Some counter-intuitive Renaissance syntheses
the Symposium and the Cratylus together must have convinced Ficino of the link for Plato between Love, Hades, and their respective sophistries and must have convinced him too that the Sophist‘s ambivalent definitions of the sophist could be fully comprehended only by reference to them.
Ficino thought lovers’ sophistries toward each other shed significant light on the nature of the sophist itself.
Most people don’t know about this figure, they usually only know like Michelangelo and Machiavelli from this era, even though he’s similarly titanic.
I’m here once again because how to read Plato arguably determines how to read Machiavelli, ET AL, and Ficino can help us do the former in ways we wouldn’t expect.
Another dialogue “cross-over”
the Timaean Demiurge is a sophist and/or that beneath this supreme Demiurge exists a lesser, a sophistical, demiurge
And wit a dialectical twisht, false love is a type of demiurge.
Or theologically speaking, if true love is love of God then false love can only love a demiurge. And that translates to the human realm as well.
Now I’m grimacing at the idea of “loving” an atheistic woman ahahaha
That’s disgusting. Loving a sophist isn’t love.
See, lots of dialogues can be “woven” together.
A subtlety about Ficino’s hermeneutics I’m discovering- while he read Plato THRU Plotinus, he also read Plotinus THRU Iamblichus. I wrote about Iamblichus here. They don’t call it the Renaissance for nothin’, this stuff gets complex, more complex than those relatively trivial “sculptures”- oh the blasphemy!
Heh, sculptors are a type of sophist themselves.
Speaking of non-sophistic statesmen though, it was a Medici who commissioned Ficino to translate Plato, and a Medici even had Ficino read Plato to him on his deathbed. Where are statesmen like that these days? He wanted it read to him in his last moments due to his piety regarding the One and the Good.
The point is there are all sorts of types of frauds at all levels of society. And there are different ways to hunt them and expose them, and this hunting can be learned.
I’m really, indirectly, going after the “big dogs” with this investigation into Ficino though- the question is, is the Heideggerian Sophist adequate, is the Straussian Sophist adequate?
Anyway, reading the Sophist through the lens of the Symposium– I wouldn’t have expected that. Image-making, illusion-crafting is reflective of a weak eros.
I’m describing all the different species of golem here by the way.
We’re speaking here of the hidden core of the Renaissance. The Sistine Chapel, the David, The Last Supper, these are all illusions in comparison. The sublimest mysteries are always a whisper of course. That seems to be a law of culture.
While Ficino indeed was sweating about the spirit of the inquisition throughout his life, he does explicitly liken Plato to God and Plotinus to his “son”.
Ficino’s interpretation is that the Parmenides represents the One, and that the One descends from there in the Philebus into limit and infinity which all beings contain, and there is another descent in the Sophist into the five classes of being- essence, rest, motion, identity, and difference. Not sure you’ll get that from looking at the Mona Lisa. He calls these the principle “elements” of being. These are fundamental to what is happening in all experience, in other words. From this snapshot you can probably already draw parallels to the book of Genesis. These dialogues arguably just provide a robuster logos of “Creation”.
Michelangelo’s Pietà should have depicted Socrates.
Let’s keep looking at this “second descent” from the One
the chief interpretative challenge, or what Ficino would call the mystery, at the heart of the Sophist, where Plato’s argument clearly envisages the copresence (if not coexistence exactly) of being and not-being, not at the extremes of an ontological hierarchy but within each existent in that hierarchy.
Of the five elements of being above, Ficino calls difference the origin of non-being. Difference is also another way of saying the other or otherness, and identity another way of saying sameness. He also defines this otherness as divisibility, and refers to it as
the essence or nature or power or origin of not-being
See, even this “second descent” is so complex I just expect this to be talking past most people. They prefer just to look at the Birth of Venus painting and be done with it. That’s a weakness of eros though, a sophistic will, a contentment with the demiurgic world of images. That itself is a human being that is “not-being”.
Yeah, just some more thoughts on how the dialogues can be woven together.