Dear Eric,

As an Italian high school teacher who lectures on Dante’s Divine Comedy, I dare to point out some verses of the Paradise (III, 64-87) in which I see a lot about centre-periphery "logos". The end of story is the end of the centre-periphery difference. But it’s not a worldy matter, as we can’t conceive such a state of being without absolute identity. On the contrary, in Dante’s Divine Comedy the non mediated presence of the sacred Centre to the souls, with their perfect reciprocity, is the very predicament of Paradise. This is clearly said by Dante where Piccarda is asked if the heavenly souls desire to be higher ("non invidiate—envy—voi più alto loco?": don’t you envy whom is higher than you, closer to God?), and she answers that in Paradise such a desire can’t be, because the souls are in the Will-of-God, therefore willing only what Got wills. God wills Love, i.e. Himself. And seeing into God they see each other. In Dante’s Paradise God is the Being who contains all the souls. He is infinite, and they are in the centre, as God sees them. He is also the point around which all the souls contemporaneously stand. So He is the Periphery and the Centre. So we can argue that for Dante God is the absolute reciprocity, but not the absolute identity: He is harmony, that’s otherness without envy and resentment.

best wishes / Fabio Brotto


Dear Fabio,

This comment on Dante is indeed interesting. God creates a hierarchy that is not resentful since the members of the hierarchy are wholly mediated by God. A worldy version of this might be an army led by a charismatic leader (eg, Napoleon), in which every soldier thinks only of his duty to the chief. I don’t really think, though, that this was the original Christian idea of the kingdom of God. It’s interesting to see how Dante attempts to reconcilie hierarchy with reciprocity.

best wishes / Eric Gans