Read Commentary on Plato's Symposium on Love by Marsilio Ficino Free Online
Book Title: Commentary on Plato's Symposium on Love|
The author of the book: Marsilio Ficino
Edition: Spring Publications
Date of issue: July 1st 2007
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Reader ratings: 4.1
ISBN 13: 9780882146010
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 445 KB
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It would appear that I lucked out in purchasing a pristine copy of this book for $8 at the local used bookstore. Thank you once again Expressions of Time, for all of my esoteric reading needs at a fraction of the cost!
As for the text itself, the title is quite deceptive, as it is more of a compendium or compilation of a smattering of Neo-Platonic ideas mixed in with classical physiology and a touch of astrology than a commentary on Plato's Symposium. Ficino attributes a lot of things to Plato that are definitely read into the text rather than read from out of it. Personally, I would prefer to read some Proclus, Plotinus, or Pseudo-Dionysius from the source rather than this renaissance appropriation, but it remains a worthwhile read, especially for those interested in Neo-Platonic thought, and its relations to Christianity.
A few issues that I have, which arrises through all Neo-Platonism and not simply Ficino alone, is the strict hierarchical division between the base and the divine, and the association of the latter with the intellect, the Idea, and thus with the static and eternal. Rather than viewing love as working through base union, or 'vulgar love' as it is called herein, in order to turn towards God through a higher love which works compeletely through the soul in seperation from the bodily matter, might not love as a means to the divine be nothing more than this physical union of base communion? For the intellect attains to nothing, to no union with the divine, through thought alone, through thought seperated from the blood and the heart, which flows between the two in the communing of erotic love. The reunion with the divine One is attained not in some eternal, psychic contemplation - it can be attained only ephemerally, in the moment of ecstatic passion wherein the divine is manifest as communal eventing - the union with the One occurs only through the infinite, rending dispersal and dissolution of the self through loving death. Thus is love "the eternal knot and link of the world" (68), embodied in the entwined bodies of the lovers lost in their divine play, between each other (one thinks, perhaps, of the image of the pumping sexual organs in Bataille's "Solar Anus," and how they manifest the forces of life and death that, intertwined and vaccilating, keep the earth turning upon its axis).
Perhaps the section of greatest interest is Chapter 8 of Speech II, "On simple and reciprocal love." In this section, Ficino speaks of love as dying to one's self, forgetting oneself in absolute recognition of the other (in a sort of inverse Hegelian movement). He continues by noting how the other reciprocally resurrects the loved one through their fixated and adoring thinking of the beloved other, and so the two save one another from death, calling each other forth Orphically, though inversely, through the desirous gaze. It is thus that they are held together in loving tension between one another, like Heraclitus' wrestlers, in the repose of a constant vibratory motion in the between. There is no stasis, no eternity, about the divine. It is transient through and through, passing and flowing - and it is thus that it is all the more divine.
Let us conclude with a citation from page 56, with what is perhaps one of the most resplendent effusions of love ever poured forth from the pen.
"And this again seems amazing. For after I have lost myself, if I recover myself through you, I have myself through you; if I have myself through you, I love you before and more than I have myself, and I am closer to you than to myself, since I approach myself in no other way than through you as an intermediary."
With its resonances of the young Hegel's thoughts on love, yet already so far beyond it, these words touch upon the untouchable that is the divine - the primacy of the other that is exigent and expressed through the ecstatic movement of love.
(This is inscribed here for her, whether or not she may ever know or acknowledge it.)
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Read information about the authorMarsilio Ficino (Italian: [marˈsiːljo fiˈtʃiːno]; Latin name: Marsilius Ficinus; 19 October 1433 – 1 October 1499) was an Italian scholar and Catholic priest who was one of the most influential humanist philosophers of the early Italian Renaissance. He was also an astrologer, a reviver of Neoplatonism in touch with every major academic thinker and writer of his day and the first translator of Plato's complete extant works into Latin. His Florentine Academy, an attempt to revive Plato's Academy, had enormous influence on the direction and tenor of the Italian Renaissance and the development of European philosophy.
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