Background 1.The Humanism of The Renaissance Man 1.Anthropocentric 2.Copernican (Ambiguity/Centrality) 3.Ancient Greek; back to Socratic tradition 2.The Place of Man in The “Great Chain of Being”: 1.The Messenger/ The Mid-point 1.God: either self-caused ( causa sui ) or uncaused 2.Differences between beings are in the degree of perfection. 3.Evil: deprivation/lack of good 2.Images of the “Chain” and its Neo-Platonism; its hierarchical ambiguity
The Renaissance Man: Old and New 1.The Old Bible and New Reason 2.Ancient Greco-Roman Philosophical Tradition and New Biblical Vision 3.Syncretism and Expansionism: Freedom and/of Divinity 4.Focus on “the man himself”: “a divinity clothed with human flesh (p.3)”
Three Questions 1. [ Pico and the Renaissance ] “Pico’s oration embodies the Renaissance spirit (p.1).” –What is the Renaissance spirit? –And how exactly do Pico’s ideas on human exemplify or represent it? 2. [ Pico and Human Dignity ] –What is the “Great Chain of Being”? Why “chain”? –And where does it place human beings? And why so? –How similar, and different, to Plato is Pico? ( re: hierarchical relationship between beings, or between beings and Being ) 3. [ Pico and Divinity ] ‘When humanity’s quest ends, “we shall […] not be ourselves but He himself who made us” (p.2).’ –Is Pico talking about “us” or about “God Himself”? –What is puzzling about Pico’s (spatial) relation to God, his Copernican turn? –And what does this “turn” tell us about the Renaissance God as man’s image?
Key Quotes “Man is the messenger between creatures.” (p.2); “Man is an animal of diverse, multiform an destructible nature.” (p.3) “Man […] is capable of arousing envy not only in the brutes but also in the stars and even in the minds beyond the world.” (p.2); “He more superbly is a divinity clothed with human flesh.” (p.3); “Let a certain holy ambition invade the mind, so that we may not be content with mean things but may aspire to the highest things and strive with all our forces to attain them: for if we will to, we can.” (p.4); “We, raised up into the loftiest watchtower of theology, from which, measuring with indivisible eternity the things that are, will be, and shall have been and looking at their primeval beauty…” (p.4) “Therefore He took up man, a work of indeterminate form.”; […]“Neither heavenly nor earthly, neither mortal nor immortal have We made thee.”; […] “At man’s birth the Father placed in him every sort of see and sprouts of every kind of life.”(p.3) “Who does not wish to have breathed into him the Socratic frenzies sung by Plato […] and be possessed by these Socratic frenzies, which will so place us outside of our minds that they will place our mind and ourselves in God.” (p.4)