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DignityA History$
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Remy Debes

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199385997

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199385997.001.0001

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Dignity, Vile Bodies, and Nakedness

Dignity, Vile Bodies, and Nakedness

Giovanni Pico and Giannozzo Manetti

(p.127) Chapter 5 Dignity, Vile Bodies, and Nakedness

Brian Copenhaver

Oxford University Press

Although Giovanni Pico della Mirandola has been called the most important voice for human dignity of postmedieval times, he had nothing to say about this concept—neither its ancient and medieval versions nor, of course, the modern, post-Kantian notion. Pico’s celebrated Oration on the Dignity of Man was not given that title by its author. However, a near contemporary who revised older concepts of dignitas—like Cicero’s—was Giannozzo Manetti. Unlike Pico, Manetti also confronted the best-known medieval statement on the topic, by Cardinal Lothario dei Segni. From earlier Christian traditions, the cardinal inherited—and aggravated—a harshly ascetic view of the human condition. Although Manetti repeats some of this Christian pessimism, his attitudes toward the body and human agency are remarkably less dismal. Today, if we ignore Manetti and misread Pico, our philosophical understanding of dignitas and its progeny suffers.

Keywords:   Adam, asceticism, body, Cicero, Kant, Lothario dei Segni, Manetti, Michelangelo, nakedness, Pico

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