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Aristotelianism

Greek Aristotelianism

The edition of Aristotle's works made by Andronicus of Rhodes (fl. c. 70–c. 50 B.C.E.) established the knowledge of a comprehensive, structured body of demonstrated conclusions as Aristotle's ideal of science. The works of Alexander of Aphrodisias (fl. c. 200), the first great commentator on Aristotle, complemented this view of the philosopher's scientific corpus. The Neoplatonic movement attempted to harmonize the thought of Plato and Aristotle as the two great representatives of the Greek tradition. The tradition of commentary on Aristotle as an introduction to the higher wisdom of Plato was represented at Athens by two works that transformed Aristotle's encyclopedia into an idealistic system. The Elementatio theologica (Rudiments of theology) and the Elementatio physica (Rudiments of physics) of Proclus (410?–485) exhibit all forms of substance as deriving from a single first principle, the Platonic One.

Alexandrian exegesis of Aristotle's text, following Ammonius Hermiae, a pagan (fl. c.550), was more independent. John Philoponus, a Christian (fl. c. 529), even contested various Aristotelian notions. His introduction of the Judeo-Christian idea of creation into philosophy rendered Proclus's entire system questionable. These Alexandrian developments determined, in large measure, the approach to Aristotle's philosophy in the Byzantine world. Plato and Aristotle were regarded as representatives of "Hellenic philosophy," as part of a pagan tradition, generally opposed to "our (Christian) philosophy." The interest of Christian theologians in Aristotle was mostly limited to the parts of his logic necessary in theology, although under the dynasty of the Komnenoi (11th–12th century), Aristotle's practical philosophy enjoyed a rebirth with the commentary on the Ethics put together by Eustratius of Nicaea (1054–c. 1117). After the fall of Constantinople to the Crusaders in 1204, the necessity of answering the challenge of an increasingly sophisticated Latin theology led to the composition of compendia of Aristotelian doctrine, although the debate regarding Aristotelian methods of proof continued.

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