“Nature, that is, God, made man a composite of two parts, one celestial and divine, the other most beautiful and noble among mortal things. He provided him with a form and a body suited to every sort of movement, so as to enable him to perceive and to flee from that which threatened to harm and oppose him. He gave him speech and judgment so that he would be able to seek after and to find what he needed and could use. He gave him movement and sentiment, desire and the power of excitement, so that he might clearly appreciate and pursue useful things and shun those harmful and dangerous to him. He gave him intelligence, teachability, memory and reason, qualities divine in themselves and which enable man to investigate, to distinguish, to know what to avoid and what to desire in order best to preserve himself.” Leon Battista Alberti, On the Family in Perspectives from the Past: Primary Sources in Western Civilizations, Vol. 1. 5th Ed. (Norton: New York, 2012), p. 390.
Leon Battista Alberti (d. 1472) was born in Genoa in 1404 as the illegitimate son of exiled Florentine man. Alberti studied law at Bologna, took holy orders, and worked in service of the papacy. As a Renaissance humanist Alberti wrote about painting, architecture, sculpture, and the nature of the family. However, he is most well known for his architectural designs. Here he describes God’s greatest earthly creation, humanity, as the perfect combination mind and body.