[6.5.0] Pico della Mirandola on Kaballah

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463–94) was a first Christian, expert in Kaballah.

  • God has two roles: the visible God and the hidden God, called the Infinite.
  • “The Infinite, reveals himself not only in the Bible but also through ten emanations or attributes,” the sacred Sefirot
  • Myths are components of Sefirot.
  • Images are components of Myths.
  • Letters and numbers are subkinds of images.

The following OntoUML diagram shows the main structure of Pico’s model:

Pico on Kaballah

ClassDescriptionRelations
GodMosaic or Christian God.
TheInfinite“Many Kabbalists believe that the Hidden God, called the Infinite, reveals himself not only in the Bible but also through ten emanations or attributes, the Sefirot.” role of God
VisibleGodGod visible to allrole of God
Sefirot“Many Kabbalists believe that the Hidden God, called the Infinite, reveals himself not only in the Bible but also through ten emanations or attributes, the Sefirot. […]
Kabbalists regard the meaning of God’s sacred speech, the Hebrew text of the Bible, as infinite, finding significance even in its smallest particles—not only the divine words but also their letters (which are also numbers) and even the shapes of those letters. The most powerful words are God’s names, the holiest of which, the Tetragrammaton, cannot be uttered; written as YHWH, it is pronounced 
Adonai, a spoken name like 
Elohim
Ehyeh
El Shaddai and others used of God in the Hebrew Bible. Other words of great power are the names of the 
Sefirot, which are unknown, as such, to the Bible; they are names not of God but of aspects or manifestations or emanations of divinity.
componentOf Myth; is sacred
SacredSefirot is sacred.
MythHypostasized in myths, made concrete by images and symbolized by letters and numbers, the Sefirot are at the core of Kabbalist speculation, whose other major focus is the names of God and their resonance in words of scripture.”componentOf Image
ImageHypostasized in myths, made concrete by images and symbolized by letters and numbers, the Sefirot […]
LetterHypostasized in myths, made concrete by images and symbolized by letters and numbers, the Sefirot […]subkind of Image
NumberHypostasized in myths, made concrete by images and symbolized by letters and numbers, the Sefirot […]subkind of Image

Pico’ Sefirot

Sources

First published: 20/10/2022

[6.3.1] Marsilio Ficino Ethics of Love

The ethics of Love is an important theme for Marsilio Ficino (1433–99):

  • Ficino defines spirit as quality of the soul
  • Love mediates human beings
  • Love can be true and love and false love.

The following OntoUML diagram shows the main classes in Ficino’s model:

Ficino ethics
ClassDescriptionRelations
HumanBeing“Rational Soul (in which human beings take part), …”
RationalSoul“Ficino’s soul-body dualism was not the same as “mind-body” dualism, nor indeed was it for Plato, for late ancient Platonists, or for medieval thinkers before Ficino (Celenza 2007, 88–89). For Ficino as for his predecessors, the human soul, and [rational] “Soul” in general, could have material effects on the phenomenological world in ways that “mind” could not in the Cartesian tradition.”componentOf HumanBeing; characterizes RationalSoul
SpiritThis for this reason that “spirit,” or spiritus, was so important in Ficino’s thought. Ficino suggests: “Spirit is defined by doctors as a vapor of blood – pure, subtle, hot, and clear. After being generated by the heat of the heart out of the more subtle blood, it flies to the brain; and there the soul uses it continually for the exercise of the interior as well as the exterior senses” 
LovePart of the reason for this “activist” conception of Soul on Ficino’s part had to do with a search to find forces binding human beings to one another. For Ficino, love linked all things together; and love flowed first from God into all existing things, which consequently shared the property of similarity, outwardly different as they might be on the surface. 
 This blurring, to modern eyes, of the metaphysical and the physical, in which the “immaterial” soul can use a vaporous material entity to have effects on the physical world, presents Ficino at his most characteristic. Love between people occurs when the lover’s spirit is exhaled toward the beloved and the beloved returns the gesture reciprocally; unreciprocated love can thus become a kind of homicide, as one human being loses a vital element to another. “When we speak about Love,” Ficino writes (and here he means earthly love), “you should understand this as meaning the desire for beauty. For this is the definition of love among all philosophers.” Ficino goes on: “The purpose of love is the enjoyment of beauty” (Ficino 1576, 1322–23; Kristeller 1988, 282).
mediates HumanBeing with other humans
TrueLoveOnce this attraction [of True Love] has taken place, “… the soul burns with a divine radiance which is reflected in the man of beauty as in a mirror, and … caught up by that radiance secretly as by a hook, he is drawn upwards in order to become God” (ibid.). And God would be a “wicked tyrant” if he implanted in human beings this aspiration without allowing the possibility of its eventual fulfillment (ibid.).subkind of Love
FalseLove“For Ficino, in classic Platonic fashion, it is the manner in which one enjoys beauty which differentiates true from false love. Beauty is “bait” and a “hook” for Ficino: “The splendor of the highest good is refulgent in individual things, and where it blazes the more fittingly, there it especially attracts someone gazing upon it, excites his consideration, seizes and occupies him as he approaches, and compels him both to venerate such splendor as the divinity beyond all others, and to strive for nothing else but to lay aside his former nature and to become that splendor itself”subkind of Love

Sources

  • Celenza, Christopher S., “Marsilio Ficino”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2021 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).

First published: 6/10/2022