Pr. Dr. Anastasios Yannoulatos
Archbishop of Tirana, Durres and all Albania
Emeritus Professor of "Kapodistria" National University of Athens
Honorary Member of the Academy of Athens
President of the Logos Foundation
One does not usually encounter a word or term with such a long history and numerous connotations, which has entered the language dictionary of developed countries and prevails in philosophy, theology and in the theoretical and positivist sciences in general. A simple internet search through Google (November 2012) reveals that the word logos in its initial Greek script is used 18,300,000 times, while in its international usage (as Logos, logos) is encountered about 635,000,000 times.
The word logos carries a double meaning: it expresses the progress of thought and expression. And it also expresses the possibility and content of human approach and thought about nature, and about the origin and cause of phenomena and things. It is the axis of human logic. A number of related terms derive from the word logos such as: logic, logistic, logical, - which refer to logos in terms of the function of mind, intellect, logic, and of the human’s ability to comprehend. We also find it as part of compound words which might or not be scientific
The magnificent wealth and the wide horizons of the word logos has been the reason for choosing this name for our University. It is a word which carries a multitude of meanings, which has historical depth, and an actuality which is always real. It is comprehensible to the ordinary citizen but it also offers a wealthy content to the intellectual mind.
The diversity of meanings that are summed up in the word logos are particularly interesting during the philosophical and theological research of mankind.
1. First, a defining philosophical meaning was given to the term logos by Heraclitus, a pre-Socratic philosopher (540-480 BC). According to him, logos refers to a logical order that regulates everything that happens in the world. This is a type of order which coordinates the major antitheses to form a harmonious whole which is "excellent in harmony”. According to Heraclitus All become One. Besides its philosophical meaning, the word logos in Heraclitus’ work also means thought, significance, teaching, relationship, and even word in its ordinary meaning.
In the 5th century BC, the term logos was used by philosophers and various philosophical schools, gaining thus other new nuances.
Hence, Plato (427-347 BC) supported the fact that man is composed of both a body and a soul, the latter including: the logical part, the angry feelings and the desires. The most important of these three being the thinking aspect, which is also called the mind, and which is positioned within the soul. The word, logos, is the higher idea, the most fundamental element of social and political life.
The Stoics (4th century to 3rd century BC) coined the term hypostatic "logos", giving it an anthropological and cosmological content. They considered the word as the guiding principle of the universe, the supreme divine authority that regulates all things and governs the universe. So this term received also religious connotations; it was explained as "spermatikos logos" the word which contains the divine seed within it and which exists within man, as part of the Divine Spirit that fulfills all.
The Neoplatonists, the followers of the newest form of Platonic philosophy, which flourished in the first centuries AD in Alexandria, considered the logos, the word, as the supreme power operating in the world, through which hypostasis, nature, form and movement of beings were determined. To them, logos is the "spirit in the fiery form" and the life-force that governs the whole world; the "The Word of the universe" and the "ruling spirit" to which human passions and instincts must submit.
2. Besides philosophical meditation, the word "logos" was also used in the religious context, in which the term acquired a much deeper meaning. References to the Word of God are highlighted in the Old Testament. The living God speaks to men, and His Word acts and reveals. The significance of His word prepares the central event that the New Testament proclaims, that is the Logos, the Word "became flesh".
A huge step in the exploration of the meaning of the term logos was made by St. John the Evangelist who used the term to define the beginning of creation and the mystery of its Creator. "In the beginning was the Word, Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Word, Logos, was God" (John 1: 1), along with the analytical text that follows (1: 2-18). Despite external links to ancient Greek philosophy and the Hebrew elaboration made by Philo of Alexandria, the leading representative of Greek-Jewish philosophy (1st century BC to 1st century AD), the theology of the meaning of the Word in the Gospel of John takes a new dimension and a new connotation which is purely theological. The Logos is Jesus Christ, the Creator of the universe, the light and life of mankind, Who became man for the salvation of the world.
The concept of the Logos, the Word in the Scripture, is also closely related to the concepts of person, truth, virtue, and God Himself as the absolute Being.
The apologists of the first Christian centuries developed the doctrine about the Word with special care drawing a dividing line between the theological approximation of the Christian world and the pagan one. Most of whom, when referring to the Logos' relationship with the Father, use the example of the word which is oral and comes from the "depth of the heart".
Endless studies have been devoted and still continue to be made on the notion and significance of the theological term "logos" in the history of mankind.
3. The certainty that the eternal and inaccessible God speaks to men and that His Word reveals, directs, and judges, was later borrowed by Islamic theology and philosophy within various contexts, with different words and terms in an altered coherence. Basically, "the word of Allah" was identified with the Qur'an.
During the heyday of the Abbasid dynasty (10th century AD) many works of ancient Greek philosophers began to be translated into Arabic and the ideas of the centuries before Christianity were restored, but with a different dynamic. The Arabs accepted this influence from the main philosophical schools of Alexandria and Athens, the former having the most direct influence. In general, Muslim philosophers used Aristotelian, Platonic, and Neoplatonic elements as they liked. Some highlighted the importance of logic, while others of cognitive knowledge capability. Great appreciation was shown towards Aristotle and those who followed his ideas are represent in the Islamic tradition of the "philosopher type" (falasifah). Nonetheless, Muslim intellectuals saw Aristotle through the lenses of the Neoplatonists. It is characteristic that in Arabic philosophical literature, there are works with neoplatonic tendencies which have Aristotle as their author, like "Aristotle's Theology", which essentially was the elaboration of the "Aeneid of Plotinus ".
Among the Muslim philosophers, Al Farabi (870-950) used Aristotelianism as the basis of his doctrine by subjugating Neoplatonic metaphysics. The Persian doctor and philosopher Al-Razi (Muhammad ibn Zakariya) developed a philosophy that was more Platonic than Neoplatonic or Neopytheagorian while the Persian Ibn Sina, Avicenna (980-1037), who was considered to be the leading Muslim philosopher, was essentially Neoplatonic. The attempt to synthesize Platonic and Aristotelian thought, which initiated in Hellenistic philosophical schools and in many Christian settings, eventually prevailed in Islamic philosophy.
4. In the latest philosophical thought, the term, logos, is used:
a) With an anthropological connotation to refer to the logical power and nature of man, who acts out based on his thought and judgment and not on his instincts b) In the linguistic context, logos carries the notion of intellect as the source of all knowledge. c) In the gnoseology field (the philosophy of cognition and human learning skills), it is usually connected with the paired terms of "orthos logos - true reason, rationalism", "katharos logos - pure reason", "praktikos logos - practical reason”, "apokron logos - trial". According to the definition of the eminent German philosopher Emanuel Kant (1724-1804), "pure reason" (Reine Vernuft) manifests human reason itself with its natural categories, that are unrelated to experience.
A kind of return to Heraclitus' metaphysics was made by Georg Hegel (1770-1831), the philosopher of objective and historical idealism, who used the term logos as the absolute logical idea, the absolute spirit, which is the beginning of all things. In his work, the word logos becomes self-externalized regaining its previous unity. The thinking man is differentiated from the animal, which does not possess the ability to understand. That is why only man has religion. For Hegel, the "logos-reason rules the world".
As it can be noticed in this synoptic analysis of a few aspects of the meaning of the term logos and Logos, its use brings to our memory an infinite wealth of human thought and opens up wonderful horizons.
Our vision and effort today is that this academic nucleus with the name, "Logos” University College, gradually develop and have new scientific branches, and to unify the creativity of the past and the new achievements of worldly research, keeping its focus firmly on its bright future. It must be an educational institution, without prejudices or exceptions of any kind, which will serve everyone, respecting the freedom and individuality of each person who teaches or learns in this institution, and thus providing the best development of their personhood. As a result, the society will have trained scientists, who will work creatively for its progress.
Logos must be a dynamic University with an open, wide and universal perspective (universal, Universitas) which will serve education, science, research, society, and which will creatively use the very valuable gift of the word, as the source of knowledge, drawing inspiration and power from the Eternal Word, the Logos, Who enlivens every man and the whole world.