Friday, February 4, 2011
more on Aquinas
In his discussion of the influence of Proclus on Pico, Crofton Black mentions Aquinas' reading of Liber de Causis, but does not discuss in detail the influence of Aquinas' concept of Platonism on Pico, or what Pico might have made of Thomas' estimation of Proclus.
Pico had access to more Neoplatonic texts than Aquinas did, as well as the texts of Plato, so he is in a position to understand them better. But he follows Aquinas' Christian developments of Platonism, and develops his own notions about Platonism in response to the medieval scholastic reading of Neoplatonism. Farmer said that he contorts Proclus into the "alien" scholastic structures of the 900 Conclusions, but Aquinas scholars understand Proclus as a proto-scholastic and Aquinas didn't find Proclus alien but found him to agree with Dionysius in places. (Boland/Hankey)
Pico doesn't solve the epistemological problems he works on in 900 Conclusion, but continues describing the angelic part of man. He's not imposing a magical view of angels, but contributing a new philosophical approach to the old Christian problem.
metaphysics important for theory of theurgy, but Pico wasn't looking to Neoplatonism for theurgy theory alone.
Pico could be seen as "less theurgic" than Dionysius and even Aquinas since he spends so little time on sacramental theology.
neoplatonic symbol important influence on Dionysius -- dissimilar similarities
O'Rourke shows how Thomas' negotiation with Dionysius led to the scholastic theologian's own metaphysical innovations.
Wayne Hankey emphasizes the importance not only of Aquinas' encounter with Dionysius, but also his reading of Proclus, for his angelology. Hankey maps Thomas' understanding of the Platonic and Aristotelian traditions
How Thomas saw PD as resonant with Aristotle and Proclus in turn, where Thomas sides with Platonists although he's famously Aristotelian, should help us understand what Pico is doing with Platonists and Aristotelians he responds to.
Yates was mistaken about what Hermetic corpus meant to Pico - not magic - similar misunderstanding happens with Neoplatonism
Pico inherits Aquinas' construction of Platonism, looks at same authors that were important for Thomas' own reconciliation of the Platonic and Aristotelian approaches. He's doing a program of study of the Neoplatonists that was already mapped by Aquinas, but he has more available, including Plato, whom he finds to agree more with Aquinas than with Ficino
We shouldn't speak of Pico's encounter with Neoplatonists like Iamblichus and Proclus without understanding that he already encountered "Platonism" in Aquinas and Dionysius
Crofton Black on similarities and differences between Pico and Dionysius. These departures are key for understanding Pico's originality.
John Bussanich has written detailed studies on Neoplatonism as "mystical theology" in Plotinus, Iamblichus, and Proclus.