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Gregory Benevitch. Apperception of Proclus’ polemic with Plotinus on matter and evil in the Corpus Areopagiticum. Vol. 1. No. 2. 2016

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Apperception of Proclus polemic with Plotinus on matter and evil in the Corpus Areopagiticum
Title in the language of publication: Апперцепция полемики Прокла Диадоха с Плотином о материи и зле в Corpus Areopagiticum
Gregory Benevitch
PhD in Cultural Studies, Assistant Professor at the Russian Christian Academy for the Humanities.
Address: 15 Fontanka emb., Saint-Petersburg 191011, Russia.
P. 361–387.
Language: Russian
Document type: Research Article


This article shows that Corpus Areopagiticum is an important evidence for the adaptation and transformation by the 6-7th century Orthodox theology of the Neoplatonist philosophical heritage, particularly of Plotinus’ and Proclus’ teaching on matter and evil. The article deals with John of Scythopolis’ (the main scholiast of the Corpus Areopagiticum) thesis that there is no such a thing as matter, detached from the material world and its material beings. God created matter together with the material world, and matter is a substrate of its material beings. For John of Scythopolis matter is “in God”, that is created by Him, according to His will. In this context he says that matter has “a measure of goodness”.

At the same time under the influence of the Neoplatonist teaching John of Scythopolis speaks about the evil that is in matter. However in this case he speaks about matter only “in thought”, being detached from material beings. This evil is connected with the lack of form in matter detached from the beings. However, in reality there is no such a thing as matter without material beings, it is always formed. God did not create the world in two steps, the first step being the creation of matter, the second that of something out of the matter. Instead, He created the material world altogether as such. Unlike Proclus who stated that matter is neither good, nor evil, John of Scythopolis teaches that matter as such has in itself something evil, but there in the created world we do not find this “matter as such”. In fact, he states that not part of the created world, including matter Is devoid of some measure of goodness.


Matter, evil, Neoplatonism, Areopagitiki, John of Scythopolis, Aristotle, Plotinus, Proclus.


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© Gregory Benevitch, 2016