Sunday, January 16, 2011
Outline - Conclusions and Commento
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.
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.
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.
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 55 shows Pico's understanding of application of divine name at different leves, 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.
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.
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
23a. Michael Allen and Crofton Black have studied Commento as precursor to Heptaplus.
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.
24a. Need to sidetrack into Aquinas and Dionysius.
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.