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Oration on the dignity of man by Giovanni…

Oration on the dignity of man (original 1486; edition 1956)

by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

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Title:Oration on the dignity of man
Authors:Giovanni Pico della Mirandola
Info:Chicago : Regnery Gateway, 1956.
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Oration on the Dignity of Man by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (Author) (1486)



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Delivered in Rome in 1486 by a twenty-four year old scholar before a platoon of erudite theologians and philosophers, Oration on the Dignity of Man is clearly the masterpiece of Renaissance humanism. Della Mirandola's oration fearlessly prepares the ground for debate around the 900 theses he proposed to such an audience, with which he sought to ignite passionate, intellectual discourses on every subject relevant to man.

The speech typifies the Renaissance mind and spirit, celebrating man's most precious gift from God – free will – and our divine potential for good. For della Mirandola, man was made unique in his capacity to choose between dwelling in the carnal, earthy world or to ascend into the heavenly spheres to reach a height that equals the cherubiums: “unable to yield to them” he calls, “and impatient of any second place, let us emulate their dignity and glory. And, if we will it, we shall be inferior to them in nothing” (13).

Yet this brilliant soul proves to be quite a mystic as well, as it becomes known in the last twenty pages -- by delicately deviating from Christian doctrine, della Mirandola veers off into the territory of esotericism and the occult, peppering his discourse with mentions of the Kabbalah and gnostic references. He goes as far as to propose a philosophy based upon “divine arithmetic”, which extends the works of Pythagoras, while also defining the two branches of "magic" – that of demonic evil, and that of "the highest realization of natural philosophy" (53). Of course, his esoteric references make certain parts of the oration very inaccessible, but for myself, it exposed me to thinkers and philosophies unheard of, which only delighted me. In a time in which many of the respected thinkers rejected intimate examinations of non-Christian texts and doctrines, this man daringly calls upon those of us yearning to initiate into the spiritual realms, to explore different paths of knowledge to become “a pure contemplator…wholly withdrawn into the inner chambers of the mind” (11).

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  themythbookshelf | Aug 8, 2015 |
A classic description of the "great chain of being," in which human beings are unique in their ability to change their ontological identities: descending lower than the beasts and/or ascending higher than the angels. Aren't we the lucky ones! ( )
  jburlinson | Jan 17, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pico della Mirandola, GiovanniAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Caponigri, A. RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kirk, RussellIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0895267136, Paperback)

An ardent treatise for the Dignity of Man, which elevates Humanism to a truly Christian level, making this writing as pertinent today as it was in the Fifteenth Century.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:00 -0400)

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