Renaissance Humanism

Renaissance Humanism
Doctor Faustus
Adapted from:
The West and the World, “The Renaissance – Origins of the Modern Age in Europe.”
Gage Learning Corporation, 2002.
The Renaissance
• The age of “rebirth” began in about 1350 and continued
until 1600 in Western Europe.
• The rejection of the medieval period by thinkers initiated
the transition into the Modern Age.
• The thinkers of the Modern Age valued the worldly life,
expanded knowledge, and advocated that human beings
develop their best potential in this world.
• The culture of the Renaissance transformed the way
people in the West see themselves, the way we live in
society and the community, the nature of art, and the role
of learning.
• Writers and artists of the Renaissance were
conscious about being in a new era, with new values.
• The term “humanism” was derived from the Latin
humanitas, to distinguish their period from the past
and to identify their cultural program based on the
revival of Greek and Latin classics.
• Humanists viewed the classics – literature,
philosophy, and art – as their inspiration, unlike
medieval scholars who fit them into a Christian
“Renaissance Men”
• The ideal of the period was the individual who excelled in all
matters, who strove beyond the ordinary in learning,
craftsmanship, and civic life – a “Renaissance man.”
• I.e. Leonardo da Vinci, Niccolo Machiavelli
• The new view of human nature often called for reflections on
the relationship of human beings to God and the cosmos.
• Humanists stressed the importance of education and the value
of directing children early in life.
• Dutch theologian Desiderius Erasmus – “(…) stressed that we
all have certain capacities and limits, but what will determine
our development is our nature, combined with our education.”
• Humanism was a civic idea as well as a scholarly
one. If education was to be moral training for a
virtuous life, it was also intended to prepare one to
be a responsible citizen and a member of the civic
• People now felt loyalty and devotion to their political
and social community, and they hoped to bring
honour to it by their achievements.