The Enlightenment tradition in Greece: The case of Adamantios Koraes and Evangelos Papanoutsos

Panagiotis N Chiotis, Fordham University


Both historically and philosophically it has been admitted that the Greeks from ancient times by combining the "western" Apollonian with the "eastern" Dionysian tempos of thinking, acting and behaving, have been in a privileged cultural position. In their thinking they have been in the advantageous position of seeing and examining things from a critical perspective that is a genuine expression of their true culture.^ Koraes and Papanoutsos are considered in this work as exponents of the theory of this Greek mode of life. A mode of life that gives to the concept of Enlightenment a different, broader and more substantiated meaning than the meaning given to it by seventeenth and eighteenth century European thought, which elevated the rational part of man's beingness to a prominent place in the realm of human creativity. Neo-hellenic Enlightenment does begin from reason in its attempt to get to know human beingness, but in its way of analyzing and theorizing, it transcends reason and passes into the realm of integrated humanity.^ As Papanoutsos says, man's spirituality--the salient characteristic of his humanity--encompasses not only his love of truth, but also his thirst for beauty, his love of the good and his passion for holiness. Man's spirituality is consummated as he ascends one after the other these gradations of human creativity. And since man can be spiritually creative only in society, the way society is organized bears directly on the human individual's potential for creativity. Thus, Koreas and Papanoutsos teach us that politics becomes an integral part of man's concern with the promotion of his creative potential; and thus the political praxis is not to provide only for the conventional rights and freedoms of the citizen but to see to it how these rights and freedoms are put properly in the service for the enhancement of the human personality. In light of this ascertainment of Koraes and Papanoutsos we assert in this work that only a meritocratic democratic organization of society based not on utopias but on the true dictates of human nature can lead man out of the dire social and political predicament that he finds himself in today. ^

Subject Area

Philosophy|Political science

Recommended Citation

Chiotis, Panagiotis N, "The Enlightenment tradition in Greece: The case of Adamantios Koraes and Evangelos Papanoutsos" (1991). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9127024.