The philosophy of man is an intricate and multidimensional
system involving complex problems rationalized by theoretical ideals.
In writing the Oration on the Dignity of Man, Giovanni Pico della
Mirandola approaches this study universally, wherein, humanism and the
worth and dignity of the populace is affirmed. Saint Augustine's
Confessions attempts to explain the truth and philosophies of man, but
does so with a different approach, referring to man as a product of
society self-consciously misdirected by his soul. These philosophies
share some similarities while also differing from one another; however,
both share a common purpose: to explain the philosophy of man. This
essay will proceed to juxtapose and integrate the works of Giovanni
Pico della Mirandola and St. Augustine taking into consideration the
time periods within which each lived and studied.
Saint Augustine defines the apparent imbalance between what or
who people are and what people truly desire. Desire, according to
Augustine, is accompanied by will, which can misdirect and lead to a dualism of internal and external conflict. This dualism describes the separation that occurs when one is persuaded by social structures to act in a manner that is different from his or her authentic being. His philosophy is greatly reliant upon religion and is derived from the experience of his sinful youth and conversion to Christianity. Conducting his knowledge through an understanding of original sin - Christians usually refer to this as mankind's first offense, where evil's effects are felt by the entirety of the human race (Christian Classics). Augustine's interpretation, while also incorporating will, corresponds with the predestined nature to succeed through hardships, therein, founding man's virtue.
On the other hand, while Pico identifies the importance of a
Christian back round, he approaches this philosophy holistically,
combining natural philosophy and science. In his later studies he marries these ideas to the concept of theology. In this manner, he deviated from what had been the traditional ontological argument to create a new understanding of the relationship between man and religion. He referenced the chain of being' and alleged that after God had granted life to creatures he created man who would be grateful of all of his effort and appreciative of the beauty of God's work (wikipedia, Pico). He believed in one's ability to prosper and advance the hierarchical chain through enlightened intellect so that he or she can comprehend the work of God. This idea, although extraordinarily profound for its time period, is evidently what caused the emergence of humanism, thus, birthing social and individual fluidity in said chain of being'. Furthermore, this then placed the idea of present day' in the limelight and cast that of the afterlife' in a secondary role.
Saint Augustine's philosophy focuses on the virtues one received in the afterlife, as opposed to the struggle of a worldly existence. This is not to say that he neglects life on earth, only that his approach is to illustrate that what one does in their lifetime reflects his or her prosperity in the afterlife. Although Saint Augustine was limited in the amount of Knowledge that he was able to obtain, he still managed to define and describe the differences and similarities between free will and self, while identifying a dualism between the body and soul. The explanation of self is crucial in the clarification of his philosophy of man. "Seek for yourself, O man; search for your true self. He who seeks shall find himself in God". Augustine believes that true happiness of the self comes from God, however, because man is free and can therefore exercise free will' he or she is susceptible to evils impressed by the temptations of the external world. The interaction between body and soul is in conflict when not acting within the...
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