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  • Print publication year: 2000
  • Online publication date: May 2011

Introduction to Part VIII

from VIII - Philosophy in transition

In this concluding section, an overview is provided of the three streams of philosophical thought flowing out from late antiquity. The aim here is to show how ancient Greek philosophy and its Christianized versions were received. Philosophy in early Byzantium seems to have been completely subordinated to theological and ecclesiastical ends. Nevertheless, that explicit constraint did not prevent the further exploration of the ontological and epistemological issues that constitute the permanent inheritance of the ancient Greek philosophical tradition. When the political and theological controversies between Latin West and Greek East later erupt, it will become evident that philosophical disputes, for example, regarding the interpretation of Aristotle’s account of the activity of divinity, are much to the fore. With the fall of Byzantium in 1453, the exodus of Greek scholars to the West will provide the groundwork for another encounter of Greek philosophy with Christianity, this time with Scholasticism. It is now increasingly a commonplace that the primary transmitters of ancient Greek philosophy to the West were the Arabic Muslim scholars of Alexandria and Baghdad and elsewhere who translated and thereby preserved a significant number of basic texts. It is not infrequently the case that these Arabic translations can fill in lacunae owing to the disappearance or defective condition of Greek originals. But it is in the construction of an Islamic philosophical theology that a fruitful and challenging encounter of one religious tradition with ancient Greek philosophy can be found.

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The Cambridge History of Philosophy in Late Antiquity
  • Online ISBN: 9781139095464
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