AP Language and Composition
25 September 2012
Many say that God is perfect, and if we are created in His image, aren’t we too, perfect? Since men have become literate there has been a debate about man’s true nature. Whether or not we are born pure, our true potential, and ideas about what a “good” man is have constantly been altered as men have evolved, learned, and even barbarized. Philosophers in the late 1400’s like Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola had their own ideas on what a real “Renaissance Man” was. Their radical ideas that men were born perfect, that we were created to rule the Earth like a god, and have the ability to become divine shook the foundation of the idea of the Renaissance man in the 1400’s. Pico della Mirandola was a philosopher in the 1400’s who believed that men had the power to choose their own destiny, no matter what their birth origins were or whether or not they were wealthy. The basis of his writing Oration of the Dignity of Man was that man can be whatever he wants; whether it is good and pure or bad and hellish. He tells us that our creator taught us, during our hour of creation, that we “shall have the power to degenerate into the lower forms of life which are savage. And you shall have the power, through reflection of your soul, to be reborn into the higher forms, which are divine”. Mirandola stressed that men were unbound in their abilities; that the power of free will was an absolute right to man. Using his idea that we are “constrained by no limits” he tried to encourage men to become divine by reaching out and grasping their potential. A Renaissance man, as defined by Pico della Mirandola, is a man that acknowledges his potential to be anything he wishes, and then uses that potential to achieve higher or lower statuses as he sees fit. Marsilio Ficino is much more specific when he describes a Renaissance man. He taught that not only do men have the power to become perfect, but that a true...