Giovanni Pico della Mirandola .
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Giovanni Pico della Mirandola .
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola was a controversial and revolutionary renaissance philosopher and writer. After studying the world's religions, theologies, philosophies and languages growing up, at the age of 23, he embarked on answering the age old ques tion of "What is the Nature of Man?" and "Can we Transcend our Humanity?".
Even though Pico was a Christian, wanted to unite all the world's religions, views and philosophies into one worldwide comprehensive philosophy that sought to explain virtually ev erything. At first glance, this would seem a pretty lofty and noble undertaking for anyone, at his or any other time in history. Pico was able to undertake exploring and writing this comprehensive philosophy because of his diverse and comprehensive educa tion.
Pico both infers and elaborates on themes of education and learning. Pico provides guidance on how to become angelic by studying from teachers from biblical history, like Moses, and classical philosophers like Socrates and Plato. They instruct us i n wisdom, charity, and other angelic qualities. Pico explains that philosophy will guide our thinking, and even Cabbala (Jewish mysticism) and magic can help us on our road to a divine union with God.
Pico demonstrates strong belief in his philosophy and yet his naivety when he invited Scholars, Philosophers and Thinkers from all of Europe to debate and argue his Philosophy.
This theme of education is a common theme that we have seen and read in most of our previous readings, such as in Einhard's "The L ife of Charlemagne". Whereas Charlemagne's promotion and encouragement of literacy, education and the rediscovering the Classical writings and philosophies of the ancient world permeated throughout his reign as the Holy Roman Emperor and was spread across Europe.
There is also the strong theme of free will and responsibility as is seen in Augustine's "Confessions" where Augustine broke from his Manichean ideas that evil and sin were solely Satan's work and man had no responsibility for his actions. August ine elaborated on how the exercise of man's free will allows him to choose between doing good or evil and is directly responsible for a great many evils in the world. This theme resounds strongly in Dante's "Inferno", with all of the levels of hell, where as people's exercise of Free Will during their lives caused them to be damned to the many punishments and torments in the Inferno. Pico wrote about how Man's God given Free Will is our most powerful trait, in that we have the opportunity to choose our fa te and destiny, unlike the lesser animals and creatures of the earth, who have no choice but live and exist by the innate nature from which were created.
Pico, exalts mankind's God given gift of Free Will, as the biggest blessing given to the most divine being beneath God when he said, "Oh supreme generosity of God the Father, Oh highest and most marvelous felicity of man, to him it is granted to have what he choses, to be what he wills." (Para 4.)
Pico said that given this unique ability and opportunity to choose our destinies, we should choose wisely the endeavours and causes we pursue, so that we as men, both body and soul, can transcend and break free from the imperfections of our worldly trappings and mortal shortcomings.
Pico further elaborated on this when he said, '" Man is a being of varied, manifold, and inconstant nature." ..."To the end that after we have been born to this condition-that we can become what we will - we should understand that we ought to have special care to this, that it shou ld never be said against us that, although born to a privileged position, we failed to recognize it, but fell instead to the estate of brutes and uncomprehending beasts of burden.' (Para.7)
Another theme is the Importance of and distinctions between the Body and Soul. In Augustine's "Confessions", he reiterated much of Plato's philosophy and Neoplatonist thought of how the soul is perfect but trapped in an imperfect body susceptible to vices and earthly pleasures. This theme and concept of man utilizing his free will to be the mechanism whereas the soul can escape
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