Anna Corrias
Cambridge University
Marsilio Ficino’s view on ensoulment, which can be extrapolated from his critique of natal astrology, relies on the relations of metaphysical proportion between the different levels of life and being which are central to Platonic philosophy. Drawing primarily on Plotinus, Ficino describes the emergence of life in the embryo as a process in which the World Soul is the true agent. For him, the ‘human nature’ that is present in the developing embryo attracts into the mother’s womb the seed of ‘human nature’ which is present in the World Soul’s vegetative power. Once channelled into the womb, the World Soul’s vegetative power animates the embryo’s body. Now endowed with organic life, the embryo becomes irresistibly attractive to the rational soul, which in this way is drawn down to it and becomes embodied. For Ficino, the moment when ‘rational’ ensoulment happens is completely irrelevant to prefiguring one’s life path, contrary to what was claimed by natal astrology. Nevertheless, it leaves an important mark on one’s physio-psychological makeup.
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DOI 10.1163/18725473-bja10012
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