Pico della Mirandola and the Presocratics

In Konstantinos Boudouris (ed.), Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy. Charlottesville,USA: Philosophy Documentation Center. pp. 27-37 (2018)
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Abstract
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) decided to study all the ancient and medieval schools of philosophy, including the Pre-Socratics, in order to broaden his scope. Pico showed interest in ancient monists. He commented that only Xenophanes’ One is the One simply, while Parmenides’ One is not the absolute One, but the oneness of Being. Melissus’ One is in extreme correspondence to that of Xenophanes. As for Xenophanes, Pico seems to have fallen victim of ancient sources, who referred to Xenophanes and Parmenides as members of the Eleatic “tribe”. In the case of Parmenides Pico draws mainly on the Platonic dialogues Parmenides and Sophist and not on intermediaries such as the Neoplatonists and other commentators. Despite of Pico’s knowledge of Empedocles’ philosophy, it is worth noticing that Pico was also strongly influenced by the medieval kabbalistic literature and the pseudo Empedocles. While Neoplatonists, such as Proclus, commented Empedocles and interpreted him according to the Neoplatonic spectrum, Pico’s appreciation of the philosophy of Empedocles was mediated through Arab and Jewish mysticism. Pico counted among his sources the Pre-Socratics, but the way he read them was not always direct and consistent. He intentionally chose to interpret them through the spectrum of intermediaries such as the ancient Commentators, the Neoplatonists, the Arabs and Jews mystics.
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