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In a remote medieval village, a child is born. Unfortunately, the local priest soon claims him to be destined to an afterlife in Purgatory; no amount of virtuous action, charity, or veneration can save the child from his fate. While certainly a hyperbole, such an event is not a far cry from the religious beliefs of medieval Europe. During this period, the prevailing belief of the time was a deterministic and cynical view of human nature. Pope Innocent III describes how “...man was formed out of earth, conceived in guilt, born to punishment… he will become fuel for eternal fires food for worms, a mass of rottenness” (De Segni 1). Under the belief of the time, humans were thought to be predestined to their fate; this deterministic view of human potential— or lack thereof—was characteristic of the medieval era. The turning point in this belief was the emergence of humanism in the 14th and 15th centuries. As the name suggests, humanism emphasized the malleability and perfectibility of man, as well as a rediscovery of antiquity. Determinism became …show more content…
Neoplatonismrepresented a turn away from the practical concerns of civic humanists to an exploration of the grand ideals of truth and perfection (Chambers 397). Pico della Mirandolabelieved the universe to be ordered in a hierarchy, with every being in the universe holding a compulsion to seek perfection. These ideals, along with other ideals of Neoplatonism, were extremely prevalent within Pico della Mirandola’s work. One of Pico della Mirandola’s most influential works, Oration on the Dignity of Man, promoted many of his ideas and those of Neoplatonism; Pico’s Oration is commonly referred to as “...the ‘Manifesto of the Renaissance' [and] is widely regarded as a beautiful declaration of the greatness of human freedom and ability” (Truglia 158). Two ideas are central to the Oration: free will and the deification of

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