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New Ideas of Humanists Castiglione and Pico della Mirandola

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In "Oration on the Dignity of Man, " Mirandola focuses on human capacity and intellect. Moreover, Pico is one of the first thinkers to highlight the human capacity of "freedom" which makes his ideas and Castiglione’ s ideas converge. By ‘ freedom’ Pico means the ability of the man to change things at its own will. Humans are free to change themselves at their will which other creatures cannot do. (Hooker, 1999)The freedom of humans distances us from animal desires and that’ s what Pico wants to show and cultivate in people. He urges humans to study philosophy and theology drawing closer to God.

So, according to Pico, “ the dignity of human beings resides in their capacity to use their intelligence and to act as free men. ” Through the exercise of freedom, people can shape themselves and be what they want to be. (Norman, 2004)The influence of this teaching on the arts was enormous.   The arts cannot only express the divine, but the capacity of the Man to create and transform themselves. This idea was further elaborated to the individual's free creative power dominating art and literature of the High Renaissance.

(Hooker, 1999)Pico Della Mirandola in his On the Dignity of Man tries to reconcile the literature and thought of the ancient world with Christian religious belief. He puts “ a new slant on traditional Christian views of human nature, and more generally the Italian humanists represent a new emphasis on the value of human achievements in this life rather than seeing it simply as preparation for the life to come” . (Norman, 2004)We come to the conclusion that the humanist ideas of Castiglione and Pico Della Mirandola converge at one point – their focus on human freedom to act at one’ s own will.   Though this idea is not new to the humanism in general, the distinguishing feature is that both authors mix many different teachings ‘ in one bowl’ - Neoplatonism, Aristotelianism, Averroism and mysticism.

They try to mix together different extremes and the present new vision of the human being in the universe. Through different means, they come to the same conclusion that man is powerful enough to shape oneself at his own will and choose the path of its own.

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