“Moreover, all things that exist, insofar as they exist, are
true, and insofar as they possess some force, order, and purpose they
are good. …the soul seeks all true and all good things. Hence it
seeks all things. What else does the soul seek except to know all
things through the intellect and to enjoy them all through the will?
In both ways it tries to become all things.”
“To conclude, our soul by means of the intellect and will, as
by those twin Platonic wings, flies toward God, since by means of
them it flies toward all things. By means of the intellect it
attaches all things to itself; by means of the will, it attaches
itself to all things. Thus the soul desires, endeavors, and begins to
become God, and makes progress every day. Every moment directed
towards a definite end first begins, then proceeds, then gradually
increases and makes progress and is finally perfected. It is
increased through the same power through which it was begun; it makes
progress through the same power through which it it was increased;
and finally, it is perfected through the same power through which it
made progress. Hence our soul will sometime be able to become in a
sense all things; and even to become a god.”
From The Soul of
Man, by Marsilio Ficino; c. 1474 - Quoted from The Portable Renaissance Reader Penguin Books,
1953, P390; attributed therein to - Platonic Theology,
trans. By J. L. Burroughs, Journal of the History of Ideas, April
One thing very much taken for granted in our current view of
mortal existence, is change. Perhaps this is because like space and
time, experience cannot be implemented without change. All three are
woven into the fabric of what we call the real world. We learn from
experience that each of us is able to control change, at least to
some degree. Thus we learn to impose our will upon that reality in
which we find ourselves. Much of what occurs around us seems
purposeless and accidental, but because we find it possible to change
some of these by the use of our own will, we attribute a similar
explanation to certain events that occur around us. Thus we deduce
the elements of cause and effect.
We now find ourselves looking at cause and effect through the
inspection glass of mathematics as we find its limits imposed upon
the material world shaped by the laws of conservation of matter and
energy. There is nothing particularly wrong with this, especially if
you want to do something like shoot a bullet out of the sky with
another bullet. At the moment, Newtonian physics and Calculus can
easily accomplish this, but it is important to remember that cause
and effect are themselves intuitive abstracts. They can be neither
measured, nor quantified. In a materialistic world, they no more
exist, than the god of that same materialistic world. That’s why it
is the empiricists that give us positivism, rather than the
rationalists. Well, maybe its a bit of each.
The romantics, on the other hand, look at change from the inside
out. They noticed that we do not merely observe humans, we are
human. We do not merely observe change, we are changing.
Existence is not merely something we see, it is something we
experience. The Renaissance was a period where men revolted against
the rational by speaking instead about that experience. Marsilio
Ficino was such a man. His expression of what he sees in the pursuit
of change, is worthy of examination as much as the slope of any
tangent to a curve that describes a locus of points defining a
trajectory that would correct the path between one bullet and
another, in order to assure that one encounters the other in space
during a given interval of time. One need not be a mystic to consider
the progress of the soul to be a viable, alternative point of view.
One need only envision purpose.
Utilizing rationalistic means the Ficino statement above, as
written in the romantic era can easily be shown to be inadequate. At
the same time, it demonstrates that rationalism itself can also be
inadequate, and perhaps even, as stated by William James, that part
of life “of which rationalism can give an account is relatively
A good summation of the Romantic Movement is given by Reese in reference to Goethe:
Goethe became at once the model of German Romantic writers. Implicit in his writings of the period is the idea that the world belongs to the strong, and that convention is to be defied in the interest of spontaneity and inner authenticity.2
1 From James, Varieties of Religious Experience, Penguin
Classics, 1983-1985, P 73.
2 From W. L. Reese, Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion Eastern and Western Thought, Humanities Press Inc, 1980 Ed. P 197. This book is an excellent example of a database published in the form of a flat file, which is remarkable, therefore, I remark on it.
3 From David Hume. This footnote references an observation made by an astute proofreader (tem42) who noticed that my particular point "that cause and effect are unquantifiable is likely to confuse many readers." This helped me to realize I need to act by creating a follow up called "Plagiarizing Hume" to explain this, and also to give Hume credit for the idea where I purposely omitted a footnote showing that Hume was the person who actually suggested the idea that cause and effect are indeed, abstracts. Actually, everything I contain within this mind of mine, is in the form of an abstract. Perhaps you are different. But I don't think so. None of this is what I really want to do or say. I actually want to suggest a new approach to idealism that I think should be called Bifid Idealism, but I want to make it understandable to normal readers (like me), and that might take a bit of time and effort on my part.