345. What a Piece of Work is Man: Manetti and Pico on Human Nature

Posted on 22 March 2020

Pico della Mirandola and Giannozzo Manetti praise humans as the centerpiece of the created world. But what about the other animals?

Further Reading

• F. Borghesi, M. Papio, and M. Riva (ed. and trans.), Pico della Mirandola: On the Dignity of Man. A New Translation and Commentary (Cambridge: 2012).

• B.P. Copenhaver (trans.), Giannozzo Manetti: On Human Worth and Excellence (Cambridge MA: 2018).

• C. Wallis, P. Miller, and D. Carmichael, Pico della Mirandola: On the Dignity of Man, On Being and the One, Heptaplus (Indianapolis: 1965).


• S.U. Baldassarri (ed.), Dignitas et excellentia hominis: atti del Convegno internazionale di studi su Giannozzo Manetti (Florence: 2008).

• O. Glaap, Untersuchungen zu Giannozzo Manetti, “De dignitate et excellentia hominis”: ein Renaissance-Humanist und sein Menschenbild (Stuttgart: 1994)

• P.O. Kristeller, “The Dignity of Man,” in his Renaissance Thought and its Sources (New York: 1979), 169-81.

• D. Marsh, Giannozzo Manetti: The Life of a Florentine Humanist (Cambridge MA: 2019).

• C.M. Trinkaus, In Our Image and Likeness: Humanity and Divinity in Italian Humanist Thought, 2 vols (London: 1970).


Oh right, we just started doing that recently at Chike's suggestion. It separates the primary texts (above the dashes) from secondary literature (below).

Andrew Maclaren 21 June 2022

With the advent of many different types of logic, the whole part of "even animals must use syllogisms if they reason" is quite dubious in my eyes. Ibn Taymiyya's critique of the "philosopher's logic" (aristotelian) is making more sense to me. I highly doubt that animals need this specific formalisation of logic to reason.

I know you have already covered different logics in the sense that you have covered the indian debates about logic, which certainly weren't aristotelian but, for the main series, when are we going to get to people who try to engineer a different logic than Aristotle's? Also curious if we are going to debate the status of logic again like with the stoics vs aristotelians? Maybe I am being impatient, since I half suspect that that specific debate is going to revive soon because of the resurgence of interest in the stoics.

It is actually a bit weird to me. As someone interested in computer science, I know the importance the role logic has, but I can't help but agree with people like Ibn Taymiyya. How to square this circle I wonder.

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