Christian Moevs

in The Metaphysics of Dante's Comedy

Published in print April 2005 | ISBN: 9780195174618
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835430 | DOI:

Series: AAR Reflection and Theory in the Study of Religion Series


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This introductory chapter begins with a discussion of the importance of Dante's metaphysics. It identifies five principles that are fundamental to grasping the world-picture Dante shared with the profound thinkers of his age and that form the basis for understanding the Comedy's purposes and poetics as Dante might have. These principles are that (1) the world of space and time does not itself exist in space and time: it exists in Intellect (the Empyrean, pure conscious being); (2) matter, in medieval hylomorphism, is not something “material”: it is a principle of unintelligibility, of alienation from conscious being; (3) all finite form, that is, all creation, is a self-qualification of Intellect or Being, and only exists insofar as it participates in it; (4) creator and creation are not two, since the latter has no existence independent of the former; but of course creator and creation are not the same; and (5) God, as the ultimate subject of all experience, cannot be an object of experience: to know God is to know oneself as God, or (if the expression seems troubling) as one “ with” God or “in” God. The consequences of a getting a grasp of the metaphysical underpinnings of the Comedy are discussed.

Keywords: Dante; Comedy; metaphysics; space and time; Intellect; finite form

Chapter.  5763 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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