosophy,
w here th e tem p o ral lan d m ark s only function conventionally, as signposts
t h a t assist in d elin eatin g th e d istin c t co ntributions to th is particular
field of in te lle ctu al p roduction. In order to determ ine th e beginnings
of M odern G reek Philosophy one should consider n o t only the singular
term s w hich h av e b een defined as th e d istin ctiv e features of philoso­
p h isin g th ro u g h o u t th e long tra d itio n of th o u g h t b u t also th e ir co-exi-
stence w ith th e em ergence of Greek awareness and th e nascent M odern
H e lle n ism .
R egarding th e first con dition th a t needs to be satisfied, th e stu d y
of available evidence a b o u t th e stages of Greek th o u g h t in its h isto­
rical im pression o rien t us to w ard s th e m id-15th century, a period w hen
th e red efin itio n of th e legacy of classical th o u g h t b y B yzantine Philo­
sophy a tta in e d its apex, a n d th e field of controversy betw een th e phi­
losophical tra d itio n s of P lato n ism and A ristotelianism was shaped.
T h e novel m ethodological elem ent t h a t can be traced in th e argum en­
ta tio n of b o th sides w as th e sy stem atic resort to th e overall in te r­
p retiv e tra d itio n , n o t ju s t from Greek sources b u t also A rabic and
- especially - L a tin ones. As will be su b se q u e n tly seen, th e contact
w ith th e scholastic tra d itio n dates from th e late 13th and early 14th
cen tu ry .
B o th in th e tea ch in g establishm ents and in th e philosophical pro­
d u ctio n in B y zan tiu m , classical th o u g h t and especially P lato, Plo­
tin u s and A ristotle h a d alw ays exerted an influence, which was at tim es
p alp ab le an d a t tim es m ore discrete, b u t in th e m id-15th century the
c o m p arativ e e v a lu a tio n of th e ir ontological and cosmological views,
w ith reference to th e theological certain ties, becam e th e focus of an
in ten se c o n tro v ersy 1. T he autonom ous dynam ics a tta in e d b y th e phi­
losophical d eb ate (rife in theological references, in accordance w ith
th e th e o re tic al p erspective of th e tim e) th a t tran sp ired some years

1. See Petsios (*2003: pp. 20-56; 2001: pp. 1 et seq.). On more recent bibliography,
see Kyrkos (1999), Psimmenos (1988-1989; 2000; 2004). On the issue of the begin­
nings also see the methodological remarks by Noutsos (2005: pp. 28-32, 36-39)
[Full references to the studies can be found in the bibliographical section].
The Beginnings of modern Greek philosophy 255

before th e Conquest of C onstantinople and co n tin u ed for several d e­


cades in Ita ly shaped a field of e n q u iry t h a t influenced th e H isto ry of
Philosophy and E uropean C ulture in general, as well as t h a t of M odern
Greek Philosophy in p a rtic u la r. T he G reek legacy, w hich was fam iliar to
th e B yzantines, and especially th e legacy of P lato, th e rep rese n ta tiv e s of
Middle Platonism and th e N eoplatonics were im p arted to E urope. M o­
reover, M odern Greek scholars, functioning w ithin th e new historical,
political and financial realities t h a t were shaped following th e Fall of
C onstantinople, m ade decisive c o n trib u tio n s tow ards th e creatio n of
th e H um anistic m ovem ent2. In a parallel developm ent, th e rigorous
rep resen tatio n of A ristotelianism in th e d eb ate and its e v en tu al e sta ­
blishm ent foreshadow ed 16th and 17th c en tu ry m odern G reek th in ­
king, which w as n o t dissim ilar, in term s of c o n te n t or m ethod, to th e
theoretical prem ises t h a t were form ulated in th e p a rtic u la r historical
ju n ctio n , th a t m ay be considered as th e beginnings of M odern G reek
Philosophy. As regards th e second condition, th e M odern G reek se lf
awareness, although relev an t evidence is also to be found in 13th cen­
tu r y te x ts 3, th e overall in tellectu al presence of P leth o n , who stressed
th at <(we are o f H ellenic Genos, as is evidenced by both our m other
language and our traditional education)) (« Έ α μ έν [ . . . ] ”Ελληνες το
γένος ώς ή τε φωνή και ή πάτριος παιδεία μαρτυρεί»)4 c o n stitu te d a rigo­
rous confirm ation of th e pro liferatio n , a t th a t p a rtic u la r ju n c tu re of
tim e, of th e historical prerequisites t h a t assisted in th e em ergence of
M odern H ellenism , whose d efin itio n in term s of form al ch arac teristics
presupposed th e novel form s of collective life o rg an isatio n th a r a p p e a ­
red durin g th e T u rk ish O ccupation.

B . E n co u nter w ith W estern T h in k in g .

B earing in m ind th e connective tissu e of A ncient G reek th o u g h t,


which can be traced both in th e te a ch in g process and in th e stru c tu re

2. Geannakoplos (1965); Staikos (1989); Noutsos (2004).


3. Indicatively see Vakalopoulos (21974: pp. 75 et seq.); Mastrodemelris (1983:
pp. 32-38). Also see the views articulated by Noutsos (2005: pp. 30-31). At this
point one should also underscore that important evidence is provided, among others,
by the Theodoros B’ Laskaris* Seventh Lecture on Christian Theology, second
lecture against the L a tin s. . . {«Τής Χριατιανικής Θεολογίας, Λόγος ίβδομος, ό κατά
ΛατΙνο)ν λόγος δεύτερος...») (terminus ante quern Christmas 1254). See Laskaris,
Theodoros B' (1988, pp. 137-148).
4. Plethon (1926: p. 247).
256 Konstantinos Th. Petsios

and c o n te n t of B y zan tin e philosophical tex ts, it is beyond doubt th a t


d u rin g th e 15th cen tu ry all processes designated as philosophy origi­
n a te d in th e final tw o centuries of B yzantium (m id-13th - mid 15th
cen tu ry ), w hen an in tellectu al blossom ing was evidenced, also id en ti­
fiable in th e level of Philosophy. N ikephoros Vlem m ydes (1197-1272),
whose E p ito m e s of A risto tle’s Logic and P h ysic s5 becam e th e standard
tex tb o o k s for th e teach in g of Philosophy th ro u g h o u t the Turkish Occu­
p a tio n his disciple T heodoros B' L askaris (1222-1258)56, Nikephoros
H oum nos (1250-1327), Theodoros M etochitis (1260/61-1332), Georgios
P achym eres (1242-1310), M axim os P lanoudis (1255-1305), Nikephoros
G regoras (1295-1360), V arlaam of C alabria (1290-1350) and th e bro­
th e rs D em etrios (ca. 1 3 2 4 -fl3 9 7 /98) and Prochoros Kydones (ca. 1335-
1368 /69)7 are a few of th e intellectuals who have presented w ork of
significance, in term s of th e H istory of Philosophical concepts (consti­
tu te d th ro u g h th e critical perception of classical th o u g h t and espe­
cially th e ontological and cosmological d ictum s of P lato and A ristotle),
of th e reco n stru ctio n of orthodox B yzantine contem plation and of the
rejection or acceptance of th e w estern tra d itio n .
T he relation w ith th e A ncient Greek intellectual legacy was m ani­
fested in p rin t by T heodoros B' L askaris w hen he asserted th a t «all
contem porary p h ilo so p h y and know ledge, to avoid nam ing each and
every science, has either been discovered by the H ellenes or constitutes
an im p ro v e m e n t on so m eth in g w hich exists, and anyone seeking the
all-encom passing experience can learn this)) («πάσα τοίννν φιλοσοφία και
γνώσις, ΐνα μη κατ δνομα λέγω τάς έπιστήμας, *Ελλήνων ή ενρεμα ή προς
το κρεϊττον εκ τίνος δν υπάρχει μεταστοιχείω μα και ό την πείραν ζητών την
παμφιλόσοφον διερχυμενος μάθοιεν»)8. T his adm ission would recur in the
a rg u m e n ta tio n of th e M odern Greek th in k ers during th e ensuing centu ­
ries and w ould form a c o n stan t elem ent of th e ir self-awareness w hich
w ould be e m p h atically p o rtray ed during th e period of the E nlighten­
m en t. H ow ever, a t th is p o in t, it is w o rth p ointing out th a t the initial
c o n ta c t betw een B yzantine and w estern th o u g h t m aterialised w ithin
th e b ro ad er scientific theorological and philosophical fram ework of the

5. Migne, J.-P. P.G., (142: pp. 688-1643).


6. Laskaris, Theodoros B' (1988).
7. On the distinct contributions of the abovementioned thinkers on the phi­
losophical debate of the time, indicatively see Tatakis (1977: p. 230 et seq.). Co­
mpare to Benakis (2002: pp. 533-584, 660 et seq.).
8. Laskaris, Theodoros B' (1988, p. 141).
The Beginnings of modern Greek philosophy 257

«Palaiologic renaissance», as th e period betw een 1259 and 1453 is con­


ventionally referred to.
A ccording to w hat is now know n, this was th e first tim e w hen
works of L atin lite ra tu re were tra n sla te d in to Greek b y M axim os P la-
noudes, th e learned scholar who ta u g h t R hetoric, G ram m ar, M a th e ­
m atics and A stro n o m y in th e school of the m o n astery of C hora. A p a rt
from works by Cato th e E der, Ovid, Ju v en al and Cicero, aro u n d th e
year 1281 Planoudes, th a t a wisest and m ost honest m o n k » (6 «σο φ ό ­
τατος και τιμ ιό τα το ς μοναχός»), according to the titles of his m an u scrip ts,
tran sla te d De T rinitate (: Π ερί τής rΑ γίας Τριάδος) b y A ugustine (354-
430)9, a fundam ental tre a tise of w estern theological and philosophical
th o u g h t. W hen th a t book w as tra n sla te d in to Greek th e psychological
teachings on th e T rin ity becam e available to O rthodox theologians of
th e era. As is know n, th e w ork would be a n n o ta te d two c en tu ries la te r
(in 1588) by M aximos M argounios101. A round the year 1295 P la n o u ­
des accurately rendered in G reek and com m ented on D e P hilosophiae
Consolatione (: Π ερί Παραμυθίας τής Φιλοσοφίας), by B oethios (|5 2 5 )n
which had become a sta n d a rd reading and philosophical te x tb o o k d u ­
ring th e Middle Ages. P lanoudes also conveyed in to th e G reek language
a work erroneously a ttrib u te d to A ugustine, De duodecim a b u sivis
saeculi (: Π ερί των δώδεκα βαθμών τή ς παραχρησεως)12, a m oral teach in g
w ork which had originated in th e quill of an anonym ous Irish m onk
in th e la tte r half of the 7 th c e n tu ry and has been preserved th ro u g h t
m anuscripts of th e 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
In 1354, D em etrios K ydones, laboriously ren d erin g te x ts b y A ugu­
stine and of th e augustine tra d itio n in to G reek1314, tra n s la te d th e tr e a ­
tise title d S u m m a Contra G entiles (: Κ ατά ’Εθνικών, ή καθ' eΕλλήνων,
as the title is m entioned in m ost m anuscripts) b y T hom as A quinas
(1225-1274) and th e scholastic deduction becam e know n to B y z an tiu m
th ro u g h th is apologetic an d philosophical te x t. K ydones su b seq u en tly
«published in the Greek d ialect» th e «F ir st P a r t» («Pars P rim a ») an d
th e «F ir s t» and «Second P a r t» (“P rim a S ecu n d a e” and “ Secu n d a S e-
cundae’*) of Aquinas* S u m m a Theologiae (Second P a rt)1*, w hich enco­

9. Papathomopoulos - Tsavari - Rigotti (1955).


10. Fed alto (1968).
11. Papathomopoulos (1999).
12. Giannakis (1974: 217-258).
13. Niketas (1982: 7-25).
14. Kydones (1976, 1979, 1980, 1982); This edition princeps «was based on
five principal manuscripts, among the thirty extant codices containing the complete
258 Konstantinos Th. Petsios

m passes scholastic th o u g h t b o th as co n ten t and m ethod. The same


scholar can be accredited w ith th e tra n sla tio n of De rationibus fid ei
contra Saracenos, Graecos et A rm enos, w hereas th e « Third P a rt» (ccPars
Tertian) of th e S u m m a w as rendered in to Greek b y Prochoros K ydo-
nes, D em etrios’ b ro th e r, who also tra n sla te d other works of Aquinas.
T he m ost n o te w o rth y of these are D e p o te n tia , De spiritualibus crea­
tures, w hich are co n train ed in th e Q uestiones D isputatae, De aeterni-
ta te m u n d i contra m u rm u r antes, as well as th e «In tro d u ctio n » of A qui­
n a s5 C om m entaries to A ristotle’s M etaphysics (S. Thom ae A guinatis,
In M etaphysica A risto te lis C om m entaria)15. A p art from De libero arbi-
trio (On the free arbitration) o f S a in t A u g u stin e as interpreted by the
m o n k Prochoros (: Π ερί τη ς αύτεξονσιότητος τοϋ άγιον Αυγουστίνον έρμη-
νενθέν παρά τοϋ ίερομονάχον κυροϋ Προχόρον)16, th is scholar tran slated
o th er w >rks b y A u g u stin e17 as well as D e topicis differentiis by Boe-
th io s betw een 1362 and 1367, a te x t w hich had been composed based
on Cicero’s Topics an d D e in ven tio n e, T hem istios’ Topics (: Τοπικά),
w hich are now presum ed lost, and A risto tle’s "Οργανον. The same te x t
b y B oethios, w hich h ad form ed th e w ork of reference during th e Mid­
dle Ages for th e in stru c tio n of « Topics» in th e fram ew ork of th e subject
of D ialectic, h ad been conveyed nfrom the L a tin tongue to the Greek»
(«εκ τής λατινίδος φωνής προς την έλληνίδα») around th e year 1267, alm ost
a c e n tu ry earlier, b y M axim os Olovolos under th e title A n excellent
divisio n on the dialectic topics by B oetios a L a tin philosopher (: Βοε-
τίον φιλοσόφου Λατίνον, Π ερί τόπων διαλεκτικών διαίρεσις άρίστη) and
w as a n n o ta te d b y Georgios P achym eres18.
T he c o n ta ct betw een B yzantine scholarship and w estern theolo­
gical and philosophical lite ra tu re served to open th e horizon of fam i­
liarisatio n w ith d ifferen t cu ltu ral codes. The theological tendencies of
th e " p ro -T h o m a sia n s” [D em etrios and Prochoros Kydones, Nikolaos
K avasilas (1320-1391), T heophanes of N icaea ( f 1381), M anuel Calecas
(fl4 1 0 ), A ndreas (fl4 5 1 ) and M axim os ( f post 1430) Chrisoverges,
B essarion (1403-1472)] and th e " a nti-T hom asians” [V arlaam of Cala­
b ria (1290-1350), Neilos K avasilas ( f 1363), M atthaios-A ngelos P an a-

translation: Vaticani graeci 612 and 611, Parisini graeci 1235 and 1237, and Oxo-
niensis Bodleianus Roe graecus 21». See Glycofrydi - Leontsini (2003: 179).
15. Papadopoulos (1967: pp. 25-64);
16. Hunger (1990).
17. Hunger (1984).
18. Niketas (1990); Benakis (2002, pp. 187-197).
The Beginnings of modern Greek philosophy 259

retos (fp o s t 1369), K allistos A ngelikoudes M elenikiotes (fla te 14th c.)19,


M arkos Evgenikos (1392-1444)] who argued d u rin g t h a t e ra 20, are p a r ti­
cularly in terestin g for the H isto ry o f P hilosophy, as is th e d e b ate b e t­
ween th e proponents of «hesy chasm» [Gregorios P alam as (fl3 5 9 )] a n d
th eir opponents [V arlaam of C alabria (1290-1350), A kindynos ( f l 3 4 8 /
50)], because th e advocates of th e various tren d s exploited th e p hilo­
sophical deduction to a g reat e x te n t, regardless of th e ir m eth o d , th e ir
p rim ary theological objectives and th e ir s ta tu to ry agreem ents or d isa­
greem ents. M oreover, th e ir w orks visibly highlighted th e fu n d am en tal
issue of th e relation betw een «P h ilo so p h y and T heology», an issue
which emerges from th e replies to questions concerning th e p rio rity of
«reason» or «faith» and th e «lim its » of dialectic in th e in v estig a tio n
of tr u th b y revelation.

II. T H E P H IL O S O P H IC A L C O N TR O V ER SY BETW EEN P L A T O ­


NICS - A R ISTO TELIA N S

A . The philosophical c o n te xt.

In th e 15th century, th e c o n sta n t query concerning th e degree


of alignm ent of Platonic or A risto telian th in k in g to th e theological
assum ptions w hich encom passed th e «sacred [ . . . ] tru th («ιεράν [ . . . ]
αλήθειαν») form ed th e s ta rtin g p o in t for th e d e b ate w hich unfolded
around th e questions a b o u t th e stru c tu re of th e w olrd, th e m eaning
and role God — his id en tificatio n w ith th e A risto telian «p rim e m over»
(«πρώτο κινούν») or the P lato n ic «Creator» («δημιουργό»)—, th e relatio n
of «form» («είδους») and «su b sta n ce» («ουσίας»), and th e in te rp re tiv e
adequacy of th e th eo ry of «four causes» («τεσσάρων αιτίων»). T he d i­
scussion also foccussed on issues such as m ovem ent («κίιηση»), th e
raison d’etre of th e " fifth elem en t” (ether) («του πέμπτου σώ ματος, του
αΙΘέρα»), th e n a tu re of in fin ity («του απείρου»), th e creatio n ex ninilo
(«την εκ του μηδενός δημιουργία») and th e affin ity betw een B ecom ing
and Being, («Γίγνεσθαι και Είναι») th e possibility t h a t «nature» («φύση»)
and «art» («τέχνη») are w ilful, as well as th e p o te n tia l t h a t «luck»
(«τύχη») and th e «autom aton» («αυτόματον») can be ju stifie d in a teleo ­
logically articu la te d th eo ry of n a tu ra l becom ing21.

19. Papadopoulos (1970).


20. Papadopoulos (1967: pp. 73 et seq.); Benakis (22002: pp. 633-646).
21. On the relative citations see Petsios (2003: pp. 25 et seq.).
260 Konstantinos Th. Petsios

F rom th e persp ectiv e of th e form al features of available histo­


rical-philosophical evidence, th e c o n ten t of th e P latonics’ and A risto­
telia n s’ a rg u m e n ta tio n , w hich was n o t lim ited to th e level of nom inal
references b u t v e n tu re d deeper in to m ost salient facets of philosophical
en q u iry , received signification from th e previous debate while sim ulta­
n eously ex h ib itin g ch arac teristics th a t enable us to trace th e responsi­
veness of philosophy to th e horizon shaped n o t only by th e Greek com­
m e n ta ry tra d itio n b u t also b y th e in te rp re ta tio n s of th e Scholastics
d u rin g th e M iddle Ages. Georgios Scholarios, for instance, acknowledged
his d e b t n o t only to T heophrastos, A lexandros A phrodisieus (1 s t/2nd
c. A D ), Porphyrios (233-300 A D ), T hem istios (330-390 AD ), Philo-
ponos (490- 570 A D ), S yrianos (4 th /5 th c. AD) and Sim plikios (6th
c. A D ), b u t also to th e L a tin « wisdom [w hich originates] from outside
[ our] borders», ( «νπερόριον σοφίαν)) των Λατίνων) i.e. the Scholastic P h i­
losophy o f the «an cien t [ . . . ] m iddle [ . . . ] and more recent and more
precise o rientation» (τή ς «άρχαιοτέρας [ . . . ] τής μέσης f . . . ] καί τής νεω-
τέρας ταντης και άκριβεστέρας αίρέσεως»). The L atin s were perceived by
Scholarios as in tellectu als who h ad «augm ent A risto tle's philosophy»
(«την 'Α ριστοτ έλους φιλοσοφίαν έπηύξησαν»)2223. In th e same line of rea­
soning one m ay recognise th e beliefs of Bessarion (1403-1472), a m an
w ith a profound u n d e rstan d in g of scholastic in te rp re ta tio n , th a t A qui­
n a s c o n stitu te d th e real h eir of th e «A risto telia n school·) («τω Θωμά
[ . . .] τής αριστοτελικής σχολής τω δντι διαδόχω»)2Ζ.
T he 'e itu re s provided by th e arg u m en tatio n of Georgios Gemi-
sto s-P leth o n (1360-1452) and Bessarion pollinated th e P latonic m ove­
m en t of th e R enaissance, and com bined w ith th e presence of Greek
scholars in th e W e s t a fte r th e Fall of C onstantinople, paved th e ground
for th e philosophical sh ift of in te re st to routes w hich were n o t exclu­
sively defined b y th e prem ises of A ristotelian philosophy. In th e m ean­
w hile, th e a rg u m e n t a ccen tu ated th e ro b u st foundations of th e A ri­
sto telian stru c tu re , w hich w ould form th e model of philosophical
teach in g and th e th eo re tic al fram ew ork for th o u g h t w ithin which the
philosophy of m odern G reek scholars in th e 16th and 17th century
m aterialised.

22. Scholarios (1936, VII: p. 3).


23. Bessarion (P.G., 161: p. 200).
The Beginnings of modern Greek philosophy 261

B . The philosophical a rgum entation.

a. Georgios Gem istos - P letlion & Georgios Scholarios.

P leth o n ’s lecture in Florence in 1439 on th e to p ic of The di f f e­


rences betw een A risto tle and P lato (: Π ερί ών 'Α ριστοτέλης προς Π λά ­
τωνα διαφέρεται) form ed th e th eo retical opening of th e philosophical
debate th a t would re stru c tu re th e field of E uro p ean p hilosophy and
highlight th e dynam ic of P lato n ic and N eoplatonic in te rp re ta tio n as
being a t least of sim ilar rigour w ith th e A risto telian legacy. In deli­
n e atin g a cosmological view in w hich th e d o m in an t featu re w as th e
u n ity of th e universal « W h o le» («'Όλου») and w hich drew its ontolo­
gical v a lid ity from th e affin ity betw een n a tu ra l becom ing an d its e te rn al
model, P lethon w as in sh arp c o n tra st w ith th e view s of A risto tle , w ho
w as described as «u neducated » («άμαθαίνων») n o t only in issues of n a ­
tu ra l philosophy, b u t also ontology, such as, for in stan c e, th e «ho­
m o n y m y o f being» («ομωνυμία τοϋ δντος») an d th e view s reg ard in g « u n i­
versality» («καβάλου»)**. P le th o n ’s lectu re b ro u g h t to th e h isto ric al-
philosophical forefront th e P lato n ic and N eoplatonic proposal for th e
conjunction of "B eing and B eco m in g ” («Είναι καί Γ ίγνεσθαι»), as well
as th e related elucidations a b o u t God and th e su b stan ce of th e soul.
His teachings im p acted profo u n d ly on w estern th o u g h t, since th e y
sparked th e reo rien tatio n of philosophy. A fter th e fo u n d atio n in aro u n d
1662 of th e Florence A ca d e m y (m odelled a fte r P la to 's A ca d e m y) b y
Gosimo Medici (1369-1464), th e (neo)platonic tre n d of th o u g h t, encom ­
passed in M arcilio Ficino’s (1433-1499) tre a tise P latonica Theologia
de Im m o rta lita te A n im o ru m (1482), th e analogous editions (C om m e-
ntaria V p erp etu a in P la to n em and C o m p en d iu m in T im a e u m , 1496),
and th e P latonic Corpus t h a t w as tra n s la te d and a n n o ta te d b y th e
sam e scholar (Plato, O pera, 1484-1485), fertilised th e m u ltifaceted p h i­
losophical debate in Italy .
P leth o n ’s philosophical th o u g h t c o n stitu te d th e te rm in u s of a long
and ripe tra d itio n of in te rp re ta tio n s an d re in te rp re ta tio n s of p lato n ic
philosophy, w hich he conceived as descending from oriental w isdom
and in p a rtic u la r th a t of Z oroaster. T he elem ents t h a t th e P hilosopher
of M ystras drew from th e founder of th e A cadem y looked b a c k on
neoplatonic adm issions (P lo tin u s, P o rp h y rio s, Iam vlichos, Proclos), 24

24. Petsios (22003: p. 26).


262 Rons tan tinos Th. Petsios

resu ltin g in th e com position of an original philosophical production,


w here th e views on th e affin ity of th e im m ortal soul w ith th e perishable
body, th e role of F a te («Ειμαρμένης»)25, th e sta tu to ry im portance of
virtue, «a h a b it», {«τής εξεως») as he w rites in th e Law s (: Νόμοι), «acco­
rding to w hich we are benign», {«καθ’ ήν αγαθοί έσμέν»), the political
c o h a b ita tio n as well as his teachings a b o u t th e freedom of m an all coa­
lesced w ith beliefs a b o u t gods th a t originated from th e stu d y of Zoro­
astria n ism and an cien t Greek m ythology. According to P lethon's an ­
thro pology, M an w as defined as nan im m ortal creature born to partake
a m ortal n a tu re » («ζώον αθάνατον θνητή κοινωνεϊν φύσει πεφνκός») and
as a «com posite being», « o f two [ . . . ] , that is, both o f divine and o f
a n im a l» («σύνθετον or», εκ δνοϊν [ . . . ] , θείου τε δή και θηριώδουςw)26
who p a rta k e s in a self-contained and eternal divine substance and
—sim ultaneously — in variab le and perishable m a tte r, th u s being su­
b je c te d to an unavoidable necessity th a t governs th e function of th e
U niverse an d g u aran tees cosmic harm ony. T he Greek awareness, which
w as h ighlighted in his w orks, th e perceptiveness on w hich he analysed
th e social, financial an d political problem s of th e E m pire th a t h ad accu­
m u la ted d u rin g th e first decades of th e 15th century, th e reform plans
an d his sim ultaneous m etaphysical concerns all reveal a philosopher
w ho belonged to th e bo rd er of B yzantine and M odern Greek tho u g h t.
T he reply to P le th o n cam e from Georgios Scholarios - Gennadios,
whose w ork reso n ated w ith th e centuries-old tra d itio n of th o u g h t th a t
h a d been stru c tu re d aro u n d th e axis of A risto tle's Philosophy and whose
founding prem ises w ere th e conceptual clarifications of his comm en­
ta to rs, th e critical perception of th e fundam ental ontological d istin ­
ctions of th e philosopher from S tageira, w hich h a d been expressed in
th e B y zan tin e p a tristic philosophy, th e in te rp re ta tio n s of th e A rabs
[A vicenna (A bu Ib n Sina, 980-1037), A verroes (Ibn R usnd, 1126-1198)]
an d th e com positions of th e Scholastics (particularly Thom as A qui­
nas). A quinas was described b y Scholarios as «a wise man [ . . . ] and,
com pared to those who are - am ong hum ans- perfect in w isdom , se­
cond to none» («σοφός [ . . .] καί των εν σοφία τελείων έν άνθρώποις ονδενός
£ν<5ε?;ς»)27. D espite th e pronounced opposition of Scholarios to th e te a ­
chings offered by th e «doctor com m unis» of Scholastic Theology regar­

25. Gemistos-Plethon (1982 p. 64).


26. Gemistos-Plethon (2002: p. 613).
27. Scholarios (1931, V: p. 1).
The Beginnings of modern Greek philosophy 263

ding m ajor doctrinal problem s, such as th e em anation o f the H o ly


S p irit (ή εκπόρενση τον 'Α γιο ν Πνεύματος) and th e d istin c tio n o f d iv in e
substance and energy {ή διαγόρα Θείας ουσίας καί ένεργείας), th e y b o th
m et a t th e level of th e in te rp re tiv e ap p ro ach to A risto tle : T he tr e a ­
tises Selection from the fir s t p a r t o f the E th ic s by the m ost wise T hom as
de A q u in o , fu lly preserving the n u m b er a nd order o f issues ( : 'Ε κλογή
τον πρώτον των 'Ηβικών τον σογω τάτου Θωμά δε Ά κ ίν ο , τον αριθμόν καί
τής τάξεως των ζητημάτων πάντων πεφυλαγμένων) ; O n the differen ce
between essence and being by Thom as, translated and brought in to
the Greek language (: Τον Θωμά, περί διαγόρας ουσίας καί τον είναι έρμη-
νενθέν καί προς την έλλάδα μετενεχθέν γλώ τταν); Thom as' in te rp re ta tio n
o f A risto tle's treatise on the soul (: Ε ις rr/v περί Ψ υχής πραγματείαν
Ά ριστοτέλονς έξήγησις τον Θωμά); Selections from the in tro d u ctio n by
Thom as on A risto tle 's P h ysics (: Έ κ των τον Θωμά, Π ρολεγόμενα είς τήν
Φυσικήν Ά κρόασιν Άριστοτέλ.ονς); In tro d u c tio n s or p re vie w s selected fro m
the w orks o f Thom as (: Προλεγόμενα ή Προθεωρονμενα εκ των τον Θωμά);
On sophism s, selected fro m the w orks o f Thom as the philosopher
(: Περί των σογισμάτων, έκ των τον φιλοσόφου Θωμά), w hich were tr a n ­
slated b y Scholarios an d in co rp o rated in his philosophical teach in g s
co n stitu ted evidence t h a t he espoused th e in te rp re ta tio n of A ri­
stotle, as established th e aprinceps scholasticorum n2829W ith Scho­
larios, who produced G reek S u m m a ries o f S u m m a contra G entiles
and of th e first p a rt of th e S u m m a T h e o lo g ia n , a decisive step
w as ta k e n to brin g to g e th e r th e ontological, cosm ological an d
gnoseological suggestions of A risto tle an d th e theological c e rta in tie s
an d th e te x tu re of A ristotelianism w as form ulated, w hich w ould define
subsequent M odern G reek th o u g h t.
In its essence, the a rg u m e n ta tio n of Scholarios, th e first E cum e­
nical P a tria rc h of th e su b ju g ated G reeks a fte r th e F all of C o n sta n ti­
nople, in his tre a tise A g a in st P le th o n 's questions on A risto tle (: Κ ατά
των Πλήθωνος αποριών έπ' 'Αριστοτέ?ει, 1443), w ould form th e c h a rte r
of M odern Greek A ristotelianism , as th e app ro ach of A risto telian
th o u g h t w ould m aterialise th ro u g h o u t th e 1 6th an d 17th cen tu ries
along p a rticu la r leitm otifs: th e com prehension of « n a tu re » («9*>σεως»)
as th e point of d ep artu re from w hich th e m ate ria lisa tio n of beings
s ta rts an d as th e cause of th e tra n sfo rm a tio n of th e w ay in w hich beings

28. Petsios (*2003: p. 43, n. 60).


29. Papadopoulos (1967: pp. 65-68); Benakis (2002: pp. 633-646).
264 Konst anti nos Th. Petsios

exist, th e finite and geocentrically stru ctu red U niverse, which was divided
in to su p ra -L u n a r and su d -L u n ar regions, th e n a tu re of th e «prim e
m a tte r» («πρώ της ϋλης») and of th e elem ents w hich were produced from
it, th e causes of cre atio n and of a ttritio n of beings, th e substance of
m ovem ent, th e re la tio n betw een «e te rn ity » («άϊδιότητα») and « tem po­
r a lity » («χρονικότητα»), and th e connection betw een th e « mover» (((κι­
νούν») and th e ((mover» («κινούμενον») (or: th e C reator and th e uni­
versal becom ing), w hich form ed -in various appellations- a central
issue of tra d itio n a l M etaphysics.
T he M odern G reek scholar praised th e con trib u tio n of A ristotle
to th e com prehensive stu d y of n a tu re [((Had it no t been for A risto tle»,
he rem ark ed , ((hum ans would n o t have p a rta ken in natural philosophy»
( «ωστ εϊ μη διά γε ’Α ριστοτέλη [ . . .] οϋκ αν φυσικής φιλοσοφίας το των
ανθρώπων μ ετείχε γένος»)] and dialectics [«w e would have neither the
d ialectic m e th o d nor any sc ien tific way in his absence» {((μεθόδου δε
διαλεκτικής και παντός επιστημονικού τρόπου έχηρεύομεν αν οϋτω πάνυ»)Ζ{
and he approved of th e precedence of physics over m athem atics because
th e form er studied beings as perceptible unities of substance and form,
w hereas th e science of m ath em atics exam ined beings in a secondary
level an d an a b s tra c t m an n er3031. T he philosophical works of Scholarios,
according to w hich Philosophy c o n trib u ted decisively to th e ((salva­
tion» («σωτηρία»), « blessedness» («μακαριότητα»), «secu rity» («ασφά­
λεια») and «freedom,» («ελευθερία») of hum ans32, form ed a stu d y in
A ristotelian physics, dialectics and ethics, as these were condensed n o t
only in th e Corpus of th e founder of th e P erip atetic School b u t also
in th e in te rp re ta tio n s and re in terp re ta tio n s of th e ensuing generations.
T he stu d y of Scholarios* trea tise s A n excellent and m ost wonderful
fu n d a m e n ta l d ivisio n o f the books on P h ysics, evidencing both the
w isdom o f the P hilosopher who thus ordered them and the in g en u ity
o f w hat is herein p re se n ted , for concise know ledge (: Διαίρεσις κεφα­
λαιώδης τω ν βιβλίων τή ς Φυσικής Ά κροάσεω ς άρίστη και θαυμασιωτάτη,
δι’ ής και ή τοϋ Φιλοσόφου σοφία δείκνυται τοϋ οϋτω τάξαντος τα αντοϋ
και ή αγχίνοια των καί διελόντων καί έκθεμένων ενταύθα, ως όράται, προς
γνώσιν εύσύνοπτον); N o tes on A risto tle ’s books on P h ysics (: Ά ποσημειώ ­
σεις τω ν Βιβλίων τής Φυσικής *Ακροάσεως Ά ριστοτέλους); N otes on the

30. Scholarios (1935, IV ρ. 5).


31. Pelsios (22003: pp. 35-36).
32. Scholarios (1936, VII: p. 8).
The Beginnings of modern Greek philosophy 2β5

four books on the H eavens (: Σ ημειώ νεις εκ των περί Ουρανόν Βιβλίων
Τεσσάρων); F rom the M eteorological B o o ks A -D (: Έ κ τω ν Μετεωρο­
λογικών Βιβλίων Λ '- Δ ') ; A pream ble to L ogic a nd on P orphyrios’ In tro d u ­
ction (: Προλεγόμενα εις την Λ ογικήν και είς την Πορφνρίον Ε ισαγω γήν); A n
elucidation o f A ris to ties' book Categories (: ΕΙς τό βιβλίον τοϋ Ά ρ ισ το τέ -
λ.ους Κατηγοριών έξήγησις)**; A n elucidation o f the book on In te rp re ta tio n
(: Ε ις τό π ε ρ ί fΕρμηνείας βιβλίον έξήγησις), as well as N o tes on the three
books on the S oul (: Σ ημειώ σεις εκ τω ν π ερ ί Ψ υχής βιβλίων τριώ ν), so
as to lim it ourselves to som e, b e ar te stim o n y to a th o ro u g h know ledge
of th e fam iliar concerns an d unequivocally a tte ss to th e high level of
philosophical stu d y in C onstantinople d uring th e m id -1 5 th c e n tu ry .

b. Georgios T rapezountios & B essarion.

The A ristotelian Georgios T rapezountios (1395-1472), w orking in


th e sam e direction of th o u g h t, com posed th e tre a tise C om parationes
P hilosophorum A risto teles et P la to n is (ca. 1455) in w hich he a tta c k e d
platonic philosophy w ith harsh rem arks. T he founder of th e A cadem y
was criticised as being «inexp erien ced » and «unlearned» («ru d is») as
regards dialectics and m a th e m a tic s; his co n trib u tio n to n a tu ra l P h ilo ­
sophy was also assessed as being of in ferio r im p o rtan ce an d h is m e ta ­
physics rejected .W ith his polem ics T rap ezo u n tio s a tte m p te d on th e one
h and to clarify th e d istance betw een p lato n ic teach in g s an d th e «u n i­
versal truth» («καθολική άλ,ήθεια») of theology, and on th e o th e r h a n d
to com plim ent th e su p e rio rity of A risto tle, w ho w as considered «great»
(cimagnus»), « better learned than P la to » («doctior est P latone») an d
«superior to ail» («princes om nium ») in b o th dialectics and th e s tu d y
of n a tu re 334.
On th e opposing pole of th e d eb ate, one can find B essarion, a disciple
of Plethon and la te r C ardinal of th e C atholic C hurch. In his book I n
C alum niatorem P latonis (:*Ε λεγχοι τώ ν κ α τα Π λάτω νος βλ.ασφημίών, p o st
1455; publication of th e L a tin tra n s la tio n , 1469), th e learned scholar,
whose overall in tellectual presence im p a cte d decisively on th e h u m a ­
nistic m ovem ent in Italy , countered th e view s of T rap ezo u n tio s using
stru c tu re d argum entation, w ith o u t degen eratin g in to a personal a rg u ­

33. Petsios (22003: p. 32, n. 23).


34. Petsios (22003: pp. 32-34).
266 Konstantinos Th. Petsios

m ent, and defended P lato n ic Philosophy w ith argum ents draw n from
th e e n tire ty of H isto ry of Philosophy. Sim ultaneously, he acknowledged
th e co n trib u tio n s of A risto tle, th e doyen, in his words, of «all our science»
(«πάσης ήμϊν επιστήμης»)*5, through th e m ethodological perspective
« th a t we sh o u ld n 't defam e P lato in A risto tle's defence, but ju s tly pre­
serve the w orks o f both» (<(δχι ον δεϊ Πλάτωνος άπολογούμενον Ά ρ ισ το -
τέλονς καταφέρεσθαι, άλλ' έκατέρω τά γιγνόμενα σώζειν δίκαιον»)26. Bessa-
rio n considered t h a t P lato philosophically contem plated «about the
d ivin e and im m a teria l and the thought o f the p rim e and true being»
(«περί τά θεϊα καί άϋλα καί χήν τον πρώτον και όντως σκέψιν»), whereas
A risto tle « excellently and p e rfa c tly » («άριστα καί τελεώτατα») investi­
g ated « w h a t,was below the M oon and w ith in nature» («τά ύπό σελήνην
καϊ τά φνσικά τοιαντα»)27.
T herefore, th e ev alu ativ e p rio rity a ttrib u te d to P lato, or ra th e r
th e p rim acy w hich B essarion acknow ledged to him , referred to th e
h iera rch y of levels, or, as he him self rem arked, was based on th e quali­
fication «in as m u ch as the supernatural is superior to the natural»
(«δσφ τά νπερφνή τω ν φνσικών ύπερέχει»)26. The evidence th a t Bessarion
drew from th e C om m entaries of th e «genuine» («γνησίων») in terp re­
te rs of A risto tle in order to su b sta n tia te his view th a t th e prem ises
of A risto tle ’s philosophy w ere incom patible w ith th e ontology em a­
n a tin g from th e C h ristian teaching, underscored th e dem and for a self-
referring view of th e w orks of A ristotle, i.e. for its em ancipation from
th e m etap h y sical ex p lo itatio n of th e Scholastics. In th e same period,
th e la tte r a tte m p t w as undergoing a tta c k from a strictly orthodox
theological perspective, as can be evidenced b y th e observation of
Jo sep h V ryenios ( f 1437/1438), whose Collected W orks were published
b y Evgenios V oulgaris (1768-1784), th a t th e «P h ilo so p h y» of A ristotle
is « o f course good [ . . . ] and useful and beneficial to speech [ . . .], but
in m a tters o f n a tu ra l e ven ts, as well as issues above nature, it does
n o t have the sam e rigour» (ή φιλοσοφία τον 'Α ριστοτέλη είναι «καλή μεν
[ . . .] και χρήσιμος καί εύρετική λόγων [ . . . ] , άλλ' έν τοϊς φύσει γινομένοις9
ον μην δέ και τοϊς νπέρ φνσιν ταντην κέκτηται την Ισχνν»)29.356789

35. Bessarion (P.G., 161: ρ. 688).


36. Bessarion (1967, II: ρ. 82).
37. Op. cit.t ρ. 24).
38. Petsios (22003: ρρ. 34-35).
39. Vryenios (1768, ρ. 85 = 1991: ρ. 95).
The Beginnings of modern Greek philosophy 207

T hrough the m ultifaceted philosophical them es w hich em erged from


th e debate, which also encom passed th e d istin c t c o n trib u tio n s of th e
A ristotelian Theodoros Gazes (1400-1475) To P le th o n , in defence o f
A ristotle (: Προς Πλήθωνα υπέρ 9Αρισχοτέλους) y O n w illing and unw illing
(: Περί εκούσιον καί άκονσίον) and D isp u ta tio n (: 9Α ντιρρητικόν), a n
essay b y th e platonic M ichael A postolis (1422-1480), R egarding the
opinions o f Theodoros Gazes against P le th o n on A risto tle 's essence
(: Προς τάς υπέρ 9Αριστοτέλους περί ουσίας κατά ΠλήΘωνος Θεόδωρόν τον
Γαζή άΐΎίλήγεις, 1461) -w hich w as how ever criticised b y B essarion-
and th e A ristotelian A ndronikos Kallistos* (fl4 8 6 ) tre a tise R egarding
the views o f M ichael A po sto les against Theodoros (: Π ρος τά ς Μιχαήλωυ
9Αποστόλου κατά Θεόδωρον αντιλήψεις), we m ay constue th a t, regardless
of th e nom inal adm issions, in te re s t in P la to was e m p h a tic ally renew ed
during th e m id-15th c en tu ry , w hile th e v a lid ity of A risto telian D ia­
lectics was affirm ed, th e developm ents of his m oral w ritin g s w ere u ti­
lised, and th e im portance of his teachings on th e access of n a tu re w as
confirm ed.
M oreover, tw o in te rp re tiv e stances were codified as regards his
work: firstly, th e m edieval-scholastic stance, according to w hich th e
views of th e philosopher from S tag eira were in co rp o rated in m an y
ways to th e theological stru c tu re of w orld view an d secondly, a self-
contained stu d y of A risto telian th o u g h t in d ep e n d en t from th e th eo lo ­
gical prem ises, w ith a parallel read in g of th e in extenso elu cid atio n s
of th e ancients, am ong w hom th e p rim e ra n k w as held b y A lexandros
A phrodisieus, and the la te r co m m en tato rs. A t th is p o in t, it is w o rth
n o tin g th a t during th is period (1468-1469) we also w itness in [th e w ri­
tings of] Theodoros A galianos (Theofanes of M edeias, ca. 1400-1474) a n d
Georgios A m eroutsis (fp o st 1470) a d e b ate in d icativ e of th e in tellectu al
concerns of th e tim e, nam ely th e co n tro v ersy regarding «prescience»
(a,πρόγνωση») and p red estin a tio n («προορισμόa)40, a m u ltifaceted p h ilo ­
sophical issue w hich affected, am ong others, Georgios Scholarios in
his la ter w riting period41.

C. Theoretical reorientations.
D uring th e early stages of th e em ergence of M odern H ellenism ,
th e co n ta ct w hich had tak e n place w ith M edieval P hilosophy and th e
specialised techniques w hich were in v en ted in Ita ly , based on n a tu ra l

40. Petsios (22003: pp. 50-51).


41. Tatakis (1977: p. 276).
268 Konsfantinos Th. Petsios

research per e xp e rim en tu m all c o n stitu ted th e in itial step for M odem
G reek th o u g h t in its exchanges w ith th e w estern E uropean intellect.
A ndronikos K allistos stressed th a t in his tim es, th e L atin s «have im pro­
ved a lot on all the sciences and the m ethods o f speech, as none o f those
dealing w ith P lato and A risto tle » («τάς [ . . . ] έπιστήμας άπάσας καί τάς
μεθόδους των λόγων οντω τοι λίαν ήκρίβωσαν, ώς μηδέ τοΐς τιερί Πλάτωνα
καί Α ρ ισ το τέλ η ) and underscored th e co n stan t stu d y of th e pheno­
m ena b y his M oderns by em phatically pointing out th a t «i f they [i.e.
the a n cients] appeared now , they would accede to us» («εί περιεΐεν
εκείνοι νυν, παραχωρήσαι &ν όποισουν»)*2,.
In th is o bservation, w hich reflected a very broad debate, as can
be evidenced b y M ichael A postolis’ m onograph, A discourse towards
those who claim th a t the W esterners are better than the Easterners on
the e n tire ty o f P h ilo so p h y , and th a t they have better explained the
w ay o f C h rist's fir s t b irth and the em anation o f the H o ly S p irit (: Λόγος
προς τους διϊσχυρισαμένους των 9Ανατολικών είναι τούς 'Εσπερίους κρείτ-
τονς τά εις πάσαν Φιλοσοφίαν καί δήθεν κάλλιστα είπόντας περί τον τρόπον
τή ς πρώ της γεννήσεως τον Χ ρίστον καί τή ς τον ' Α γιον Πνεύματος έκπο-
ρενσεως)4243, A risto telian K allistos was in agreem ent w ith th e P latonic
B essarion. By p ro jec tin g his belief th a t « the L a tin s[ . . . ] have advanced
in such a degree o f w isdom » («οι Λ ατίνοι [ . . . ] εις τόσον σοφίας προήχ-
θησαν») th a n k s to e x p lo itatio n of th e knowledge t h a t th ey had inhe­
rite d «fro m the G reeks» («παρ' *Ελλήνων»), th e la tte r considered it an
u rg en t dem and to tra n s p la n t (αμεταγαγεϊν») th e technical knowledge so
th a t his c o n tem p o rary Greeks m ight develop certain practical skills. Bes­
sarion realised th a t a t his tim e a v ery w idespread shift was tak in g place
from th e in tellectu al process to th e application of conclusions throug h
cra ft. He also com prehended th e financial and social consequences of th e
new discoveries. F o r th is reason, in around 1444 he persistently urged
K o n stan tin o s Palaiologos, th e D espot of M ystras, to tak e m easures
t h a t w ould p e rm it th e learn in g of th e four basic crafts, th a t is m echa­
nics, iron-forging, gun-m ak in g and ship-building, w hich he described
as anecessary and useful to those who wish to live well» («άναγκαίας
καί χρησίμονς τοΐς εν ζήν έθέλονσιν»)44. H is proposal was based on th e
th eo retical prem ise t h a t awe [ . . . ] will n o t receive a n yth in g foreign but

42. Kallistos (1967, III: p. 197).


43. Apostolis (1949).
44. Bessarion (1967, III: p. 447); Noutsos (1980:90); Petsios (22003: pp. 54-55).
The Beginnings of modern Greek philosophy 269

w hat is our own fro m our debtors, for th ey are obliged to produce upon
dem and» w h at «was not g iven to th em but ta ken » («ήμεϊς [ . . . ] ουδέ
άλλότριόν τι ληψόμεθα αλλά τά αυτών παρά τω ν όφειλόντων άποληψόμεΟα,
όφείλουαι γάρ δντος του άπαιτοϋντος άποδοϋναι» έκεΐνα τά όποια δεν «άπέ-
λαβον αλλά έλαβον))).*5
This was an arg u m en t w hich w ould recu r in la te r lite ra tu re and
would co n stitu te -m u ta tis m u ta n d is- a locum com im uiem of th e M odern
Greek E nlightenm ent d u rin g th e 18th c en tu ry , w hen th e fam iliarisatio n
w ith th e concerns of exp erim en ta l p h ilo so p h y w ould be fo rm u lated in
to ta lly different term s. W h a t is p a rtic u la rly im p o rta n t for th e ap p ro ach
a ttem p ted here is th a t a n unequiv ocally positive stance w as form ed
in th e m id-15th c en tu ry on th e accom plishm ents of th e re c en t gene­
rations. T he view's expressed b y K allistos and B essarion c o n stitu te d
revealing evidence for th e earlier presence in G reek th o u g h t of th e
debate regarding th e su p erio rity of th e " a ncients” or th e " m o d e rn s” .
M oreover, th e ir positive a ttitu d e to w ard s th e m odern in tellect, w h ith
wras accepted a fte r critical evalu atio n , should be registered as an im p o r­
ta n t c o n trib u tio n to a line of en q u iry whose various stages preclude
uncom prom ising schem atisations.
The m ig ration of G reek scholars to Ita ly d u rin g th e 1 5th c en tu ry
provided th e spark for a re b irth of th eo re tic al in te re st in ex trin sic
wisdom , th u s in a u g u ra tin g a new period in M odern G reek th o u g h t4546.
Even a t th e end of th e 14th c e n tu ry (1397) M anuel C hrysoloras (|1 4 1 5 )
first ta u g h t Greek lite ra tu re in Florence, according to th e in te rp re tiv e
m ethods w hich hed been form ulated in th e U n iv ersity of C o n sta n ti­
nople, th e «Καθολικόν Μουσεΐον», a n d Georgios T rapezountios, w ho p ro ­
duced a rich w ritin g and tra n s la tin g w ork, lectu red on R h e to ric , L ogic
and P oetics in th e U niversities of Ita ly (Venice, Florence, Rom e) from
th e beginnings of th e 15th cen tu ry . From 1440 to 1449, in F e rra ra and
subsequently from 1450 onw ards in Rom e, T heodoros Gazes rose to be
one of th e m ost im p o rta n t th in k e rs of th e tim e and w as e n tru s te d b y
th e Pope Nicolas V (f 1455) w ith th e resp o n sib ility of tra n s la tin g G reek
te x ts am ong w hich th e m ost im p o rta n t v rere th e w orks of A risto tle
t h a t were be republished several tim es.
G reat im portance is placed b y research on th e teachings of Ioannis
A rgyropoulos (1410/15-1487) in th e U n iv e rsity (S tadium ) of Florence

45. Bessarion (op. c i t pp. 447-448); Also Petsios (22003: pp. 54-55).
46. On this, see Geannakopoulos (1965); Staikos (1989); Noutsos (2004), pa­
ssim).
270 Konstantinos Th. Pctsios

(1457-1471) and su b seq u en tly in Rom e ,w here he b u ilt on th e tra d itio n


t h a t had been established b y M anuel C hrysoloras47, Georgios Trapezou-
n tio s and T heodoros Gazes. A rgyropoulos had a profound u n d e rstan ­
ding of P lato n ic a n d A ristotelian th o u g h t, b u t focussed his teaching
in te re sts on A risto tle, as did A ndronikos K allistos, who succeeded A rgy­
ropoulos in th e S tu d iu m of Florence (1471-1475), while a t th e same
tim e D em etrios C halkokondylis (1423-1511), «α zealot o f P lato and the
A c a d e m y w4849, p resented his lectures in th e S tudium of P ad u u a (1463-
1475) and in Florence (1475-1490). in th e place of Kallistos, revolving
aro u n d th e axis of th e P hilosophy of th e founder of th e Academ y.
W ith in th e h u m an istic landscape th a t w as form ed in Ita ly after th e
Fall of C onstantinople, th e tren d s of P latonism and A ristotelianism
re ta in e d th e ir respective alignm ents b u t were gradually em ancipated
from th e sp irit of th e controversy and coalesced around th e dem and
for a universal e d u catio n of m an, w hich w as to be achieved through
th e s tu d y of th e classical te x ts, in th e publication of which th e role
of M odern G reek scholars proved decisive.
As is c h arac teristica lly sta te d b y K odrikas « B y virtue o f its hospi­
ta lity , Ita ly was the fir st to fa vo u ra b ly receive the seeds o f Greek edu­
cation, and fo rtu n a te ly p ro te cted the sparks o f learning from being
extin g u ish ed . The despon dent descendents o f the Hellenes who sought
refuge there, bearing the Greek L e tte rs, were restored as belated fa­
thers o f a novel Greek L ite ra tu re , w hich once again begot the spread
o f the en lig h ten m e n t and ennoblem ent o f Europe»*9.

47. Cammeli (2006).


48. Cammeli (2004: p. 49).
49. Kodrikas (1819: pp. 142-143): « Ή Ιταλία πρώτη διά τής φιλοξενίας της
νπεδέχθη ενμενώς τα σπέρματα των 'Ελληνικών μαθημάτων, και διέσωσεν ευτυχώς άσβε­
στοι* τον σπινθήρα τής μαθήσεως. Οι εκεί καταφνγόντες δυστυχείς των 'Ελλήνων από­
γονοι, σνμμετακομίσαντες τα 'Ελληνικά Γράμματα, άπεκατεστάθησαν πατέρες όψιγενείς
μιας νέας 'Ελληνικής Φιλολογίας, ή οποία εκ νέου επροξένησε τ ψ έκτασιν τού φωτισμόν
και έξενγενισμοί τής Ευρώπης».
B IB L IO G R A P H Y

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