Apo ten orthoteta ton onomaton sten orthoteta ton dogmaton: to provlema me ten Byzantine philosophia

Translated title of the contribution: From the ‘rectitude of names’ (Plato) to the ‘rectitude of doctrines’ (Psellos): the problem with Byzantine philosophy

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    'Byzantine philosophy’ is in vogue lately. Yet is the term Byzantine philosophy at all meaningful? Employing as a conceptual framework current philosophical concerns regarding the intentionality and qualifications of communicative acts, this article argues that what the scholarly world has anachronistically come to understand as Byzantine philosophy does not unconditionally and uniformly qualify as philosophical discourse. The current conception of Byzantine philosophy presupposes a tacit metonymical process that disentangles rhetorical, ascetical and theological texts from the authoritarian mechanisms, which conditioned their development in the Byzantine context. Thus scholarly engagement with Byzantine philosophy inadvertently suppresses the rise of a Christian hegemony of discourse. The latter claimed exclusivity in interpretation in order to utilize ancient philosophy as a tool of hieratic, monastic and political authority –and not as means to achieve a consensus regarding what Plato and Aristotle really meant. The Christian hegemony of discourse performed a shift from the Platonic concern for the rectitude of names (orthotêta tôn onomatôn) to that regarding the rectitude of dogmas (orthotêta tôn dogmatôn) establishing a hermeneutical monopoly in direct contravention to the qualifications of genuine philosophical discourse. This shift accounts for the difference between the late antique and Byzantine intellectual paradigms. Still, this process does not mean that the autonomy of philosophical reflection in Byzantium was rendered completely obsolete. Rather than being subservient to the Christian theological establishment, philosophical discourse reverted to calculated dissimulation occasionally acquiring an anti-authoritarian character: rather than Byzantine, philosophy in Byzantium was profoundly anti-Byzantine.
    Translated title of the contributionFrom the ‘rectitude of names’ (Plato) to the ‘rectitude of doctrines’ (Psellos): the problem with Byzantine philosophy
    Original languageOther
    Pages (from-to)45-70
    Number of pages25
    Issue number1/2
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


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