Friday, January 7, 2011
Pico and Aquinas
The question of Pico and Aquinas has long been vexed in Pico scholarship. Aquinas weighs heavily on Pico's harmonization of Plato and Aristotle project. Pico follows him on the crucial question of the convertibility of unity and being. He picks up on the participation terminology which Aquinas inherited from the philosophical theology of Iamblichus and Proclus. In "On Being and Unity" Pico follows the metaphysical developments of Aquinas (which O'Rourke + Hankey have mapped as a reinterpretation of Dionysian and Proclan-Iamblichean principles). He had a ton of Aquinas in his library and liked Thomas' own De Ente enough to check it out from the Vatican library (see Kibre).
But Pico also seems to rebel against Aquinas at times, a fact that some have pointed to in painting a picture of the unorthodox Pico. In the 900 Conclusions there are several that seem to challenge the authority of Aquinas, but when Pico appeals over the head of the misunderstanding coincil that accuses him he points out that the opinions of post-Biblical medieval philosophers are fair game because they aren't matters of faith. Pico uses his rejection of certain Thomistic principles as a key example in the Apology of why he shouldn't be accused for playing around with Aquinas, speaking like Dionysius, or digging into the philosophical theology of the ancients.
Pico abandons any neoplatonist magic theory he may have discussed in the Oration and 900 Conclusions, but he continues to discuss the Neoplatonist negative-theological idea from accused thesis on Angels and Got not-Being Intellect in his later texts.