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Genesis and “The Oration on the Dignity of Man”

Genesis inspired a number of philosophers. Pico della Mirandola was influenced by it as well. At the beginning of the speech, the philosopher puts forward the thesis of human greatness, his superiority over all creatures, “man is the intermediary between all creatures, close to the highest and lowest lord over, the interpreter of nature in virtue of discernment of the mind” (Mirandola 3). The primary purpose of the paper is to determine the link between the Oration on the Dignity of Man by Pico and Genesis.

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Having created the world in his holy perfection, God wanted to create somebody who would appreciate the beauty of the creation. However, with the consideration of the fact that the perfect world has been created, all the ideas were implemented, the creator realized that the human would not have some features that characterize only humans, and thus, He decided to provide an individual with the ability to share the characteristics with all the creatures.

Thus, God decided to make a human being a center of the world. Pico aims to highlight that God did not provide people with aim or objective in order for the person to determine their own path depending on his or her will. In contrast, to other images of creations who had to follow rules and were engaged in the established frameworks. Pico states that God has placed the human in the center of the world in order for a person to be able to observe everything that happens in the world. God created humans free from clichés in order to provide an opportunity for the human to shape his own image.

An individual does not belong to the cosmic hierarchy, however, is involved in every stage of it. A human does not reflect but combines the worlds. Thus, the human has a dominant position in the world; however, it is not the result of given ability. It is possible due to a man’s own efforts. Thus, a human has a pure possibility and potentiality by nature. The world unfolds in human and centers on him. A man is a creator himself.

Human nature is dual. It is eternal, because it is animated by God, but also perishable, as composed of elements of the earthly world. If vegetative capacity unites man with plants, sensual with animals, rational capacity is a characteristic of higher beings; intellect is the trait of angels (Mirandola 8). The man is a miracle because he can climb the vertical hierarchy and merge with God, contemplating Him. A human is able to accomplish it because he is in the center of the universe.

A man is divine, because he is at the top, and because he is in the center. A human is the essence of heaven and earth, the mortal, and the immortal. According to Pico, a human is above angels and stars, because he chooses the divinity, however, when a person reaches the ultimate goal of contemplating God, a human gives up his special position in the world. It turns out that the result is more important than the process.

The main difference between the people is the right to choose their own way freely in order to create their own path. However, the way to achieve the highest good is clearly established. The only way is acceptable, namely moving vertically upwards. Thus, freedom of choice must be used in the correct way; people should be free to choose the necessary and the only appropriate direction. When a goal would be accomplished, the free will would be exhausted.

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It should be stressed that Pico was influenced by the ideas of free will described in the first three chapters of Genesis. As a matter of fact, he was inspired by the free will that was described in Genesis, and thus, reflected the fundamental points in his work. First and foremost, free will is reflected in the description of God in Genesis. God has decided and created the universe and everything that surrounds it. Pico described it as well.

The notion of God plays a vital role in the Pico’s system God exists everywhere. It is stated in Genesis that a person is created in the image and likeness of God (Oden 1:26). It means that the human being is a personality, as God. An individual was endowed with consciousness, feelings, and will. God created a person in a way that people can feel, think, and take decisions. It is noted in the second chapter of Genesis that man was endowed with free will “the man gave names to all the tame animals, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be a helper suited to the man” (Oden 2:20).

Pico stressed that a human has a right to make decisions, and thus, has a free will. Genesis describes how people make decisions “you are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it, you shall die” (Oden 2:16). The human-made a choice based on the free will “so she took some of its fruit and ate it” (Oden 3:6). As a result, a man and a woman were cursed.

In conclusion, it should be noted that Genesis and the work of Pico are intertwined as a philosopher was inspired by the free will described in Genesis. However, the author interpreted it in another way through the prism of humanism.

Works Cited

Mirandola, Giovanni Pico Della. Oration on the Dignity of Man: A New Translation and Commentary. New York: Cambridge UP, 2012. Print.

Oden, Thomas. Genesis 1-11. London: Routledge, 2014. Print.

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