Trinitarian world picture
The general Art represents an almost unparalleled example of a type of exemplarist metaphysics from above which, even though it has God as its starting point, seeks traces of him in the world below. For Llull, as for Plato, the visible world rested upon the invisible world, the ‘lower’ good having its basis in the ‘supreme’ Good. Above lay God with his dignities; below lay the world, made by Him in the image of the dignities. The link which united these two worlds was none other than the divine dignities themselves. Like Plato’s Ideas, the dignities were simultaneously principles of being and of knowledge (principia essendi et cognoscendi). Since they designated God in his relation to the world they could be attributed, analogically, both to the former and the latter. Few medieval systems have come as close as Llull’s to the Platonic and Hegelian models of a logic which is, at the same time, an ontology. The order of being and the order of thought coincide in God, whose creative thought contains in an ideal form everything that is real. From this proceeds the fact that Llull’s ontology is also a theology.
If God is, therefore, the first and fundamental thesis of Llull’s thought, it is normal that the motion of this thought should proceed from above to below, from God to the world. Llull, in fact, understood the world from the viewpoint of its origins in God, as being a system of traces and images of his infinite perfection. ‘This world is an image by which God’s great goodness and nobility are signified’ (Felix or the Book of Wonders, VIII, Ch. 53). Even so, however true the fact that the basic and predominant movement in Llull is that which proceeds from above to below, movement in the contrary direction is present also, namely that which proceeds from below to above. This alternation between ascent and descent, typical of our author, finds its most complete expression in the Liber de ascensu et descensu intellectus, in which Llull describes the ladders by means of which the understanding rises from the sensory to the intelligible and descends from the intelligible to the sensory.