Soul’s Beauty: James Hillman and the Revival of Renaissance Psychology

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Soul’s Beauty: James Hillman and the Revival of Renaissance Psychology

A presentation by Anne Di Lauro

Thursday, May 2, 2013 7.30pm - 9.30pm
Venue: The Quaker House, 10 Hampson St, Kelvin Grove
Admission: Members & Concession: $10 • Non-members: $15


Like Jung, James Hillman was a deeply learned and original thinker who looked to the wisdom of the past to understand the human soul. Hillman sought to enrich and extend Jung’s ideas, which he saw as being in a direct line of descent from Plato, through the Neo-Platonists to the Renaissance and beyond.

Hillman credited the 15th century Florentine Neo-Platonic philosopher Marsilio Ficino with re-awakening the concept of soul in Western thought. Indeed, the City of Florence awarded Hillman a medal for his work in reviving this aspect of Renaissance culture and thought.

Marsilio Ficino, under the patronage of the Medici family, established an Academy along the lines of Plato’s Academy, and it is speculated that Renaissance artists such as Michelangelo and Botticelli were influenced by the Platonic ideas taught at the Academy.

In Ficino’s Book of Life, one finds the main concepts that characterise Hillman’s thought – soul / anima and the mediating function of soul between body and spirit, Anima Mundi (World Soul), Beauty personified as Venus, and polytheism.

For Hillman, Soul is that which mediates between us and events or phenomena, enabling us to make meaning of and give value to them – to experience them through reflection, dream, image and fantasy. The Soul is concerned with love and with religion; it is the imaginative possibility of our natures. And Beauty is inherent and essential to Soul.

In this talk we shall visit 15th century Florence, its philosophers and its artists, and reflect upon the essence of Renaissance psychology – Beauty, Soul and Image.

Anne Di Lauro practises as a therapist from a Jungian perspective and is a former president of the C.G. Jung Society of Queensland. She lived for some years in Florence and has a keen interest in the Florentine Renaissance.