Poznawanie i niepoznawanie istnienia

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Gabriela Kurylewicz

Poznawanie i niepoznawanie istnienia. Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola w poszukiwaniu metafizycznej zgodności wszystkiego, co istnieje

ISBN 83-89100-48-7
[B5, s. 294, indeks, streszczenie w jęz. angielskim]

Spis treści


Rozdział 1
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola i jego czasy

Rozdział 2
O zgodności Arystotelesa z Platonem — Poszukiwanie sposobów poznania istnienia i poznania niepoznawalnego Boga (Propozycja odczytania całej twórczości Pica z perspektywy De ente et uno)

Rozdział 3
Poszukiwanie zgodności wszystkiego ze wszystkim jako poszukiwanie dróg poznania niepoznawalnego Boga (Propozycja odczytania dzieła Pica z perspektywy Conclusiones)

Rozdział 4
Głębiej do źródeł. Znaczenie tradycji metafizycznej i estetycznej dla metafizyki Pica i jego teorii sztuki — muzyki (Commento i Conclusiones)

Rozdział 5
Platońskie drogi w filozofii Pica (Oratio, Conclusiones, Commento)

Rozdział 6
Metafizyka, sztuka i mistyka jako drogi do poznania niepoznawalnego Boga. Projekt metafizyczny Pica (Conclusiones, Oratio, De ente et uno)

Rozdział 7
Czwarta droga — Kabała (Oratio, Conclusiones i Heptaplus)


Słownik postaci


Knowing and Not Knowing Being: Giovanni Pico della Mirandolas Quest for the Metaphysical Harmony of All Existing Things (Summary)

Indeks nazwisk wybranych postaci, autorów i dzieł anonimowych

Indeks biblijny

Knowing and Not Knowing Being: Giovanni Pico della Mirandolas Quest for the Metaphysical Harmony of All Existing Things (Summary)

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola was the most outstanding metaphysical philosopher of the 15th century, and yet until recently he has been either completely ignored, or, at best, dismissed as a mere synthetiser or syncretist. Born in Mirandola in 1463, his reputation was well established during his lifetime (in Italy, France and Germany), and his scholarship was admired by Erasmus and Thomas More. But his work was innovative, daring and controversial; so much so that it led to his becoming an object of censure and eventually to his apparent murder at the instigation of Savonarola. He died in Florence in November 1494 and much of his work in circulation was doctored. He was known by 16th and 17th century figures such as: Konrad Summenhart, Johann Reuchlin, Agrippa von Nettesheim, John Dee, Giovanni della Porta, Francesco Patrizi da Cherso, Robert Fludd, and Athanasius Kircher, who used or rather plagiarized his ideas on natural magic and the cabala. (See: the excellent book by S. A. Farmer, Syncretism in the West, Picos 900 Theses /1486/, Arizona 1998.) Only Philipp Melanchton, in 1558, in his famous reply to Picos Letter to Ermolao Barbaro /1485/ seemed to recognize the importance of Picos work on realist metaphysics. In general, however, Picos significance has been rarely appreciated. As a result, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola as a serious philosopher was virtually forgotten until the 20th century. This book attempts to reverse this trend and restore Giovanni Pico della Mirandola to his rightful place as one of the greatest thinkers in the history of metaphysical philosophy. Although he died at the tragically early age of thirty one, Pico left a substantial body of work. His important texts belong to the eight year period between December 1485 and December 1493, and include: Conclusiones /1486/, Oratio de hominis dignitate /1486/, Commento sopra una canzona damore /1486/, Apologia /1487/, Heptaplus /1489/, Expositiones in Psalmos /1489/, De ente et uno /1492/, Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem /1494, published posthumously/, and Letters (to Ermolao Barbaro, Marsilio Ficino, Lorenzo de Medici, Aldo Manuzio, Angelo Poliziano, Battista Spagnola, and others). In this book I concentrate primarly on those texts of Pico which can be recognized as not corrupted by his first posthumous editors, namely Conclusiones, Oratio, Commento, Apologia (fragments), Heptaplus, De ente et uno, and selected letters. My study traces the development of his thought from Conclusiones, his earliest work, to De ente et uno, the last of his authentic writings to be preserved.

My initial aim was simply to reconstruct Picos metaphysics, that is his philosophy of being, but as I proceeded I came to discover how tremendously rich, complex and lucid his philosophy of being is. I came to appreciate his vision of harmonizing Aristotle and Plato, and, on this basis, of bringing together and harmonizing the most creative traditions of the philosophical cultures of Athens, Rome and Jerusalem. I have tried to show that far from being an erratic thinker, he was a profound philosopher and historian-interpreter of philosophy who, equally at home in Italian, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, was able to incorporate many sources and forms of thought into his own work in a highly original way. He took the best western and eastern traditions of European philosophy that focused on the transcendent idea of being (esse) and combined them with biblical hermeneutics (of the Latin and Greek Church Fathers) and with the Jewish cabala. He examined the three Platonic ways to the transcendent, divine ideas: the way of mystical love, the way of music and the way of philosophy, and, enriched by post-Platonic philosophers, such as Aristotle, Plotinus, Proclus, Pseudo-Dionysius, Augustin, Origen, Moses Maimonides, and Thomas Aquinas, produced a correlative system of realist metaphysics centred on the main idea of being. Moreover, he managed to prove how the three Platonic ways to the divine idea of being (the ways most clearly described in Platos Phaedrus and Plotinus Ennead I) meet the fourth way — the way of the cabala, by which he understands the Jewish mystical and intellectual traditions of reading and interpreting the Bible, a way unbelievably bountiful and creative, limited, however, to the Hebrew language. Pico collaborated with eminent Jewish philosophers such as Elia del Medigo, Flavius Mithridates, Leo Hebraeus and Johanon Alemanno, so as to produce in the end, and in his own way, a Christian cabala. My book is divided into a prologue, seven chapters, and an epilogue. In the prologue I show the aims and the method of my research. The assumed aim is the reconstruction of Picos metaphysical philosophy as centred on the idea of being, the idea in which all other ideas — the one, the good, the true and the beautiful — coincide. This metaphysical approach, based on the theory of transcendent ideas, seems to be the right key to the door of the house of Picos philosophy. The premisses and expectations declared in the prologue are formulated in such a way that they remain open for further corrections and refinement in the subsequent chapters and the epilogue.

In chapter 1, I provide an intellectual biography of Pico and put his life and work into historical context. I also give there a short account of the studies on Picos texts, putting the main stress on those sources which most influenced my way of reading of Picos philosophy. I am especially indebted to such scholars as: S. Swieżawski, G. Di Napoli, S. Toussaint, Ch. Wirszubski, M. Idel, E. Cassirer, R. Klibansky, P. O. Kristeller, and S. A. Farmer. I close the chapter with a sketch of Picos intellectual portrait. I call him a metaphysician and venture an account of his philosophical creed. His philosophical aim is the discovery of the deepest intellectual sources of philosophy. The world for him is a book, clear for those who can read it. The way of reading, he suggests, is the complex language of the metaphysics of Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Pseudo-Dionysius, Thomas Aquinas, and also of the Jewish cabala as well as the Christian cabala, the theory of natural magic as an inspired art of music (and poetry, which is a sort of minimal music), and the language of religious mysticism. He points out that we should be the readers-participants of the mysterious book of the world. We should read it for the sake of further reading, contemplating, deciphering or worshiping in silence, accepting and distinguishing many things. The way of reading recommended by him is the art of metaphysics as related to, and different from, theology and religion. The aim of all actions in metaphysical philosophy is the search for true knowledge, for those things which truly and really exist, the search with which the philosopher-metaphysician must engage other readers as powerfully as Plato does in his dialogues. The suggested way of reading involves reading and studying many and various valuable „texts”, not only from human literature, philosophy, music, and religion (musica humana), but also, as far as possible, from the realm of divinely created existence and divine being (musica divina).

Chapter 2 is an interpretation of Picos last surviving authentic writing, De ente et uno. As I constantly return to that text in the following chapters of the book, it is not the only interpretation of that treatise, but merely a first attempt at reading it as deeply as possible. I find in this text some profound metaphysical terms and correlations which later I use as tools for the further stages of my reconstruction of Picos philosophy of being (metaphysica), his theory of music (magia naturalis) and his theory of religious, mystical love (religio). Pico in De ente et uno formulates the principles of his philosophy. He puts at the centre the notion, and behind the notion, the reality of being (esse) as the becoming of all things by reason of the maximal reality — the exemplar, causal and effective reality — in the mind of God. Gods being is the only source and justification of all other beings. Gods being is the absolute, genuine, ultimately generous and necessary source of all other beings caused by Him. The being of God is the only subsistent being (esse subsistens), whereas the various beings of all the things caused by God are merely existing beings (existentia). Things which exist need to refer, convert and return, as much as they can, to their real forms and, via them, to their source, the first form — to God, in Whom His existence or being (esse) is His essence (essentia). In Picos thought being (esse) is mostly connected with the one (unum). The treatise De ente et uno shows the deepest philosophical background of Picos metaphysics, which is the late Platonic theory of ideas and the Thomist theory of being. It is also, not surprisingly, the revelation given by the Hebrew and Christian Bible. De ente et uno is not a late and episodic writing of Pico, as some commentators believe. It is representative of the whole of Pico?s quest in philosophy. The work of Pico is of such quality, however, that interpretation of one of his texts requires a comparative reading and understanding of his other texts. Therefore, in the next chapter, I go back to Conclusiones and Oratio.

Chapter 3 is devoted mainly to Conclusiones. It gives a provisional interpretation of Pico's 900 theses, with the special intent of finding in them their inner logic and determining the chief aims that Pico probably wanted his theses to serve. Following some essential notes given by S. A. Farmer, I try to trace the specific way of metaphysical thought in Pico, the way in which a decisive role is played by the three Platonic patterns of human intellectual movements towards the divine, transcendent ideas, and the idea of being, especially, which is central for all. I find in Conclusiones a draft of Picos metaphysical and artistic project, in which the Christian idea of truth coincides with the metaphysical sense of truth, and philosophical thought is kept open for all inspiring sources. The quest, undertaken by Pico, for the reciprocal harmony of all things, becomes a quest for understanding, or rather for knowing, the being of God. God is the most simple and the most powerful being, intellect and person, and therefore inevitably is, for us, much more unknown than known.

Chapter 4, in its first part, goes further back to the Platonic and Neoplatonic, Greek and Latin sources of Picos thought on metaphysics and theory of art (music). I reconstruct Picos interpretation of Plato, Aristotle, Plotinus, Proclus, Pseudo-Dionysius and Thomas Aquinas as relates to the theories of being and knowledge, and the art of music. I find relevant classical and medieval, Platonic and Neoplatonic sources of Picos theory of magia naturalis. The second part of chapter 4 is an interpretation of Conclusiones in the light of Commento, the text in which Pico shows his complex, profound and controversial platonism as regards his theory of ideas, his theory of music, or natural magic, and his theory of religious mysticism.

Chapter 5, centred mainly on Oratio, Conclusiones, Commento, and Letter to Ermolao Barbaro, interprets the three Platonic ways to the divine ideas, which Pico inherits, accepts and reads innovatively. The argument is that Picos theory of magia naturalis is remarkably different and independent from Ficinos theory of magic. That difference is sharp because it is based on a deep divergence in their visions of reality. For Ficino the one is prior to being, whereas for Pico, it is just the reverse: the one is interchangeable with being which is the only source of other ideas and other things. Moreover, Ficino reduces the notion and reality of beauty to something external, or extraneous, to the idea of good. Pico, stressing the equal priority of being and the one in God, defends for all other transcendent ideas (the good, the true and the beautiful) their equal and highest "place" in reality. All knowledge, human included, refers to the divine being. The divine being is one, absolute, nonrelative, and simple, but the human way to being is individual, relational, relative and complex. It is tiresome, long, divided into stages, and is not a unitary way. By means of the Platonic, Aristotelean, Plotinian and Thomist philosophies, Pico sellects the three main human ways to the divine reality of transcendent ideas. The order of the ways is relative and provisional. The first way is love and its stages, which are the stages of desire or will to complete each recognized lack (or deficiency) on the stages of cognition and desire. These stages are instinctive love, love of friendship and religious mystical love. The second way is music, which — in the sense taken from Plato and the Platonic Socrates — is a free intellectual service to the Muses, a work in all arts, with special attention to the creative-performative work of music and poetry, poetry understood as minimal music, but still music, consisting of harmonies, rhythms and melodies. It involves skill and the gift of discovering and communicating thoughts and numerical proportions by voice, by the sounds of musical instruments, and by mere words. This second way is music and poetry, in the sense specially defined by Pico, that is the high, wise and good, art of contemplating physical and spiritual nature. It is human and, therefore, limited music, which, in its origin, is maximal and divine. As Pico says, the first of all is the voice of God, by means of which nature first operated the work of its magic. Another word for music is magia naturalis. It means the natural knowledge of the physical and spiritual nature created by God. For Pico, the best examples of such human, natural magic are the Hymns of Orpheus, „when set with music and peformed in the conditions known to wise people”. The third way is philosophy. It is presented as an unconditional human love for divine wisdom, as an attempt at intellectual questioning of the first causes of reality and as constant endeavours to make these causes known, to give reasons and to find evidence for them. It is a way of metaphysical philosophy because Pico considers metaphysics to be the root of all philosophical thought. The main figure of philosophy is the patriarch Jacob, who struggles with the angel and with God, and who in his dream sees a ladder from earth to heaven, that is a way from being which is fragmentary and incomplete to being which is most complete and real.

Chapter 6, focuses on all the texts of Pico from Conclusiones to De ente et uno, gives a sythesis of Picos metaphysics, theology, anthropology, theory of natural magic, and theory of religion. Pico?s metaphysical philosophy is correlative, negative and realist, which means that it tries to understand the infinite, positive, and transcendent being of God. This synthesis is meant to be limited to the Greek and Latin "rooms" of Picos thought, the three connected rooms of philosophy, music and religious love, but inevitably it comes across the door to the unknown fourth room. After that discovery from the synthesis given in chapter 6, emerges a need to open that fourth door, behind which there is, always present, however different in manner and spirit, the area of the fourth way, the way of the cabala.

Chapter 7 is a provisional and nonconclusive interpretation of Picos fourth way of thought, the way of the cabala. It shows the Jewish sources of Picos thought, which are the medieval Jewish philosophers (Philo of Alexandria, Moses Maimonides, Abraham Abulafia, Joseph Falaquera, and Joseph Gakatilla), as well as the 15th century anticabalist philosophers (such as Elia del Medigo), and philosopher-cabalists (like Flavius Mithridates, Leo Hebraeus, and Johannon Alemanno). The material for the discussion in chapter 7 is: Oratio, Conclusiones, fragments of Commento, fragments of Apologia, and finally and mainly Heptaplus. The cabala, as understood and practiced by Pico, is the reception (receptio), translation (traditio), and interpretation (interpretatio) of the revelation, that is of the words of the Jewish and Christian Bible. For Pico the greatest example of the art of cabala are the Psalms of David. The art of cabala starts from Moses to whom God entrusted the substance of the Pentateuch. The work of Moses (who knew, as Pico says, 49 from among the 50 gates of wisdom) is such that after him there remains an open space for all the biblical hermeneuts who in their art of reading are quite close to knowing how to harmonize metaphysical philosophy, music, and poetry with the religious and mystical contemplation of the very things revealed in the books of the Old and New Testaments. If such knowledge were possible for human beings it would be the most necessary art of reading, listening and learning how to contemplate and interpret the chapters, phrases, words, letters and numbers enclosed within these books, as well as in the systems (or sets) of meaning, generating essential intellectual and spiritual values. The epilogue returns to De ente et uno. It gives the final interpretation of De ente et uno in the light of Picos earlier works, mainly Heptaplus. Reading again and rediscovering the main streams of Pico?s thought (which are: being and the one, the four transcendentals in one God, the three Platonic ways and the fourth way of cabala), it reveals the richness of metaphysical thought hidden in that short and impressive philosophical treatise. One of those treasures is Picos other version of the ladder of ascension to God.

All Picos texts offer different kinds of metaphysical ladders. Picos concept and metaphor of the ladder, that is the individual human intellectual way of achieving the best share in true existence and knowledge, is simple and complex. Simple, because it is their own being which things, having received it from God, want to keep as the most precious treasure; for without it they would not exist at all. And complex, because it is the way up and the way towards the forms, those we bear in us and those which bless us from outside. In De ente et uno it is the ladder of happiness, the ladder of the causes, the ladder of the causes and effects, and the ladder of inspired art or music in the special sense given to it by Pico. Picos philosophy has one chief aim: the being of God. Pico believes that the being which is most pure, powerful, real and complete, so complete that it is identical with the good, and consequently with the beautiful and the one (the transcendent ideas about which Plato was the first to speak) — is God. In order to get the minimal knowledge about God, a philosopher, musician, or lover, must attain maximal human knowledge, must accept some necessary axioms and must correlate Plato with Aristotle. He or she must correlate everything with everything, or, at least, must seek the conditions of such a combination and higher harmony. Because, in the real, divinely created world, there is a harmony, and things depend on other things so that the lower principles and things receive their order from the higher principles and things, and all things are included or present in all things in the way in which something determining and formative is present in something being detemined and formed. Pico, therefore, searches for the cognition and knowledge optimally similar to or isomorphic with reality so defined. The testimony of such a desired knowledge and learnig is for him the Bible, as the art of cabala proves. Pico knows that human philosophy or art, understood pluralistically, as a plethora of different, authentic paths of human cognition, cannot stand equal with the biblical message, nor with the divine and human art embodied in the Bible, nor with the limited human wisdom and unlimited, infinite wisdom of God. Human intellectual and spiritual life, which culminates in philosophy and art (in the art of music especially), is the source of the best nourishment, joy, and contemplation. It means listening and receiving the knowledge which is true although still remote from its desired object — the genuine idea of being. Human philosophy, the art of music, and religious, mystical love, resemble, at their best, a well, from which one, on putting his head inside, can hear the ocean. The greatest and deepest well of all is the Bible, and the ocean is God. From among the infinite number of paths which beings take -- according to how they are composed and how they keep their existence under metaphysically and theologically defined conditions — Pico at first chooses three ways and then a fourth. He chooses them as reciprocally interrelated and as the closest ones for himself. When following those ways, Pico discovers some things about the mystery of being. For being (esse), whether in its most powerful form, the subsistent being (esse subsistens) that is God, or in its weaker forms, those which, thanks to participation, all other beings after God have (that is being as the individual existences of the particular things — existentia), always remains a mystery for the human being as well as for the philosopher — something understandable and not understandable, something knowable and yet unknowable.

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