The original Adam – Son – Imago Dei or God?
The question may arise, did Pico think that the original Adam was God, the renewed Spirit, rather than the Son of God or the imago Dei, the image of God? We can find in Pico’s Oratio all sorts of expressions about sonship or fatherhood, but also about divinity itself. First of all here: “[…] becoming a single spirit with God“[i]. The variety of expressions corresponds to the universalistic and syncretic nature of Pico’s philosophy, underpinned by a desire to find the truth about the creation of man.
Then Pico explains the transformation according to his sources: “Hence the metamorphoses renowned among the Jews and the Pythagoreans. […];who strays from divine law becomes a brute […]”[ii]
He characterizes the renewed one, to whom we shall be transformed: “If you see a pure contemplator, oblivious to his body and absorbed in the recesses of his mind, this is neither an earthly nor a heavenly creature: this is a still more eminent spirit, clothed in human flesh. Who, then, will not admire man? Not undeservedly, in Mosaic and Christian Scripture he is sometimes called ʼall fleshʻ and sometimes ʼevery creatureʻ, insofar as he fashions, shapes, and transforms his appearance into that of all flesh, his own character into that of every creature.”[iii]
Elsewhere Pico then states: ” ʼYou are all gods and sons of the most highʻ Thus may we avoid abusing the most indulgent liberality of the Father by transforming the free choice He bestowed upon us from something beneficial to something harmful.”[iv]
It is in the whole of the following text of Oratio de dignitate hominis that Pico explains how to achieve the transformation, that is, it describes the spiritual path. He also states, “Inasmuch as we, who are flesh and have the smell of earthly things, are not permitted to follow their model of our own accord, let us consult the ancient Fathers […]”[v] Pico here indicates why he engaged in the study of so many spiritual and philosophical texts, because he sought the so-called ancient wisdom, theologia, and this brought him inspiration. Pico recalls Heracleitus and his doctrine of the dialectical nature: “[…] nature is the offspring of war […]. Thus, it is said that philosophy, true rest and stable peace cannot reveal themselves to us alone, that this is the duty and privilege of its mistress; that is, of the most holy Theology.”[vi]
For Pico, the goal of the path is the unity of spiritual souls: “So gently called, so kindly invited, we will then fly away into the embrace of the most blessed Mother like terrestrial Mercuries with winged feet and will rejoice in the longed-for peace. This is that most holy peace, the indissoluble bond, the harmonious friendship in which all souls, in one mind (a mind that is above all minds) are not in agreement but, indeed, in a certain ineffable way, inwardly become one.”[vii] The spiritual soul has its dimension and at the same time a dimension of the union.
The original Adam – alone or united?
The question again arises, is the original Adam lonely or is he part of a spiritual unity? As Pico states above, the goal is a united friendship in which all souls are of one mind, which is above all minds […] and inwardly become one[viii]. Yet recall what Pico states regarding the original Adam: “[…] he will be made one spirit with God in the solitary darkness of the Father.“ This paradox can be seen more through the lens of the carnal or metaphysical man. But it is not for the spiritual man. The spiritual man lives in the atmospheric field of the spirit, alone from the created, that is, the manifested. He participates in the creative paternal power and is thus separated from the effect. And at the same time the statement of the unity of mind, of the spiritual union and friendship of spiritual souls with each other and with the Father also, is true, for they are not only sons but their participation in the fatherhood has gradually developed.
On dignity, freedom, and equality in a slightly different way
I will try to summarize rather the above. The appeal to revive the original Adam is precisely the great message to the human being of his dignity, of his true humanity, in which he is free by spiritual nature because he lives in union with the Creator Father. The alpha of the embryonic seed has developed into the omega of fetal maturity. The tree of life has produced its fruit, by which we know Him.
This freedom comes from the spiritual sphere of being and is brought to life in the microcosm of which man is an inhabitant. It is the law of the spirit that Adam – the animated spiritual archetype in the microcosm – freely fulfills according to the divine will. Freedom belongs to him because he has already known himself and has been known by the Father. And it is precisely due to his kingship with the Father that every restored Adam is again a true child and son of God, and all sons of the Father are equal and seem to be equal with the Father, having restored their divinity.The equality of natural, animal men is but a distant image, of spiritual equality as a mutual unity. The notion of brotherhood, and a very good thing it is, has degraded from hyperphysics to metaphysics and to physics. By anchoring consciousness in the physical and phenomenal world, where we only look around us, we can never see the true nature of things.
In this way, as a consequence of materialization, all values, not only brotherhood, love, unity, equality, liberty, dignity, and justice, have been gradually degraded in historical development, …. Because we have prematurely abandoned the truth of spiritual consciousness.
The phenomenon of disenchantment in Western thought and all the efforts to get rid of magic, spells, fables, and religion have only ever caused an exchange for other ideals (such as the Enlightenment values of human rights and belief in human rights, or belief in science and belief in animal rationality, and later belief in economics and industrial “sustainability”, belief in stock growth, or today’s belief in technology and belief in spider media, belief in public health and belief in global peace) – the beliefs that humanity is constantly being taught are just dead ends of faith in something. Fortunately, constantly repeated disappointments brought on by everyone’s bitter experiences bring us out of the ego’s spell. We see and experience that neither the phenomenal outer world nor the phenomenal inner world provides permanent security. Apart from the negative experience, we see that even the most beautiful things that last on earth are only temporary, limited in time and space, and far from corresponding to the true essence and idea.
We have no choice but to kneel down empty-handed and exclaim that we know nothing, that we have nothing, and that all our earthly gold, all our dreams and idols, we will very willingly and gladly give for a piece of spiritual gold, transmuted in the divine fire.
Is not faith a transitional state on the way to divine wisdom, on the path from trust to knowledge? It is not enough just to be powerful, but we also need to know and act.
Can morality bring a man to true humanity?
If we accept the premise that true humanity consists in the revival of divinity, then morality alone does not lead to the goal set forth, which in hyperphysics is the world of spirit. Morality is a means to purify the natural soul (metaphysics), so it is part of the path, especially in the beginning, and has its limits. Morality does not nourish the spirit. If only true humanity resting in the spirit carries with it the attributes of freedom and dignity, then morality cannot arrive at freedom and dignity. Until then, we encounter only an imperfect and partial image of freedom and dignity.
Therefore, in the search for freedom and dignity, we cannot work with the dual concepts of physics and metaphysics, but it appears necessary to extend the duality to a third sphere. If we accept hyperphysics as the starting point, then there is a harmony between metaphysics and physics, and these opposites are reconciled and unified according to hyperphysics.
Therefore, we need to accept a different starting point. This is not only true for Western thought, man, and culture but is a general universally valid axiom.
Once man‘s consciousness returns to the state of the original Adam, he will experience oneness with everything. He will experience true freedom as well as responsibility.
BORGHESI, Francesco, PAPIO, Michael, RIVA, Massimo (eds). Pico della Mirandola. Oration on the Dignity of Man. A new translation and commentary. Cambridge: CUP, 2016.
BYRD, Sharon B., HRUSCHKA, Joachim. Kant´s Doctrine of Right. A commentary. Cambridge: CUP, 2012.
ROSENKRANZOVÁ, Olga. A new point of view on Pico´s and Kant´s concept of dignity. Studies in Law, Politics and Society: Human dignity: New Concepts and Approaches, Vol. 88 (Emerald Publishing – in print).
SENSEN, Oliver. Kant on Human Dignity. Kantstudien, sešit 166, Berlín: Walter De Gruyer, 2011.
[i] Pico della Mirandola, Giovanni: Oratio de dignitate hominis, p. 59.
[ii] Ibid. p. 125:34, 131:36.
[iii] Ibid. p. 133:40-42.
[iv] Ibid. p. 135:46.
[v] Ibid. p. 141:68.
[vi] Ibid. p. 153:92.
[vii] Ibid. p. 153:94. The authors add a connection with Pico’s other texts. From Heptaplus: „I shall fly above the heavenly region to that of true repose, peace, and tranquility, especially that peace which this visible and corporeal world can not give“; or from De ente et uno: „ The Father […] is unity itself, truth itself, goodness itself. […] Let us fly to the Father where there is unifying peace, truest light, best pleasure“.
[viii] Ibid. p. 153:94.