What view about human nature does "Oration on the Dignity of Man" portray?

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samson98 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pico della Mirandola's "Oration on the Dignity of Man" presents a very positive view of human nature. While Church doctrine emphasized the sinful aspects of human nature, Pico preferred to dwell on man's capacity for intellectual achievement. Unlike later Calvinist authors, Pico believed that God had given humanity free will. He believed that, unlike other creatures, humanity did not have a fixed place in the creation order. Rather, he had the free will to select his own place in the chain of being. He could lower himself to the level of the beasts by living a carnal and materialistic life, or he could elevate his soul to the heavens by focusing on spiritual pursuits, such as philosophy. Pico's view of human nature was very influential, causing many historians to view it as a sort of Renaissance manifesto.