ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf

Third Period.
Medieval Philosophy during the Fourteenth
and First Half of the Fifteenth Centuries.

Chapter I.

General Outline.

361. Byzantine Philosophy. -- Throughout the fourteenth century and down to the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Byzantine philosophy lingered on feebly without shaking off its long lethargy (210). Devoid of all originality, it went on commentating the two great philosophers who furnished it with all its inspiration. GREGORY PALAMAS,{1} archbishop of Thessalonica (about 1347) espoused Platonic principles in his Prosôpopoiia, which might be described as an indictment of the body by the soul, followed by the body's defence against the charges. NICEPHORUS GREGORAS, likewise, boldly advocated Platonic principles. On the other hand, the Emperor JOHN VI. CANTACUZENUS, pleaded vigorously for Aristotle, paraphrasing the earlier books of the Nichomachean Ethics. THEODORE METOCHITA and SOPHONIAS wrote commentaries on other treatises of Aristotle. Another remarkable personage of the time, NICHOLAS CABASILAS, wrote a refutation of the Hypotyposes Pyrrhonienses of Sextus Empiricus, an author who had been driven out of literary circulation since the fifth century through the influence of Christian ideas. All those theologians and philosophers contributed at the same time to the Byzantine Renaissance of the ancient classics.

Notwithstanding the steadily increasing intercourse of Byzantium with Western civilization, its philosophy never received from the philosophy of the West anything approaching what it contributed to the latter. We may, however, mention a few translations from Latin to Greek, as a result of the movement inaugurated by Maximus Planudes (226). GEORGIOS SCHOLARIOS (Gennadius died about 1464) translated the Summulae of Petrus Hispanus, the Liber de Sex Principiis of Gilbert de la Porrée, and some of St. Thomas's treatises; and DEMETRIUS KYDONES translated several of the works of St. Thomas.

{1} D'ARGENTRÉ, op. cit., i., p. 322, relates of him that in the year 1330 "lumen quoddam increatum et coaeternum Deo commentus est, quod quidem oculis nostris aspectabile esset. Praeterea, ipsas virtutes Dei ab essentia revera distinctas esse dicebat." D'Argentré connects this latter error with those of Gilbert de la Porrée and John of Brescain.

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