Who is Plethon (Georgios Gemistos)?

Who is Plethon (Georgios Gemistos)?

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

Georgius Gemistos (or Plethon, Pletho) lived between 1355-1452, was born in Istanbul in 1355 and died in 1450. Byzantine neoplatonist Greek philosopher.

In the face of the influence of Christianity, he tried to revive a Neoplatonist ancient Greek wisdom and wanted to reconcile Christianity and Islam. He died shortly before the conquest of Istanbul. Cosimo von Medici was influenced by this philosopher and founded the Platonic Academy in Florence.

Byzantine philosopher. He is one of the pioneers of Plato’s Academy in Italy. He tried to develop a system that was a mixture of Plato’s philosophy and Eastern religions.

It is thought that he was born in Istanbul and died in Mistra. He is also called Plethon because of his devotion to Plato.

Gemistos was first educated at the Ottoman palace near Edirne. He then studied the Eastern art of magic and Zoroastrian teaching. In 1438, during the time of Pope Eugenius IV, he participated in the council convened in Florence to end the conflict between the Eastern and Western churches. Interested in the development of Neoplatonism rather than in questions of religion, he presented here a paper on the differences between Aristotle and Plato to Florentine humanists.

Although Gemistos approved the council’s document on the union of the two churches, he brought a critique on trinitarian theology. He suggested that the way in which Greek Orthodoxy explained the Spirit’s relationship to God corresponded with the Latin teaching, which described the Spirit’s dual relationship to the Father and the Son.

In the age of Gemistos, research on Plato began in Renaissance Italy. He took refuge in the Mistra palace of the Medici before Istanbul passed into the hands of the Ottomans. He gave lectures on Plato to Cosimo de Medici, who was the head of the city-states of Florence. With the support of this statesman, the Platonic Academy of Florence was founded in 1459, which would deeply affect Italian thought. Here, Plato’s works known at that time were translated, the Aristotelian system and the Scholastics were criticized. Gemistos adopted Plato’s universe of superexperimental ideas, rather than the universe of concrete individuals in ancient Hellenic theology.

Gemistos also drafted a law inspired by Plato’s Nomoi (“Laws”). This draft aimed to create a social and political utopia based on classical Athenian culture and incorporating afternoons on Platonism, Stoic ethics, and Islamic writing. According to him, this society would bring different communities together for common interests, and would be cleared of the conservative monastic system in order to ensure political stability. His work, which was published after his death, was destroyed on the order of the Istanbul patriarch Gennadios, on the grounds that he demeaned Christianity.

His works (mainly): Peri on Aristotle poros Platonia diaferetai, (d.s.), 1540, (“On the Differences of Opinion Between Aristotle and Plato on Existence”); Nomon suggrafe, (d.s.), C. Alexandre, (eds.), 1858, (“Law Regulation”).

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer Yıldırım
Source: Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM)