This chapter seeks to recover the medieval understanding of the fundamental relations that link the human mind, the world, and God, relations that make the pilgrim's journey possible. The first section engages Aristotle's penetrating analysis of the metaphysical notion of form and its relation to mind — an analysis that provides the philosophical foundation for medieval reflections on how human intelligence can transcend space and time, in both the Neoplatonic tradition and the late-medieval Aristotelian revival. The second section traces the Neoplatonic (and Christianized) heritage of Aristotle's analysis in a few essential features, focusing on the relation, and ascent, of the human mind to its “source”. The third section traces this inherited philosophical understanding in Dante as the framework for the Comedy's salvific mission and poetics, which is relevant in the last subsection of the chapter, and in the remaining chapters of the book.
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