Monday, March 28, 2011

Clulee: Cusa and Proclus, not magic, influenced Dee's math/nature approach

Nicholas Clulee (p. 240-241): "The need to distinguish between different types of magic, both on the grounds of their content and theoretical presuppositions and on the grounds of the motivation behind the attention paid to each, also applies to the issue of the relation of magic to science in the Renaissance. Dee's case indicates that the different traditions of magic in the Renaissance had different implications for science. In his case the Florentine/Neoplatonic approach, in which magic had a predominantly religious function, was quite separate from his use of the medieval tradition of a natural magic, with most of his scientific work that can be related to magic being related to the latter. Dee also suggests that the place of mathematics, usually as a mystical and symbolic view of numbers and figures as reflective of occult correspondences, in magical philosophies does not justify concluding that magic encouraged a mathematical approach to science preparatory to seventeenth-century science. While he shows considerable interest in mystical mathematical correspondences, this interest was quite separate from his actual work involving the application of mathematics and and mathematical reasoning. The sources that encouraged the expression of a concrete approach to nature through mathematics were Proclus and Cusanus, not any magical texts."
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