Oration on the Dignity of Man: Analysis
Pico della Mirandola in his work, “Oration on the Dignity of Man”, re-evaluates humanism and humans in general. His work talks about the dignity of man in particular and how man differs from other creatures as man is a creation with a unique and important trait, free will. He uses several arguments to support his claim that humans can choose their destiny and in doing so can achieve perfection. He presents a piece of work that challenges the medieval view of human nature. There was a great deal of emphasis on human creative power during the renaissance period. Humanists of the time like Pico, sought to show how man is great and can reach excellence through his own effort, which was a radical change in belief compared to the Augustinian view of humanity where Human beings were thought to be “completely subject to divine will, not only were they incapable of attaining excellence through their own efforts and talents, but it was also wrong and sinful for them even to try” (Perry, 300). Pico, in particular, attempted to make people focus on human capacity to reach excellence. Free will, being the center of this specific work, is the most important trait given to only one creation of God, man. Pico brings up man’s special position in God’s creation. He claims that unlike animals and even angles who came to existence with everything they have or will have, man is born “with all possibility.” He shows how God told Adam that he made him “neither of heavenly nor of earthly stuff, neither mortal nor immortal, so that with free choice and dignity, you may fashion yourself into whatever form you choose” (Paragraph 3). He states that humans should use the free will given to them to strive for perfection and reach higher. The fact that man can choose his own destiny is what makes man standout from the rest of creations of God, according to Pico. In the Oration, Pico justified the importance of the human quest for knowledge. He states...
Cited: Perry, Jacob, Chase, and Von Laue. Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics, and Society, Comprehensive. Wadsworth. Print.
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