Celestial Intelligences: The Syncretic Angelology of Renaissance Philosopher Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola
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AbstractThis thesis investigates the syncretic ideas of Italian Renaissance philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (“Pico” hereafter) (1463-1494) and his angelology in order to interpret the process of spiritual ascension that he prescribed in his Oration (1486). This process drew from philosophic and western wisdom traditions but primarily involved the emulation of angels. Central to Pico’s spiritual system was a philosophical analysis of specific characteristics of angelic orders and their hierarchy. Pico developed his own unique arrangement of traditional Jewish and Christian angelic orders to support his anthropology. He argued that humans have the potential to not only walk among the angels, but, in fact, fully to unite with the divine without human mediation even before death. Inextricably intertwined with Pico’s angelology was the biblical story of Jacob’s ladder and its symbolism, as well as the Jewish Kabbalistic Tree of Life, and the ancient tradition from which it originated. Pico’s conception of the Cherubim as the angelic order that could, by example, guide humanity to an individual gnosis, or even theosis (union with, or metamorphosis from human to divine), demonstrated his syncretic thinking, combining elements of both tradition and originality.
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