Thank you so much for this post which very elegantly uses Ficino's
language to refer to the Sartrean in-itself, for-itself and
in-itself-for-itself schema which you showed us last week.
I can't delve into this text much because it is too perfect. I think
you are right, Sartre "was" a secret Platonist.
But how does this schema relate to the idea of the transcendental
ego, the socially constructed self? It seems that we are talking
about one kind of individual being when we describe the intercession
of the relationship between body and the divine, but another kind of
individual altogether when we are talking about the Look of the Other
and how this conditions the freedom of the individual for-itself.
Can these two kinds of beings-in-themselves be held to be in any way
equivalent? Or is it just a coincidence that they employ the same
>The following is from Ficino's Platonic Theology. If anyone is
>interested, they can see that Ficino's scheme below is very similar
>to the excerpts from Sartre that are in the post "My Project".
>Let us once more assemble things on five levels, placing God and
>angel at the summit of nature [the in-itself-for-itself], body and
>quality at the foot [the in-itself], but soul [the for-itself]
>halfway between those on high and those below. We would do well to
>call the soul the third and middle essence, as the Platonists do,
>because it is the mean for all and the third from both directions.
>Now God and body are the extremes of nature and completely different
>from each other. Angel does not link them, for the whole of angel
>reaches up towards God and neglects body. Nor does quality connect
>the two extremes, since it sinks downwards to body, abandons those
>above, and, having abandoned the incorporeal, becomes corporeal.
>Thus far all are extremes, and the higher and the lower flee from
>each other since they lack a proper bond. But the third essence set
>between them [the for-itself] is such that it cleaves to the higher
>[the in-itself-for-itself] while not abandoning the lower [the
>in-itself]; and in it, therefore, the higher and the lower are
>In ascending, it [the for-itself] does not abandon the things below
>it [the in-itself]; in descending, it does not relinquish the things
>above it [the in-itself-for-itself]. For were it to abandon either,
>it would swing to the opposite extreme and no longer be the world's
>The third essence [the for-itself] must cling to things divine [the
>in-itself-for-itself] and fill things mortal [the in-itself]. When
>it clings to things divine, because it is spiritually united with
>them and spiritual union begets knowledge, it knows them. When it
>fills bodies, moving them from within, it gives them life. Thus it
>is the mirror of things divine, the life of things mortal, the bond
>joining the two.
>It also follows from this that the third essence is simultaneously
>both divided and undivided. It is undivided, because it looks up at
>things above which are fully unified; but it is divided, because it
>sinks down towards things below which are utterly divided. Such a
>nature seems to be completely necessary in the world's order, in
>order that, after God and angel, who cannot be divided according to
>time or dimension, but before body and qualities, which are
>dispersed in time and dimension, a harmonious mean may exist, a mean
>that may be divided in a way by sequential temporal activity but not
>divided by dimension, and that may neither remain always gathered in
>a nature of its own like God and angel, nor be scattered about like
>body and quality, but be undivided and divided equally.
>This [the for-itself] is what implants itself in things mortal [the
>in-itself] without itself becoming mortal. Because it controls
>bodies while it also clings to things divine, it is the mistress of
>bodies, not their companion.
>Moreover, if angelic mind is indivisible, unchangeable and
>completely above time and place, there will be no reason either for
>it to accord with body which is divisible, changeable and subject to
>time and place, or for it to make such forms in body unless soul
>intercedes. For soul, because it is indivisible and above place, is
>formed or guided by angel; but because it is changeable and partly
>partakes of time, it is compatible with matter. It takes the forms
>received from on high and leads them in itself down into changeable
>and temporal nature through which they cross over with greatest ease
>into the body (which is also changeable); once there they become
>divisible in it.
>Certainly, in moving from God to angel, forms pass from a single
>essence into multiple qualities; and from angel to soul, from rest
>to a productive motion; and from soul to body, from vital and active
>motion to the passive changeability of mortal nature.
>If motion is perfect anywhere, the most perfect must be where the
>first motion is. So the motion in the third essence [the for-itself]
>is the most perfect of all motions. This, as everyone would agree,
>is the circular motion. But circular motion, as it recurs once, so
>it recurs twice, three times, four times, and for the same reason;
>and in the circuit the end and the beginning are the same. Thus when
>it seems to be finishing, it is just beginning.
>[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
>To unsubscribe, e-mail: Sartreemail@example.com
>Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
Join us at Communicationalism, the attempt to find a basis for ethics
in communication rather than survival