To the extent that Pico actually believed in the dignity of man, it was in a particular sense, one for which he probably found inspiration in Augustine and other Fathers of the Church. As created, man had no special dignity, no worth at all: a cosmic chameleon, he could become as devoid of thought and emotion as a crustacean or a stone, or burn with the celestial love of an angel, but until he made his decision he was the being without qualities. In one sense, though, man did have a special dignity: the dignity of his potential. Angels and animals could not change position. But man was a shape-shifter, and if the shift was violent and serious enough to take him out of his original self, he could realize a destiny that no other being possessed.
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor