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Material Gazes And Flying Images In Marsilio Ficino And Michelangelo

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Chapter Summary

The predominance of a Platonising visual-ray theory among early Christian and medieval authors such as Augustine, William of Conches, Abelard of Bath and Robert Grosseteste is evidently owed to Calcidius. This chapter presents only one example selected from the long history of the survival of the ancient theory of the visual ray and its conception of the existence of a material gaze: its Neo-Platonic adaptation in the philosophy of Marsilio Ficino and in Michelangelo?s poetry. In examining the topic it also encounters elements of the atomistic theory of vision. In Michelangelo's poetry we find several of the elements of a Neo-Platonic theory of love that has a Ficinian quality ? God, who ?expresses? himself in beauty, which suffuses the stages of the cosmos as a ray of light, becomes particularly visible in Man and thus gives rise to a movement of attraction which leads back to God.

Keywords: Marsilio Ficino; material gaze; material images; Michelangelo; Neo-Platonic theory of love; Platonising visual-ray theory



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