Greek Philosophy: Ancient, Byzantine, NeoHellenic, Modern - GPh2021

SCHOOL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES - Department of Cultural Technology and Communication
26 Aug 2021 to 4 Sep 2021

1st day: Thursday, August 26th, 2021 (Introductory lessons)




In the first introductory unit, we will examine the method of the Summer School, which is how we are going to unify all periods of Greek Philosophy. As it is obvious, in the School we are going to follow a historical classification of the periods and, accordingly, we will follow a historical-philosophical method for the study of each period. This means that we will not examine each unit simply as a historic event, but we will insist on how each period is rejuvenated in the interests and needs of the successive schools of philosophical thought. Studying the History of Greek Philosophy by means of Hegel’s philosophical method, we will understand how, through the constant re-examination of philosophical problems in each era, the continuity of Greek Philosophy is achieved. Always operating retroactively, the philosophers of all times studied again and again the same philosophical issues, which were first introduced by ancient Greeks. The difference from one period to the other has to do with the fact that the problems of Ontology, Ethics, Cognitive Theory and so on that concerned the philosophers, changed their reference frame, depending on the historical, social or political conditions. So, continuity is achieved through change. From this it follows that, for Greek Philosophy, the relevance or timelessness of each period preserve the continuity of Greek-language Philosophy, on a historical axis. In order to make this fully understood, on the last two days of the School, there will be an attempt to unify all the material through the views of Modern Greek philosophers.



We would not be mistaken to regard Philosophy as a “mirror” of the social-political balances and dynamics of each era. Moreover, Philosophy in every time conjuncture is a “road sign” in order for us to understand the impending historical changes. Greek Philosophy, in particular, due to its central role in the intellectual controversies of all times, can become a criterion for understanding the prevailing trends in the area of ideas.  However, it is the ideas that prepare historical events, before the latter take place. Studying the various versions of Greek Philosophy per historical period in the Summer School, we will also follow the intellectual “discourse” of the forming western world with the Greek philosophical past. For example, it is difficult to obtain an insight into the European Enlightenment unless we have a historical-philosophical overview of the century-long confrontation between Aristotelianism and Platonism. The historical perspective of the Enlightenment, continuing to this day, can be detected in the opposing currents formed by the study of the two great philosophers. Respectively, in the School there will be a discussion on the historical perspectives of the modern world concerning the future of philosophical humanitarianism. Both from the perspective of the European (continental) tradition and in the framework of the Anglo-Saxon philosophical discourse, in the School we will trace the vestiges, the relevance of the forms of Greek Philosophy. Here, our route will reach its completion, in pursuit of the contribution made by Modern Greek philosophers to the forming future world. Because, eventually, the relevance, timelessness and continuity of Greek Philosophy is nothing else but a flame that still keeps humanitarianism alive in the West to this day. Even if some dominant political choices deem Humanitarian Studies as unsuitable “merchandise”, Philosophy, and especially Philosophy in its mother tongue, is still too young to die. 



2nd day: Friday, August 27th, 2021



The two presentations give the opportunity to investigate and analyze many essential questions in their genesis, as well as issues and terms of science and philosophy. The defining difference between philosophy and the mythological worldview enables us to mediate its uniqueness, its speculative-rational interpretation, which is the alternative to the religious explanation. According to the philosophy of the Pre-Socratics, the natural process can be explained by itself and be attributed to concepts, without the need to resort to gods or myths any longer. The question of the relationship between nature and spirit serves as a central core for the unfolding of Pre-Socratic Philosophy. The presentations are intended to introduce all philosophical problems (of knowledge, ethics, etc.) which originate from Pre-Socratic Philosophy and are dealt with anew in the subsequent periods of the History of Philosophy.


10-1 a.m.:

1. The genesis of philosophy

2. The Ionian “School”: Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes

3. The “School” of Lower Italy: The Pythagoreans

4. Xenophanes: the critic of the Olympian religion

5. Heraclitus, the obscure


6-9 p.m.:

6. Parmenides: the development of identity, being and contemplating

7. Empedocles: the four roots

8. Anaxagoras: the dualism of spirit and matter

9. Final account




Day 3d: Saturday, August 21, 2021

Iliopoulos G., PLATO



Plato the Athenian (428-347 BC) is considered by many to be the first philosopher, while some others, with a certain exaggeration, would call him the only important philosopher of all times. No one, however, is able to fully and adequately grasp the depth and magnitude of his contribution to philosophical thought unless he examines in all its dimensions the intellectual-spiritual function of criticism, which: a. led to the emergence of Platonic philosophy, b. largely determined the terms of its dissemination and reception, c. was finally inscribed, with the indirect and direct contribution of the reception of Platonic philosophy, into the very core of the production of philosophical discourse until today.

For the reader and interpreter of Platonic philosophy it is important and helpful to concretely consider the dimension of criticism and thus to see that through it the philosophical thought in question is embedded into the era that made it necessary and allowed its emergence, which in turn is a necessary condition for orientation in the understanding and utilization of philosophy. Children of their time were both the great Athenian philosopher and Socrates, the master who inspired and decisively influenced him, but also the sophists, the opponents from whom a lot of issues separated him a lot, but also provided him with impulses and ideas without seeking it and without ever having the chance to see him admitting it.

The activity of criticism that the Athenian philosopher developed within the environment of the Academy and in connection with which he wrote his famous dialogues, led subsequently to those discussions, the fruit of which are both certain modifications of the Platonic positions through time and par excellence the philosophy of Aristotle who was to follow. Plato’s critical and creative relationship with his leading student becomes in the centuries to come a driving force for the formation and differentiation of philosophical currents, but can also be seen as fundamental to any process of remarkable scientific-philosophical criticism, which nowadays for various reasons and according to necessity tends to be considered as an achievement of our spiritual life.



Plato is well-known for his famous theory of Forms or Ideas which for him are intelligible entities that stand beyond any change in time and space and moreover do not at all depend on the individuals’ ability to grasp them properly.

Given the traits of the intelligible Forms and the difficulties to adequately comprehend them, one has to reflect on the possibility to establish whether and to what extent they are related to other well-known objects of scientific knowledge, which also presuppose and demand the ability to resort to abstract thinking. On the basis of such a correlation it would be quite logical to suppose that Plato developed his main philosophical theory out of his need to reach and retain a deeper and better understanding of the world surrounding him, a need he would share with every serious scientist.

Plato had indeed a sufficient knowledge of the scientific achievements of his contemporaries and this played an essential part in the process of the concrete expression the Forms finally assumed. But on the other hand Plato had an essentially practical motivation for his theory. For he actually felt the need to effectively combat the relativism that resulted from the theory and practice of his competitors on the intellectual stage of the city-state. He had many reasons to reject the innovations the sophists introduced in the spiritual and cultural life of Athens and his uniqueness consists in the development of a highly profiled theory that would enable him to eradicate every perilous new opinion and restitute the old political and cultural order but this time in a more stable and sustainable way.

Thus the scientific aspects of his theory cannot be isolated from the practical intentions that lay behind them. Plato as a great theoretician – he was undoubtedly talented among others in poetry and mathematics – had also an elaborate perception of the world of practice. This aspect of his work tends to be neglected in the sense that another commonly discussed trait of him is his utopianism; it is being treated as a pure fact that he wanted to establish an ideal state that would and could never exist.

This may well be the case if we judge him by the criteria of practical politicians. But on the other hand we should also seriously take into account that his theoretical path towards the ideal state passed through certain ethical problems that even nowadays are considered to be of vital importance for our common organized life.



Day 4th: Sunday, August, 2021



10-1 p.m.:

The first lecture presents commentary versions of the Aristotelian philosophy concerning theoretical issues such as: Ontology, Logic, Ethics and Epistemology.  The argumentation is going to be focused on the Aristotelian corpus and the systematic critique of its profound commentators.


6-9 p.m.:

The second lecture covers philosophical aspects on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of language along with the contemporary critique of the Aristotelian work on the above subjects.  Crucial aim of this lecture is to show hermeneutical aspects on the mind – body problem regarding to Cartesian theory in connection with the ancient tradition.



Day 5th: Monday, August 30, 2021





Hellenistic philosophy is nowadays perhaps more relevant to us than ever before since its representatives dealt with issues directly concerning contemporary people while aiming to practically implement their philosophical insights in order to improve the everyday life of those attracted to the pursuit of wisdom. For example, Epictetus’ words that “things in themselves are neither bad or good, only our convictions about them are”, either verbatim or slightly paraphrased, could have been the advice of a modern cognitive psychotherapist to someone seeking to regain their inner balance and address life challenges by changing their established convictions. 

In the 1st part, we will make a short presentation of the four major philosophical schools of the Hellenistic period (Stoics, Epicureans, Skeptics, and Neo-Platonists) and their most significant representatives.  We will also refer to how their ideas were formed under the influence of earlier philosophers, such as the emblematic figure of Socrates, as well as the Cynics, the Pre-Socratics and Plato, especially as far as Plotinus is concerned. 

Hellenistic philosophers’ moral objective is to achieve inner peace (αταραξία), which is nonetheless feasible through the right perception regarding the nature of the world and subsequently the nature of man himself.

So, here we will explore the ways that these four schools of thought approached the “nature of things” and man’s ability or inability to perceive and gain adequate knowledge of reality. Then, we will see how they perceived human identity through the relationship of the mind, soul and body.



In the 2nd part, we will talk about the concepts of Hellenistic philosophers regarding freedom and the emergence of the free will problem as well as their suggestions as to how we can come to the state of inner peace (αταραξία), which, broadly speaking, is a state in which man experiences true happiness and serenity.

Is freedom something granted or self-evident? Could we claim that we can make decisions and choices freely although we know that both external and internal factors, conscious or not, interfere and often prevent us from acting and living as we wish and to the best of our interests? It is interesting to see how, in the context of a totally fatalistic system, the Stoics show us the way to inner freedom and how Epicurus, through the declinatio occurring in the atoms of the soul, explains unanticipated and unpredictable human behavior, thus endowing man with the potential to exercise his free will.

 Finally, as was mentioned above, we will see how the divergent philosophical views expressed by the representatives of the four philosophical schools surprisingly converge in the pursuit of inner peace (αταραξία ), either by employing abstinence from judgment (εποχή) according to the Skeptics, or by living according to nature (ομολογουμένως τη φύσει ζην) as the Stoics advocated, or by following Epicurus advice to lead an obscure life (λάθε βιώσας), or, finally, by endorsing Plotinus’ ascetic proposition to detach ourselves from the material world and seek our unification with the true, spiritual world of the Mind.  



Day 6th: Tuesday, August 31, 2021

 With the contribution of the Municipality of Skiathos, we are going to visit monuments or museums of cultural-historical interest on the island:


10-12: A visit to Papadiamantis’ House and the Skiathos Maritime Museum.


1-8 μ.μ.: Excursion to the Monastery of Evangelistria and the Castle.



Day 7th, September 1st, 2021




➢ History according to the German philosopher G.H. Herder (1744-1803) as the story of the human soul is the field of man's encounter with God. This encounter expresses the essence of religion according to him and is perceived through emotion, not through Reason. This is the basic difference between philosophy and religion.


➢ 529 AD, is the year in which the Byzantine emperor Justinian closed the Platonic Academy, marking in a sense the end of ancient Greek philosophy. Key question to be investigated: is Christianity Hellenized or is Greek philosophy Christianized?

 • The survival and influences of Neoplatonism and Neo-Aristotelianism, Stoicism and Epicurean philosophy in Christian in general and in Byzantine philosophy in particular, as an evolution of the late Hellenistic tradition and the early Christian years.

• The “Kingdom of God” or Civitas Dei: two different moral and political views. The comments of Thomas Aquinas on the Politics of Aristotle. Following the question, a historical-political view of the Byzantine Empire as Theocratic autocratic regime is developed. Regnum # Sacerdotium / King-Patriarch (the view of Steven Runciman and the idea of Byzantium as an “Ecumenical Cosmopolis” - the view by Prof. G. Kontogiorgis)

-Composition of philosophical monism and Saint trinity. The case of M. Athanasios and his controversy with the Gnostics and Arianism.

-Ioannis Damaskinos and his "Dialectics": the formation of an Aristotelian perspective in the scholastic philosophy of Christianity.

-The Cappadocian Fathers and the formation of an essentialist philosophy of Substance and the "second essence".



• The Greek East and the Latin West - Historical-political influences of the schism as a result of the philosophical difference. (The work of Philip Sherrard: The Greek East and the Latin West). Iconoclasm and iconoclasm as reflections of this difference: substance-phenomenon and power-energy. A key question is why the positive re-evaluation of the historical and cultural contribution of the peoples of the Byzantine Empire was not integrated into the historical consciousness of the West. (the view of Hamburg Professor Klaus Oehler).

• The Hesychastic movement and Gregory Palamas. Mysticism and hermitage.

• The revival of Platonic ideocracy and Aristotelian rationalism – Plethon Gemistos and his work: "About the Aristotle and Plato difference".

• Late influences: The Byzantines in the West: Chrysoloras, Gerasimos Vlachos, Nice’s Visarion, Argyropoulos etc.


As an Epilogue: Law / Nature / Reason:

• The dilemma of Western universal secularization as a philosophy of natural law and the insistence on the transcendental Word of the Orthodox East, as a continuation of this controversy.

• Byzantine philosophy due to the fact that it poses the great ontological and metaphysical problems, therefore, should be considered as a special period in the development of philosophical thought, under the decisive influence of the religious phenomenon and the concrete political formation that prevailed in the Eastern Roman Empire and not as a simple "servant of theology".




Day 8th, September 2, 2021




During the presentation, the beginning of Neohellenic Philosophy will be sought, immediately after the fall of Constantinople, in the appearance of Nikolaos Mavrokordatos (16th century) as well as in the 17th century, when the era of general ignorance passes and begins the "Neo-Aristotelianism" of Theofilou Korydaleas. Special reference will be made to the reception of Aristotelian philosophy as well as to the "preparation" for the transition to the period of "Healthy Philosophy" which will be the "Simple Guide" for the happiness of the Nation. In this context, the basic concepts of the most important scholars of the time up to the period of the Neohellenic Enlightenment will be presented. The main goal will be the emphasis to the continuity of Neohellenic Philosophy through references to important representatives of each period as well as its influences from both ancient Greek and European thought of the time.




The aim of this presentation is to present a brief overview of the contribution of the Neohellenic Enlightenment to the formation of modern Greek “paideia”. We will try to show how the Neohellenic Enlightenment influenced modern Greek pedagogical thought and practice, intersected spiritual trends, views and arguments on the issue of the linguistic instrument of the transmission of new ideas. The Neohellenic Enlightenment, the great national and intellectual movement of the 18th century, was formed under the influence of national peculiarities and the European Enlightenment. The emphasis on “paideia” will bring the individual in contact with the new scientific and philosophical ideas, will contribute to the "moralization" and politicization of the modern Greek, ideologically preparing the revolution of 1821. The political and moral thought, after all, of the scholars of the time on the basic concepts-purposes: happiness, virtue, law and freedom. In confirmation of the above, parts from the works of Adamantios Korais and Rigas Velestinlis will be analyzed.






9th day: Friday, September 3rd, 2021




The country’s history in the previous century played a significant role in the development of Philosophy. In the presentation we will study how the Greek philosophers developed their thought amidst a series of difficulties. To begin with, we will discuss the direct link of the Greek-language Philosophy with the development of Greek universities, where, to this day, research is mainly underway. Until World War II, in Greece there are only 2 Schools of Philosophy in Athens and Thessaloniki. Two more factors have a significant impact on the development of Modern Greek Philosophy: the post-civil war situation in the country with the defeat of the Communist Army (D. G. A.) and the pre-war turn – continuing after 1950 – to Ancient Greek Philosophy or, generally, the effort to reconnect with the Greek roots of Philosophy. In this presentation, we will try to analyze the domestic trends in Philosophy in the 20th century, the main representatives, as well as the emerging social-political obstacles, which impeded the development of Modern Greek Philosophy, in contrast to what was going on in the West and, more specifically, in Europe. Thus, we will see how Philosophy in Greece during the previous century gradually rediscovered the various periods of the past, which were presented in the School in the past few days. Finally, it is important to note that the return of the Modern Greek philosophers to the earlier periods of Greek Philosophy does not happen in an introspective way, which means aiming at an autonomous development of a “national” Philosophy, but in an ongoing discourse with all the current philosophical trends worldwide.



Mainly in academic circles, yet not only there, during the second half of the 20th century, the prevailing tendency among Greek philosophers was that of an “escape” abroad, predominantly to Europe,  at least for those who could afford to do so with their own means or through scholarships. This trend aimed at their getting in a closer connection to European or American philosophical developments, so that the most modern philosophical currents could be passed on in the country. The above fact had two counterbalancing effects: the domestic philosophical discourse was significantly enriched, but, at the same time, those who managed to have a career abroad were lost for many years from the birthplace of Philosophy. The presentation will include an analysis of the historical components of this reality and how things change with the restoration of democracy. We will make reference to the most important Greek philosophers abroad, to the topics they studied, as well as to the currents they joined, which led to their work forming, to a certain extent, the philosophical discourse outside Greece. Specifically, we will talk about the “Athenian Trinity of Paris” (C. Castoriadis, C. Axelos, C. Papaioannou) and how the three of them are linked through a common starting point but different directions, about the timely work by P. Kondylis and the influences, in and outside Greece, on the studies of N. Poulantzas. Finally, by examining how these philosophers approach the earlier periods of Greek Philosophy, we will arrive at the main goal of the Summer School, which is an overview of Greek Philosophy as a unified entity.



10th day:   Saturday, September 4th, 2021




On the last day of the Summer School, we will make a summary of the material we have attended all the previous days, which means we will pinpoint the major characteristics of the periods of Greek Philosophy. At the same time, we will investigate the connecting joints of the transition from one period to another. On the ninth day of the School, we watched how Modern Greek Philosophy, with the retroactive historical-philosophical method, about which we spoke on the first day of the School, returned to the earlier periods. Therefore, it will have become obvious that Greek Philosophy remains timely and that the ideas that were first worded in the Greek language, have kept their timelessness. Through the Conclusions that will be reached dynamically from the discussion with the participants, we will see how the field of the now unified Greek Philosophy has the potential for further research. In this context, of the research potential, we will discuss with the participants the topic of the final thesis they will be asked to write. The School will be completed by marking the significance that the prospect of unifying Greek Philosophy has, that is to say, how it improves the possibilities of thought and action, not only for Greek Philosophy but for the modern man in general. During a free conversation that will round up our historical “adventure”, we will ask ourselves how the utilization of the unified entity of Greek Philosophy can be combined in our times with the Humanitarian as well as the Natural Sciences.