Wednesday, February 2, 2011

intro bit on Pico's magic

Pico's most famous thesis magic+kabbalah / divinity of Christ, got him in trouble,
in his apology, Pico protested that his use of these terms was misunderstood ... Edelheit on fides vs. opinion here?
by magic he means nothing more than the practical part of natural philosophy, nothing supernatural.
by Kabbalah he means something like Dionysian theology, a tradition of Hebrew post-biblical wisdom transmitted by the angels to Moses and handed down in the texts Pico purchased at great expense from his Jewish collaborators.

according to Blum, Pico got in trouble for threatening a boundary between natural philosophy and theology.
but that's not what Yates thought. She and other historians have constructed a vision of Pico as a magus doing supernatural magic.
even after historical criticism, debunking of many of the problems with her view, subsequent readings of Pico's magic still go far beyond what he himself claims to limit magic to.
Mebane and Copenhaver examples of recent defenses of theurgic Pico.
examples of Pico as implying angel magic, "Straight line to later more theurgic Christian Cabala" ala Yates: Brann, Bogdan, Stuckrad

copenhaver's view attractive because fits magic and kabbalah into mystical system, tries to explain Pico as "avoiding" theurgy in sense of conjuring, although he still uses term "Conjure" to describe what Pico is doing with numbers. Farmer offers alternative to Copenhaver that Lehrich criticizes as unreliable (has similar problems trying to interpret 900 Conclusions as a whole system)
problems with Copenhaver's view - assumes a system is there, uses term Pico chose not to use, Pico ignores theurgic aspects of Proclus, Iamblichus, and especially Dionysius

bracketing Pico's magic and possible theurgy and for the most part kabbalah, which topics are already well studied in Wirszubski, Copenhaver, Moshe Idel, Giulio Busi. Rather than looking at Neoplatonists as potential theurgic influences, I will attempt a less speculative interpretation of Neoplatonic metaphysics as the background of Pico's angelology

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