Sunday, January 23, 2011
15,000 words or so of notes, outline, quotes, footnotes
intro - review examples of unusual angel moments in Pico's texts
Pico didn't imply angel magic when he referred to Cabalistic traditions concerning angels, but rather claimed correlations w/Dionysian myst.
Problem of angel magic in Pico: he claims to rule out "bad kind" of conjuring, yet associates Cabala with magic as well as angels--implies?
scholars who see Pico as conservative critic of Platonism: rather than hints of theurgy Blum speak of "hints against poluarizing pagan Platonism"
Pico's magic a controversial topic/many interpretations--but his angel has not received a proportionate amount of attention, although needed
magic is not a big problem for Pico because he isn't worried about it. mystical ascent is his problem, reason for turn to Neoplatonism
Pico spends much more text on problems of angelology than he does on magic, which is not really a problem: he knows what it is, no mysteries
None of the other theses on neoplatonic angelology were accused. Angelology looms much larger than magic(although latter more controversial)
In the theses on Intellect we see a great deal of angelology. I don't see why this Dionysian theology should have been a problem-Aquinas did
Pico defends his "God is not intellect/angel not man" thesis as in Dionysian mode,had already gone to great lengths laying out NP Int theory
900 section start w/ 1st accused thesis. I don't evaluate Pico's orthodoxy just want to show that he doesn't intend magic by it or FYs hints
Dionysius' God is "henad of henads"--does making henads into angels work with Proclan ontology? How much of this did Pico grok?
Farmer jumps to the conclusion that Pico meant concept of henads by Orphic guardians. Do we have enough to go on?Did Pico understand henads?
Pico's Plotinian take on late NP Angelic Mind allows him to explore original positions on Forms and Beauty, Allen has shown problems he hit
It is interesting but not heretical or dangerous when Pico compares the distance between God and Man to the distance between God and Angels
One of Pico's accused theses deals with angels. It refers to a tradition of Pseudo-Dionysius and probably should not have been suspect.
In De Ente Pico uses angel as example of how even the highest perfection falls completely short and cannot be said of God(why God's not Int)
In his first philosophical work Commento Pico uses Plotinus to re-read late Neoplatonic angelology: Angel Mind simple/first/perfect creation
In Heptaplus+De Ente Pico bases his angel discussions on Pseudo-Dionysius and Aquinas' Angel Treatise, In Commento on Neoplatonists,900 both
What is original about angel in Oration is way he poetically weaves together angel traditions to support his philosophy exaltation project
Pico does connect angelic imitation with natural philosophy knowledge: "suffuse our purified souls with the light of natural philosophy"
Oration: "if we are to form our life on the model of the Cherubim" "imitating the life of the Cherubim here on earth"
Pico's concept of freedom has been misinterpreted as "radical" but it is no more radical than the Christian concept of freedom already is.
Pico's magic is actually quite boring, like that of Albertus Magnus+Roger Bacon. He's not raising magic to supercelestial heights.
One of the most common errors in Pico interpretation is the notion that in Oration the Dignity of Man is radical, pointing to man as Magus
Like Iamblichus Pico wants to exchange the human state for a divine state. He describes this as a mystical death.It is not self-aggrandizing
Pico talks of mystic ascent in Oration in passive terms: raised to height of theology.As in Pseudo-Dionysius' theurgy God/angels do raising
Pico is not doing a "magic theology;" magic is lower than theology. Pico wants to leave behind the human state, not "be a magus"
Misreadings of Pico as doing "angel magic" obfuscate his angelology and give a misleading impression of his influence on Renaissance Magic
what Pico found most exciting in Kabbalah was resemblance to Dionysius+xtian neoplatonic negative theology.
Pico grounds his concept of angels in the Oration on biblical text+characters, Paul+Dionysius. He doesn't say much original on angels here.
review Pico's biblical sources
Acts 7:53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.
Matthew 24:26 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. Luke 1:19...[Gabriel]
Isaiah6:8 Above it stood the seraphims:each one had six wings;w/twain he covered his face,+w/ twain he covered his feet,+w/ twain he did fly
Psalm 103:20 Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.
Collossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible,...
...whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
Hebrew 12:22 an innumerable company of angels Daniel 7:10 thousand thousands ministered unto him Luke24:29 a spirit hath not flesh and bones
Hebrews 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
1a. Pico della Mirandola (dates) left a brilliant but controversial philosophical legacy.
1b. His angelology is complex, serious, but misunderstood and neglected.
although not systematic, doesn't give answers, makes problematic moves. [influence on later Cabalist angelology]
1c. Many of these misunderstandings have been cleared up in recent historiography, but theurgic interpretations remain.
1d. Pico's motivations were not magical but rather they were philosophical.
1e. Pico's angelology can best be understood as contribution to Christian Neoplatonism in angelology tradition of Pseudo-Dionysius and Thomas Aquinas.
I am not attempting a comprehensive interpretation of Pico. I suggest looking at his philosophical motivations because I think it will help clear up misconceptions, but I admit that magic, kabbalah, and theurgy are still problems that a philosophical approach has difficulty dealing with.
Marshall Angels in EM World "Pico believed that practical Cabbal led to the ... both angel magic and the peril of entrapment by the demonic."
Angels in Medieval Philosophical Inquiry195 It is mainly in order to justify such an apotheosis or angelification of the philosopher that the angel is needed. ... to invest man with an angelic mode of being.
French p87 follows Yates "it was cabalist angel-magic that, he thought, enabled him to operate in the supercelestial or angelic world"
Mystical philosophy is not an excuse for doing magic. Theurgic interpretations have failed to take into account the philosophical seriousness and Christian piety of Pico. He could not have intended the "kabbalistic angel summoning" some have discovered not only because it was dangerous and improper, but because he would not have felt the need. It is clear from his extreme exertions in philosophizing and researching the Dionysian and Thomistic styles of theology that these Christian commitments are deeply more important to Pico than any of his neoplatonic, magical or kabbalistic side interests. Aristotelian interpretations of Pico tend to play down role of magic, Platonism. I think looking at Thomas' Platonism might help clear up this problem. Pico is a Platonist as well as an Aristotelian. He really intends to harmonize them, not just subsume one system into the other, and sees in the metaphysics of Dionysius (via Aquinas) a way to accomplish this harmony. In seeking a philosophical explanation for Pico's magic I do not mean to downplay its presence as magic.
De Ente is the unfinished beginning of Pico's theology, since unfortunately he did not live to complete it, and whatever notes or manuscript he prepared is lost. But it gives a powerful statement of his position, and gives many clues as to his philosophical motivations in exploring Neoplatonism and Aristotelian thinkers in the 900 Conclusion.
footnote - Aquinas in Pico's library
Pico read in Aquinas that Dionysius everywhere follows Aristotle.
Yates interpretations wants to find a pious mystical Pico, but she errs in making Pico's magic central, and is mistaken as to its scope and powers.
Yates Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition "The double magic of Pico brought magic quite inevitably within the sphere of religion...
by harnessing natural magic to Cabala, he took magic right up into the supercelestial world of divine and angelic powers. GBHT 104
Bono Man as Magus
"Man's dignity, for Pico, lay in his intrinsic ability to fashion his own innermost self, to act, in concert with God, as co-creator of his own nature.. This role as self-fashioner, creator, actor set man apart from other creatures. No longer a passive witness to God's creation, man actively manipulates and transforms his world and, in so doing, reshapes himself. Man's destiny rests then for Pico in his willingness to assume the mantle of his divinely endowed birthright: that of Man as Magus."
The difference between Ficino and Pico within the angelic plus cosmological framework is that Pico, through practical Cabala, has a means of reaching and operating with the angelic world which was denied to Ficino." 123
2a. Angel plays a central role in Pico, who is famous for his views on magic and Kabbalah.
(footnote this is important contrast with Ficino cite Allen here)
2b. Some interpretations, especially since Yates, have conflated angel mysticism with magic.
2c. Pico was not advocating any angel magic, having explicitly ruled out all conjuring.
2d. But Pico does deal with magical, theurgic, philosophical lore that seems to imply some kind of (licit?) angel magic?
2e. Whatever practices may be implied, Pico never makes clear. However, his philosophical angelology remains a consistent theme after he leaves magic behind in later texts.
3a. Theurgic interpretations have failed to take into account complexity of Pico's Christian angelology commitments.
3b. A better understanding of Pico's philosophical background and motivations is needed.
3c. Once Pico' Dionysian and Thomistic commitments are understood it becomes easier to understand what he is doing with Neoplatonic Angelology, Kabbalah, and others.
3d. We need to understand Pico's encounter with Neoplatonic Angelology, which has received little study, before moving on to Kabbalah and Magic as angel problems.
3e. In this paper I will do a survey of the philosophical territory Pico covers in articulating an original approach to angels, including a brief survey of problems concerning theurgy magic and kabbalah.
3f philosophical angelology sub bit - angels in Aquinas as a precursor to Pico
An angel can do nothing outside the entire order of creatures; but he can outside some particular order of nature -Aquinas ST 111.4
An angel causing an imaginative vision, sometimes enlightens the intellect at the same time, so that it knows what these images signify 111
Aquinas ST 111.3 Both a good and a bad angel by their own natural power can move the human imagination.
But sometimes he is instructed by angelic illumination, both that this act is good and as to the reason why it is good -Aquinas
more perfect intellectual life in angels:intellect doesn't proceed to self-knowledge from anything exterior, but knows itself through itself
An angel can illume thought+mind of man by strengthening power of vision+by bringing w/in his reach a truth which angel himself contemplates
We can know God because there is some likeness of Him inside us. -Aquinas St 1.12.4
The created intellect cannot see the essence of God unless God by His grace unites Himself to the created intellect. [Aquinas ST 1.12.4]
God's in all things by his power since all th's are subject to his power...by His essence b/c He is present to all as cause of being.[1.8.3]
angels propose the intelligible truth to men under similitudes of sensible things/human int as inf is strengthened by action of angelic int
the inferior intellect is strengthened by the action of the superior intellect, and according as the intelligible species...grasped -Aquinas
The modes of each of these kinds of enlightenment are in one way alike and in another way unlike. -Aquinas ST 111,1 answer
Pico and Dionysius' angel
Dionysian theurgist is like angel in the sense of illuminating those lower than his position on the church hierarchy. Pico's Syrianus notes.
Dionysius had to deal with problem of human participating in angelic theurgic activity when presiding as hierarch over liturgic rituals.
note on Dionysius and theurgy
Dionysius uses the term "theurgy" 48 times.
we have plenty of examples of Pico using mystery language, negative theology from Dionysius but we don't see him using Dionysian theurgy language
does becoming theurgy in Dionysius help us understand becoming angelic in Pico (as nonmagical)?
Arthur compares Dionysius to other angelologies extant in late antiquity, helping us understand decisions he made vs. other angel stories.
cite alongside Arthur for other early Christian angelologies Angelomorphic Pneumatology : Clement of Alexandria and Other Early Christian Witnesses ... Bogdan Gabriel Bucur
PD+theurgy may help explain Pico's interest in magic+KBL but it also explains why Pico doesn't need magic+KBL for theology of Heptaplu+BU
Finamore review of Shaw 895 Theurgy is a ritual practice that makes use of divinely illuminated matter in order to free the soul from its narrow material concerns. 896 Iamblichus was no mere magician but a true Platonist with a coherent philosophical/religious system.
Pico explains Kabbalah in Dionysian terms as ineffable theology dealing with supersubstantial, exact metaphysics of angels -- did Pico recognize Dionysian theurgy in Kabbalah?
PD MT 1.1 "superessential light of the divine darkness"
Copenhaver thinks exact metaphysics of angels plus cabala/magic relation means angel magic? But since when does metaphysics of angels mean summoning?
369 PD repeatedly states that the Christian rituals "divinize," showing that the object of the rite is the transformation of the symbols and the participant, and it is not simply a reference to works of God.
Angel as key to Dionysian Christology -- not lost on Pico but apparaently lost on many interpreters
Pico's central Dionysian problems angelic knowledge and participation in angelic activity`
Pseudo-Dionysius as polemicist: the development and purpose of the angelic ...
By Rosemary A. Arthur
36 Paul - law given by angels
56 Angels can also be found in a hierarchy in the Greek Magical Papyri, where they act mainly as agents of revelation... or deliverance from demonic attack.
64-65 In Dionysius' system the soul is much more passive than this [Hekalot mysticism]. It receives light from above, but does not move from its pre-ordained place in the hierarchy to mingle with the angels... There is a fixed distance between man and the angels in their various ranks, and because the hierarchy of the Church is a reflection of the hierarchy of heaven, there is also a fixed distance between the various ranks in the Church as well. There is no way for the individual to "take heaven by storm," with the two great hierarchies standing between him and God.
65 Dionysius is never specific about the nature of the angels, this being a mystery known to God alone (CH 6.1, 200C). He is more interested in the practical implications of the working of the hierarchy.
90 For Dionysius... knowledge of God comes quite definitely through the angels... "theology quite clearly teaches that these ordinances were mediated to us by angels" CH 4.3 180D-181A
"the commands of the Father were given to Jesus himself by the angels" CH 4.4 181C
92 It might be argued that CH 1.2, 121A contains a prayer to Jesus: "let us then call upon Jesus" the verb is epixageo, which means "to call upon," in the sense of invoking or summining. No petition follows; indeed, it is in our own strength, apparently, that "to the best of our abilities, we should raise our eyes to the paternally transmitted enlightenment coming from sacred scripture and, as far as we can, we should behold the intelligent hierarchies of heaven." There appears to be a non sequitur here. On the other hand, he does offer up a hymn of praise to the angels. (CH 2.1 136D,)
Coughlin: PD as theurgic style 169 Prayer, as theurgic activity in the DN, relies on words and concepts as symbols to enact this type of inner ritual... DN is not about prayer, it is prayer Wear 114bot Theurgy, in the Dionysian sense as well as in the Neoplatonic, works by helping to assimilate those contemplating the divine with the divine. Here, the theurgy in question is Jesus' work as divinity, particularly his work in bestowing power appropriately so that we mimic the activity of the angels.
4a. An investigation of Pico's encounter with Neoplatonic angelology turns up mostly difficult metaphysics, a disappointment to those looking for magic so surprisingly not mentioned much in theurgic interpretations.
4b. Angel is relevant to cognitive ascent, problem for ontology because Pico wants to discuss angelic level of being, angel is to be emulated/rivalled/become/surpassed, but these should not be confused with magic.
4c. Pico means something different by magic. Magic is natural philosophy, employed for theological purpose, but doesn't deal with angels in ways suggested by mistaken theurgic interpretations.
4d. Pico's interest in Neoplatonic magic has been exaggerated. Only uses Plotinus in account of magic in Oration, skips theurgic Iamblichus and Proclus in favor of metaphysical.
4e. In this paper I will look at the Christian Angelological Themes Pico explores when he looks into Neoplatonic philosophical angeolology in his Proclan Conclusions, as well as the original use he makes of this material in Commento and Heptaplus.
5a. Theurgy remains a problem for Pico. I will be bracketing the problem of theurgy, but first I want to explain why.
Philosophical interpretation of Pico still can't account fully for magic and kabbalah.
5b. Many theurgic interpretations have not rested on a rigorous understanding of the many uses of the term, haven't held up, or it isn't clear what they mean.
5c. Even Copenhaver is unclear about what he means, when he makes the most sophisticated theurgic interpretation of Pico to date. (Kocku von Stuckrad...?)
5d. Craven and Idel have argued against understanding Pico as doing Theurgy in conjuring and kabbalistic senses.
5e. Does Pseudo-Dionysian theurgy help us understand Pico? Is "becoming theurgy" in Dionysius like "becoming angelic" in Pico?
6a. Pico's Kabbalah must similarly be bracketed, although it is a rich and well-studied area in Pico interpretation.
6b. Wirszubski worried that "mysticism of language shades into magic" and demonstrated that Pico Kabbalah study suffers from same problem as Kabbalah study dealing with magical elements.
6c. Wirszubski has detailed interpolations inserted into Pico's kabbalah by translator.
6d. Influence of his Jewish teachers and colleagues on Pico still open and very interesting question--Medigo on Averroes, Alemanno on Sefirot two interesting examples not strictly "Kabbalistic"
6e. Pico seems to follow Abulafia's understanding of Maimonides and differences between theosophical and ecstatic kabbalah.
7a. Does Dionysius on Divine Names determine Pico's reception of Kabbalistic names?
7b. Or does Pico leave door open to magical uses in later Christian Cabalists? (per Copenhaver)
7c. I will be bracketing and moving past problems in interpreting whatever magic Pico may have intended to imply in Oration and 900 Conclusions.
7d. In focusing on philosophical dimensions of Pico's angel--which I hope will inform the future study of whatever magical implications may be found in Pico's angelology--I am following trend in scholarship emphasizing Pico's philosophical seriousness.
7e. Whatever magical implications may turn out to be present, Pico's angel project was fundamentally philosophical, as a survey of angelology in his texts will show.
8a. I will begin my survey of Pico's angel with Oration, which has been misunderstood when explained as advocated "Man as Magus."
8b. Pico's comparison of Man with Angels has been misunderstood as an exhortation to angel conjuring or some kind of "angelization" or "infusing the philosopher with angelic being," but is better understood as a more down to earth rhetorical celebration of philosophy and mystical theology.
8c. In Oration Pico cites David on Man being "a little lower than the angels," discusses examples of men interacting with angels in Bible, Moses as transmitter of angelic lore, Enoch/Metatron as general example of men becoming angels.
8d. In later texts (where man is unambiguously lower in the hierarchy than angels, despite the rhetorical celebration of man's centrality in Oration) Pico will consistently develop this notion of angel comparison, men emulating angels and becoming angelic
8e. Emulating and Rivalling angels in Oration is still an interesting problem, but probably better understood as metaphor for mystical contemplation than some magical practice.
13 mysteries "a vision of divine things by the light of theology 14 placed outside of ourselves like burning Seraphim 23 Platonists 31cabala Dignity 10 if we want to be the companions of the angels moving up and down Jacob's ladder 11 theology peace not philosophy 12 nectardrunken 8 bond of first minds ruler over contemplative philosophy... we may not attain this ourselves PD/Paul: cherubim purged illuminated perfected Dignity 3 a little lower than the angels 4 no form of thy very own5 seeds... he will be an angel 7 holy ambition 3angelkinds 8 rival bond of
"Angels [were] a model of perfect contemplation of the divine mystery" Angels & Angelology in the Middle Ages - Page 127 David Keck
Dougherty p.136 Having contended that human beings have no intrinsic determining principle, Pico declares that human beings are free...
Edelheit, Amos. “Humanism and Theology in Renaissance Florence: Four Examples (Caroli, Savonarola, Ficino, and Pico),” Verbum Analecta Neolatina 8 (2006), 271–90. 290 Pico considers all the scholastic opinions which he discusses, including ones which he accepts, as mere human *opiniones*, clearly distinct from biblical and early Christian *fides*. In the discussion of *opiniones*, including the views of saints and Doctors, one uses the Academic methods of finding out *probabilitas*.
8g. Craig - example of philosophical reading of Pico in a philosophy encyclopedia
Craig 388 Routledge encyclopedia of philosophy One aim was to rediscover the "secret mysteries" of pagan theology using Neoplatonic metaphysics as a key; in the manner of Proclus and Pletho, Pico argued for identifying pagan divinities with various metaphysical entities and principles.
Pico adopts an anti-Plotinian definition of Beauty, seeing it as a visual or intelligible harmony rather than an emanation from an Idea of Beauty belonging to Nous.
Pico rejects Ficino's attempt to integrate human love into a cosmic cycle of divine creative love descending from God down to creatures and linked back to God by the desire of creation for its creator. Pico, instead, sees love as a psychological process distinct from cosmic love. Divine love is a desire excited by intelligible beauty, and Pico assimilates the excitation of divine love in the rational soul to the process of cognition. In this was Pico transforms Aristotle's analysis of cognition... as well as elements taken from Plotinus and Avicenna, into an esoteric key to the speech of Diotima in the Symposium.
Commento insists at numerous points on the differences between Platonism and Christianity... All of these doctrines since the twelfth century had subjected Platonists to charges of unorthodoxyBut since Pico in the Commento was writing under the persona of a Platonist, we are not licensed to assume that he had necessarily, at this stage of his career, embraced unorthodox beliefs, not that his thought went through a development from an early Platonism to a mature Aristotelianism. Where Pico speaks in propria persona his works display great internal consistency.
388-389 In order to achieve an angelic life of contemplation and love of the divine, one must pass through the stages of mystical education as set forth by PD... Pico assimilates these stages to the four parts of philosophy... like Plato, Pico believes that the illumination acquired at the apex of metaphysical consciousness will bring order and peace to the individual soul and unity among all rational beings who share this highest form of consciousness.
389 much of Pico's anthropology is derivative from Boethius and Greek patristic sources, particularly from the Platonisms of Gregory of Nyssa and Origen...Pico's account of the "chameleon" nature of human beings very likely represents an attempt to understand in a Christian sense the Pythagorean and Platonic doctrines of palingenesis or the transmigration of souls.he was proposing to found a new theological school altogetherPico's aim is not to show that all theologies agreed in all respects.
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola shows his acquaintance with the issues of scholastic angelology, as well as with the main arguments on angelic cognition. -Angels in Med.Phil.Inq -- Pico's mastery of scholastic angelology has been remarked by ________
Del Medigo letter to Pico: the order in which the produced beings are produced +maintained within the order is Sefirot...flow from infinite "the order we find in the world is that of the Sefirot" Del Medigo, ibid "they believe that in the Infinite there is no thinking or apprehension" Del Medigo letter to Pico(explains why for Pico Kabbalah=Dionysius)
9a. Magic and Kabbalah in Oration happen after main angel comparison, philosophical celebration. Magic is not connected with angels. Kabbalah is not described as angel magic, but "exact metaphysics of angels" as well as "ineffable/supersubstantial theology" along Dionysian lines.
9b. Pico doesn't import any "Kabbalistic Angel Magic" into Oration.
9c. It is not really clear that his Kabbalistic sources included the kind of angel magic that theurgic interpretations have sought to find in Pico.
9d. Pico doesn't make clear that he understood what a successful magic and kabbalistic "operation" would involve, but he seems to think it safe and not sorcerous.
9e. In looking to Magic and Kabbalah Pico thinks he is just drawing on another theological resource, not playing some power game.
Copenhaver on mystical role of Kabbalah in Pico: Theology, spirituality and philosophy—all in the broadest sense—are the main topics of Pico's Cabala, which shows (or hints) how God reveals himself in the Sefirot, the divine names and the words of scripture. In the 72 Cabalist theses at the end of the Conclusions, this revelation becomes Christology and Trinitarian theology. From a Cabalist point of view, the Sefirot and the divine names are actors in dramas of theology, cosmology, anthropology and angelology whose major themes are exile, death, atonement and redemption, stories that Pico transposes onto the Christian Trinity, with Jesus Christ, the Messiah, as the saving hero. Accordingly, leading points of spiritual practice in the Conclusions are prayer, prophecy and ascent to mystical union with God, which is also the main topic of theOration, where Pico makes positive use of magic and theurgy as steps toward the ascent. The Conclusions, which confirm this endorsement of magic, also show in greater detail than the Oration why Pico links magic with Cabala. He sees it as a spiritual technique which, like the higher theurgy of the Neoplatonic philosophers, locates and opens routes to God which ordinarily are unknown to humans. The practice of Cabala starts with theory because these hidden channels of divinity must be disclosed and interpreted before they can be used: spirituality follows hermeneutics.
alternative to Copenhaver is more radical theurgic/magical readings, or nonmagic examples such as Craven. Most recent book on Pico New Essays emphasizes philosophical side of Pico, one article on magic claims he only theorized didn't practice. But Allen's study is a pioneering start on Angelic Mind in Commento.
Craven 98 ...Whatever Pico's accuracy as a Kabbalist, his intentions are clear
...The key words in Pico's account are eadem legi, "I read the same things." He thought he had found Christian doctrines, doctrines already familiar to the Church. All that could be done by means of Kabbalah was to bring confirmation from an unexpected source. In this sense it was an apologetical foundation for the Christian faith... it would be meaningless to him to talk of combining Kabbalistic and Christian doctrines
124 there is no suggestion that Kabbalah was to be used for any reductionist purpose... What Pico himself claims to have discovered is "A religion not so much Mosaic as Christian" ... Pico does not, therefore, propose Kabbalah as a general hermeneutic for application to any religious doctrine. 125 Pico did not propose Kabbalah as a general hermeneutic, but only for the interpretation of the Mosaic books. He did not in fact use it to find philosophy in them. When he did unvocer natural philosophy in them, by means of allegory, it was not the kind of philosophy which would have clashed with the literal sense. Finally, the fact that he found a hidden philosophical meaning did not mean that the literal meaning was not also true. Kabbalah was not, for him, a reductive method for reconciling religious truths with philosophy. 127 Frances Yates also seems to have missed the force of Pico's distinction between the strict and applied senses of Kabbalah... Hints of theurgy are not warranted. 128 Yates' conclusion that pure Kabbalah goes immediately to God himself is based on a very obscure thesis, the last of the series on magic... the texts are so obscure one can be sure of very little at all. 128 None of the evidence brought forward to justify the suspicion of gnosticism survives closer examination. The nearest Pico came to a gnostic tendency was in his devotion to esoteric knowledge, and this was hardly more than a kind of intellectual elitism. The idea that he confused religion and philosophy is another false expectation. Moreover, the emphasis on his rationalism or gnosticism obscures that other, contrary tendency in his writings, which recognizes quite explicitly the limitations of human knowledge in the religious sphere.
10a. Pico's concept of Magic is distilled from various philosophical authorities.
10b. Copenhaver points out that Pico uses Plotinus but not Iamblichus on magic.
10c. Pico's concept of magic does not seem to be the same thing as Neoplatonic theurgy.
10d. Pico refers to Iamblichus and Proclus later in the Oration as sources of Platonic philosophical theology but not as magical sources.
10e. Pico's magic is not theurgy, but he may have been influenced by Neoplatonic theurgy understood as a dimension of mystical theology.
11a. "Man as Magus" cannot be extracted from the Oration, but it is clear that any interpretation must take into account centrality of angel comparison.
11b. Pico will abandon magic and kabbalah (mostly) as topics in later texts, but centrality of angel will remain a consistent theme.
11c. Copenhaver has argued that Pico's freedom is not radical modern, but to choose unromantic life of angel. It is this angel that I will argue Pico explores in later texts, rather than the antinomian angelized sorcery of Pico's theurgic-occultist interpreters.
11d. Here it is interesting to compare Pico to Ficino, for whom angel is "absent" (Allen)
11e. We will see that Pico's treatment of Neoplatonic philosophical angelology makes more sense if disentangled from this alleged project of becoming "Man as Magus."
“Who wrote Pico’s Oration?” p.7
p.8 Magic is always already there in nature. Magicians cannot cause magical effects, though they know where to find them and how to exploit them for good or ill.
8-9 Copenhaver’s summary of theurgy] For Plotinus philosophy was the only way to ascend, and for Porphyry it was still primary, but Iamblichus lost confidence in philosophy. The contemplation that philosophy can sustain by itself will not lead to union, he concluded; it is necessary for the ascent but not sufficient, and it is less effective than theurgic ritual, which touches the higher soul. Theurgy—literally, ‘god-working’—is the work of gods who reach down through actions and objects that transmit divine energy on their own: they are always linked to the gods by the force of amity that higher beings project through lower things. Amity from on high also causes the sympathy that operates in nature. Some rituals are merely a lower theurgy that excites this sympathy but cannot lead the soul up to union. Only higher theurgy empowered by divine amity can make the final leap. But amity also causes the sympathy that mortals perceive as natural magic, which is like lower theurgy, and both these lesser practices may be steps toward higher theurgy and eventual union.
9 To make his case for natural magic, Pico cites Porphyry but not Iamblichus, and Plotinus gets most of his overt attention.
10 Pico’s account of natural magic so far is Plotinian, but then he makes a Christian point. By uncovering the world’s marvels, natural magic “excites man to that wonderment at God’s works of which faith, hope and a ready love are sure and certain effects.” Thus, while the old pagan magic had introduced the four natural virtues, the three theological virtues are within reach of a new Christian magic which “by a constant contemplation of God’s wonders” will move us to a love so ardent that “we cannot hold back the song, “Full are the heavens, full is the whole earth with the greatness of your glory.”” This hymn that natural magic compels us to sing is the music of the Seraphim, part of their triple song of blessing in Isaiah. Magic – the good natural magic that Pico defends – drives us up to join these highest angels in their chant of fiery and self-consuming love. Natural magic thus plays the same role as natural philosophy in Pico’s angelic curriculum, preparing us for theology and ultimately for union. This is what Pico means when he says that magic is “the final realization of natural philosophy.” This exalted role for magic as the gateway to theology breaches the boundary set for it by Plotinus—the limit of the lower soul—and makes Pico’s final conception of magic in the Oration more like that of Iamblichus or Proclus. Reflecting the aims of these later Neoplatonists, his goal is not to control the world of nature but to escape and rise about it. Cabala, the Jewish wisdom that reinforces Pico’s Greek and Chaldean magic, has the same world-escaping purpose.
Copenhaver Secret 66 Having made the mystical theology of Dionysius the basis of his angelic regimen, Pico derives it again from three Bible heroes—Jacob, Job, and Moses. His exposition of their familiar stories links the patriarchs with ancient gentile sages but also with the later speculations of the Cabalists, which were completely unknown to Christians in Pico’s day and may seem obscure even now.
67 The later Neoplatonists who influenced Dionysius had described the mystical ascent as “a bridge or ladder.” Pico’s account of Jacob’s ladder grounds this metaphor in familiar biblical imagery but also attaches to it strange Cabalist ideas.
68 Pico knew Gikatilla on Jacob’s dream of angels
70 Like Pico, [Alemanno] saw philosophy as preliminary to a curriculum whose advanced stage is theurgy, and he believed that theurgy enables the mystic to unite with divinity itself.
79 To become Metatron in Abulafia’s Cabala is a type of mystic union and thus an eradication of the self.
80 Man’s angelic potential was a great prize to Pico, but it was also a great peril, for Cabalist (and earlier) speculation on Metatron not only confirmed Pico’s fear of demonic magic and ratified his confidence in angelic theurgy but also reached into regions that good Christians must reserve for orthodox theology and the spirituality sanctioned by the Church.
80 The safer consequence of Pico’s Cabala, the Christianized Jewish mysticism sketched so faintly in his great speech, is that using secret names of God in Abulafia’s ecstatic method is another application of the moral theory of the Oration, where the best choice is to choose the Cherubic life in order to die the best kind of death.
Copenhaver “Astrology and Magic” in Natural Philosophy 268 ...it seems clear that his audacious programme for natural magic had celestial ambitions.
[sounds like Yates]
Number Shape 41 theory: Pico wanted his seventy-two conclusions to form an angelic talisman…without actually expressing any names of angels… without making himself guilty of theurgy.
Blum in MVD 44 he transforms scholastic disputation into an inquiry into the powers of the soul, powers that gain access to the unifying spirit of knowledge. Thus, what appears at first sight to be endorsing this or that minority opinion within or without Parisian theolis in fact transcending scholastic rationalism. 45 Pico stretches the mode of disputation to its limits in showing that the exercise of the mind, not petrified conclusions, is the aim of such debates.
[quote Crofton Black vs. comprehensive interpretations of 900]
Copenhaver's angel magic talisman is an interesting speculation. We'd need a whole new category of textual talisman method, owing to Pico...
Copenhaver If Pico wanted his seventy-two conclusions to form an angelic talisman for repelling Azazel by summoning Metatron...
I suggest that rather than seeing Pico as structuring his texts like a talisman, might make more sense to see him structuring like PD hymn.
Dougherty in MVD
116 the theme of deification unifies the seemingly disparate subjects of the [Oration] 135 Pico uses traditional scholastic philosophical terms to contend that human beings lack the basic intrinsic limiting principle usually understood to be present in all creatures... the absence of a metaphysical principle of determination is the cause for human superiority in the order of creation.
144 this goal of becoming "one spirit with God" is premised on Pico's prior claim that human beings are devoid of an intrinsic limiting metaphysical principle or form. By including divinity in the range of actualizations open to multipotential human beings, Pico appears to escape a particularly thorny metaphysical problem vexing to some medieval thinkers, namely, how the intrinsic limitations of nature are to be overcome in the divinization or deification of human beings in becoming one with God. solution to this medieval problem... a nature that does not exist does not need to be overcome
[Dougherty emphasises as Craven did that Pico's deification does not cause the kind of problems for Pico's theology that have been suggested--] Pico protects the gratuity or free character of deification on the part of God
145 Pico explains that with the advent of theology, "we shall no longer be ourselves, but the very One who made us" the advent of theology... is to be identified with deification 150 this reading allows us to take seriously Pico's concession in the Oratio that the discipline of philosophy cannot bring ultimate peace, although philosophy is a necessary component of his account of ultimate deification... Pico's highly original solution to a significant medieval problem concerning the possibility of ultimate human deification
12a. Pico's 900 Conclusions contain some of the most controversial magic and kabbalah material, but also some of the most interesting unexplored angelology.
12b. Interpretations that have sought to discover theurgic meaning or some kind of "Pico's magical system" in 900 Conclusions have problem that they are not intended to be understood as his final systematic views, but are meant as starting points for discussion.
12c. Pico raises many of the crucial problems in scholastic angelology, suggests he has ways to resolve disagreements between scholastic philosophers like Aquinas and Scotus using methods like "Philosophizing with Number" but we never find out how this resolution works.
12d. Pico's magic and Kabbalah have received a great deal of scrutiny--results inconclusive but theurgy downplayed, but his encounter with Neoplatonic angelology has not received same amount of treatment.
12e. I will focus on Proclan conclusions which reveal much more about Pico's motivations in looking at non-Christian philosophical angelology, although I admit Kabbalistic angel is interesting--see Copenhaver.
Rabin in MVD 152[astrology and magic were] mainstream subjects in natural philosophy...Pico had a solid theoretical knowledge...but he was not a practitioner
Pico on Metatron
Oration Indeed, even the most secret Hebrew theology at one time transforms holy Enoch into an angel of divinity, whom they call Metatron, and at other times it reshapes other human beings into other spirits.
Conclusions 19.2. I believe that the active intellect that is illuminating only in Themistius is the same as Metatron in the Cabala.
11>10. That which among the Cabalists is called Metatron is without doubt that which is called Pallas by Orpheus, the paternal mind by Zoroaster, the son of God by Mercury, wisdom by Pythagoras, the intelligible sphere by Parmenides.
Still emphasizes that Pico is exploring these ideas in a way that seems to contradict his scholastic precursors, but points to places where Pico seems to contradict himelf. 187 Against the grain of scholastic theologians like Aquinas as well as contemporary Florentine Platonists like Ficino, Pico apparently entertained the Averroistic doctrine of the univity of intellect -- that there is only one intellect for all human beings, and it is separate from all individuals... Unlike Averroes, Pico maintained that univity of intellect was compatible with personal immortality, as when he proposed that "it is possible, upholding the unity of the intellect, that my soul, so particularly mine that it is not shared by me with all, remains after death." A closer inspection of these theses shows that Pico speaks both ways about the rational soul being immortal or not, without providing any cogent reconciliation of these two contrary positions.
Still 199-200 The imitation of the seraphim, which forms such a substantial part of the argument of the Oration, itself reminds us that they too must undergo an illumination in order to climb up to the height at which God dwells.
13a. Pico was accused for one conclusion having to do with angels, which involved Pico's attempt at speaking in Dionysian mode on "God is not Intellect" -- emphasizing distance between man and angel?
13b. Pico does not make much direct reference to Dionysius in his Proclan conclusions, but it is clear that he is exploring Dionysian themes. Magical implications less obvious.
13c. Syrianus conclusions are excellent examples of Neoplatonic system correlated with Dionysian mystical theology, celestial hierarchy.
13d. Iamblichus conclusions give interesting example of Kabbalistic Binah correlated with strange ontological insights into orders of intelligibles and intellectuals.
13e. Plotinus conclusion on intelligibles and intellectuals gives information about approach Pico takes to "Plotinian" Angel Mind in Commento.
most important Pico conclusion accused, from p.o.v. of angelology, compares distance between human+angel intellect to "God isn't Intellect"
Another good example is Origen.
Pico got in trouble for showing sympathy for Origen, but rather than defending Origen's views Pico was saying they're not so bad he deserves to be damned, but merely intellectual errors rather than wickedness of faith.
Is he trying to be provocative or naively stepping on toes with his clumsy efforts? Whether or not Pico is making a worthy point about Origen, should he have known better than to go there? Pico protested in his own defense that he had not made any heretical arguments, is he being sincere or disingenuous? What evidence is there to indicate he is not sincere?
Copenhaver suggests (in "#/Shape") Pico meant 900 theses to be read as a structured talisman (72 KBL theses!)but new theory avoiding theurgy
Edgar Wind: The more fantastic parts of Origen's angelology Pico was prepared not to defend, but to excuse. http://bit.ly/hiCzVF
14a. Pico's approach to scholastic angelology problems gives us information about his interpretation of Aristotle and Plato differences and how to resolve.
14b. While Pico argues that he is free to disagree with Aquinas, he follows Aquinas on important points of metaphysics and angelology, explores concept of participation in Proclan conclusions. (Craven emphasizes participation in Being defending Pico from mistaken pantheist interpretation similar to what Aquinas defended Dionysius from)
14c. Method of philosophizing with numbers brings up neopythagorean mysteries that seem to bear on Kabbalistic number play, description of angel as Number in Heptaplus, all needs study--surprising how neglected.
14d. Pico turns to Kabbalah for confirmation of aspects of his Dionysian angel mysticism, does he see solution of scholastic angelology problems in Kabbalistic angel?
14e. Pico's Conclusions are misleadingly titled because they are only problem statements. We don't have his answers or explanations. But we might see later texts developing angelology problems he's exploring in 900 Conclusions.
To begin my survey of research on Pico's Kabbalah I will take a moment to review Wirszubski's findings on Pico's Kabbalistic sources.
Wirszubski brings up a potential Dionysian connection when he speculates that the title of Gikatilla's book Portae Lucis may have been meant to recall the title Dionysius' text On the Divine Names.
70. Mithridates prided himself in his understanding of isopsephic speculations, and I believe that hangling gematria was in fact his forte. 81. The Hebrew texts leave no room for doubt that the letters, the combinations of which recreate or recapture the creative energy of the Creator, are elements of language, whereas in the translations the very same letters tend to become representations of numbers. 81. in Pico's Kabbalistic Hebrew sources the medium of creation and of the magical application of Kabbala is language. This dominant view is by no means obscured in the Latin translations. 83 Pico's notion that "numeri sunt proprii operi cabalae" is for the most part out of tune with the Hebrew originals of his Kabbalistic sourrces, but quite in keeping with their Latin translations. 81 numbers sometimes prevail over the elements of language in the symbolical interpretation of Scripture. Wirszuvski found that the method of translation of the Kabbalist texts inclined Pico to overemphasize the importance of number symbolism for "Cabalistic Operations."
105bot An emanationist interpretation of creation ex nihilo and the coincidence of all opposites in God are in themselves neither Jewish nor Christian, but mystical and Platonic. Precisely for this reason, their superimposition, by way of interpolation, upon Abulafia's mystical commentary on the Guide of the Perplexed is a matter of importance. What an extraordinary feat of transformation was wrought by Pico's Kabbalist translator within the confines of Abulafia's preface to his De Secretiis Legis: Maimonides became a Kabbalist, and coincidentia oppositorum a fundamental principle of Kabbala.
250-251 Pico's analogical representation of the three worlds is descended from a Kabbalistic source... However, the analogical likeness... is not the whole of Pico's doctrine. The analogical representation of the three worlds is almost immediately followed by what for want of a shorter description might be called the monadological conception of the three worlds... What looms behind this remarkable passage is not Kabbala, but late Neoplatonism, and in particular Proclus, The Elements of Theology, proposition 103. "All things are in all things, but in each according to its proper nature: for in Being there is life and intelligence; in Life, being and intelligence; in Intelligence, being and life; but each of these exists upon one level intellectually, upon another vitally, and on the third existentially. (See Pico's conclusion according to Proclus, 17 "Licet ut tradit theologia distinctae sint divinae hierarchiae, intelligendum est tamen omnia in omnibus esse modo suo.
Wirszubski on Kabbalah three worlds vs. Proclus
Wirszubski has an appendix discussing the role of Dionysius in understanding the term "theologia inferior" in Pico:
254 If it is true, as I have suggested, that Pico conceived of theologia inferior in contradistinction to the ineffabilis de supersubstantiali deitate theologia, it makes sense, considering that the latter is reminiscent of pseudo-Dionysius, to reckon with the possibility that Pico conceived of the Lower Theology after the manner of the Cataphatic Theology of pseudo-Dionysius Areopagitica. Pseudo-Dionysius, it is true, does not himself say that the Cataphatic Theology is "inferior." At the same time, he makes it abundantly clear that of the two ways of knowing God, the affirmative (cataphatic) and the negative (apophatic), the latter is superior. (DN 981AB CH314A) The Cataphatic theology is presented by pseudo-Dionysius in the treatise De Divinis Nominibus, divine names being the attributes which are affirmed of God as the Efficient Cause of the Forms. (see Sheldon-Williams The Cambridge History of Later Greek and Early Medieval Philosophy 460 PD)
Seen against this background, the third Kabbalistic thesis might be tentatively interpreted as follows: practical Kabbalah, conceived of as scientia semot, the science of sacred names, "practices" all formative principles (metaphysica formalis) and divine attributes (theologia inferior).
261 Divine names and in particular self-induced prophecy have brought us within sight of magic [or theurgy!], or, to be more precise, within sight of what Scholem called the magic of inwardness, magic which is a mystical experience that acts upon the practitioner's conciousness, as distinct from magic that acts, or intends to act, upon the external world.
Dan on Gikatilla's version of Kabbalah Dan, Joseph. Christian Kabbalah from Mysticism to Esotericism in Western Esotericism and the Science of Religion By International Association for the History of Religions Congress, Antoine Faivre, 124 The main sources for the sefirotic concept which Pico and Reuchlin had before them were the works of Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla, who systematized and de-mythologized the Zoharic world.
Dan emphasizes what Christian Cabalists like Pico get wrong about Kabbalah 127 Many of the quotations presented in the works of the early Christian Kabbalists as kabbalistic principles, are actually simple, well-known talmudic and midrashic epigrams and commentaries.... because of this, the image of the kabbalah and the range of its ideas was completely distorted within the framework of the Christian Kabbalah: concepts, notions, ideas and terms which within Jewish culture were known as universal, were attributed in the Christian context particularly to the kabbalah.
What is true about terms and ideas is even more true concerning methodologies.
Idel Man as Possible Entity 42 nice Alemanno passage on philosopher vs. Kabbalist "Let us come to wisdom and union only by the way of intellectual speculation or by sudden intuition, but not by magical actions, buildings, vessels, prayers, vain things and many dreams, things which are unfounded in the eyes of the philosophers, the men of intellect and reason... all the things we said are the words of the ancients who knew the nature of the existing beings, the relations between them, the way in which they are linked with one another and how to prepare a receptacle for the reception of the influence of the superior bodies... just as it would be strange for someone who does not know the manner of cultivation and plowing and planting and grafting that produce things in such a manner, it will be strange in our eyes, if we did not see the light of those preparations of how the divine light and his goodness and mercy will be born in use by means of these preparations that the powers and sefirot will receive and emanate. And if you had studied or believed the preparations of the masters of the forms and secondary natures and the contrivances of nature, your spirit will not be confused by anything I told you because it is holy.
Moshe Idel New Perspectives
264 When used by Christian intellectuals, both the symbolic and the combinatory hermeneutics were employed in order to extract speculative religious or philosophical statements from the Scriptures rather to endorse a theurgic dromenon or an ecstatic experience
Idel Kabbalah and Hermeticism...Page 75
Pico did not intend to marry or conjoin the two (magic and kabbalah) but rather to subjugate both to Christianity... it is less the consonance between Cabala and Magia that counts, but their independent confirmations of Christianity I would caution against presenting Pico's main innovation as the yoking of Kabbalah and magic, but see this link as one of many others, which should not be privileged in the general economy of Pico's thought. 87 The Christian version of Kabbalah is, therefore, not so much a way of experiencing reality and explaining the meaning of human action (as, in my opinion, Jewish Kabbalah was), but much more a kind of gnosis -- a collection of concepts explaining the map of the divine world. Thus, according to the Christian Kabbalists, an accomplished Kabbalist may be considered as an arch-philosopher more important than Plato or Hermes; but in principle this knowledge does not provide a guide to mystical experience in the present. 88 The view of Pico as the instigator of another tradition, of the thinker who married mysticism and magic and created an alternative cultural trend, seems to me to be a misapprehension. Pico himself conceived his activity as consonant with Christianity... his writings contain sufficient statements to evoke a picture of Pico as rather critical toward Kabbalah, intolerant toward the Jews, and quite conservative toward magic. He brought about the marriage between Magic and Kabbalah not because he strongly believed that they constituted an alternative intellectual current to the Catholic faith, but precisely because he was certain that his intellectual enterprise did indeed strengthen the latter.
Idel KNP A disentanglement of theosophy from theurgy recurred in the Christian version of Kabbalah…. One of the crucial differences between the original Kabbalistic texts and their perception by the Christian Kabbalists was the neutralization of the theurgical aspect, so central for the Jewish Kabbalah. It is easy to understand why such a neutralization was necessary before Kabbalah could be accepted into the Platonic-Pythagorean-Hermetic Renaissance synthesis. The working hypothesis of Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, and Johannes Reuchlin was that the appraisal and proof of Christian truths could transpire through the variegated garbs of the ancient theologies and philosophies. Since these truths had also to be corroborated by Kabbalah, its uniquely Jewish component, halakhic theurgy, had to be annulled in its Christian version on the ground of the Christian abrogation of the commandments. Thus, R. Menahem Recanati, a prominent representative of the theurgical understanding of the commandments and simultaneously one of the pillars of the Christian Kabbalah, was quoted selectively by the Christian Kabbalists so as to serve as a mine of theosophical teachings and hermeneutics but not as a theurgical author. Kabbalah was thereby transformed into a gnosis, including esoteric theosophy, comparable to other similar ancient lores. I want to emphasize the importance of this metamorphosis of Kabbalah: some precious tones of this lore were lost in the Christian key. 262-263
Moshe Idel "On the Theologization of Kabbalah in Modern Scholarship" in Religious Apologetics- Philosophical Argumentation: Philosophical Argumentation.? - Page 146 by Yossef Schwartz, Volkhard Krech 146 For a Christian Kabbalist, Jewish Kabbalah at its best reflects Christian theology. For Pico della Mirandola, the main criterion of judging a certain speculative corpus is not its correspondence with other lores, but solely with Christian theology. In his fifth Kabbalistic thesis he declares that: "Every Hebrew Cabalist, following the principles and sayings of the science of the Cabalah, is inevitably forced to concede, without addition, omission, or variation, precisely what the Catholic faith of Christians maintains concerning the Trinity and every divine Person, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." (n.95) Thus, if to be accepted and studied, as indeed Pico did, Kabbalah must coincide with the tenets of Christianity. Then it could serve also as a missionary tool.
3>49 It is more improperly said that God is intellect or that which has intellect, than that the rational soul is an angel.
3>43. The act by which the angelic and rational nature is bestowed with the greatest happiness is an act neither of the intellect nor of the will, but is the union of the unity that exists in the otherness of the soul with the unity that exists without otherness.
24.5. In intelligibles number does not exist but multitude, and the paternal and
maternal cause of numbers; but in intellectuals number exists according to
essence and multitude communicatively.
15a. Pico's Proclus conclusions reveal a great deal about his philosophical motivations, and represent an important/impressive philosophical contribution.
15b. Pico digesting large amounts of difficult Proclan text, abstracted from mythic and polytheistic trappings into philosophical angelology.
15c. Farmer thought Pico was interested in sympathetic magic, but it seems clear that Pico is more interested in metaphysics of celestial hierarchy for his project of understanding angels so as to emulate and go mystically beyond their mode of life and state of being.
15d. Proclus Conclusion 24.3 shows Pico's understanding of application of divine name at different leves, 24.55 ascent through angels, a Dionysian cosmos finding confirmation in "ancient philosophy"
15e. Further study of Pico's encounter with Neoplatonic Angelology needs to better account for Pico's philosophical project in deciphering all this Neoplatonic angelology from a foreign Greek system.
15f Proclus conclusion on preserving hierarchy despite "all in all"
In 24.55 Pico suggests seeking "the true expression of the divine from the angelic choirs" imitating angels means being expression of divine
24.55. Just as a perfect understanding should be sought from intelligibles, so
the power that leads upwards should be sought from intellectuals; an operation
that is absolute and cut off from matter from the ultramundanes; a winged life
from the mundanes; the true expression of the divine from the angelic choirs;
its fulfillment, whose inspiration comes from the gods, from good demons.
3>63 "in the soul there exists in act an intellectual nature, through which it convenes with the angel" but ..."there is nothing intrinsic in it through which it is able, without the appropriate image, to understand something distinct from itself."
16a. Pico's Conclusions on other neoplatonists like Syrianus and Iamblichus reveal more of the story
16b. Pico primarily turns to Neoplatonism for account Angel and Intelligible world.
16c. Pico seems to be attracted to Neoplatonist angelology because it resembles solutions Aquinas made trying to reconcile Christian angelology with Aristotle's critique of forms.
16d. Metaphysics of participation is important, has been mentioned in scholars like Craven but deserves its own study in Pico especially considering participation is key to Aquinas and Platonism scholarship these days.
16e. Pico demonstrates a sense of differences between Neoplatonic approaches in Commento. In 900 we see him trying to find what all these Platonic angelologies have in common that confirms his own Christian views.
Farmer says Pico uses "alien scholastic terminology" to render Proclus. Like T+PD "correction
5>13. If we follow the theology of Syrianus, it is rational [to claim] that priests
in the ecclesiastical hierarchy correspond to the analogous powers in the celes-
5>17. If we follow the doctrine of Syrianus, it is appropriate after the unity of
total intellection, which is also divided triply into substantial, potential, and
operative intellection, to posit another triad of intellection, namely, partial,
participated, and imagerial.
16f Syrianus as Dionysian CH/EH ... participation in Syrianus
17a. In addition to the Encounter with Neoplatonic Philosophical Angelology, we can see Pico's 900 Conclusions as anticipating treatments of angels in Commento, Heptaplus, De Ente.
17b. We find much more information about the Platonic angelologies he makes brief references to in Commento, as he proceeds to give his own original account of Angelic Mind taking these precursors for granted. 900 illuminates study of Commento but has hardly been touched for this purpose.
17c. In Heptaplus Pico claims to be discovering angel metaphysics of Genesis, but makes us of methods of discovering such metaphysics he learned from Dionysius, Proclus, and Kabbalah.
17d. In De Ente we find Pico's mature views on angelic perfection as the highest thing to be stripped away in negative theology, metaphysics of participation, Thomistic active potency as guide to understanding Angelic being as in Heptaplus.
17e. Pico's "translations" of Neoplatonic philosophical Angelology and other topics of "ineffable theology" into the 100 or so Proclan conclusions in 900 Conclusions reveal much about what use he plans to make of Platonic angel metaphysics.
18a. Encounter with Neoplatonic angel is a background to Pico's treatment of angels in Heptaplus, although he claims to be discussing Dionysian doctrine of angels which he is astonished to discover in the Biblical text using his allegorical methods.
18b. In Heptaplus Pico will develop his original take on Angelic Mind which is playing out in the Conclusions
18c. While we don't see Pico's final views or a systematic angelology in 900, we do see quite a good start.
18d. Rather than looking at Pico's angel conclusions as decisions we must look at them as starting points for his problems.
18e. Neoplatonic angelology isn't only angel material being discussed in 900 Conclusions but plays a bigger role than Kabbalistic or even scholastic angel.
19a. Before leaving 900 must treat Kabbalistic angels, which Pico twists to fit his own system, correlates with familiar philosophical ideas, but leaves open question as to magical implications.
19b. Copenhaver has taken this material as indicating that Pico has fully integrated Kabbalistic angel into his "angel regimen" but other scholars like Craven and Edelheit give us reason to pause.
19c. Copenhaver understands Kabbalistic angel in terms of Pico's mysticism, being associated with dangers (although not conjuring made safe as in Yates) but not associated with magical practices per se.
19d. Some treatments of Kabbalistic angel are brief and obscure. Six Wings deals with Isaiah angel which gets interpreted differently in KBL and PD.
19e. After discussing the arguments of Craven and Idel against taking Pico as a theurgist I will consider Copenhaver's "theurgic model" of Pico's "angel regimen" from Oration and 900 Conclusions.
20. Finishing with Kabbalah--what about Kabbalistic theurgy?
20b. Copenhaver has suggested that Pico found theurgy in Kabbalah--what does this mean?
20c. Moshe Idel and Craven have argued against seeing Pico as doing Kabbalistic theurgy.
20d. Copenhaver's discussion of Pico's angel shows that there are mystical models we can construct, but doesn't make airtight case for integrating 900+Oration into "Pico's mysticism."
20e. I will bracket these questions of theurgy and mysticism for the most part and look at philosophical angelology in Commento, Heptaplus, De Ente and Disputations in the second half of my paper.
21a. Does Pico abandon magic in later texts? Or was magic never as central to philosophical angelology as previously assumed?
21b. When Pico's magic is understood as being limited in application and not central as in misreadings, no need to see magic as something Pico leaves behind, but simply not needed in discussions of higher level angelology.
21c. Pico doesn't seem to have magic in mind when discussing angels in Commento, Heptaplus, De Ente,
21d. but project from Oration of comparing man to angels as part of contemplative project of imitating divine still holds.
21e. I will not seek to understand later texts as development of whatever angel magic implications may be present, but rather attempt to take Pico's philosophical angelology in its own philosophical terms.
22a. Commento and Heptaplus are unrecognized masterpieces of philosophical angelology, sophisticated efforts to make a contribution to problems of Christian Neoplatonism.
22b. Pico might be saying that Plotinian simple intelligible easier to talk about than Proclan-Dionysian multiplicity of angels, for purposes of his Aristotle and Plato harmonizing project.
22c. Plotinus vs. Dionysius
22d. Angelic Mind as highest, most perfect, single thing created by God
22e. Angelic mind and harmonizing Aristotle and Plato carries over from Commento into Heptaplus and De Ente
22f Angelic Mind and life of the angels (life of angels consistent theme from Oration to De Ente where it is crucially "not perfect", still important even in Disputations)
108 the ancients called the Angelic Mind, adorned with the Ideas, paradise… they referred to people as being “in Paradise” if they lived a completely non-physical intellectual life, and, having already risen above human nature and become like angels, lived in contemplation alone.
Michael Allen's study is most significant contribution to recent scholarship on Pico's angelology
23a. Michael Allen and Crofton Black have studied Commento as precursor to Heptaplus, problems in Pico's unique interpretations of Neoplatonism.
23b. We see Angelic Mind of Commento in some form in Oration and Heptaplus.
23c. Angelic Mind philosophizing in Commento is not an effort to alter fundamentals of Christian angelology, but redescribing Platonic concepts to make them less difficult.
23d. Pico's main contribution is not in solving problems or changing things about Christian Neoplatonic angelology, but in his efforts to reconceive problems and apply other philosophical resources to them.
23e. Commento is a problem text, like all his little treatises not a systematic angelology, but nevertheless a brilliant contribution and worthy of study.
77-78 The Platonists hold as a fundamental postulate that every created thing has three kinds of being. The three are given different names by different Platonists, but they all mean the same thing. For present purposes we can use the following terms for them: causal being, formal being, and participated being.
...This distinction among three kinds of being should be noted carefully, for it sheds much light on the understanding of Platonic philosophy, and we shall refer to it often
Allen in MVD 94 In his terminology, he is certainly drawing on Iamblichian and Proclian distinctions between the Ideas (the pure intelligibles) and the highest spiritual beings contemplating them, who are in turn midway between the intelligibles and the host of intellectual beings below them. ... those Pico twice calls the "more perfect Platonists" ... had maintained that between the first and third hypostases there is only one Mind, not many minds, and they had even referred to it as the "son" of the father. This view, he says, is also closer to the opinion of Aristotle, and he prefers it because it enables him to explore the ground common to both Platonists and Aristotelians.
Michael Allen lengthy explanation of Pico's angelology in Commento
95 Pico's grounds are twofold: there is the familiar theological definition that the son is of one essence with, is consubstantial with, the Father, and there is the less familiar argument that the Christian Son is a creator whereas the second Platonic hypostasis is a creature and must therefore be identified with the first and noblest angel created by God. God, in short, created Mind as Angelic Being, as Angel.
For the Neoplatonists, if not Plato himself, the first progression or emanation from the One (it is not a "creation" per se) is not the creation of the world but the emergence of thought and of thinking, defined as intelligible being. But since God has created the Ideas or Forms of all things in that first Mind, where they have their formal being, he has created in it the intelligible world, and our sensible world, governed in its entirety by the World Soul, is an image and likeness of this Idea world. This seems clear enough, but Pico proceeds to introduce several complicating factors.
97 Pico is led to confront some of the key problems associated with the Platonic Mind, which he identifies as the first and "noblest" angel and as the intelligible world within it, that is, as the Ideas or Forms of all things that will be created subsequent to it. Since it has been created, and created solely by God, it is a creature "as perfect as it is possible for a created thing to be." It is the "perfect effect" of a perfect cause and is unique as God is unique; and yet it consists for Pico, who is thinking here in an Aristotelian way, of potency and act, the former being inferior to the latter. Potency he hastens to equate with "the unlimited" in the famous passage in the Philebus, and act he equates with "the limit," and then suggests that in some sense at least the former is a kind of matter and that the latter is form. In regard to this being, Angel or Mind is compounded of two contrary principles, like every other created thing existing between the two uncompounded extremes of God and prime matter. But Pico moves into difficult terrain when he assumes that the potency of Mind is in some senses its imperfection, though he formulates this as follows: whatever imperfection Mind possesses is the result of its potency, and whatever perfection it has is the result of its act.
97 Only God is without contrariety or discord, whereas Angel and Beauty alike are composed of potency and act, of discord and concord.
98 In 2.13, he asserts that after God Himself, there trailed "an unformed substance" that must originally have been prime matter; but when it was given form by God, it became Angel-Mind, the form consisting of the Ideas that emerge from God as their source and that collectively constitute Beauty. But all things, he goes on, become imperfect as they move away from God and mix with the unformed substance of Mind, which till now had been completely untouched by the form-giving power of the Ideas... it underscores a real and enduring problem in the Neoplatonic emanatory system: Mind without the Ideas must have been not only unformed but also, in a way, in potency, unlimited, in a state of imperfection, of what Pico here calls an "opacity." Consequently, it must have been a quasi-matter.
103 Pico treads a tightrope across the chasm, on the one hand, of inherited mythological contradictions and, on the other, of various Neoplatonic attempts to distinguish the stages in the emanation, not only of becoming, but of being itself, however envisioned and defined.
109 The Heptaplus is in effect a triumph of Platonically inspired analysis.
113 This fascination with the origins of existence, with the origin of the very thought of what does not yet exist in thought, constitutes for Pico and Ficino, I would argue, the fundamental allure of Plotinian Platonism. In particular, it accounts for Pico's most enduring and interesting contributions as a speculative philosopher and as one of the age's subtlest exegetes of what he invariably sees as the Platonic and Mosaic mysteries enveloped in the veils of ancient myth, divine hymn, and poetic invocation. In this important regard at least, we should continue to think of him as Ficino's fellow Neoplatonist, however Aristotelian or eclectic he may have been in other respects, certainly he joined his oldest friend, however contentiously, in celebrating philosophically the birthday of Venus.
Commento-Pico mentions Kabbalistic tradition of Enoch becomes Metatron as general example of men becoming angels, confirming Dionysian trad.
Pico's discourse on Venus in Commento offers an original take on post-Plotinian Beauty. Michael Allen has analyzed his successes + problems.
Commento contains an interesting experiment in "poetic theology" using Venus, Jupiter+Saturn, other myth characters philosophizing on forms.
Pico in Commento emphasizes that forms are gifts of God given to Angelic Mind, following similar constraints to Aquinas (see Boland) in NP
Commento ontology lays ground for Heptaplus angelology+cosmology as well as hermeneutic, which explains at each level of being
23f Pico in Commento begins with explanation of same "God is not Intellect" problem as got him into trouble with the one accused angelology thesis in 900
77 Of these three kinds of being, the highest and most perfect causal being. Accordingly the Platonists believe that all of the powers which are commonly attributed to God exist in Him only in the causal mode of being. Thus they say that God is not Himself being but the cause of all being, and similarly that God is not Himself intellect. Statements such as these can give a modern Platonist a good deal of trouble if he does not understand the principle behind them. I remember that a great Platonist once told me that he was amazed by a passage in which Plotinus says that God understands nothing and knows nothing. It is perhaps even more amazing that my Platonist did not understand in what sense Plotinus means that God does not understand: Plotinus simply means that the attribute of understanding exists in God in its causal being rather than in its formal being. Plotinus is not denying that God understands; he is only attributing to him understanding of a higher and more perfect kind. That this is the case can be clearly understood from the following. Dionysius the Areopagite, the prince of the Christian theologians, says in one place that God knows not only Himself but also every smallest particular thing; but elsewhere Dionysius uses the same manner of speaking that Plotinus uses, saying that God is not an intellectual or intelligent creature, but is ineffably exalted above all intellect and cognition.
23g.(footnote) for the Neoplatonic theory of forms see Syrianus' commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics 103-120 + Proclus' commentary on Parmenides ch.3-4
Above these three hypostases is God Himself, the author and cause of every creature. The Attribute of divinity has its causal being in God, its original source. Proceeding directly from Him, divinity has its second or formal being in the Angelic hypostasis
Noblest angel and "Son of God" gives Pico a way in to discover Christology in ancient theologies
(edgar wind discussed this in his note)
81 The Platonists and the ancient philosophers Hermes Trismegistus and Zoroaster call this first creature sometimes “son of God,” sometimes “Wisdom,” sometimes “Mind,” and sometimes “Divine Reason,” which some even interpret as “the word.” But everyone should be careful not to suppose that this “word” is the “Word” that our theologians call the “Son of God.” For what we mean by “the Son” is of one and the same essence as the Father, is equal to him in everything, and, lastly, is a creator and a creature; whereas what the Platonists call “the son of God” must be identified with the first and noblest angel created by God.
In ST 61 on "creation of the angels" Aquinas does not see angels as created first and separately, but with world. Existence by Participation
In ST108 Aquinas accepts Dionysian 3-level hierarchy, rules out becoming angels but discusses how by grace humans merit glory of angels
24a. Need to sidetrack into Aquinas and Dionysius to help put Pico's angelology in Heptaplus and De Ente in context.
24b. Before Heptaplus and De Ente Pico has complex critical relationship to Aquinas, but here demonstrates his commitment to Thomistic metaphysics.
24c. O'Rourke and Boland on Aquinas and Dionysius metaphysics and Divine Mind we see many familiar problems in Pico
24d. Pico on Angelic mind recalls Aquinas' caution on Dionysius' translation of Neoplatonism--immediate vertical causation all the way down, God is present to the lowest worm although as Pico says God creates Angel Mind first and only creation. Not wanting to give creative power of God to intermediaries.
24e. Pico's interest in Kabbalah and Neoplatonism is not as exotic as has been advertised when we understand how he sees in them something very similar to Dionysian and Thomistic angelology and negative theology.
25a. Pico's Heptaplus
25b. Crofton Black's study is first book to take influence of Dionysius on Heptaplus seriously, finds similarities and differences.
25c. Black has illuminated Pico's theory of allegory, which relies on Dionysius and Proclus primarily, as well as Pico's more silent uses of Jewish sources.
25d. Black identifies cognitive or Intellectual ascent leading to felicity as consistent philosophical themes running through Pico's works.
Toussaint in Blum 76 Pico remains faithful to his new cabbalistic hermeneutic and to the "poetic theology" of the pagan myths which he had begun to elaborate in the Commento, and concentrates in the Heptaplus on the hidden meaning of the words of Moses, in which he finds esoteric links to other metaphysical traditions about the nature of the divine creation of the cosmos and of the human being... Pico attempted to demonstrate that the substantial agreement in the cosmogonic knowledge of all the ages began with the figure of Moses.
78 Pico takes a position against the transcendence of the universals, that is, of being and of the one, and seeks to demonstrate that in reality these two absolutes are equivalent, for the precise reason that they belong to historically parallel systems, to Aristotelianism as the philosophy of substance and to Platonism as the philosophy of unity. He denies the purely theological function of Plato's Parmenides (which is a vital concern of Ficino, as a reader of and commentator on Proclus) and undertakes a comprehensive and meticulous investigation of the meaning that should be attached to the designations of the divine in the central texts of Scholasticism and of ancient philosophy.
79 Pico sent letters vs. Thomist Citaddini... Pico is far from assuming a "logical" interchangeability that would see a reductio of being ad unum in the one, or else see being as the only substance that constitutes that which is real. Rather, his intention in the De Ente et Uno is to reflect on the interchangeability of being and the one with regard to the infinity of God... Pico explains several times to Cittadini that one must regard the various vategories of human speech about that which is imcomprehensible as equivalent signs of the various perspectives, which are only apparently contradictoy. These must be integrated into a metaphysics of the original unknowability or of the greater infinity of God.
80 numerous contemporary testimonies show a Pico who continued to be convinced of the prophetic power of the Cabbala and was fascinated by the idea that the human person could return to his angelic origin by means of an interiorized mysticism.
26a. Aquinas in Heptaplus -- Pico uses Aristotelian act/potency application to angels pioneered by Aquinas.
26b. Pico claims to be exploring Dionysian angel but is silent about Aquinas debt
26c. We don't see Kabbalist angel - pico claims no space
26d. We see Pico treatment of Moses similar to Oration, Kabbalistic but also Dionysian treatment of angelized Moses
26e. Pico's scriptural reading method is Dionysian but he finds Thomistic version of Dionysian metaphysics
Edelheit 309 Pico is using Thomas only as an example for determining the nature of theological opinion in itself,+ its relation to the faith
Edelheit 295 Di Napoli is interested only in proving Pico’s good faith+doctrine, orthodoxy...not a heretic...neglects Pico’s inventiveness
(must be careful to account for Pico's debt to scholastics without losing sight of his originality.)
27a. In Heptaplus Pico still treating angel as Biblical problem -- why represented by Man
Crofton Black -Dionysius and Heptaplus
2 The parallels between Pico and Pseudo-Dionysius lead to a consideration of epistemology, specifically related to the idea of intellectual ascent or ‘anagogy’… the Hepaplus should be viewed as an expression of the role of the intellect in man’s progress to felicitas.
3 Pico’s engagement with this matter was influenced by the Jewish tradition, not so much in the details of his epistemology as in his manner of applying it to hermeneutics.
38 Pico follows PD by dividing the angelic hierarchy into three groups
123 PD – esotericism
127 It is necessary to summarize this defense in order to understand precisely what Pico thought kabbalah was. He begins by noting that Jewish and Christian doctores attest that two traditions were handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai: one is the written law, that is, the Pentateuch, and the other is the “true exposition” of the Pentateuch, that is, an explanation of the mysteries which lie hidden underneath the surface of its words… almost everything in them confirms the truth of Christianity.
142 Many of the Conclusiones exhibit… sefirotic kabbalah. Though prominent in the texts available to Pico, and also in the Conclusiones, it is striking that this type of exegesis has no place in the Heptaplus. The sefirot, as a metaphysical system, are entirely absense. The exegesis relating to them correspondingly fails to appear.
153 Generally, the role of Platonism and Neoplatonism in Pico's cosmic model requires some clarification. It is, I shall argue, of the greatest significance as a context for his ideas of correspondence and hierarchy. It does not, however, sit happily with the threefold cosmic division. The hypostases of Plotinus---One, Mind, Soul--do not correspond well with the three worlds. On the one hand, Pico must correlate Mind with the angelic or intellectual world; but he has placed God, or the One, here as well.
167 Dionysius and Thomas Aquinas
172 Bible depictions of angels and CH end
CH: Come, now, let us rest, if we may, the intellectual eye from the exertion which concerns the contemplation of simple and lofty things, fir for angels. Let us descend to the divisible and manifold plane of the many and various forms of the shapes which angels take. Then, let us return from them, as from images, by retracing, to the simplicity of heavenly minds. (CH 328A)
173 Dionysius method of uplifting … the exegete is not tied to his human plane, but, through the biblical symbols, is able to rise to a higher cognitive level
“The word of God used poetic imagery to represent the formless intelligences [i.e. angels], not according to the rules of art, but rather, as I have already said, having considered our own mind and provided a method of uplifting which is suitable for and of congruent quality to it, and having modelled uplifting sacred symbols for it. (CH 137B)
174 Both authors advocate a model of reading based on an understanding of the correspondences inherent in the universe, and both link this model to the distinction between angelic and human cognition.
175 comparison PD vs. Heptaplus similarities and differences
175 PD letter9
237 In choosing to derive a theory of allegory from ideas of epistemological and ontological hierarchy, Pico was pursuing one of his principle interests: intellectual ascent. This is the thread that binds the Heptaplus to his previous works. I have tried to show that despite various differences in expression there is a coherent conception of the intellect and its operation underlying his works from the Commento to the Heptaplus. In outline, this conception is of a soul with two different intellectual faculties: a rational faculty for sense-based discursive reasoning and a faculty of intelligentia for direct and non-discursive contemplation of intelligibles. Although the former is the typical mode of thought for the human soul while attached to the body, the latter represents a possible goeal and as such leads man to his natural felicitas, that is, union with the first mind. Aboce this there is a higher and essentially inexpressible level of felicitas which is union with God. The specific contribution of the Heptaplus to this overall theme is to reformulate it in relation to biblical interpretation.
107 God alone, who is derived from nothing and from whom all things are derived, is a wholly simple and individual essence… Therefore an angel is not unity itself, or else he would be God, or there would be many gods, which cannot even be conceived. For what will be one if not a unity? It is left for an angel to be a number. But if it is, it is a number in one aspect and a multiplicity in another. Every number, however, is imperfect insofar as it is a multiplicity, but perfect so far as it is one. Therefore, whatever is imperfect in an angel let us ascribe to the angels’ multiplicity, which it has from being a number, that is, a creature; and whatever is perfect to its participation in unity, which it has from being associated with God.
In an angel we find a double imperfection: the one, that it is not being itself but only an essence to which being comes by participation, so that it may be; the other, that it is not intelligence itself but only happens to understand, since by its nature it is an intellect capable of understanding. The second imperfection, however, depends on the first, since what does not exist of itself, certainly does not understand by itself, since there can be nothing where being itself is not. Therefore both of these imperfections befall an angel insofar as it is a multiplicity. It remains for its perfection and completion to be produced by unity coming from above. God is the unity from which angels draw their being, their life, and all their perfection.
Toussaint in Blum 76 Heptaplus "is closely related to the cosmological treatises of Eriugena, the school of Chartres, and Alain of Lille
Man compared unfavorably to angel here, although his advantage was celebrated in Oration
109 An angel, from what we have said, has perfectly realized his own nature and intellectual qualities. Nevertheless, he does not have a way to fulfill his functions of understanding and contemplation unless he is first surrounded by God with intelligible forms. For this reason the darkness has hitherto been upon the face of the deep.
28a.Angel is Number
105 n.21 Proclus in PT V.34 p.101 explains that the divine monadic numbers, more simple than Forms, exist ontologically prior to intelligible entities. As with sacrament, these numbers are both one and many. Theurgy, when it employs these numbers, takes part in monadic sympathy to effect ineffable rites. Metaphysically, numbers exhibit a creative ability -- the monadic numbers create the universe when they emanate into infinit. Later in the same passage, Proclus shows that monadic numbers also have an anagogic power. Because the monadic number is beyond all intelligible number, it collects numbers into itself--it elevates souls from things 'apparent', i.e. intelligible number.
De Ente: Solution to "the first difficulty" sheds light on Dionysius (doubles as comment on Pico's interpreters)
The window is now wide open for a true understanding of the books composed by Denys the Areopagite on Mystical Theology and The Divine Names. Here we must avoid two mistakes: either to make too little of works whose value is great, or, seeing that we understand them so ill, to fashion for ourselves idle fancies and inextricable commentaries
47 That human knowledge which is called rational is, in turn, imperfect knowledge because it is vague, uncertain, shifting, and laborious. Add the intellectual knowledge of divine minds, which the theologians call angels. Even that is imperfect knowledge, at least because it seeks outside itself what it does not possess fully within itself, i.e., the light of truth which it lacks, and by which is is perfected... the life of the angels is not perfect. Unless the vivifying ray of divine light constantly warmed it, it would all fall into nothingness. The same is true of other things. Therefore, when you say that God is knowing and living, notice first that the life and cognition which are ascribed to him are understood as free from all these imperfections, but this is not enough. There remains another imperfection.
29a. In De Ente Pico
29b. Pico is discussing divine attributes as "participated" These terms: being (ens), true, one, good, signify something concrete and as it were participated
29d. Aquinas had said that "Dionysius everywhere follows Aristotle," and Pico follows this Aristotelian vision of Dionysius, but also brings texts of Plato to the discussion in arguing against Neoplatonic Unity/Being.
29e. Pico can be seen in De Ente to be developing the angelology of Aquinas, which uses Aristotelian terminology as well as Platonic.
On Being and the One 47-48 "But the life of the angels is not perfect." This is part of explanation of Dionysian mode of speaking in Ch.5
For Pico as in Aquinas beings after God only have being by participation (Ch8 of Being, Heptaplus...)
Ch10 Pico applies this view of metaphysically-assured Goodness of God to practical ethical considerations: how to get mystically happy
In Ch9 of Being Pico follows Aquinas in explaining why unity is "first" in priority but nevertheless still convertible with being. (Fran:PD)
Chapter 8 of On Being and Unity is about modes of being, all below God: being unity, truth, goodness four highest attributes of but not=God
In chapter 7 of On Being + Unity Pico points to places in Aristotles (Metaphysics X) and Plato (Sophist) where unity can't transcend being
Ch9 We conceive God, then, first of all as the perfect totality of act, the plenitude of being itself
30a. De Ente uses angel to talk about God, distance from or comparison with humans no longer
30b. God is not intellect for the last time. Pico is still explaining what he meant by accused angel thesis, although he knows he shouldn't discuss magic and kabbalah
Ch5PDalso, though he talks like Plato, is nevertheless obliged to affirm with Ar that God is ignorant neither of Himself nor of other beings
62 we who strive for the exemplar will finally be joined to it through goodness... when we are not these three, we absolutely are not
Being in Dignity61if we wish to be blessed,we must imitate the most blessed of all things, God, possessing in ourselves unity,truth+goodness
BU 61 Mind wanders here as a stranger, and approaches happiness insofar as it raises itself more and burns for divine things, having put aside concern with earthly things. The present disputation seems above all to warn us that if we wish to be blessed, we must imitate the most blessed of all things, God, possessing in ourselves unity, truth, and goodness. (CHten)
Those forces interceding between God and man should be superior to man, just as they are inferior to God. And it is not proper that what is accomplished by reason and counsel, as our affairs should, be arranged by the first author through the agency of non-rational beings. But just as he rules and regulates the elementary mass, inasmuch as it is inferior, through the agency of the sky, which is superior, so it is proper that human affairs be governed by the mystery not of bodies but of angels, who by nature and dignite mediate between us and God. So when you descend from God to the earth, you descend by means of the sky; when you descend from God to man, you descend by means of angels.
Copenhaver sees magic+theurgy as subordinated to Pico's mystical project in way similar to some scholars on NP theurgy->leave not rule world
Pico's God is as remote as Dionysius' (or Iamblichus') apparently following Aquinas+Augustine, we are images, get participated being, arise.
Craven on Pico's Angel
142 the context is a discussion of things which seem to exceed man's power's. In fact, Pico goes on to explain them by invoking the angels, who are God's intermediaries for dealing with man, while the heavens are his instrument for the earth. What is denied to the heavens is given not to man but to the angels. There follows an exhortation against presumptuously passing judgement on the mysterious ways of God
153 In the few brief passages where the influence of the stars on human affairs is considered, the argument is that the ordinary events of human life are beneath the notice of the universal cause, while extraordinary phenomena pertaining to the soul are attributed to God, acting through the angels. The picture of man is, in fact, far from the optimism of the Oratio; the emphasis is on the moral weakness of man and the insignificance of his doings.