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LAMS Lecture by Jan Opsomer, Conflicting Argumentative Models? Nicholas of Methone vs Proclus of Lycia

Thursday 6 May 2021

All interested are cordially invited to the next Spring lecture of the Late Antique and Medieval Studies Centre on Zoom, Thursday 6 May, 5pm. CET

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Meeting ID: 658 6714 8544
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Conflicting Argumentative Models? Nicholas of Methone vs Proclus of Lycia

Jan Opsomer


In the twelfth Century, Nicholas, the bishop of Methone, was confronted with fellow Christians who were influenced by the works of the Hellenic Platonist Proclus. He decided to write an explication of Proclus’ Elements of Theology, with the aim to disarm the latter’s arguments. However, the argumentative approach and style of the two texts are very different. Nicholas fails or refuses to acknowledge the argumentative model of Proclus’ Elements of Theology. Whereas the textual model used by Proclus – that of the manuals of geometry – excludes any appeal to authority, relying exclusively on the laws of logic combined with the implicit assumption of common notions functioning as axioms,  Nicholas’s refutation relies, to a large extent, on the appeal to texts that were authoritative to him and his contemporaries, but would not have been so for Proclus. While I shall not discuss the efficacy of this strategy in its historical context, I will raise the question whether Nicholas’s approach can be successful form a philosophical perspective.

Prof. Jan Opsomer
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