George Gemistos Plethon on God: Aristotle vs Plato Essay

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George Gemistos Plethon on God: Aristotle vs Plato

In this paper I examine George Gemistos Plethon's defense in his De Differentiis of Plato's conception of God as superior to that of Aristotle's. (2) Plethon asserts that the Platonic conception of God is more consistent with Orthodox Christian theology than the Aristotelian conception. This claim is all the more interesting in light of the fact that Plethon is, as it turns out, a pagan. I argue that Plethon takes the position he does because his interpretation of the Platonic God better fits his own neo-pagan theological conceptions. Part of the evidence for this is supplied by the first English translation of Plethon's Summary of the Doctrines of Zoroaster and Plato. I. Background
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Both had been students of Gemistos in their youth. Another non-clerical member of the delegation was George Scholarios: both a future adversary of Gemistos and a future Patriarch of Constantinople as Gennadios II.

During the Council, Gemistos found that he had free time because much of the counciliar discussion concerned theological minutiae that did not require the presence of a secular sage. Gemistos's fame had preceded him, and he was invited by some Florentine humanists to give a series of lectures on the differences between Plato and Aristotle. It should be remembered that in the Latin West at this time very little of the Platonic corpus was available. For most of the Mediaeval Period, only the Timaeus in the partial translation of Calcidius was available. The Meno and Phaedo were translated in the twelfth century by Henricus Aristippus, but remained little studied.(4) Leonardo Bruni's translations of the Phaedo, Apology, Crito, and Phaedrus were made only shortly before Gemistos's visit. Among the attendees of these lectures was Cosimo d'Medici. Cosimo later founded the Accademia Platonica in Florence. The first director of the Academy was Marsilio Ficino. Ficino recorded the following about the founding of the Academy:

At the time when the Council was in progress between the Greeks and the Latins in Florence under Pope Eugenius, the great Cosimo, whom a decree of the Senate (Signoria) designated Pater patriae, often listened to the

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