Philosophy in Neo-Platonic
Mode
Neo-Platonists
• Marsilio Ficino
• Pico della Mirandola
• Pico’s Hebrew tutor: Johanan ben Isaac
Alemanno
Influential Books of Ficino
• Commentary on Plato’s Symposiusm (Latin
then popular in Italian, French, etc.)
• Works of Plato, 1484 (Full Latin translation
from original Greek texts)
• Platonic Theology (Reconciles Christianity
with Platonic philosophy), 1474
• Translation of Hermetic writings
• Letters (ex. to Lorenzo on Law and Justice)
Ancient Authors
• Plato (4th c. B.C.E.)-records conversations
of Socrates
• Plotinus (2nd c. C.E.)
Florentine Circle in Neo-Platonic
Mode
• Ruling family: Cosimo de’ Medici, Piero de’
Medici, and Lorenzo de’ Medici
• Poet Poliziano, as well as Lorenzo
• Artists Botticelli, Michelangelo
Other Italian Neo-Platonists
• Cardinal Pietro Bembo (also portrayed in
Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier)
• Vittoria Colonna, Poet, friend of
Michelangelo
Neo-Platonic Idea of Beauty
• Divine beauty is higher than physical
beauty.
• Soul seeks to ascend by contemplating
physical beauty
Neo-Platonic Idea of Love
• Love of Earthly Venus-physical love
leading to procreation
• Love of Heavenly Venus-spiritual love
leading to creativity
• One may love physical beauty and rise
through that love to love of spiritual beauty
• Highest love contemplates the Intellectual
and Moral Virtues, that is WISDOM
Neo-Platonic Idea of Free Will
• In Pico’s Oration, Adam was created with
free will.
• Adam has no fixed abode and no fixed
nature
• Adam can descend to the animal level or
ascend to the angelic level (ascending up
Jacob’s ladder)
• Free choice is the main human
characteristic
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Philosophy in Neo-Platonic Mode Lecture Outlin