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In Search of the Good

The Role of Recognition in Proclus and Maximus the Confessor

Timothy Riggs
Published Online: 2016-05-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2016-0037


The concept of recognition is increasing in importance in political and social philosophy as a means of explaining and dealing conceptually with the problems of multiculturalism. Nevertheless, the phenomena which this concept signifies, namely human capacities for intersubjectivity, belong to human beings even before the development of the modern concept. This article explores how the content of the concept of recognition plays a role in two Platonic philosophies of Late Antiquity, those of the Neoplatonic philosopher Proclus and the Christian philosopher, monk and theologian Maximus the Confessor. It is shown that their versions of a metaphysics of the Good provides the foundation for a moral and ethical vision of human life which makes recognitive judgements – which make acts of recognition possible – a necessity for human action. Although proper recognition pertains to the rational recognition of the First Cause as the true end of all human action, nevertheless Proclus and Maximus make recognitive judgements not only possible but a necessary function of even the lower, irrational faculties of soul. In this way, they explain how human beings have an innate capacity at all levels of cognition for recognizing things and other people as goods to be pursued or avoided.

Keywords: Platonism; metaphysics; philosophical psychology; intersubjectivity


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About the article

Received: 2016-01-29

Accepted: 2016-03-30

Published Online: 2016-05-27

Citation Information: Open Theology, Volume 2, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2300-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2016-0037.

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©2016 Timothy Riggs. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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