and Wolff, and John Locke. This curriculum could only be taught in a monastic environment for as long as Voulgaris enjoyed the full and unswerving support of the highest powers in the church. When Cyril V fell from the ecumenical throne, he retired to Mount Athos, where he began meddling in the affairs of the school. This encouraged other factions to come out openly against the modernist programme pioneered by Voulgaris, who feeling abandoned and betrayed resigned from the directorship in 1759.
This, however, was not the end of the openness of the church to western learning in the age of the Enlightenment. Voulgaris was replaced at the head of the Athonite Academy by Nikolaos Zerzoulis, known as one of the earliest proponents of Newtonian science in Greek culture. Voulgaris himself was called to Constantinople by Patriarch Seraphim II soon after his resignation in 1759 and charged with the reform of the patriarchal academy. His tenure there was too short to allow him to bring about major changes but he did introduce mathematics and modern science into the curriculum. His stay in Constantinople nevertheless had one major political consequence: he contributed to the rapprochement between the Great Church and the Russian Empire, ending a period of cold relations going back to the reforms imposed on the church in Russia by Peter the Great. This initiative was to cost Patriarch Seraphim II his throne in March 1761 and with his deposition came the end of Voulgaris's career at the patriarchal academy. There too Nikolaos Zerzoulis replaced him for a short period.
Other eighteenth-century patriarchs, notably Samuel I (1763-68, 1773-74), one of the towering figures in the ecclesiastical politics of the time, were inimical to western learning and modern philosophy. They may have preferred the more familiar and conventional Aristotelian philosophy but they never attempted to stop the teaching of modern philosophy. Furthermore, up to 1789 the church, as an institution, never adopted through synodical resolutions any policies hostile to western secular learning. The eighteenth century witnessed intense ideological conflicts between traditional and modernising scholars, as they struggled for control of major educational establishments. Yet remarkably before 1789 the church only once proceeded to the condemnation of a scholar for his philosophical views. This happened in 1723 and was directed against Methodios Anthrakitis, who had provoked the hostility of other scholars in Kastoria for teaching the philosophy of Malebranche and Descartes rather than that of Aristotle. But despite the agitation engineered against him by his local rivals, he was only called to appear before the synod of Constantinople when he was accused of adopting the heretical religious views of the Spanish mystic Miguel de Molinos. When he failed to appear,
Was this article helpful?