Volume 88, 2014
Dispositions, Habits, and Virtues
M. V. Dougherty
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Concordia, and the Canon Law Tradition
On the Habits and Dispositions of Renaissance Exegetes
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463–1494) is best known for his Oratio, one of many works containing his promise to prove that the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle are in agreement. Pico never fulfilled this promise, however, and commentators have at times derided Pico’s concordist project. The present paper argues that Pico’s notion of concordia was at least partly inspired by a jurisprudential habit derived from his early training in canon law. After examining Pico’s explicit but dispersed statements on concordia, I then consider the circumstantial evidence for a jurisprudential origin to Pico’s project. As the habits and dispositions of Renaissance exegetes differed significantly from those of present-day interpreters of the history of philosophy, there is merit in looking beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries to understand Pico’s attempted concordia of Plato and Aristotle. An appreciation of this context mitigates the negative assessments of his enterprise.