Armenian Philosophers of the Early Medieval Period

Armenian Philosophers of the Early Medieval PeriodAmong the most renowned medieval Armenian philosophers is Yeznik Koghbatsi (5th century).

Koghbatsi, a representative of apologetics, was a student of Mesrop Mashtots, the creator of the Armenian national writing system. Together with him, he translated the Bible and many philosophical works into Armenian.

Koghbatsi was educated in the Byzantine Empire. He knew Syriac, Greek, and Persian languages. In his philosophical work “Refutation of Heresies,” the philosopher set himself the goal of justifying and propagating Christianity, thereby disproving various pagan religions. An opponent of fatalism, he wanted to philosophically substantiate the existing views on liberation movements.

Another no less famous representative of early medieval Armenian philosophy, as well as a representative of Neo-Platonism is David the Invincible (6th century). He was a follower of the views of Plato and Aristotle.

David’s work “Definitions of Philosophy” is particularly renowned. In it, he views that the existence of the world is an opportunity for the sensory organs and mind to cognize it.

Another renowned Armenian philosopher is Stepanos Syunetsi (7th-8th centuries). According to him, nature is nothing but the lowest manifestation of the deity spirit. An idea, in his opinion, is the essence of the body which is comprehended by the mind and which is inaccessible to sensations. His manuscript “A useful analysis of the definitions of David and Porphyry” has reached our days.

The middle of the 7th century was marked by the works of great philosopher, mathematician, astronomer, and geographer Anania Shirakatsi. Traveling to eastern countries, he studied science. Shirakatsi received his education in Trapezund.

Shirakatsi said that the cause of everything existing, visible, and knowable was God. According to him, God is the creator of the world, but he does not interfere in its development. He, as a natural philosopher, created a natural philosophical doctrine of earth, sky, sea, stars, and phenomena of nature.

The cosmogonic views of Shirakatsi are very similar to those of Ptolemy and Aristotle. He also believed that Earth is a mass in the form of a ball located in the center of the universe, with celestial bodies revolving around it.

One famous representative of the natural scientific direction of the Armenian philosophy of the Middle Ages is John Sarkavag (1045-1129). He was the founder of a high school in Ani, the then capital of Armenia.

Lastly, another famous Armenian philosopher is teacher John Vorotnetsi, the founder of Tatev University, which has been a center of medieval Armenian science.

Read also: Medieval Armenian Philosopher Hovhannes Imastasser

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