Renaissance Humanism Definition
Renaissance humanism refers to an intellectual movement characterized by a revitalized interest in the classical world and studies that did not focus on religion but what it is to be humans. It is traced to have originated from 14th-century Italy, and its pioneers comprised authors such as Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, and Giovanni Boccaccio. The main elements of this movement included a concern in learning literature from art and relic, the articulate use of Latin and philology, and a belief in the importance of education.
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Both scholasticism and renaissance humanism are historical philosophies that had an immense influence on learning and global advancements. The two had a particularly massive influence on early university education. The two philosophies encouraged students to develop understanding and ideas that would influence their society in general. There are significant differences in the two ideologies that are responsible for the dissimilarities in methods and results. Scholasticism was an ideology promoted by the church and placed faith at the center of its ideology. It, therefore, focused on spiritual works and their importance in the grand matrix of things and dissemination of knowledge.
Renaissance humanism, on the other hand, rejects the supernatural as the basis of study and work. It places human reasoning and human achievement at the core of its study, understanding humans while using the natural as a reference point. Additionally, scholasticism focused on training theologians, lawyers, and doctors, while humanism trained people who would make ideal citizens regardless of their professional destination. Scholasticism focused on teaching theology, law, medicine, and philosophy, while humanism focused on teaching poetry, history, grammar, and rhetoric.
Humanist Philosophy Analysis using Pico’s Text
Significance of Philosophy
The humanist philosophy is important as it came during a period when there was a need for the development of thinking and advancement of the human race. Previous ideologies and philosophies that existed detested free-thinking and discouraged the investigation of faith and beliefs. Religion was at the core of its operation, especially Christianity, and had an iron grip on proceedings and education. Those who dared question their religious beliefs and faith were persecuted. Humanism shifted the focus of thinking onto the human person, concentrating on how the human being thinks and operates (Mirandola). Education and thinking were no longer aligned to generating humans capable of blindly following rules and regulations. Education created human beings capable of logical reasoning and involvement in debates. It was during this period that the human was seen for the magnificent creation he has always been.
Reflection of Philosophy in the Historical Context of Renaissance
The humanist philosophy ensured the creation and development of various essential human fields. These include science, mathematics, language, art, music, and film, where many pioneers cemented their place in history books (Mirandola). Science developed because people did not simply dismiss every question of being as a work of divinity but instead questioned and investigated these phenomena. It is for this reason pioneers in physics such as Isaac Newton discovered gravity, while pioneers in geology such as James Hutton enabled a better understanding of the earth. Religion was not entirely dismissed as a result of the humanist philosophy but instead received an enlightened following. The people who believed in religion found that science complemented their beliefs as the sophisticated explanations for various earthly phenomenon received solid backing. These people, especially Christians, were better able to marvel at and appreciate their deity.
Pico Della Mirandola: “Oration on the dignity of man, paragraphs 1-7.”