Oration on the Dignity of Man (1496)

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Oration on the Dignity of Man (1496)

“if powers fail, there shall be praise for daring; and in great undertaking, to have willed is enough”

Pico kicks off the Renaissance with this manifest of Humanism. Although his ecclectic advocacy makes him more of a multi-culturalist avant la lettre, it would go too far to call him a cultural relativist, because he strongly defends the Christian truth. But what makes Pico a new voice of an age where man was to form the central point of focus, a focus that ultimately would aim to denounce God from the heavenly throne, is his self-confidence, confidence in the reason of man, and it is this voice that leads mankind out of the Dark Ages of Christianity again. The Oration is therefor a historic manifest for man who stands in the center of his own world. Alas, if only in our learned time, man would undertake to read the Arab, Greek, Latin and other classics, like Pico did.

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