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The humanism of the philosophy of Pico della Mirandola

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola was born in Florence on February 2, 1463. He is considered one of the great thinkers of the Renaissance. For the humanism of philosophy, Pico della Mirandola was called "divine." Contemporaries saw in him a reflection of the high aspirations of spiritual culture, and the approximate Pope pursued him for bold statements. His works, like himself, were widely known throughout the educated Europe. Giovanni Pico della Mirandola died at a young age (November 17, 1494). During his lifetime, he was famous for his pleasant appearance, princely generosity, but most of all an unusual variety of his knowledge, abilities and interests.

Pico della Mirandola: brief biography

The Thinker was from the family of counts and seniors. It was associated with many influential houses in Italy. At age 14 Pico della Mirandola became a student at the University of Bologna. Later, he continued his studies in Ferrara, Padua, Pavia and Paris. In the process of learning he mastered theology, law, philosophy, ancient literature. In addition to Latin and Greek, he was interested in Chaldean, Hebrew, and Arabic. In his youth, the thinker sought to learn all the most important and secret from the various peoples accumulated by spiritual experience at different times.

The first works

Early enough Pico became friends with such people as the Medici, Polizziano, Ficino and a number of other members of the Platonic Academy. In 1468 he compiled the "Commentary on the Chain of Love of Benivieni," as well as "900 theses on mathematics, physics, morality and dialectics for public discussion." The Thinker intended to defend his works on a dispute in Rome in the presence of famous Italian and European scholars. The event was to be held in 1487. The dispute should have been read by a treatise prepared by Pico della Mirandola - "The Speech of the Dignity of Man."

Dispute in Rome

The work that Pico della Mirandola wrote about the dignity of man, briefly, was devoted to two main theses. First of all, in his work the thinker spoke about the special position of people in the universe. The second thesis concerned the inner initial unity of all the ideas of the individual. 23-year-old Pico della Mirandola, briefly, somewhat embarrassed Pope Innocent VIII. First, the young age of the thinker caused an ambiguous reaction. Secondly, embarrassment arose because of the bold reasoning, unusual and new words that Pico della Mirandola used. "Speech about the dignity of man" expressed the author's thoughts about magic, bondage, free will and other dubious objects for that era. Following his reaction, the Pope appointed a special commission. She had to check out the "Theses" that Pico della Mirandola presented. The Commission condemned a number of provisions put forward by the thinker.

The pursuit

In 1487 Pico made up the "Apology". This work was created in a hurry, which led to the conviction of the Theses. Under the threat of persecution by the Inquisition, the thinker was forced to flee to France. However, there he was captured and imprisoned in the Vincennes Castle. Pico was saved thanks to intercession of high patrons, among which a special role was played by Lorenzo de 'Medici. In fact, he was the ruler of Florence at the time, where the liberated from the imprisonment was a thinker and spent the rest of his days.

Work after persecution

In 1489, Pico della Mirandola completed and published a treatise "Heptapl" (on seven approaches to explaining the six days of creation). In this work the thinker applied subtle hermeneutics. He studied the hidden meaning hidden in the book "Genesis". In 1492, Pico della Mirandola created a small work "On the existing and unified". This was a separate part of the program work, which was aimed at harmonizing the theories of Plato and Aristotle, but it was not realized until the end. Pico also did not see the light - the promised "Poetic Theology." His last work was "Reasoning about prophesying astrology." In this work, he opposed its provisions.

Pico della Mirandola: basic ideas

The thinker viewed different doctrines as aspects of a single Truth. He supported the development of a general philosophical and religious contemplation of the world, initiated by Ficino. However, the thinker transferred interest from the field of religious history to the sphere of metaphysics. Pico tried to synthesize Christianity, Kabbalah and Averroism. He prepared and sent to Rome his conclusions, which contained 900 theses. They concerned everything that is "knowable". Some of them were borrowed, some were his own. However, they were recognized as heretical, and the dispute in Rome did not take place. The work that Pico della Mirandola created about the dignity of man made him known in a wide circle of contemporaries. It was intended as a preamble to the discussion. On the one hand, the thinker integrated the key concepts of Neoplatonism, on the other, he proposed abstracts that went beyond the idealistic (Platonic) tradition. They were close to personalism and voluntarism.

The essence of the theses

The man for Pico was a special world in the universe created by God. The individual was placed by the thinker at the center of everything that exists. The person is "medially mobile", he can descend to the animal level and even to plants. However, along with this, a person is able to rise to God and the angels, remaining identical - uninhabited. According to Pico, this is possible because the individual is the essence of an indefinite image, into which the "embryos of all creatures" are embedded. The concept is interpreted on the basis of the intuition of the Absolute. It was characteristic of the late Middle Ages. The concept of the thinker reflects a very radical element of the "Copernican revolution" of religious and moral consciousness in the Western Christian world. Not salvation, but creativity is the meaning of life - this was the opinion of Pico della Mirandola. Philosophy formulates a religious-ontological explanation of the whole existing ideological and mythological complex of spiritual culture.

Own "I"

Its formation is explained by anthropocentrism. Pico della Mirandola justifies the freedom and dignity of the individual, as the sovereign creator of his own "I". The individual, absorbing everything, can become anything. Man is always the result of his efforts. While preserving the possibility of a new choice, it will never be exhausted by any of the forms of one's own being in the world. Pico, therefore, argues that man was not created by God in his likeness. But the Supreme granted the individual to create his own self. Due to the central position, he has the closeness and influence of other things created by God. Having adopted the most important properties of these creations, a man, acting as a free master, completely formed his essence. So he rose above the rest.


According to Pico, she does not associate with any restrictions. Wisdom freely flows from one teaching to another, choosing for itself a form that corresponds to the circumstances. Different schools, thinkers, traditions, previously mutually exclusive and opposing, Pico become interconnected and mutually dependent. They show a deep kinship. In this case, the whole universe is created on correspondences (hidden or explicit).


Interest in her during the Renaissance intensified precisely because of Pico. The young thinker was interested in learning the Hebrew language. On the basis of Kabbalah, his "Theses" were created. Pico was friends and studied with a number of Jewish scholars. He began to study Kabbalah in two languages. The first was Jewish, and the second was Latin (in the translation of a Jew who adopted Christianity). In the era of Pico, there was no particular difference between magic and Kabbalah. The thinker used these terms often as synonyms. Pico said that the theory of Christianity is best demonstrated with the help of Kabbalah and magic. The scriptures with which the scientist was familiar, he attributed to the ancient esotericism preserved by the Jews. In the center of knowledge was the idea of Christianity, which could be understood by studying Kabbalah. In his arguments, Pico used post-Biblical works, including Midrash, Talmud, the works of rational philosophers and Jews who interpreted the Bible.

The Teaching of Christian Kabbalists

For them, the discovery was the presence of different names of God and beings who dwelt in the sky. Transmutations of the alphabet of the Jews, numerological methods have become a key element of knowledge. Having studied the concept of the divine language, adherents of the doctrine believed that with proper pronunciation of the names of the Almighty one can influence reality. This fact led the faith of representatives of the Renaissance school to the fact that magic acts as the greatest force in the universe. In the end, all that was in Judaism banal, was the key in the outlook of the adherents of the Christian Kabbalah. This, in turn, was combined with another theory, deduced by humanists from Jewish sources.

Hermetic concept

It was also interpreted in a Christian way. At the same time, Fico's hermeticism exerted a strong influence on Pico. This concept explained salvation by collecting particles of light represented in the form of truth. Along with this, knowledge was developed as a memory. Hermeticism indicated 8 circles (arcs) of ascent. Based on the Gnostic mythological interpretations of human origin, the concept describes the special divine abilities of the individual. They contribute to the autonomous realization of the actions of memory-resurrection. Along with this, Hermeticism itself changed somewhat under the influence of Christianity. In the concept, salvation through individual cognition was replaced by the idea of finitude, the sinfulness of the individual, the good news of redemption, repentance, the mercy of God.


In this work, the thinker used the kabbalistic tools for interpreting words. The work speaks of the consent of the human principle, fire and mind. It is about three parts of the big and small world - the macrocosm and the microcosm. The first consists of the divine or angelic mind, the source of wisdom, from the sun symbolizing love, and also from the sky acting as the beginning of life and movement. Human activity is likewise determined by the mind, the genitals, the heart, which are bestowed by love, the mind, the continuation of life and kind. Pico does not just apply kabbalistic instruments when confirming Christian truths. It includes the latter in the ratio of macro- and microcosm, which is explained by the Renaissance method.


Undoubtedly, Kabbalah strongly influenced the formation of the Renaissance concept of macro- and microcosm. This was reflected not only in the writings of Pico della Mirandola. Subsequently, the influence of Kabbalah is noted in the works of Agrippa Nostesheim and Paracelsus. The harmony of the big and small worlds is possible only as an active interaction of man and God. When thinking about the interpreted ideas of consent within the framework of the Kabbalistic concept, one should pay attention to the fact that for the Renaissance man as a microcosm acted as the subject of cognition. He was the harmony of all the insides and parts of the body: blood, brain, limbs, abdomen and so on. In the medieval theocentric tradition, there was not enough adequate adequate conceptual apparatus to comprehend such a living, bodily agreement of the various and the same.


Vivid interpretations of the consent of the macro- and microcosm are noted in the Zohar. In it, the secular and celestial sensibilities are comprehended, and a sympathetic understanding of cosmic unity unfolds. However, the relationship of the Renaissance concepts and theosophical images of Zohar can not be called unambiguous. Mirandola could study only a few excerpts of the teaching, which was supplemented and rewritten in the 13th century, and circulated around 1270-1300. Published in this period, the version was the result of collective research of many thinkers throughout the centuries. The spread of Zohar's exposure was clearly pantheistic, theocentric and ecstatic. They were in accordance with the requirements and customs of Judaism and were supposed to differ from the philosophy of Mirandola. It should be said that in his "Theses" the thinker did not pay exceptional attention to Kabbalah. Mirandola tried to form Christian syncretism with the help of Jewish sources, Zoroastrianism, Orphism, Pythagorism, Averroes' Aristotelianism, the concept of Chaldean oracles. The thinker talked about the comparability, the multiplicity, the consistency of the Gnostic and magical teachings with the Christian idea, the writings of Cusa and Aristotle.

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