Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

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Count Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (24 February 146317 November 1494) was an Italian Renaissance philosopher.

Quotes[edit]

Opera omnia, 1601

Oration on the Dignity of Man (1496)[edit]

Latin Title: Oratio de hominis dignitate

  • O summam Dei patris liberalitatem, summam et admirandam hominis foelicitatem! Cui datum id habere quod optat, id esse quod velit. Bruta simul atque nascuntur id secum afferunt (ut ait Lucilius) e bulga matris quod possessura sunt. Supremi spiritus aut ab initio aut paulo mox id fuerunt, quod sunt futuri in perpetuas aeternitates. Nascenti homini omnifaria semina et omnigenae vitae germina indidit Pater. Quae quisque excoluerit illa adolescent, et fructus suos ferent in illo. Si vegetalia planta fiet, si sensualia obrutescet, si rationalia caeleste evadet animal, si intellectualia angelus erit et Dei filius. Et si nulla creaturarum sorte contentus in unitatis centrum suae se receperit, unus cum Deo spiritus factus, in solitaria Patris caligine qui est super omnia constitutus omnibus antestabit.
    • Oh unsurpassed generosity of God the Father, Oh wondrous and unsurpassable felicity of man, to whom it is granted to have what he chooses, to be what he wills to be! The brutes, from the moment of their birth, bring with them, as Lucilius says, “from their mother’s womb” all that they will ever possess. The highest spiritual beings were, from the very moment of creation, or soon thereafter, fixed in the mode of being which would be theirs through measureless eternities. But upon man, at the moment of his creation, God bestowed seeds pregnant with all possibilities, the germs of every form of life. Whichever of these a man shall cultivate, the same will mature and bear fruit in him. If vegetative, he will become a plant; if sensual, he will become brutish; if rational, he will reveal himself a heavenly being; if intellectual, he will be an angel and the son of God. And if, dissatisfied with the lot of all creatures, he should recollect himself into the center of his own unity, he will there become one spirit with God, in the solitary darkness of the Father, Who is set above all things, himself transcend all creatures.
      • 6. 24-31; translation by A. Robert Caponigri
        • Alternate translation of 6. 28-29 (Nascenti homini omnifaria semina et omnigenae vitae germina indidit Pater. Quae quisque excoluerit illa adolescent, et fructus suos ferent in illo.):
          The Father infused in man, at birth, every sort of seed and sprouts of every kind of life. These seeds will grow and bear their fruit in each man who will cultivate them.
  • Si quem enim videris deditum ventri, humi serpentem hominem, frutex est, non homo, quem vides; si quem in fantasiae quasi Calipsus vanis praestigiis cecucientem et subscalpenti delinitum illecebra sensibus mancipatum, brutum est, non homo, quem vides. Si recta philosophum ratione omnia discernentem, hunc venereris; caeleste est animal, non terrenum. Si purum contemplatorem corporis nescium, in penetralia mentis relegatum, hic non terrenum, non caeleste animal: hic augustius est numen humana carne circumvestitum.
    • If you see a man dedicated to his stomach, crawling on the ground, you see a plant and not a man; or if you see a man bedazzled by the empty forms of the imagination, as by the wiles of Calypso, and through their alluring solicitations made a slave to his own senses, you see a brute and not a man. If, however, you see a philosopher, judging and distinguishing all things according to the rule of reason, him shall you hold in veneration, for he is a creature of heaven and not of earth; if, finally, a pure contemplator, unmindful of the body, wholly withdrawn into the inner chambers of the mind, here indeed is neither a creature of earth nor a heavenly creature, but some higher divinity, clothed in human flesh.
      • 8. 40-42; translation by A. Robert Caponigri
  • Invadat animum sacra quaedam ambitio ut mediocribus non contenti anhelemus ad summa, adque illa (quando possumus si volumus) consequenda totis viribus enitamur.
    • Let a certain saving ambition invade our souls so that, impatient of mediocrity, we pant after the highest things and (since, if we will, we can) bend all our efforts to their attainment.
      • 10. 50; translation by A. Robert Caponigri
      • Variant translation by Robert Hooker:
        Let a holy ambition enter into our souls; let us not be content with mediocrity, but rather strive after the highest and expend all our strength in achieving it.
  • Quin eo deventum est ut iam (proh dolor!) non existimentur sapientes nisi qui mercennarium faciunt studium sapientiae.
    • Thus we have reached the point, it is painful to recognize, where the only persons accounted wise are those who can reduce the pursuit of wisdom to a profitable traffic.
      • 24. 155; translation by A. Robert Caponigri
  • Dabo hoc mihi, et me ipsum hac ex parte laudare nihil erubescam, me numquam alia de causa philosophatum nisi ut philosopharer, nec ex studiis meis, ex meis lucubrationibus, mercedem ullam aut fructum vel sperasse alium vel quesiisse, quam animi cultum et a me semper plurimum desideratae veritatis cognitionem. Cuius ita cupidus semper et amantissimus fui ut, relicta omni privatarum et publicarum rerum cura, contemplandi ocio totum me tradiderim; a quo nullae invidorum obtrectationes, nulla hostium sapientiae maledicta, vel potuerunt ante hac, vel in posterum me deterrere poterunt.
    • This much will I say for myself — and on this point I do not blush for praising myself — that I have never philosophized save for the sake of philosophy, nor have I ever desired or hoped to secure from my studies and my laborious researches any profit or fruit save cultivation of mind and knowledge of the truth — things I esteem more and more with the passage of time. I have also been so avid for this knowledge and so enamored of it that I have set aside all private and public concerns to devote myself completely to contemplation; and from it no calumny of jealous persons, nor any invective from enemies of wisdom has ever been able to detach me.
      • 25. 158-159; translation by A. Robert Caponigri
  • Docuit me ipsa philosophia a propria potius conscientia quam ab externis pendere iuditiis, cogitareque semper, non tam ne male audiam, quam ne quid male vel dicam ipse vel agam.
    • Philosophy has taught me to rely on my own convictions rather than on the judgements of others and to concern myself less with whether I am well thought of than whether what I do or say is evil.
      • 25. 160; translation by A. Robert Caponigri
  • Nec potest ex omnibus sibi recte propriam selegisse, qui omnes prius familiariter non agnoverit. Adde quod in una quaque familia est aliquid insigne, quod non sit ei commune cum caeteris.
    • Nor can anyone rightly choose his own doctrine from all, unless he has first made himself familiar with all of them. Moreover, there is in each school something distinctive, which it has not in common with any other.
      • 30. 196-197

External links[edit]

Oration on the Dignity of Man[edit]