From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"A philosopher of the Renaissance, Pico della Mirandola, granted dignity to ideas and to beings. In his "Oration on the Dignity of Man", he told hostile clerics about the dignity of the liberal arts and about the dignity and the glory of angels. His comments implied the dignity of philosophers."--Sholem Stein
Dignity is a term used in moral, ethical, and political discussions to signify that a being has an innate right to respect and ethical treatment. It is an extension of Enlightenment-era beliefs that individuals have inherent, inviolable rights, and thus is closely related to concepts like virtue, respect, self-respect, autonomy, human rights, and enlightened reason. Dignity is generally proscriptive and cautionary: in politics it is usually synonymous to 'human dignity', and is used to critique the treatment of oppressed and vulnerable groups and peoples, though in some case has been extended to apply to cultures and sub-cultures, religious beliefs and ideals, animals used for food or research, and even plants. In more colloquial settings it is used to suggest that someone is not receiving a proper degree of respect, or even that they are failing to treat themselves with proper self-respect.