A philosophical approach to the riddle of Michelangelo’s Florentine Pietà

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Michelangelo was quite ambivalent about his Florentine Pietà. On the one hand, the face of Nicodemus depicts the features of Michelangelo who had intended the sculpture to be put above his own prospective grave at Rome. On the other hand, he became enraged by this magnificent work and attempted to destroy it. I try to explain this enigmatic ambivalence on philosophical grounds. While Platonic grounds explain his dissatisfaction with and rage at the work, leading to a sort of iconoclasm, these grounds fail to explain his attachment and identification with this Pietà. Nor do other philosophical grounds, such as Aristotelian, Leibnizean, or idealistic, explain it adequately. On special possibilist grounds-panenmentalist ones-we may have an adequate explanation for this ambivalence as well as the question of the identity of the restored work of art.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1188446
JournalCogent Arts and Humanities
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Author(s).


  • Actualities
  • Florentine Pietà
  • Iconoclast
  • Individual pure possibilities
  • Metaphysics
  • Michelangelo
  • Panenmentalism
  • Possibilism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (all)


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