Abstract

The person most often credited as the first to free humanity from its bonds in the chain of being was the Renaissance humanist Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. Scholars have asserted that Pico's chain-of-being doctrine was either inspired or predated by earlier European thinkers, namely Marsilio Ficino, Nicholas of Cusa, Allan of Lille, and John Scotus Eriugena. By analyzing the works of the previously listed philosophers, this article argues that Pico's philosophical doctrine was in fact predated by no European writer. Instead, as the analysis of his works will show, the Muslim mystic al-Ghazali was the first to elucidate the ideas that are presently att ributed to Pico. Furthermore, after researching Pico's library and scholarly development, the possibility that Pico was inspired by al-Ghazali's writings is assessed. It may be the case that a large part of the philosophical underpinning of Renaissance Humanism has its origins in eleventh-twelfth century Muslim thought.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1898
Print ISSN
0031-8221
Pages
pp. 143-166
Launched on MUSE
2010-04-24
Open Access
No
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