School of Economic Science
Plato and Aristotle in the Renaissance
Goto page 1, 2  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    School of Economic Science - Study Forums Forum Index -> Plato Forum
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Chris Rees



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 28
Location: Northwood, Middlesex, UK

PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:49 pm    Post subject: Plato and Aristotle in the Renaissance Reply with quote

Readers of this forum may like to know that Valery Rees appeared on Melvyn Bragg's In Our Time on BBC Radio 4 at 9.00 on Thursday 26th March. The programme, entitled Raphael’s "School of Athens” focused on the influence of Plato and Aristotle on the Renaissance. The other speakers were Professor Jill Kraye of the Warburg Institute and Professor Angie Hobbes of Warwick University.

The programme can be heard via Listen Again on the BBC website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/inourtime/inourtime_20090326.shtml


Last edited by Chris Rees on Wed Apr 08, 2009 9:28 am; edited 3 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Peter Blumsom



Joined: 09 Mar 2007
Posts: 1128
Location: Wembley, London, UK

PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2009 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congratulations, Valery! An excellent and informative programme, well worth the listen if you missed it (tonight again, or podcast) - and for years of not knowing how to pronounce Averoes I now have two alternatives. Lord Melvyn, what would we do without you?!

Pete

PS - Did anyone mention the resemblance of Plato to the Leonardo etching, and Aristotle to Michelangelo, or is that a bit passé?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
John Boonham



Joined: 09 Mar 2007
Posts: 64
Location: Colchester, Essex, UK

PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 12:08 pm    Post subject: Melvyn Bragg's "In Our Time" BBC Radio 4 Programme Reply with quote

BBC Radio 4's series "In Our Time"
Episode: "The School of Athens" broadcast on Thursday 26th March 2009 9am - 9:45am


Melvyn Bragg (above) presents In Our Time, a series where he and his expert guests discuss the history of ideas, and explore subjects in culture and science.

Melvyn Bragg was born in 1939 in Wigton, Cumbria - where many of his books are set. He won a scholarship to Oxford to read history, and in 1961 he gained a coveted traineeship with the BBC. Melvyn presented Start the Week between 1988 and 1998. In his 1998 series On Giant's Shoulders he interviewed scientists about their eminent predecessors, and from 1999 to 2001 he presented The Routes of English, a series celebrating 1,000 years of the spoken language.

As well as presenting for Radio 4, he is Controller of Arts for London Weekend Television and is the presenter of The South Bank Show. In 1998 he was made a life peer. He has written 19 novels, the latest of which is Crossing the Lines.

Socrates is second figure from the left in top row. Plato and Aristotle are in the centre archway.

The School of Athens (an extract from this fresco is shown above)
Despite commissioning the Sistine Chapel, Pope Julius II is better known as a warrior than a scholar. But when he did put down the sword and pick up a book, he would have done so under a magnificent if slightly unexpected fresco. It is called The School of Athens, it was painted by Raphael in 1509 and it sits in a room in the Vatican that housed Julius’ private library.

The School of Athens depicts an imaginary scene in which all the philosophers of antiquity are gathered together. At their centre stand Plato and Aristotle, deep in discussion. Plato is pointing at the sky and Aristotle at the ground.

In that pairing of gestures, Raphael captured something essential about the philosophies of these two men, but he also revealed much about his own time. That such a pagan pair could be found beside a Pope in private tells of the complexity of intellectual life at the time when classical learning was reborn in what we now call the Renaissance.

Contributers to the programme


Angie Hobbs gained a First Class Honours Degree in Classics and a PhD in Ancient Philosophy at the University of Cambridge (New Hall). From 1989-92 she held the W.H.D.Rouse Research Fellowship in Classics at Christ’s College, Cambridge; she is now Associate Professor in Philosophy at the University of Warwick. Her chief interests are in ancient philosophy and literature, ethics (both theoretical and applied) and political theory; her publications include Plato and the Hero (Cambridge University Press 2000). She contributes regularly to radio programmes on the BBC and discussions on the web, in addition to a variety of other media and public work, in the UK, continental Europe and the States; she also lectures and gives talks around the world.

Professor Jill Kraye, Librarian & Professor in the History of Renaissance Philosophy at The Warburg Institute, University of London - School of Advanced Study Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AB

Valery Rees works on a variety of topics connected with the Italian Renaissance, primarily the Letters of Marsilio Ficino. She also teaches for the Lucca Leadership Trust which offers week-long courses to young people from all over the world who have an active interest in helping their own communities. She holds an MA in History from Cambridge University (Newnham College) and taught Latin at St James Independent School in London for 17 years before leaving to concentrate on research and writing.

Listen to the BBC Radio 4 Programme
You may wish to hear this spendid BBC programme direct from the BBC's website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/history/inourtime/inourtime_20090326.shtml or click on the MP3 file download attached to this post (see below). (Note that you may be requested to load an MP3 player (software).)



iot_20090326-1300a.mp3
 Description:
Melvyn Bragg's BBC's Radio 4 Programme "The School of Athens" in the series "In Our Time" broadcast on Radio 4 on Thursday 26th March 2009 from 9:00am to 9:45 (Duration 42 mins; size 20MB)
 Filesize:  19.43 MB
 Viewed:  28242 Time(s)






Last edited by John Boonham on Sun Mar 29, 2009 10:04 pm; edited 3 times in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
John Boonham



Joined: 09 Mar 2007
Posts: 64
Location: Colchester, Essex, UK

PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2009 12:11 pm    Post subject: The central figures of Plato and Aristotle Reply with quote

In response to one or two private enquiries and following on from my posting above I have done a little more research on the central figures in Rafael's fresco "The School of Athens" painting in the Vatican. These matters are discussed in the Melvyn Bragg radio programme which is the subject of the posting above.

Image of the whole (School of Athens) fresco 7.7m wide x 5m high

The image above is from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sanzio_01.jpg



Plato and Aristotle: detail from Raphael's The School of Athens fresco. Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sanzio_01.jpg

Wikipedia says of Plato and Aristotle
In the center of the fresco, at its architecture's central vanishing point, are the two undisputed main subjects: Plato on the left and Aristotle, his student, on the right. Both figures hold modern, bound copies of their books in their left hands, while gesturing with their right. Plato holds Timaeus, Aristotle his Nicomachean Ethics. Plato is depicted as old, grey, wise-looking, bare-foot. By contrast Aristotle, slightly ahead of him, is in mature manhood, handsome, well-shod and dressed, with gold, and the youth about them seem to look his way. In addition, these two central figures gesture along different dimensions: Plato vertically, upward along the picture-plane, into the beautiful vault above; Aristotle on the horizontal plan at right-angles to the picture-plane (hence in strong foreshortening), initiating a powerful flow of space toward viewers. Their gestures indicate central aspects of their philosophies. Each philosopher is symbolically indicating that which they hold to be the truest reality. Plato's upward motion represents his Theory of Forms and an emphasis on universals, while Aristotle motions downward, indicating his strongly empiricist views, and an emphasis on the particular.
(Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_School_of_Athens )
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Chris Rees



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 28
Location: Northwood, Middlesex, UK

PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In answer to Pete's question above, this is the text of Melvyn Bragg's newsletter after the show:

Hello

It’s not often you get instant comeback from contributors of a positive nature. Usually they say, ruefully and apologetically, that they wished they’d had more time because they omitted to mention A,B,C…X,Y, Z. And then the conversation goes on for another quarter of an hour, which does not mean that we are angling for another quarter of an hour, though if anybody Up There is reading this – we’re open to additions.

But after this morning’s programme, Angie Hobbs, Associate Professor in Philosophy at the University of Warwick, said “I’ve never learned so much in such a time”. She had thought she was coming on to talk about Greek philosophy and, as it turned out, she was talking about Greek philosophy in the Renaissance and because of the other two contributors, Valery Rees and Jill Kraye, it was the Renaissance which predominated. I must say, Angie hid her declared lack of expertise both charmingly and deeply. She was never out of the discussion, but it’s good to hear that those who contribute can also be those who learn.

There was lots more said, of course. The figure of Heraclitus was based on Michelangelo. Plato was based on Leonardo da Vinci. Raphael painted himself in a corner looking out at the rest of us. Back to Angie, who went through the renditions of philosophy put forward in the Monty Python forum. She knows the songs. And she described the philosophers’ football match which could not begin because they could not decide whether the ball really existed. The three of them agreed there were not enough philosophers who also told jokes, although there is Michael Frayn who is a philosopher and wit. Valery regretted she’d not done justice to the idea of the Golden Thread and spun wonderful paragraphs about golden chains coming down from heaven, and the allegory of good government having the golden thread in the 13th century painting in Siena.

I was particularly struck by the present of the Emperor which was the collected works of Plato. What does Gordon Brown take to Obama? How heavy are the bets against it being a handsome edition of the collected works of Shakespeare, or John Stuart Mill, or Newton, or Darwin?

Best wishes

Melvyn Bragg

PS: After the programme, Sir Michael Lyons, Chairman of the BBC Trust, breezed in to chat about what he’d heard. Very good to know that such a key figure has his finger on the pulse of the BBC.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is the fact that the volume of Plato was the gift of the Emperor (to whom ? The Pope ? Cosimo ?) a recent discovery ?
The story used to be that the Emperor did indeed send Plethon, who spent time lecturing on Plato and Aristotle and their similarity and difference after Cosimo diverted the Council to Florence; but no mention of a gift -- though we might guess that Plethon left his copy with the new enthusiasts anyway !

But didn't Cardinal Bessarion already have a copy of Plato which he taught from ?

Michael
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Chris Rees



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 28
Location: Northwood, Middlesex, UK

PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As was pointed out in the programme itself, it was his gift to Cosimo.

At the time of the council, was Bessarion not still a prelate of the Eastern church?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's what I was asking : is there any record that it was the Emperor's gift to Cosimo ? Marsilio says a number of times that Cosimo 'obtained a copy of Plato' for him, much later, in 1462 for him to translate from. It's a nice idea.. and Wikipedia has perpetuated it, without citation..but is there any fact or record to support it ?

Plethon brought Bessarion with him to Italy as one of his pupils, and Bessarion acquired an impressive library at some stage; so yes, Plato could have been in their luggage. But not as an ambassadorial gift ?

I'm not up in recent research; but the last account was that no such copy had yet been found.

Michael
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, a little progress with this story.

There were copies of some of Plato's individual Dialogues in Greek in Florence from around 1402, when Chrysoloras encouraged his pupils to translate them into Latin.

The first recorded complete copy of Plato in Greek was imported from Constantinople in 1423 by the book-dealer Aurispa; a ship-load of Greek texts destined for Mantua, but Aurispa ran short of cargo fees and Cosimo smartly offered to share the cost of transport; no record of where this copy actually ended up !

Ambrogio Traversari, who attended the activities in Florence around the Council, says that the Emperor of Constantinople paid a visit to Florence in 1438, bringing with him copies of Aristotle and Plato (on the differences between whom, Pletho lectured and wrote) and also Plutarch.

It is not clear whether these were for display; for reference; for sale (as some scholars suggest..); or as private gifts. Nor is there any clue where they eventually landed up : Cosimo was in the habit of giving his books to monasteries; and they didn't always take great care of their books..

Records suggest that there was no great interest at the time, among Florentine intellectuals or others, in Plethon's shattering claim that Aristotle (and this despite two centuries of Aquinas' high regard) never calls God the Creator, but only 'makes God the end not of the existence or essence of particular things but only of movement and change' and thus that Plato was the nearest to Christianity. And it was another twenty years before Cosimo set up the Academy.

Plethon goes further in his 'Differences' : if Aristotle did believe God to be the Creator, but didn't say so, 'he would be guilty of an even greater fault' !

However Plethon's drafting of the 'filioque clause' crucial controversy (whether the Holy Spirit emanates from the Father or from the Father and the Son together -- which would give Christianity a special claim in religion...), and pride in the presence of 700 Greeks in Florence, seems to have produced more interest among artists than among intellectuals: there are said to be six or so major artworks made in Florence which indirectly or directly refer to the occasion and agenda of the Council, including one which finally ended up in our National Gallery: Veneziano's 'The Holy Trinity' with the dove of the holy Spirit between God and the Madonna and Child.

It is even suggested that the famous relief on the bronze doors of the Baptistery of the meeting of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba is an allusion to the meeting of Western and Eastern Churches in Florence !

Michael
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Sat Apr 04, 2009 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For what it's worth -- I've just discovered that we have another souvenir of the ill-fated Council of Florence, nearer to hand and eye..

Piero della Francesca's 'Baptism of Christ' in the National Gallery in London, and so finely copied in the hall of Waterperry House, is the centre panel of a triptych, commissioned by the Camaldolese monastery, probably to celebrate the Council's agenda, which was prepared by the Camaldolese monk and friend of Cosimo de' Medici, Ambrogio Traversari (whom I've mentioned above).

Two reasons for this attribution are offered : the trinity of God the Father, and the dove symbolising the Holy Spirit descending on Christ at his baptism, was a major item of the Council of reconciliation of Greek and Roman Churches : the 'filioque' clause from the respective Creeds, differing as to whether the Holy Spirit descended from God the Father or from God and Christ together...Big deal, you may well say... but it could make a special claim for Christianity if interpreted that way..

The second reason offered is that the figures in the background on the right are wearing Eastern dress.. hence adding to the theory that the painting is a celebration of the Council of Florence, East meets West..

What would the two side panels have depicted ? Angels and/or monks in adoration, as with Jan Van Eyck's 'Adoration' and its attendant worshippers ? Even a Camaldolese saint or two ?

And as Piero was an expert mathematician and geometrician, the painting is full of Golden Section harmonies to point to the heavenly as well as the earthly harmony..

Anyway, an incentive to look again at the 'Baptism of Christ' in London or at Waterperry..

Michael
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Valery Rees



Joined: 30 Oct 2007
Posts: 35
Location: Northwood, Middlesex, UK

PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 10:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Michael, I was certainly under the impression that a volume of Plato's dialogues passed from the Emperor to Cosimo - but now it clearly needs to be checked.
The copy that Ficino received from Cosimo is in the Laurentian Library, no. 85, 9. Another Medici copy, Laur 59, 1 also contains all the dialogues. And so did Bessarion's copy (Marciano gr. 184). No other complete codices have survived.
Bessarion, for the record, was unlikely to have been any longer in a 'pupil' relationship to Pletho by the time of the Council, though he did still defend his former teacher when Scholarios and George of Trebizond began their attacks.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Michael Reid



Joined: 09 Sep 2007
Posts: 67
Location: Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jun 17, 2009 5:52 am    Post subject: What Did Aristotle mean? Reply with quote

Next weekend on the 27th June you can hear Valery Rees speak on Aristotle at the historic Orchard in Grantchester.

In his Ethics Aristotle speaks of a training in virtue. He relates it to pleasure, and to happiness, and also to the laws under which people live. What does he really have in mind? And is it relevant to us today? This talk will present some of the formulations about the good, about happiness and human endeavour, as expressed by Aristotle, and will consider their relationship to some of Plato’s views.

Full details of times etc at the www.cbphilosophy.org/events.htm Cambridge website.

See you there.

Michael

_________________
Michael Reid
School of Philosophy, Cambridge
www.cbphilosophy.org
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Bryan Carr



Joined: 29 Sep 2007
Posts: 34
Location: Seattle, Washington, USA

PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2009 2:41 pm    Post subject: filioque Reply with quote

Michael Shepherd wrote:
... the 'filioque' clause from the respective Creeds, differing as to whether the Holy Spirit descended from God the Father or from God and Christ together...Big deal, you may well say... but it could make a special claim for Christianity if interpreted that way..


Michael,

I know a bit about the filioque controvery, but I am curious as to your take on it. If I read you correctly, you are saying that the Latin side (claiming the Spirit's procession to be from the Father 'and the Son') made it possible to claim a special status for Christianity, which was not the case in the Orthodox east. Is this right? I think I see where you might go with this, but can you say a bit more as to why you think this is the case (or correct me if I'm off?)

Many thanks,

~~Bryan
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bryan

I'd love to know the truth about this theosophical sore point.. but really it's beyond my capabilities.

First question -- which I can't answer, but probably has had answers : why was it such a big deal ? What were the implications ?

Second question : what do you, I, they, mean by the Holy Spirit ? Why should anyone think that it's dependent on the mediation of Christ -- when it hovered over the waters in Genesis One..?

Third question : when Christ said to his disciples that when He was 'gone', the Holy Spirit would descend as a 'Comforter' -- was this a new event ? Or was it reverting to the time before Christ emerged from eternity to pass time on earth and renew the laws and prophecies of the age of Moses ?

I'm happier to stick with the questions, than the answers !

But I can't help remembering that the great temple or church of Byzantium is called Hagia Sophia, Holy Wisdom.. Did the Greeks in their wisdom, believe that the Holy Spirit had always been present in the hearts of men as 'enthousia'-- the god within ? Whereas Rome as new centre of Christendom would rather proclaim that 'No-one cometh to the Father except through Me' ?

I've never read the 'Greek case' as presented by the Greeks, in Greek.. I'm sure the clue may be there in the Byzantine archives -- if they exist..

So not much help -- I value the contemplation of the Trinity, with and after Augustine; there's little clerical advice on the subject these days ! And I'm more comfortable with the holy spirit in me, than the god or the christ...

Perhaps Joseph could be persuaded to say a word or two to help with this ?

Meanwhile, I really do mean, thanks for asking...

Michael
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Michael Shepherd



Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2009 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

.. and now you've started me off again, even before I've persuaded Joseph into the ring...

I believe that there's a really important 'psycho-theological' issue behind this. I could imagine (just about..) a TV debate between Hindu, Jewish, Islamic and Christian theologians on the issue : 'Is there a significance to your faith, of a triad of spiritual forces, equivalent to an absolute Creator, a life divinely lived, and a spiritual power?'

I'm tempted to fill that in for the Hindu representative, but I'll resist..

Michael
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    School of Economic Science - Study Forums Forum Index -> Plato Forum All times are GMT
Goto page 1, 2  Next
Page 1 of 2

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You can attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
This forum is sponsored by the School of Economic Science for use by its members; members of its branches; members
of affiliated schools worldwide and by all other Internet users interested in the study subjects presented.
Powered by phpBB Copyright © FSES, 2007. All Rights Reserved