By Arthur Farndell
Marsilio Ficino, a leading pupil of the Italian Renaissance who translated the entire works of Plato into Latin, examines Plato’s Timaeus, the main greatly influential and hotly debated of the Platonic writings. supplying a possible account of the construction and nature of the cosmos, the dialogue accommodates such questions as what's the functionality of mathematics and geometry within the layout of production? what's the nature of brain, soul, topic, and time? and what's our position within the universe? To his major statement Ficino provides an appendix, which amplifies and elucidates Plato’s meanings and reveals interesting information about Ficino himself.
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Extra info for All Things Natural: Ficino on Plato's Timaeus
For with solids he includes weights, as he indicates when, after referring to measurements, he speaks of the forces of inclination as the causes of weights. By numbers he intends us to understand the actual species and substantial forms of natural things, which Aristotle, too, compared to numbers. By measures we are to understand particular instrumental shapes or magnitudes which are appropriate to particular species. Finally, by solids and powers he means the qualities which are fully extended together with vast masses of material and which provide the momentum for movements and actions.
But since Plato frequently says that we should make a solemn profession of things divine as far as is approved by the divine precepts, we should give our assent to the sacred Scriptures rather than to our own conjectures. 23 All Things Natural 15/4/10 12:08 Page 24 ALL THINGS NATUR AL Chapter 15 By the grace of the Good the world has been brought into being in the likeness of the divine principle and the divine word the world through His own will, His own goodness, which naturally and of its own volition overflows through its limitless fertility, rejoicing in itself first and then finding delight in its own image, but doing so in such a way that it establishes the end of this delight, not in this image, but in the model and the beginning.
The nature of earth bestows firm and unshakeable stability; it grants density to the stars, that they may be seen, and to the Moon, that it may ward off the rays of the Sun. The nature of air affords a very clear 38 All Things Natural 15/4/10 12:08 Page 39 COMPENDIUM CHAPTER 24 quality known as translucence. The nature of water introduces a most delicate and uniform gentleness. And the greatest benefit of all is that it imbues the very flanges of the spheres (with which they contact each other) with the excellent nature of cold and wetness which ensures that, however rapidly and strongly they come into contact with each other as a result of their great speed, there is no heat and no damage.