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 chapter argues that matter, for Dante, can have no ontological ground or source other than Intellect-Being. Dante's world is not made of fundamental building blocks, rather all sensible reality is a contingent (but otherwise absolutely “real”) projection of self-subsistent Being, identified with pure Intellect or Awareness (which is not a thing). In rough terms this means, for example, that ontologically the brain depends upon consciousness, and not vice versa. It also implies that there is a way to travel in the physical world, and even beyond it, that leaves aside the laws of physics and material bodies. It is the route the pilgrim exploits, or rather the route that happens to the pilgrim: to identify more and more perfectly with the dimensionless conscious reality to which all spatiotemporal experience is immediately present, as in an extensionless point. To locate oneself in space and time is to locate oneself in conscious being, which is, as one who reaches the Primo Mobile discovers, “where” they exist.

Keywords: Aristotle; Dante; Intellect-Being; Primo Mobile; pure Intellect; awareness

Chapter.  5459 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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