Pico della Mirandola on the Dignity of Man and Some Contemporary Echoes of His Philosophy

Authors

  • Marko Uršič University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Slovenia

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.4312/clotho.2.2.59-72

Keywords:

Pico della Mirandola, Renaissance man, free will, Jean-Paul Sartre, Pascal Quignard

Abstract

The Oration on the Dignity of Man makes a claim, characteristic for the Renaissance, that the dignity of man, the real “excellency of human nature,” is not present in any specific human quality or ability. Neither is it present in the role of the human soul as the “tie of the world” (copula mundi), as Marsilio Ficino has taught. Even higher than this eminent human role in the world is the freedom of man to choose his role and task himself. At the same time, Pico believes that Man was created as the image of God, in the sense that no man is determined in advance: human free will reflects God’s free will in creation. From the point of view of the mainstream modern dualism, this is a paradox, even a contradiction. This paper argues the opposite: that the human free will is even nowadays, not less than in the Renaissance period, compatible with the belief in God. However, this is only the case if God (being transcendent or immanent to the world) does not command anything, if God does not demand anything – except love. Violence and killing are eo ipso prohibited, especially in the name of faith. Therefore, freedom and faith are perfectly compatible. Even more, modern humans are fatally unfree either in the secular “radicalization” of faith or in the atheistic secularization of the world. Unfree due to their existence (Dasein), enslaved by the Angst of “mere nothing.”

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References

Allen, Michael J. B., trans. Marsilio Ficino: Theologia Platonica / Platonic Theology. The I Tatti Renaissance Library. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001.

Assmann, Jan. Monotheismus und Kosmotheismus. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag C. Winter, 1993.

Caponigri, A. Robert, trans. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola: Oration of the Dignity of Man. Washington, D. C.: Regnery Publishing, 1996.

Quignard, Pascal. The Silent Crossing. English translation of La barque silencieuse, 2009, by Chris Turner. London: Seagull Books, 2013.

Sartre, Jean-Paul. Existentialism and Humanism. English translation by Philip Mairet. London: Methuen, 1948.

Senegačnik, Brane, trans. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola: O človekovem dostojanstvu. Tretji dan. Ljubljana: Družina, 1997.

Uršič, Marko. “The Gaze of the Soul and of the Angel in the Renaissance Philosophy of Marsilio Ficino.” Ars & Humanitas 9/1 (2015): 58–73.

Uršič, Marko. Shadows of Being: Four Philosophical Essays. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018.

Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass and Selected Prose. London: Everyman, 1997.

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Published

18.12.2020

How to Cite

Uršič, Marko. 2020. “Pico Della Mirandola on the Dignity of Man and Some Contemporary Echoes of His Philosophy”. Clotho 2 (2):59-72. https://doi.org/10.4312/clotho.2.2.59-72.

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Articles