The Cyber-Cave

Reflections on the political, technological, cultural and economic trends of the world

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494)

ORATION ON THE DIGNITY OF MAN (1486)

Pico wanted to develop a ‘philosophia nova’.

900 THESES:
-Summary of scholastic theology: Albert Magnus; Thomas Aquinas; Francis of Meyronnes (Pico wanted to alleviate the clash between the Thomas and Duns Scotus); John Scotus; Henry of Ghent; Giles of Rome.
-Summary of Arabic thinkers: Averroes; Avicenna; Al Farabi; Abraham ben Isaac of Narbonne; Abumaron the Babylonian; Moses Maimonides;
-Greek Peripatetics: Theophrastus; Simplicius; Alexander of Aphrodisias (10.8: the metaphysicians and the dialecticians dispute at all times, the first ones with demonstration while the latter probabilistically).
-Platonists: Plotinus (being, life and intellect coincide in the same thing; man’s greatest happiness exists when out particular intellect is fully conjoined to the first and total intellect); Adeland the Arab; Porphyrium; Iamblichusl Proclus.
-Pythagoras (Every prime number symbolises God).

John Scotus writes ‘In the division of nature’ dialogue that “authority is the source of all knowledge, but our own reason remains the norm by which all authority must be judged”. God is which creates and is not created, while the purpose of mankind is that of divine unity (a state which neither creates nor is created). Everything comes from God and all things will return to God. John Scotus was a pantheist. ‘Nature’ is the word he uses to identify God and the universe.
“Metaphysics begins and ends with God”.

CHALDEAN THEOLOGY

TRISMEGISTUS: (there is the Corporeal/incorporeal dichotomy; Every living thing has a soul; the Universe is eternal; nothing can perish);
Pico invites the reader to be a profundus contemplator will know that; Pico writes that some of his Cabalistic interpretations will not be revealed because they are to be secret;
Pico claims that the ‘ten punishers’ of Trismegistus (ignorance, greed, malice, anger etc) are similar to Cabala)

CABALA:
(Pico finds a correspondence with Proclus’ henads and with the cabalistic sefirots;
Pico was very much interested in the symbolism of the Kabbalah and how it could be used to interpret the Bible; Pico interpreted cabalistically that Adam by sinning cut off the lowest sefirah -the ‘kingdom’- from all others;
Pico interprets the ‘Hokmah’ -wisdom- sefirot as being associated with Jesus Christ -the “Wisdom of the Father-; paradise is the entire sefirot system; the Tiferet sefirot -beauty- is associated with Adam; “the thirty-two paths of wisdom” are the 10 sefirot and the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet; Onkelos the Chaldean; Shekinah is divine presence).
PICO’S OWN OPINIONS TO RECONCILE THE VARIOUS TRADITIONS/THINKERS: Thomists and Scotists should not disagree.
PICO’S OPINIONS ON PHILOSOPHY: (St Thomas said beatitude consists in a reflexive act of the intellect; metaphysics deals with “whatever is a true form as its first subject’ but this method disregards demonstration- demonstration belongs to the realm of logic; Pico says that who knows  well  order of the Hebrew language will possess the rules to discover everything knowable )
THEOLOGICAL CONCLUSIONS: 4.14 Pico believed neither the cross of Christ nor any image should be objects of veneration; the idea has no form while the form has no idea.
CONCLUSIONS ON THE PLATONISTS: Crantor’s diagram; Orpheus said love is without eyes because it is beyond the intellect; 5.20 Beauty is more perfectly found in the intelligible things rather than in the sensible things; Alchindus; William of Paris talk about sensus nature; Pico believes that Plato’s concept of happiness is explained with Socrate’s prayer to Pan in the Phaedrus “Socrates proposes a final prayer: «O beloved Pan and all ye other gods of this place, grant to me that I be made beautiful in my soul within, and that all external possessions be in harmony with my inner man. May I consider the wise man rich; and may I have such wealth as only the self-restrained man can bear or endure» (279b-c). Phaedrus shares in this prayer «for friends have all things in common».)

OPINIONS ON MATHEMATICS: For Pico mathematics was not a proper science; he says just like medicine cures the soul through the body then music cures the body through the soul (Medicina sanat animam per corpus, musica autem corpus per animam). 
CONCLUSIONS ON THE BOOK OF CAUSES
He intended to demonstrate, through the use of number (via numerorum), several concepts such as God’s existence, his infinity, him being the cause of all things etc. He may intended using gematria.

Pico is interested in ‘inuestigatione uniuscuiusque scibilis’. (everything knowable)- de omni re scibili. An ‘occulta  concatenatio’ can be found among spiritual texts.

CONCLUSIONS ON ZOROASTER AND HIS CHALDEAN COMMENTATORS
MAGICAL CONCLUSIONS
CONCLUSIONS ON THE ORPHIC HYMNS

Aphoristic hints to “excite the contemplative minds”.
CONCLUSIONS ON CHRISTIANITY

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494)

ORATION ON THE DIGNITY OF MAN (1486)

Pico wanted to develop a ‘philosophia nova’.

900 THESES:
-Summary of scholastic theology: Albert Magnus; Thomas Aquinas; Francis of Meyronnes (Pico wanted to alleviate the clash between the Thomas and Duns Scotus); John Scotus; Henry of Ghent; Giles of Rome.
-Summary of Arabic thinkers: Averroes; Avicenna; Al Farabi; Abraham ben Isaac of Narbonne; Abumaron the Babylonian; Moses Maimonides;
-Greek Peripatetics: Theophrastus; Simplicius; Alexander of Aphrodisias (10.8: the metaphysicians and the dialecticians dispute at all times, the first ones with demonstration while the latter probabilistically).
-Platonists: Plotinus (being, life and intellect coincide in the same thing; man’s greatest happiness exists when out particular intellect is fully conjoined to the first and total intellect); Adeland the Arab; Porphyrium; Iamblichusl Proclus.
-Pythagoras (Every prime number symbolises God).

John Scotus writes ‘In the division of nature’ dialogue that “authority is the source of all knowledge, but our own reason remains the norm by which all authority must be judged”. God is which creates and is not created, while the purpose of mankind is that of divine unity (a state which neither creates nor is created). Everything comes from God and all things will return to God. John Scotus was a pantheist. ‘Nature’ is the word he uses to identify God and the universe.
“Metaphysics begins and ends with God”.

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