Cambridge Classical Studies: Radical Platonism in Byzantium: Illumination and Utopia in Gemistos Plethon

Cambridge Classical Studies: Radical Platonism in Byzantium: Illumination and Utopia in Gemistos Plethon

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Description

Byzantium has recently attracted much attention, principally among cultural, social and economic historians. This book shifts the focus to philosophy and intellectual history, exploring the thought-world of visionary reformer Gemistos Plethon (c.1355-1452). It argues that Plethon brought to their fulfilment latent tendencies among Byzantine humanists towards a distinctive anti-Christian and pagan outlook. His magnum opus, the pagan Nomoi, was meant to provide an alternative to, and escape-route from, the disputes over the Orthodoxy of Gregory Palamas and Thomism. It was also a groundbreaking reaction to the bankruptcy of a pre-existing humanist agenda and to aborted attempts at the secularisation of the State, whose cause Plethon had himself championed in his two utopian Memoranda. Inspired by Plato, Plethon's secular utopianism and paganism emerge as the two sides of a single coin. On another level, the book challenges anti-essentialist scholarship that views paganism and Christianity as social and cultural constructions.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 472 pages
  • 140 x 216 x 26mm | 570g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Reprint
  • Worked examples or Exercises; 1 Tables, black and white
  • 1316629597
  • 9781316629598
  • 1,731,207

Table of contents

Introduction: Plethon and the notion of Paganism; Part I. Lost Rings of the Platonist Golden Chain: 1. Underground Platonism in Byzantium; 2. The rise of the Byzantine Illuminati; 3. The Plethon affair; Part II. The Elements of Pagan Platonism: 4. Epistemic optimism; 5. Pagan ontology; 6. Symbolic theology: the mythologising of Platonic ontology; Part III. Mistra versus Athos: 7. Intellectual and spiritual utopias; Part IV. The Path of Ulysses and the Path of Abraham: 8. Conclusion; Epilogue: 'Spinozism before Spinoza', or the pagan roots of modernity.
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Review quote

"This stimulating book will offer much food for thought, even to those readers who, in the end, will not be prepared to accept all of Siniossoglou's conclusions." --BMCR
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About Niketas Siniossoglou

Niketas Siniossoglou is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow and Junior Research Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge. He is the author of Plato and Theodoret: The Christian Appropriation of Platonic Philosophy and the Hellenic Intellectual Resistance (Cambridge, 2008).
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