Thursday, January 27, 2011

quotes from Dougherty, Pico:New Essays on Occultist Approach, Deification, Angel and Cognitive Ascent

141 increasingly popular approach has been to see the Oratio's views on the human condition to be grounded in Hermetic and Kabbalistic texts. On this interpretation, Pico champions the human being as a powerful magus who, released upon the world, can act upon it with an array of mysterious magical and occult powers... This occultist account... has been the most controversial approach to Pico's thought and has been the target of historical criticism.

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.

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

182 While the Latin scholastics recognized that the rational soul contained within it the power of purely intellectual thought associated with the angels, Pico follows the Platonists, for whom there is an "intellectual and angelic part" of the human soul above the rational soul. This appeal to intellect and reason as distinct parts of the soul and not merely powers of the same part serves Pico's purpose of sewing together Platonic and Aristotelian accounts of the soul while also illustrating the distinction of levels in the human being, from the bestial (corresponding to the senses) to the human (reason) to the angelic (intellect). The inclusion of a power in the soul above the human level per se also sets the stage for the cognitive ascent featured in Pico's celebrated Oration

183 As poised between the senses and intellect, reason apparently has no resting place in its own right but is continually pulled up to the angelic level or, more frequently, down to the bestial level. As a central exhortation of the philosophical life is for the human creature to climb to the heights of its intellectual capacities, understanding the relationship of reason to intellect is crucial to the fulfillment of that imperative. On this theme, Pico appeals to the Platonic analogy of sight to intellectual vision and at the same time employs Aristotle's dictum that intellect is related to soul as sight is to the body. Yet when we readily rely on sight which takes the lead in our perception of corporeal objects, the power of pure intellectual vision is difficult of access and unknown by the majority. Pico accounts for this disanalogy by appealing to the Platonic claim that our souls are so ensconced in their bodies that, unlike heavenly souls, they cannot use both their sensible and intellectual vision at the same time.

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