Although the existence and the specificity of Byzantine Philosophy are widely recognized today, it is nonetheless true that we might still need a series of explorations in order to get closer to its ultimate importance, not only for the construction of Greek Patristic theology, but also for a deeper interpretation of Greek Philosophy as such. Most of the Byzantine philosophers are not just slavish interpreters of the latter, but also creative thinkers, sometimes even able to correct or transform the philosophical data.
In an attempt to engage with the modern understanding of such a fertile enterprise as Byzantine Philosophy, Analogia offers this first collection of distinguished essays written by promising experts of the younger generation, which comprise a good part of the essays received by the Journal once the invitation for a Byzantine Aristotle volume was extended to the academic community.
In her learned and accurate ‘Themistius on “Prime Matter”, Aristotle, and the “Unwritten Doctrines” ascribed to Plato’, Elisa Coda pertinently shows that Themistius was inspired by a loose harmony between Aristotle’s conception of matter and Plato’s interplay of determination and indetermination, in order to explain ‘prime matter’ as the principle of indetermination—thus showing, once again, the philosophical creativity of the great commentator.
Pantelis Golitsis, in his highly documented ‘Aristotelian attraction and repulsion in Byzantium’, offers a brilliant short history of the reception of Aristotle in the Byzantine intellectual world. While rightly claiming that neither Aristotle nor Plato were ever received as an organic and indispensable part of doing theology, he nonetheless shows that ultimately, not only were Aristotle’s Logic or Physics positively accepted, but even his metaphysical monotheism was highly praised by an intellectual of the status of Scholarios, and the philosopher’s capability of instilling the right convictions about the knowledge of God in this world was acclaimed by an intellectual of the status of Pachymeres. Of course, this does not mean that the suspicions about his deeper theological convictions were ever silenced.
Melina Mouzala in her excellently elaborated ‘Simplicius on the principal meaning of physis in Aristotle’s Physics II. 1–3’, which shows a deep familiarity with her research area, shows how original, multi-leveled, and fertile Simplicius’ under- standing of the Aristotelian physis is. I think that no student of the history of such an influential concept for the very articulation of theology and medieval thought in general, like that of physis, can afford not to read this article. Simplicius final under- standing of physis as escate zoe, is utterly important for the history of both Christian Philosophy and Theology.
Sotiria Triantari, an expert in Byzantine rhetoric, in her ‘Aristotle’s Rhetoric in the Manuals of Byzantine Rhetoric’ shows successfully to what extent—and despite some criticism by prominent Byzantine intellectuals—the Aristotelian Rhetorics, along with the philosopher’s theory of language, became the foremost source of inspiration for the Byzantines.
Ilias Vavouras, finally, in his insightful ‘Visions of political philosophy in the “Commentary on Aristotle’s Politics” by Michael of Ephesus’, brilliantly shows how the Byzantine intellectual not only accepts, but also christianises the Aristotelian perspective, by closely connecting governance with virtue and especially justice.
– Nikolaos Loudovikos, Senior Editor