Eklektyczny wymiar epistemologii Marsilia Ficina

Marsilio Ficino is widely recognized as a leader among the Platonists of the West and was also a humanist of scholastic provenance. His style, the literary form of many of his writings, the sources he used and his way of posing philosophical problems allow us to call Ficino a humanist. However, the influence of the scholastic thought was also significant (and that can be perceived as a paradox because of the frequently emphasized antagonisms between humanists and scholastics which are also well documented e.g. the texts of Petrarch against his scholastic opponents). How strongly medieval schools influenced the thought of Ficino is evident in: the way he proved his argument, the way he chose subjects for his deliberation and finally in the terminology that he applied in his writing. It is exactly his terminology that this paper is concerned with. Epistemology constitutes an important element of Marsilio Ficino‟s philosophy. It has a thoroughly eclectic character. The philosopher expounded it most extensively and most accurately in his in-depth work “Theologia Platonica”. When it comes to the mechanism of cognition, it is mostly based on four elements: senses (sensus), imagination (imaginatio), fantasy (phantasia), intelligence (intelligentia). The meaning of these notions has scholastic provenance. Ficino‟s imaginatio plays the same role as one of the external senses in Aristotle, which functioned in scholastics as sensus communis. The function of fantasy in the Florentine‟s thought seems to be similar to the one performed by vis cogitativa in St. Thomas‟s philosophy. The ultimate stage of the process is named intelligentia, i.e. mind. A terminological inconsistency occurs here, as more frequently the philosopher describes the mind as intellectus or mens. In addition, mens is used both a broader sense and in the narrow one, as it constitutes one of the powers of the intellect. The other one is ratio, i.e. reason. The Florentine philosopher sometimes uses the expressions mens agens and mens capax as synonyms for mens and ratio respectively. These expressions are related to the aristotelian conceptions which during the scholastic period were connected with a famous philosophical discussion of the unity of the possible intellect. The platonic character of Ficino‟s theory of knowledge can be seen in the concept of the aim of the cognitive process – that is the contemplation of God. This is the final phase of the intellectual effort which in itself indeed exceeds rational endeavour. At this point the philosopher refers to the Platonic thought most extensively. The contemplation of ideal beings in Plato here becomes the act of knowing God. For Ficino Plato is the greatest thinker whose works represent a reference point for those who seek the ultimate knowledge.
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