Byzantine Philosophy and Its Ancient Sources

By Katerina Ierodiakonou | Go to book overview

7
Psellos’ Paraphrasis on
Aristotle’s De interpretatione

KATERINA IERODIAKONOU

There recently has been a lot of interest in Greek commentaries on Aristotle’s works. It has become clear that they not only reveal unsuspected subtleties of difficult Aristotelian passages and provide information concerning otherwise unknown doctrines, they also put forward original philosophical views. However, the period usually studied covers only the commentaries from Aspasius and Alexander of Aphrodisias in the second century to Simplicius in the sixth or Stephanus in the seventh century. What I think has not yet been sufficiently acknowledged is that in the East, even after the sixth century, the tradition of commenting on Aristotle’s treatises continues uninterrupted until the fifteenth century or even beyond the fall of Constantinople in 1453. In the case of Aristotle’s logical works, in particular, the significant number of manuscripts with Byzantine scholia on the Organon confirms that Aristotelian logic constitutes a focus of great attention throughout the Byzantine era. Following the tradition of the ancient commentators, but especially that of the Christian commentators of the Alexandrian school, Byzantine scholars such as Photios, Arethas, Michael Psellos, John Italos, Michael of Ephesus, Leo Magentinos, Nikephoros Blemmydes, George Pachymeres, John Pediasimos, Isaak Argyros, Joseph Philagrios, John Chortasmenos, and others produce logical commentaries, paraphrases, compendia, and short treatises on selected logical topics. But in most cases these logical works have not been edited, let alone been closely studied, and so their importance for the development of logical theory in Byzantium has not yet been adequately assessed.

The aim of this chapter is to concentrate on just one of these Byzantine scholiasts, namely Michael Psellos, and even in this case to discuss only one of his many writings on Aristotle’s logic, namely his paraphrasis on Aristotle’s De interpretatione. In analysing Psellos’ paraphrasis, I shall attempt to show that his contribution to logic, which comes fairly early in this long Byzantine tradition, is of particular interest for an adequate understanding

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