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I suggest you read this book: https://www.amazon.com/Aristotle-East-West-Metaphysics-Chris...

It's simply not true that Aristotle died out in Byzantium. All these intellectual currents were absorbed into the Christian theology of Byzantium which is Orthodox and different from Western Christiandom.

See also when released: http://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/history/europe...




The Orthodox split happened in 1054. Though there was a gradual shift apart before that they were very closely related. If your argument was that Orthodox Christianity moved towards Aristotle a century before the West, that seems to be well backed up.

Your first book lists five people covered in the book, all of them outside the period being discussed. I have no idea why you think the second one will support your argument.


My argument is that Aristotle never dies out. See for instance:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bibliotheca_(Photius)

Lots of emperors were very learned:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantine_VII

And there were philosophers throughout that time period:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Psellos

What makes you think Aristotle was neglected?


The Bibliotheca shows my point, the Roman Christians largely kept knowledge they considered important, and this didn't include Aristotle. The table of contents is full of Christian and Roman subjects, with only a few ancient Greeks mentioned. Aristotle is absent.

The neoplatonic views of Christianity during the period are well known, and several hundred years of that lead to Aristotle being neglected.


If you read it Aristotle is frequently cited e.g codex 242 and 249. Having read Aristotle was basically assumed at the time and hardly worth mentioning in the TOC of a book of this sort.

See: http://neoskosmos.com/news/en/photius-dr-nick-trakakis-2011

Interesting article: http://grbs.library.duke.edu/article/download/11951/4059

Also look at the works of Arethas who was active around this time. The works of Aristotle were frequently cited throughout Byzantine history.

Lots of neoplatonists wrote commentaries on Aristotle so it's not like they're mutually exclusive.


2/3rds of the book has a public domain translation, "frequent" is a stretch. Your unsourced article says he was ignored for being in wide circulation, but there are multiple works discussing Plato.

Did you read that article? Again, it agrees with everything I'm saying. Sixth century authors, five centuries with almost nothing, then a return. Even the sixth century mentions they were unfamiliar with Aristotle's actual works, except maybe reading "Categories," the only work I can find Photius or Aretha's commenting on. And it mentions repeatedly that Plato had dominance, even saying Aristotlean views were near heresy at times.


We are reading the same article and getting completely different readings. Both those links were written by professors in this exact area. One states the Aristotle was in wide circulation, the other states that photius likely wrote textbooks for use in schools on aristotle so he was hardly neglected. Did you read about Arethas? We even have knowledge of Photius's textbook on Aristotle's topics.

There were no new commentaries on Aristotle for a long time but that doesn't mean he was forgotten.

Notice also throughout all these links that it is unanimous that after Islamic invasion learning in general went into quick and rapid decline.

Good article: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanac...


Being a professor in that area doesn't mean your word is absolute truth, this topic has been full of bias from the beginning with Christians reluctant to admit Islamic influence. Adding in that "learning in general went in to decline," an absurd fantasy that none of your sources back up, means that's probably the basis for this disagreement.

So Photius wrote something on "Topics," we're now at 1/3rd of Aristotle's principle collection on Logic. Nothing about his further philosophical ideas.


Did you read the last link I cited? It mentions many Byzantine philosophers and their links to Aristotle. There is no serious suggestion that Aristotle ever died out in Byzantium or that foreign intervention was required to rediscover him. Knowledge of Aristotle is assumed in most of the primary sources from that time.

You must remember that all the original church fathers quoted and discussed Aristotle, so the Byzantine theology made frequent reference to him. He was part of the religious canon.

Aristotle worship was wrong anyway, the Byzantines and Avicenna were right to concentrate on Plato and not the inferior Aristotle. Most of which was incorporated into early Christian theology, Aristotle was rightly marginalised but that doesn't mean he was forgotten.


I can't seem to reply to your comment below. Yes they produced no new commentaries... Byzantiums were extremely conservative, they disdained innovation, so why would they write new commentaries where there were already several hundred years worth of commentaries?

We have also lost a lot of Byzantium primary sources but it is obvious from reading the remaining primary sources that knowledge of Aristotle was assumed.

It is not stated anywhere that Aristotle was "forgotten", in all the primary documents including Neoplatonic Aristotle is frequently mentioned.

Where do you get the idea that Byzantium and Islam were in philosophic discourse?

Also see this article: https://books.google.com/books?id=uU8Sgwge6NsC&pg=PA15&lpg=P...


Your new article doesn't list anything new in the period discussed, a few people writing about his logic for hundreds of years.

Going back to your first source offered,

"It deserves to be noted that before the 12th century, the whole Byzantine output of Aristotelian commentaries dealt exclusively with the works on logic."

Your opinion on what the better philosophy is does not matter. It's funny to see you take a neoplatonic view and try to argue that they welcomed competing ideas.


Yes they produced no new commentaries... Byzantiums were extremely conservative, they disdained innovation, so why would they write new commentaries where there were already several hundred years worth of commentaries?

We have also lost a lot of Byzantium primary sources but it is obvious from reading the remaining primary sources that knowledge of Aristotle was assumed.

It is not stated anywhere that Aristotle was "forgotten", in all the primary documents including Neoplatonic Aristotle is frequently mentioned.

Where do you get the idea that Byzantium and Islam were in philosophic discourse?

Also see this article: https://books.google.com/books?id=uU8Sgwge6NsC&pg=PA15&lpg=P....


Your first post mentioned the Bibliotheca, a review of many books written during thi period about things that already had commentaries. Aristotle was neglected for centuries.

What primary sources are you using? As none of the plethora you keep bringing up are primary. And why would something's state it had forgotten Aristotle? If you don't value something, it's just largely ignored.

Many of the philosophers brought up in this discussion recorded contact with the Abbasid Caliphate in some manner. They shared a border and the Mediterranean, it would be hard not to be in contact.

That one says the same as the rest.


have you read Byzantine history? They were sworn enemies of Islam throughout this entire period not discussing the nuances of philosophy.

I can keep citing articles claiming Aristotle was not forgotten but it seems pointless at this stage. Many of the early church fathers mention Aristotle.

Aristotle was considered a minor philosopher throughout this time but his work was still available.

Another article for you: https://books.google.ie/books?id=Hkf6n9oKFmYC&pg=PA159&lpg=P...


They weren't "sworn enemies," they were rival empires sharing a border. This led to frequent clashes, but there was also regular trade and diplomatic emissaries. That enables books to travel and ideas to spread.

All of your articles say the same thing, quoting again,

"It deserves to be noted that before the 12th century, the whole Byzantine output of Aristotelian commentaries dealt exclusively with the works on logic."

That's basically my point, his philosophical work was ignored. All of your sources have supported this, you even seem to be searching specifically for sources saying this now judging by that link.

What you haven't shown is any serious thought put into his philosophical work during that period, or given any other cause for his sudden resurgence besides Islamic influence. You're trying to disprove my argument that he was ignored until the Islamic works by saying "see they said Aristotle in 750, he wasn't forgotten."


Looking into this further it appears you are correct in that Al-Farabi for instance actually studied in Byzantium for 8 years according to the preface in this book:

https://www.amazon.com/Political-Writings-Regime-Summary-Edi...


His actual biography is unclear, much of it coming from sources hundreds of years later. What's clear is that he wrote commentaries on Aristotle's works beyond the Organon, something that is missing from Byzantine history.

As the other poster notes, he does have strong connections to Nestorian Christians of the time. They're the group that translated Aristotle from Syriac to Arabic that later led to the Latin translations bring made. And they had little to do with the Romans/Byzantines, having been condemned as heretical by the Roman church in the fifth century.


It says in the preface he was there for 8 years. I'll take the word of the man who wrote a recent book on his philosophy over some guy on HN.

He probably brushed up on Aristotle at the time.

His early teachers were Nestorian Christians.


The preface is written by a translator, not a historian, and his source is another translator. Translating his works does not make him an authority on his biography. The contemporary sources are near nonexistent for his biography, and the major ones written later were contradictory.

http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/farabi-i

Either way, you agree his time in Baghdad with the Nestorians came earlier, and they were far more involved in writing about Aristotle than any Byzantine known today. Maybe he did seek Greek versions of his work in Constantinople, those works were not influential in the Byzantine Empire.

I don't see how any of this is overly relevant to the discussion.


Based on your link there is a strong possibility that he studied with the Greeks. (Two sources say he did) What is mentioned no where is that Aristotle was 'forgotten' by the Greeks. In fact everywhere in those manuscripts it is assumed that the Greeks are in possession of their full philosophic heritage.


The link calls them "fabricated stories" and "legends," due to their emergence three centuries after his death. That would be like two biographies released this year on George Washington containing one sentence about how he sailed to China in his teenage years. Not a "strong possibility."

I have no idea what manuscripts you're claiming say the Greeks are in full possession of their philosophical heritage, but that is obviously false when you think about how many works have been lost over the millennia. Even being in possession of them wouldn't change that they were being ignored though, the whole "lack of commentary until the thirteenth century" bit.


Maybe, I could have phrased that better. What I meant was the assumption in the quotes listed in your link all indicate that Byzantium is where people would travel to learn Greek philosophy. Therefore even if incorrect the assumption would be that Al-Farabi would have traveled to Byzantium which was the center of Greek learning aside from a few marginal Nestorian Christians in the Caliphate at the time. There is no indication anywhere that the reverse was true.

I agree that no new commentaries were written and that Aristotle was considered a relatively minor philosopher during this time. But it's not true to state that the Caliphate was responsible for preserving his writings or that he was 'forgotten'.

However as I stated above this in my opinion is the correct way to approach Aristotle. Aristotle should be relegated to a minor role as both orthodox Christianity and later Avicennism did.


There is nothing in the biography about the Byzantine Empire at all, they're talking about the benefits of learning Greek play is the native Greek. And you're still missing the point that these were twelfth century writings, the Byzantine Empire they write of is not the one of Al-Farabi.

At no point in this tedious discussion have I said his writing was only preserved in the Caliphate, nor that he was ever "forgotten." I've made it very clear his ideas were ignored outside of Islamic philosophy, and it is contact with that philosophy that led to the it's influence in Christian philosophy. From my first post on this subject,

"I can own a book my entire life, it doesn't make me an expert on it and people I interact with won't gain an interest in it."

Good for you. Personally I find the whole "knowledge is divine insight" thing to be rubbish, but I can see why it would appeal to theistic philosophy.


All biographies indicate that Al-Farabi studied in Baghdad under a Christian teacher, not in Constantinople.




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