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Document Details :

Title: 'Noli comedere panem philosophorum inutiliter'
Subtitle: Dante Alighieri and John of Jandun on Philosophical 'Bread'
Author(s): BIANCHI, Luca
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Filosofie
Volume: 75    Issue: 2   Date: 2013   
Pages: 335-355
DOI: 10.2143/TVF.75.2.2990709

Abstract :
It is well known that the bread metaphor played a pivotal role in Dante’s Banquet. This article shows that this metaphor had already been applied to philosophy, as witnessed by William of Conches, and discusses its later circulation in Scholastic milieus, notably in the work of John of Jandun. Whereas Dante used the bread metaphor to invite almost all men — with the only notable exception of those impeded by physical impairments or moral unworthiness — to his 'table', Jandun warned not 'to eat in vain the bread of the philosophers', because he considered philosophy to be a form of wisdom culminating in the metaphysical contemplation of God’s quiddity. In this perspective, in his Quaestiones in Metaphysicam, Jandun refused the standard reading of the maxim ascribed to Cato (Disticha Catonis II, 2), inviting men to acknowledge that 'God’s secrets' surpass human understanding, but openly claimed that our intellect is allowed to investigate these secrets. In so doing, he gave a ‘secularized’ reading of the conviction, deeply rooted in the Medieval theological tradition and grounded on the exegetical tradition of some Scriptural passages (1 Corinthians 3.2 and Hebrews 5.14), that 'solid food' must be served exclusively to those who are prepared to grasp the arcana Dei.

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