Oration on the Dignity of Man

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Oration on the Dignity of Man

Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) was a philosopher of the Renaissance, his " Oration on the Dignity of Man " is known as the "declaration of humanism. In his speech, Mirandola declare that people is the essence of the universe; destiny is in our own hands and is not subject to any external things.Rrationality, free will and noble quality, not only can transcend everything but also enter the realm of god. Like other humanists, Mirandola did not deny the existence of god. However ,this speech has epoch-making significance. Contrasted with the medieval world view, he believe that mankind standing in the center of the universe and humanbeing live a meaningful life. Therefore, his manifesto is the beginning of the modern western civilization.

In the Oration, Pico justified the importance of the human quest for knowledge within a Neoplatonic framework. He writes that after God had created all creatures, he conceived of the desire for another, sentient being who would appreciate all his works, but there was no longer any room in the chain of being; all the possible slots from angels to worms had been filled. So, God created man such that he had no specific slot in the chain. Instead, men were capable of learning from and imitating any existing creature. When man philosophizes, he ascends the chain of being towards the angels, and communion with God. When he fails to exercise his intellect, he vegetates. Pico did not fail to notice that this system made philosophers like himself among the most dignified human creatures. The idea that men could ascend the chain of being through the exercise of their intellectual capacities was a profound endorsement of the dignity of human existence in this earthly life. The root of this dignity lay in his assertion that only human beings could change themselves through their own free will, whereas all other changes in nature were the result of some outside force acting on whatever it is that undergoes...
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