Characteristics of renaissance humanism with definition and Neo humanism


Humanism is a philosophical, intellectual and cultural current that thinks of humanity and people in general, seeking to go beyond the scholars or those who had an important position in power, that is, it seeks to put human value by above any particularity or social position. In this article we will provide you the Characteristics of renaissance humanism.

In the following article we will see the different types of humanisms and their main characteristics, we will also name their main references.

What is humanism?

The word “Humanism” comes from the Latin term humanitas (which means humanity). This is the name given to all the philosophical theory that emphasizes the value of the human in front of the rest of the realities. In short, this theory develops its fundamental works starting from the vindication of human values.

Humanism applies to certain historical moments. They are the characteristic sociocultural phenomenon of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, known as Renaissance humanism ; to the neohumanism of the period of classicism and German romanticism of the 18th and 19th centuries, and to contemporary humanisms , fundamentally with an ethical orientation.

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The Renaissance humanism

Renaissance humanism , whose origin is located in the Italy of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (especially in Florence Rome and Venice ) is characterized by the renewed interest in the studia humanitatis , that is, in the studies of grammar, dialectics, rhetoric, history, poetics and moral sciences, based on an appreciation of the ancient classical text, in Latin and Greek. Thus they put aside the scholastic thought (Christian theological current) dominant until then of Western thought.

In this context, a new concept of the human emerges, more suited to the civic ideals of the commercial aristocracy that reached political, economic and social power in this period. The values ​​of this stage of thought are the interest in nature and naturalism, individualism, the rejection of authority, the appreciation of history and the interest in culture and knowledge.

Its hegemony remained throughout much of Europe until the end of the 16th century. From that moment, it began to transform and diversify thanks to the spiritual changes caused by ideological and social development, such as the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation , and later the Enlightenment and the French Revolution also influenced .

Characteristics of Renaissance humanism

The features of Renaissance humanism are as follows:

  • Interest in recovering the culture of classical antiquity and philosophical studies of the language.
  • The artistic creations were based on imitating the masters of the Greco-Roman civilization.
  • Man was considered to be of great importance, in addition to the fact that his intelligence placed great value on the faith that unites him with his Creator.
  • Values ​​exceed those of classical antiquity so faith in contemporary man was restored.
  • Fame is appreciated as a classic virtue, knowledge of the sensory and the effort of self-improvement.
  • Trade is no longer considered a sin and Calvinism affirms that economic success is a sign that God blessed the worked land.
  • They recognize the need for separation of morals and politics, there must be an eternal and a temporal authority.

The fundamental figures of Renaissance humanism are: Francisco Petrarca, Coluccio Salutati, Leonardo Bruni, Poggio Bracciolini, Leon Battista Alberti, Nicolas de Cusa, Erasmus of Rotterdam and Thomas Moore.

The Neohumanism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries 

After the Enlightenment , as a reaction against the values ​​defended by it, a new mode of humanism appeared, supported by the  German romanticism of the 18th and 19th centuries. This second type of humanism establishes the basic concepts of humanism that would reach our days, these being the notion of integral formation , understood as the process in which the culture of the spirit is highly valued, as opposed to the acquisition of simple science. , technique and rationality.

In synthesis, this new current will understand that human formation is more complex than the mere acquisition of universal scientific knowledge and the different regional cultures will be valued (strong nationalist feelings arise). In this context, different intellectuals defend the primacy of feeling, individuality and freedom over rationality.

In this oil painting from 1818 we can appreciate the influence of humanism on the author: the man occupies the central space in the painting, indicating that he is in a position of domination. However, carrying a cane, perhaps to facilitate the ascent, points to a certain weakness. The human is represented individually or alone and not in the middle of a group, in this way his subjectivity is highlighted. Man stands on a peak, he is free , but he is small compared to the rest of the world or nature.

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The main figures of Neohumanism were: Johann Winckelmann, Friedrich Schlegel, Johann Gottfried Herder, Friedrich Schiller and Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe.

The Humanisms Contemporáneos

The main currents of contemporary humanism are Marxism and existentialism . Marxism argues that it is the man who shaped through the development of history. The latter, linked primarily to nature, distances himself from it by modifying it according to his own needs. At the same time that he develops his transforming work of nature, man modifies himself by the same factor (work), resulting at that time as the creator of his own nature. Under capitalism , workers ( proletariat ) do not work for themselves but work for another ( bourgeois) who gets the benefits of production. The critique of Marxism focuses on the fact that work as well as its product, under today’s society, oppresses the worker (alienation) and, ultimately, dehumanizes him.

Some of the main figures of Marxism were : Karl Marx , Friedrich Engels, Lenin and Antonio Gramsci.

On the other hand, existentialism is a set of philosophical tendencies, strongly developed in Germany and France during the 20th century , which coincide in understanding by existence, not the simple actuality of some things or the fact of existing, but what constitutes the essence same of the man. It is a humanism because it provides a basis for subjectivity and they consider that the fundamental question in being is human existence. Man is not then the human species or a general notion, but the human individual considered in his absolute uniqueness. Analyzing that existence is the work of existentialist philosophy. The importance of this lies in the fact that the human (according to this current of thought) is the only being whose essence consists in questioning himself about his own existence.

Its main figures were : Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir

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