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Unformatted text preview: Giovanni Pico della Mirandol-a (1463-1494), “Oration on the Dignity 'of Man” (Humanist
leader. This speech'initiated the Italian Renaissance. The focus on human life, the act of ' putting man and the human perspective squarely in the center ofthe cosmos, was
revolutionary.] Cf. Hamlet 2.2.318-‘332 (Folger pp. 101-3). I have read in the records of the-"Arabians, reverend Fathers, that Abdala the Saracen, when1
'questioned as to what on this stage of the world, as it were, could be seen most worthy of ' wonder, replied: "There is nothing to be seen more wonderful than man." In agreement With
this opinion is the saying-of Hermes Trismegistus: "A great miracle, A9clepius, is man." But -
when I weighed the'reason for these maxims, the m y grounds for the excellenCe of human \ nature reported'by many men failed to satisfy me -= at 'man is the intermediary between __ creatures, the intimate of the gods, the king of the lower beings, by the acuteness of his
senses, by the discemment of his reason, and by the light of his intelligence the interpreter of
(UV-nature; the interval between fixed eternityand ﬂeeting time, and (as the say), the
-- , ( bond, nay, rather, the marriage song of the world, onDavid's testimonyibut than.
W \ UL thgaggeLLAMittedly great though these reasons be, they are not the principal grounm
1 is, those which may rightfully claim for themselves the privilege of the highest admiration. ‘
1"" OﬂhbeF'or why should we not admire more the themselves and the blessed choirs of heaven?
I At last it seems to me I‘have @mg to understand why mg is the most fortunate of CTMQS
‘ and cons uentl worth all mir i what re isel " - t rank which is hi the universal'chain of Be' -- a rank to be en 'ed notionl brutes but even b the s ' d r
‘ I _ inds e ond is wo ld. It is a matter past faith and a wondrous one. Why should it not ’ (
(It? 7 For it is on this very account that man is rightly called and judged a great miracle and a
Wenderful creature indeed . . . . t ‘ ' ' v jgiod the Father, the supreme Architect, had alreadybuilt this cosmic home we behold,the
st sacred temple of His godhead, by the laws of His mysterious wisdom. The region above
e heavens He had adorned with lntelligences, the heavenly spheres He had quickened with
eternal souls, and the excrementary and ﬁlthy parts of the lower world He had ﬁlled with a
multitude of animals of every kind. But, when the work Was ﬁnished, the Craﬁsman kept '
wishing that there were someone to ponder the plan of so great a work, to love its beauty, and
1 to wonder at its vastness. Therefore, when everything was done (as Moses and Tirnaeus bear
witness), He ﬁnally took thought concerning the creation of man. But there was not among
His archetypes that from which He could fashion a new offspring, nor was there in His '
. treasure houses anything which He might bestow on His new son as an inheritance, nor was - ‘ ere in the seats of all the world a place where the latter might sit to contemplate the erse. All was now complete: all things had been assigned to the highest, the middle, and
(D thelowest orders. But in its ﬁnal creation it Was not'th'e part of the Father's power to fail as
though’exhausted. It Was not thepart of His wisdom to'waver in a needful matter poverty of counsel. It was not the part of His kindly love that he who was to praise GOd's ‘
divine generosity in regard to others should be compelled to condemn it in regard to himself. At last the best of artisans ordained‘that the creature to whom He had been able to give
nothing preper to himself should have joint possession of whatever had been peculiar to each
of the different kinds of being. He therefore took man as a creature of indeterminate nature ' i f\ , M ' ‘ ‘
and, assigning him a place in. the middle of the world, addressed himthus; "Neither a ﬁxed ,_
abode nor a form that is thine alone nOr any functiOn peculiar to thyself have we given thee,‘ _
Adam, to the end'that according to thy longing and according to. thy judgment thou mayest
have and pbsse‘ss what abode, what form, and what functions thou thyself shalt desire, '
atur ofallother' ' ' ' ' ' ' '
Us ' have 1a " shalt r ainf rt self el' ' ofth n
orld‘sce t a ou thence or '1 ob ervew atever isi ewol V
, hav 'm the nei erofheav nor e neither 0 _ri al Wi 5
freede e ice dw' th u them an dero th sef thou es '
' a; 5' ‘ a -* s :r 0 at rfe. on sh vethe ow t r12;- 1 into the lower f soflife whi ; = ebrutis ~. ha] 2- the go- on oft o, judgpent, to be rgbgminto the higher forms, which are drying." , . . b [we A , r ‘ - - .
Y“: supreme generosity of (30d the Father, 0 highest and most marvelous felicity of man! E _‘
Q 0" 'm it is t to have hatev he c ‘ se ' er ' ' l . Beasts as soon as they -
V are born (so says Lucilius) bring with them from their mother's womb all they will ever ,
possess. Spiritual beings, either from the beginning or soon thereafter, beCome what they are mm for ever and ever. On man when be me intg lite the Eagle; confmed me sags. of all .
kinds and the gms of every way of life, Whatever seeds £911 man g; ltjyatgs will grow-t9 a adb in lth' [qtdL in Ernst Cassirer, Paul Oskar Kristeller and John H. Randall, eds., The Renaissance
Philosophy of Man (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948), pp. 223-225.] ' , l .
Francis Bacon (1561-1626), f‘Of Revenge” (Founder of empiricism, great systemizer of
knowledge,'inﬂuential essayist) " - ' REVENGE is a kind of wild justice; which the more man’s nature runs to, the more ought law
to weed it out. For as for the ﬁrst wrong, it doth but offend, the law; but the revenge of that ' Wrong, putteth the law out of ofﬁce. (Certainly, in taking revenge, a man is but even with his , enemy, but in-pasSing it over, he is superior; for it is a prince’s part to pardon. And Solomon,
I am sure, saith, It is the glory ofa man, to pass by an offence. That which is past is gone, and
irrevocable; and vsfrise men have enough to do, with things presentland to come; therefore they
do but triﬂe with themselves, that labor in past matters. [. . .] a ' ' ...
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This note was uploaded on 05/16/2011 for the course LIT 341 taught by Professor Lisle during the Fall '10 term at Grand Valley State.
- Fall '10