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Theodore Metochites
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of French, Italian and Classical Languages, Classical Languages.
2011 (English)In: Encyclopedia of medieval philosophy / [ed] Henrik Lagerlund, Dordrecht ; London: Springer, 2011, 1266-1269 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Theodore Metochites (Theodōros Metochitēs, 1270–1332) was a Byzantine statesman, author, philosophical scholar, and patron of the arts. His philosophical works include paraphrases of Aristotle’s natural philosophy, an introduction to Ptolemaic astronomy, and a collection of “philosophical and historical” essays. A leitmotif running through the latter as well as his numerous speeches and poems is his insistence on the instability of things in the sensible world. This has ethical consequences: the proper demeanor under these conditions is to rise above the tide of joy and grief by means of unceasing reflection. It also has epistemological consequences: according to Metochites, nothing can be known with certainty outside the field of mathematics. Since we ourselves are part of the sensible world, our intellectual capacity is limited: this is why even the truths of Christianity cannot be the object of knowledge but only of faith. Without doubt, Metochites’ reflective practices, arguing pro and contra, and his vaguely skeptical theory of knowledge reinforce each other. He has often been regarded as a prime exponent of Byzantine humanism (although the very concept has been controversial). Indeed, it may even be tempting to bestow on him the epithet “Renaissance man,” not only on account of his encyclopedism (spanning poetry and prose on the most diverse topics) and his quest for synthesis (trying to combine philosophy and eloquence as well as to integrate the contemplative and active lives), but also in view of his criticism of Aristotle, his sympathy for skepticism, his fideism, and his interest in literary self-representation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Dordrecht ; London: Springer, 2011. 1266-1269 p.
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URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-69217DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4020-9729-4_485ISBN: 9781402097287ISBN: 9781402097294OAI: diva2:475523
Available from: 2012-01-10 Created: 2012-01-10 Last updated: 2012-03-01Bibliographically approved

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