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Renaissance treatises on love (Marsilio Ficino – Nikola Vitov Gučetić )

Authors
Publisher
Institute of Philosophy; [email protected]
Publication Date
Keywords
  • Renesansna Filozofija
  • Filozofija Ljubavi
  • Novoplatonizam
  • Marsilio Ficino
  • Nikola Vitov Gučetić
  • Renaissance Philosophy
  • Philosophy Of Love
  • Neoplatonism
  • Marsilio Ficino
  • Nikola Vitov Gučetić
Disciplines
  • Biology
  • Philosophy

Abstract

The love theme was one of the central issues in the Renaissance literature and philosophy. Indeed, Renaissance texts dedicated to love had their thematic predecessors in the Middle ages, but a fleeting glimpse into the Renaissance tracts on love, especially those written in the mid-fifteenth century and later, makes it clear that in terms of approach and concept they greatly differ from their medieval forerunners. At the core of this difference lies the introduction of Plato’s theory of love into the Western cultural circle. Namely, the basis of the Renaissance thematisation of love should be sought in the revival of the interest in Plato’s doctrine of love, rediscovered through the translation of Marsilio Ficino and his commentary on Plato’s dialogue Symposium. With his views of love, Ficino also influenced two Croatian philosophers of the Renaissance: Frane Petrić and Nikola Vitov Gučetić, whose Dialogo d’amore detto Antos is dedicated specifically to the love theme. Yet our aim in this paper is not to present a thorough comparative analysis of the love concepts of the two Croatian Renaissance philosophers, but to outline Ficino’s influence on Gučetić’s concept of love. In order to elaborate this influence, it is necessary to provide an insight into the features of Ficino’s concept of love. Therefore the first part of the paper deals with Ficino’s views as interpreted on the basis of the analysis of his commentary on Plato’s Symposium, while the second discusses the specific characteristics of Ficino’s influence on Gučetić’s concept of love. From the analysis of the treatises on love of the two philosophers it can be infered that unlike Ficino, who comes forward with an ontological foundation of the concept of love, in which the elaboration of some aspects of the worldly manifestation of love logically follows from the fundamental determination of love as an omnipresent divine principle, Gučetić fails to follow the ontological foundation of love. Although he takes over the most of Ficino’s statements about love, there is also a difference between the two philosophers. First of all, there is a difference in the approach to the love theme, but there is also a difference in the way Gučetić elaborates it. He considers love primarily as emotion, the manifestations of which he then describes according to different levels of ontological scale. In the elaboration of love he concentrates on the presentation of the concrete embodiment of beauty as love object in the form of an individual, more precisely, of a female person. Characteristic of Gučetić’s approach are the most detailed descriptions of female physical beauty, embodied in the person of Cvijeta Zuzorić, though still within the frame of the Platonic understanding of the relationship between the spiritual and the physical–that is, physical beauty being primarily viewed as an image of spiritual beauty. Coupled with this topic is also an accentuated presence of the physiological interpretation of the physical manifestations of the love emotions, as well as astrological interpretation of man’s characteristics and his activities, predominantly in love, reflecting the Renaissance view of man the microcosm as an image of the macrocosm. Thus it may be concluded that both philosophers, Ficino and Gučetić, as Renaissance neoplatonic philosophers, encounter the same problems of principle nature– first of all, the problem of harmonisation of Neoplatonic with the Christian concept of love, but also with some of the open issues since Plato’s day, accentuated by Neoplatonism: with the question of the horismos of Plato’s philosophy and the possibility of its being overcome, and especially with the question of the relationship between love as emotion and love as universal principle, expressed in the dilemma love – demon or love – God. Eventualy, in order to answer to the initial question about love as one of the main issues in the period of the Renaissance, it could be stated that the central position of the love theme within Renaissance philosophy should be understood from the fact that the Renaissance Neoplatonism was an important segment of the Renaissance philosophy, and what essentially determines the Renaissance Neoplatonism is the syncretism which is witnessed mainly as a tendency towards that which unites. In accordance with this tendency, then the key position in the neoplatonically conceived ontological system is awarded to the »middle«, to the »in-between«, that unites the extremes and which, because of this uniting function, necessarily has to be of dual character. Such a mediating role is primarily bestowed on love.

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