Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Copenhaver: influence of Proclus on Ficino

An important and distinctly Neoplatonic element in the Platonic Theology is the hierarchy of reality that guarantees man's immortality and constitutes the order through which the soul will rise when it escapes its bodily prison. Rational soul itself occupies the middle place in the series of five whose two higher levels Ficino called 'angelic mind' and 'divine sun' in the first chapter of this long treatise; all three stand above the two lower kinds of being, the 'active quality' that gives some form to matter and the 'dull mass of bodies' that lie beneath. The upper reaches of this hierarchy correspond to the three hypostases--One, Mind, and Soul--which according to Plotinus are the divine part of reality. Because Plotinus did not sort his hypostases neatly or consistently, naming four, five, or six at one time or another, it was left to his successors, chiefly Iamblichus and Proclus, to fill in the details of their relations with each other and with things below. Proclus left the clearest metaphysical blueprints in his Elements of Theology and Platonic Theology, whose fivefold schemes influenced Ficino's sequence of God, angel, soul, quality, and body, in which soul's centrality gave it a role that weakened the position of angelic being in the upper part of the hierarchy and of quality in the lower.

A History of Western Philosophy: 3 "Renaissance Philosophy" BRIAN P. COPENHAVER AND CHARLES B. SCHMITT OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS p.149

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