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Late Antiquity and Florentine Platonism: The 'Post-Plotinian' Ficino

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Chapter Summary

This chapter addresses the post-Plotinian developments accorded with certain Christian conceptions to Marsilio Ficino. Porphyry edited and organized Plotinus's writings into six sets of nine treatises, the Enneads, through which we know his thought. Essential to his philosophical system is his 'emanationistic' ontology, a system of hypostases which has at the top a transcendent One. The central figure here is the Syrian philosopher Lamblichus, who studied with, then polemicized against, Porphyry. For Platonists metaphysics is often a key to other aspects of their philosophy, and Lamblichus is no exception. His vision of the ontological hypostases gives us a clue to this. For his vision, in contrast to the 'telescoped' view offered by Porphyry, is much more 'stepped', so to speak. In De vita, Ficino's approach is conditioned by the Lamblichan and post-Lamblichan concern for manipulating the universe by using rituals and objects.

Keywords: emanationistic ontology; Florentine Platonism; Lamblichus; Marsilio Ficino; Platonists metaphysics



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