MAKAROV D.I. Theodore Metochites’ Logos 10 on Education and Some Aspects of the Notion of Contemplation in the Late Works of Henri Bergson: on Reminiscences


Dmitriy I. Makarov

Doctor of Sciences (Philosophy), Associate Professor, Professor and Head of Department of General Humanities,

Urals State Mussorgsky Conservatoire,

Prosp. Lenina, 26, 620014 Ekaterinburg, Russian Federation

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Abstract. Introduction. The research aim is to point to an interesting typological parallel between the notions of second, or passive, contemplation in late Byzantine philosopher Theodore Metochites (1270 –1332) and Henri Bergson’s Two Sources of Morality and Religion (1932).

Methods. The methodological basis of the work is the medieval and modern (Hegel’s) notion of the unity of the philosophical process in the world. Traditional methods of cultural studies and the Geistesgeschichte (also known as ‘intellectual history’) are applied as well. At the same time we single out and confirm the basic opposition in the Byzantine culture between secular philosophy and Hesychasm, on the one hand, and certain convergences between Metochites’ and Bergson’s notions of a passive contemplation. Our sources are not confined with Metochites’ and Bergson’s texts, but include Theodore Adorno’s Negative Dialectics, and, on the Byzantine side, Sophianos’ Letter to Macarius, Metropolitan of Philadelpheia (ca. 1350) as well.

Analysis. In the 50th chapter of his 10th Logos On Education Metochites strongly criticized those who flew from the sensible reality, taking no active part in the mundane affairs, without reaching contemplation of the first principles of the Universe. They make just a stupid resignation from activity and get nothing instead, whereas the true contemplation always strives to see these principles. It is not a Hesychast prayer but scientific and philosophic analysis and rumination on the structure of the Universe. It is remarkable that, six centuries and a quarter later, the same strictures against such a kind of resignation reappeared again in the course of Bergson’s polemics against those who could not make a choice between the two types of society, i.e., the closed one and the open one, staying halfway in between. We come to the conclusion that it would be advisable to look for further parallels between Late Byzantine and contemporary philosophy.

Results. There are certain typological parallels between the notion of contemplation in Metochites and Bergson, which should make us move further and look for ulterior resemblances between secular philosophy and anthropology of Byzantium and of the contemporary world. In the Appendix we publish the first to fifth chapters of On education in Russian translation performed by us.

Key words: Theodore Metochites, Henri Bergson, active contemplation, passive contemplation, cognition, active life, Hesychasm, Byzantine reminiscences in contemporary European philosophy.

Citation. Makarov D.I. Theodore Metochites’ Logos 10 on Education and Some Aspects of the Notion of Contemplation in the Late Works of Henri Bergson: on Reminiscences. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4, Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2018, vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 48-59. (in Russian). DOI:

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