Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy

2011 Edition
| Editors: Henrik Lagerlund

Platonism, Renaissance

  • Stephen Gersh
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9729-4_405


This article provides a survey of the Renaissance phase in the history of Platonism and covers the period roughly 1440–1600. Renaissance Platonism is distinguished from medieval Platonism on account of its access to Greek texts and Latin translations of works by Plato himself and by his ancient commentators which had been unavailable earlier. The brief initial phase of Renaissance Platonism is represented by the work of humanist translators of Plato for whom the ethical aspects of Plato’s early dialogues were the primary concern. A much longer second phase was initiated by Marsilio Ficino for whom the cosmological and theological elements in the dialogues of Plato’s middle and later periods and the “Platonism” (really Neoplatonism) of late antique thinkers became the main focus. With respect to the latter phase, this article discusses (1) four main tendencies in Renaissance philosophy: a new understanding of human subjectivity, exploration of the relations between rhetoric and magic, a new understanding of the role of mathematics, and the elaborate historiography of philosophy; (2) five major Platonic philosophers in whom the interplay of these tendencies can be traced: Nicholas of Cusa, Marsilio Ficino, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Francesco Patrizi da Cherso, and Giordano Bruno.

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Gersh
    • 1
  1. 1.The Medieval InstituteUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA