Analysis of Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s “Oration on the Dignity of Man”

Oration on the Dignity of Man is a public discourse by a famous renaissance man Pico Della Mirando. This piece deals with the idea that humans are the greatest creation of God. Mirandola believes humans to be “a great miracle and a being worthy of all admiration.” Mirandola’s public discourse reflected the renaissance and humanism so well has gotten the nickname, “Manifesto of the Renaissance”. Mirando is very optimistic about humans. For all the horrible things humans have done and all the evil in humans he still finds a way to believe humans are the greatest thing in the world. He is taking humanism to another level. Humanism before this was mainly about helping your community and trying to help your own life. It’s so extreme it could be argued that it isn’t even humanism at all.

Mirando believing humans are the greatest thing ever means that Humans are God’s greatest creation. “But upon man, at the moment of his creation, god bestowed seeds pregnant with all possibilities.” He is saying how god gave us free will and that is part of the beauty of man. The idea that god gave us free will is not an original idea, philosophers have already debated this for centuries, determining that god must give humans free will to explain why evil is apart of the world.

Another quality of humanism is questioning god and religion, even though most humanist were religious and did believe in god. Mirando does this in stanza ten, when talking about moses and god but he brought up how moses didn’t even know god. He said, “But how can anyone judge or love something what he does not know?” Overall this public discourse deserves the title, “Manifesto of the Renaissance”. It shows Humanism through loving oneself, but mainly loving humans as a concept, it shows it through questioning religion and it shows it by thinking like a philosopher.

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