By Arthur Farndell
Marsilio Ficino, a leading student of the Italian Renaissance who translated the entire works of Plato into Latin, examines Plato’s Timaeus, the main generally influential and hotly debated of the Platonic writings. supplying a likely account of the production and nature of the cosmos, the dialogue comprises 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 remark 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
Again, from two and three arises the number eighteen, if you take three times three twice, where eighteen, the number coming to birth, takes one of its sides from the distant eight, giving ‘twice’, and two of its sides from the number twenty-seven, giving ‘three times three’. In the same way, the two elements between fire and earth are tempered by the extremes while at the same time bringing back two natures from the nearer and borrowing but a single nature from the further one. Chapter 24 The whole world is composed of four elements; how these elements are under a particular principle in the heavens and under a different principle beneath the Moon A L L T H E F O L L O W E R S of Pythagoras and Plato consider that the whole world has been compounded from these four elements, through geometrical and musical proportion, which are united to each other in such a way, however, that the harmony of the elements never suffers any discord in the heavens, although beneath the heavens some dissonance seems to arise at certain times and in certain places, but when it arises it is immediately and miraculously restored to a concordant form through the higher harmony.
In short, it fulfils all, whether it be something within nature or something above nature, through essence, being, power, and action. The followers of Pythagoras were therefore justified in using the number four to designate the fullness of the cosmic body and the cosmic soul and to testify on oath that the fount of ever-flowing nature is fourfold. It is undoubtedly from this fount that the four elements emanate. Hence the fourfold triplicity in the heavens. Hence the four seasons under the heavens.
Finally, that which is depth in mathematics is the organic nature in natural science: I mean a twofold nature, being both formal, that is, compounded of many forms, and similar to a solid sphere, and also material, being composed of form and matter, more like a cube. Thus when he says that between two planes one mean is sufficient, understand that between two forms a single mean is sufficient: the formal mean. For when forms touch other forms with their extremities, they harmonise through a single formal mean, which reveals both the similarities and the differences.