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Intellect and Will in Marsilio Ficino: Two Correlatives of a Renaissance Concept of the Mind

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Chapter Summary

Marsilio Ficino states in quite unambiguous terms that the harmonious 'disposition' which the artist's soul introduces into paintings, buildings, and music is not solely a rationally or intellectually defined component that could be reduced to mere numbers and proportions. The chapter gives serious thought to the difficulty of relationship in the work of the Florentine philosopher and also to connect it to the medieval debate utrum intellectus sit nobilior quam voluntas was Paul Oskar Kristeller. Ficino explicitly discusses the relationship of intellect and will is his first version of the Philebus commentary, where he explores the basis of the ethical life. The intellect makes the world 'mindlike', whereas the will ensures that the mind become 'worldlike'. Mind and world thus keep moving towards each other without ever coinciding. The brilliant metaphysician Ficino prevented this by inscribing a tension into the relationship between intellect and will.

Keywords: intellectusvoluntas dilemma; Marsilio Ficino; Paul Oskar Kristeller; Philebus commentary; Theologia Platonica



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