Iosipos Moisiodax

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Joseph Moisiodax
Born 1725
Died 1800

Iosipos (Josephus) Moisiodax or Moesiodax (Greek: Ιώσηπος Μοισιόδαξ, 1725–1800) was an 18th-century philosopher and professor and one of the greatest exponents of the modern Greek Enlightenment. He also became director of the Princely Academy of Iaşi.


Moisiodax was born in the town of Cernavodă in Western Dobrudja, at the time part of the Ottoman Empire. His real name was Ioannis, "Joseph" being his monk name. Some authors consider that his surname, Moisodax/Moesiodax ("Dacian from Moesia"), indicate Romanian origins.[1] His ethnic origin is contested with various sources presenting him as Greek[2] Romanian or Vlach.[3][4] On the other hand, Moisiodax in his work presents himself as Greek.[5] Little is known about his youth, but it is assumed he received elementary education and learned Greek from a clergyman in Wallachia or Thrace.[6]

In 1753–1754 Moisiodax went to the Greek schools in Salonica and Smyrna, where he was influenced by the Neo-Aristotelianism, prominent in those centres. In 1754–1755 he went for several years to the Athonite Academy, which was back then under the direction of Eugenios Voulgaris, another prominent exponent of the Neohellenic Enlightenment. Between 1759 and 1762 Moisiodax studied at the University of Padua, under Giovanni Poleni. During this period he was ordained a deacon.[6]

In 1765, during the reign of Grigore III Ghica, Moisiodax came to Moldavia where he became the Director of the Princely Academy of Iaşi, and its professor of philosophy. His philosophy teachings, influenced by John Locke, brought him into conflict with the exponents of traditional order, leading to his resignation in 1766. In 1766, becoming sick, possibly of tuberculosis, he retired from this professorship and went to Walachia, where he passed the next 10 years.[citation needed] Having recovered from his illness, he returns to Iaşi, where he accepted for the second time the direction of the Academy. After only several months, he was forced to resign again, due to the boyars 'opposition to his way of teaching.[7] He went first to Braşov (1777), and after that to Wien, where he published his most important work, The Apology. In 1797 he was briefly a professor at the Princely Academy of Bucharest. He died in Bucharest, in 1800.

The Apology (1780) is remarkable in many respects. Among other things, it is the first essay of Neohellenic literature. But its greatest importance resides in the concept of "sound philosophy" proposed there. This philosophy is the Occidental natural philosophy, as opposed to the Corydalean Neo-Aristotelianism that was taught everywhere in the Greek-speaking world. Moisiodax admired Descartes, Galilei, Wolff, Locke, but most of all he admired Newton. He thought that philosophical instruction must begin with the study of mathematics (Angelo Nicolaides), and that good philosophy is mathematical philosophy. Also, Moisiodax banned the Aristotelian logic from the academic curricula, replacing it with the theory of knowledge, and proposed that the Ancient Greek be replaced in classrooms by Modern Greek, in order to increase the clarity of the lessons taught.[citation needed]

Selected writings

  • Ηθική Φιλοσοφία, Ethical Philosophy, translation of Lodovico Muratori's Filosofia Morale, Venice, 1761, 2 vol.[8]
  • Περί Παίδων Αγωγής ή Παιδαγωγία Treatise on the Education of the Youth, adaptation after Locke and Fénelon with several original chapters, Venice, 1779
  • Aπολογία Apology, Wien, 1780
  • Θεωρία της Γεωγραφίας, The Theory of Geography, Wien, 1781 (written in 1767)
  • Σημειώσεις Φυσιολογικαί, Philological notes, Bucharest, 1784
Translations to Greek:
  • Οδός Μαθηματική, by Alain Caillé
  • Στοιχεία Μαθηματικών, by André Tacquet
Unpublished works:
  • Οδοί Φυσικής
  • Επιτομή Αστρονομίας κατά τους Νεωτέρους


  1. "Cernavoda was one settlement of the Vlach-speaking tribes dwelling to the south of Danube in the area of ancient Moesia; these were distinguished by the local inhabitants, who spoke Bulgarian, by their dialect which derived from Latin. As a result of this, they were identified with the "Dacians" of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia to the north of the Danube. These Romanian-speaking inhabitants of north Bulgaria were called Moesiodacians by Greek scholars, to distinguish them from the stock-breeding nomads further south in the Balkans who spoke the same language and were known as Koutsovlachs" (Kitromilides, p. 18). "Koutsovlach" is a name referring to the Balkan Vlachs (see History of the term Vlach), especially to Aromanians. Thus, the Greeks distinguished Romanians from Northern Bulgaria and Dobrudja from other groups of Latinophone people in the Balkans.
  2. Charles W.J. Withers. Progress in Human Geography. 10.1177/0309132506071515, p. 7
  3. Murgescu, Mirela; Koulouri (Christina). "Nations and States in Southeast Europe" (PDF). CDRSEE. p. 26. Retrieved 21 November 2010. Check date values in: |date= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Angelo Nicolaides. Iosipos Moisiodax, John Locke and the post-European enlightenment quest for modernity in Greece. Journal of Languages and Culture Vol. 1(2), pp. 22-27, August 2010. ISSN 2141-6540, p. 2
  5. Dean J. Kostantaras. Infamy and revolt: the rise of the national problem in early modern Greek thought. East European Monographs, 2006, ISBN 978-0-88033-581-2, p. 92
  6. 6.0 6.1 Trencsényi, Kopeček 2006, p. 65
  7. Trencsényi, Kopeček 2006, pp. 65-66
  8. Μοισιόδακας Ιώσηπος [1725/1730, Τσερναβόδα - 1800(;), Βουκουρέστι(;)]. Ελληνομνήμων.


  • Paschalis M. Kitromilides, The Enlightenment as Social Criticism: Iosipos Moisiodax and Greek Culture in the Eighteenth Century, 1992. ISBN 0-691-07383-X.
  • Paschalis M. Kitromilides, "Cultural change and social criticism: the case of Iossipos Moisiodax," in Idem, Enlightenment, Nationalism, Orthodoxy: Studies in the Culture and Political Thought of Southeastern Europe (Aldershot, Ashgate Variorum, 1994) (Variorum Collected Studies, CS453),
  • Balázs Trencsényi, Michal Kopeček, Discourses of collective identity in Central and Southeast Europe (1770–1945), Central European University Press, 2006, ISBN 963-7326-52-9

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