Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Henrik Lagerlund

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

  • M. V. Dougherty
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1151-5_192-2


Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463–1494) was an Italian Renaissance polymath. Although best known for his Oration on Human Dignity (Oratio de dignitate hominis), which is regarded by some historians as a manifesto of Renaissance humanism, Pico composed other philosophical, theological, and literary works. A constant throughout his philosophical writings was his attempt to synthesize competing philosophical views. Pico resurrected the ancient proposal that Plato and Aristotle were not opposed on major philosophical principles. His outlook sought to bring about a concordia or resolution among philosophical schools, and his most dramatic effort in this regard was a planned public disputation of 900 theses drawn from philosophical, theological, and esoteric sources. Because of his concordist tendencies, he cannot be identified as a strict Aristotelian, Platonist, Thomist, or adherent of any particular philosophical school. One of the first Christians to explore the Kabbalah, he examined Hebrew texts for confirmations of Christian theological tenets with the hope that such connections could be of service in apologetics. Pico’s bibliophilic passion, joined with his facility with languages, placed him in a position unrivaled in his time to gather views from a wide variety of sources. His famous library was replete with texts of major as well as obscure figures, and his studies of Arabic, Greek, and Hebrew gave him a range of source materials unparalleled in his day. Pico inhabited in the highest literary circles of his time, and counted among his contacts were the Florentine Platonist and translator Marsilio Ficino, the powerful ruler Lorenzo de’ Medici, the humanist Angelo Poliziano, and the Dominican Girolamo Savonarola. His later works included a metaphysical treatise On Being and Unity (De ente et uno), a massive anti-astrological diatribe called the Disputations against divinatory astrology (Disputationes adversus astrologiam divinatricem), and biblical commentaries.

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Primary Sources

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentOhio Dominican UniversityColumbusUSA