Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Pico's Proclan conclusions
Pico's conclusions based on Proclus represent an impressive effort of translating and digesting unfamiliar and difficult material. He made a significant contribution to the philosophy of his time simply by making this material available, and we learn a great deal about his philosophical motivations from the selections he makes in presenting 55 conclusions from the much larger texts of Proclus' Platonic Theology and Timaeus commentary (these texts of Proclus are also the source of many of the conclusions from Iamblichus, Syrianus, and other platonists). We see Pico exploring significant metaphysical themes of the Dionysian Celestial Hierarchy--the triadic arrangement of intellectual and intelligible orders, the Platonic terminology of Participation, which is currently a "key" topic in Thomas Aquinas studies, the multiple levels of being. While Pico has been accused of breaking the hierarchy with his "becoming angelic" in the Oration, here he makes an argument qualifying the Proclan principle that "all is in all" by pointing out that the hierarchy is nevertheless maintained. The final conclusion gives an impression of Proclus' system as a mystical theology involving ascent through angelic choirs.