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Narcissus, Divine Gazes and Bloody Mirrors: the Concept of Matter in Ficino

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on gendered metaphors and in their use to describe the material aspect of the world. It explains how an ostensibly abstract philosophical discourse on the order of the world relates to ideas about the relationship between actual men and women in the early modern period. The chapter highlights that the erotic, potentially uncontrollable involvement of soul with matter deeply worried Marsilio Ficino, yet, paradoxically he developed a cosmology that put particular emphasis on the domination of matter by soul by transferring the model of the Narcissistic and creative gaze to the story of divine Creation. According to the Marsilio Ficino all created things function analogously to the mirror, being transformed from passive material object into active formal subject by reflecting an image.

Keywords: early modern period; Marsilio Ficino; Narcissistic strategy of self-fashioning

10.1163/9789047400547_016
/content/books/b9789047400547s016
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