Philosophical Progression, Causality, and the “Principles” of Dante’s Commedia
This article focuses on the external features of Dante’s epistemology (i.e., objects of knowledge) as they materialize in the Commedia through the Scholastic notion of principles, understood as “beginnings” or “sources” (rather than more narrowly as “fundamental truths”). While causal knowledge appears throughout Dante’s poem, I show how each canticle significantly culminates in thematic beginnings: Lucifer for the Inferno, Earthly Paradise for the Purgatorio, and God for the Paradiso. By embedding these historic beginnings into the conclusions of each canticle, the poet is able to highlight the pilgrim’s philosophical progression conceived as an epistemological movement toward principles which parallels the protagonist’s metaphysical advancement toward the First Principle. As the physical and metaphysical journey ends with God as the Supreme Being, this similar development applies to the philosophical journey concluding with God as Truth.
McMenamin, James F. "Philosophical Progression, Causality, and the “Principles” of Dante’s Commedia." Viator 45, no. 3 (2014): 169-192.