Oration on the Dignity of Man

Topics: Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Philosophy, Renaissance humanism Pages: 2 (682 words) Published: April 4, 2013
Allison Hamel
Western Civilizations
Dr. Liles

In his “Oration on the Dignity of Man”, Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola establishes his views as a humanist by questioning the validity of classical texts and endorsing humans as an adequate object of study alongside God. The term humanism refers to the movement from the study of logic to the study of the humanities as stated in the text, “This was a program of study that aimed to replace the scholastic emphasis on logic and metaphysics with the study of language, literature, rhetoric, history, and ethics” (Western, 289). Renaissance humanists felt that contemporary scholars veered too greatly from ancient tradition in their interpretations. However, Pico expresses that humans do not contradict the study of God. Ultimately, because of the push for ancient tradition, renaissance humanists were responsible for the degradation of the Latin language. “Renaissance humanists therefore condemned the living Latin of their scholastic contemporaries as a barbarous departure from ancient standards of Latin style.” (Western, 289) Despite their role in losing the language of Latin, humanists opened up a new way of interpreting ancient texts. Throughout his oration, Pico questions the validity of the classical texts and because of his dissatisfaction, chooses to dig deeper into analysis and the meaning behind ancient scholars' points. In Mirandola's composition, he states: “excellence of human nature reported by many men failed to satisfy me,” (Perspectives, 47) showing that he had conversed with other men who had read some of the ancient compositions, and found that he was discontented with their interpretations. Stemming from this dissatisfaction, the desire to investigate the truth within the ancient content led Pico to decipher these ancient and classical texts to the highest degree possible. This involved utilizing the humanistic viewpoint through questioning the truth within all classical texts. Pico reasons, “I have...
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