Oration on the Dignity of Man
This book represents the preface to the nine-hundred theses on the meaning of man in the world from the perspective of a 15th century prince, mystic, philosopher, alchemist. In this salubrious text we see Pico della Mirandola attempting to fuse the varied religious and philosophical traditions of Zoroaster, ancient Judaism, Plato, and Aristotle into a laudation of the creation of man by the Divine. This text is the founding statement of the "humanist" doctorine which argues that God gave Man "free will" which (if used virtuously) allows man to strive for dignity in the eyes of a beneficent God. This translation aptly conveys the passion and erudition of this great philosopher.
The Oration on the Dignity of Man (De hominis dignitate) is a famous public discourse pronounced in 1486 by Pico della Mirandola, an Italian scholar and philosopher of the Renaissance. It has been called the "Manifesto of the Renaissance".
Pico, who belonged to the family that had long dwelt in the Castle of Mirandola, left his share of the ancestral principality to his two brothers to devote himself wholly to study. In his fourteenth year, he went to Bologna to study canon law and fit himself for the ecclesiastical career. Repelled by the purely positive science of law, he devoted himself to the study of philosophy and theology, and spent seven years wandering through the chief universities of Italy and France, studying Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic.
I once read that Abdala the Muslim, when asked what was most worthy of awe and wonder in this theater of the world, answered, "There is nothing to see more wonderful than man!" Hermes Trismegistus concurs with this opinion: "A great miracle, Asclepius, is man!"
- Oration on the Dignity of Man