Also known as Renaissance humanism , it is a philosophical, intellectual and cultural doctrine emerged in the Europe of the fourteenth century , closely linked to the Renaissance , which sought to retake the classical legacy of ancient cultures (especially the ancient Greek ) and be interested for human reason and man as the center of the universe , turning its back on centuries of medieval religious philosophy that imposed a theological perspective.
The humanist model prevailed in Renaissance Europe until the end of the sixteenth century, when the influence of the processes of change and reform (Lutheran, Anglican, Calvinist), the French Revolution , the Enlightenment and the Catholic Counterreformation, spurred the diversification of their interests towards a more modern philosophical model.
However, humanism did not die there, but continued to form an important ideological component in Western consciousness until the nineteenth century, when it was opposed as an educational method to scholasticism, and then gave rise in the twentieth century to secular or secular humanism , whose first manifesto was signed in 1933.
Characteristics of humanism
The exact origin of humanism is placed in Italy during the 14th century , specifically in Rome, Florence and Venice, by the hand of the poets and thinkers Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374) and Giovanni Boccaccio (1313 -1375).
However, it would be with the invention of the printing press (1450) and the discovery of America (1492), that humanism would enter its heyday, with the help of intellectuals such as Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494), who was the first to coin the term humanism and humanist to designate the movement, and Antonio de Nebrija (1441-1522), who renewed the study of classical languages ??in Spain.
Then came the great Erasmus of Rotterdam (1466-1536) and Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), two of the most celebrated European humanists in history.
Humanism was benefited by several historical factors that fed in Europe the interest for a renewed thought and for the classic inheritance, despised as pagan by the Christian medieval period . Among them are:
- The fall of the Byzantine Empire . Under siege of the Turks, the Eastern Roman Empire would see emigrate many of its scholars and scholars, who sought refuge in the West and especially in Italy, thus nurturing the humanist intellect in formation.
- The arrival at the papal throne of Nicolás V , who had been trained by humanist scholars in his youth. This allowed the emergence in Rome of humanism, whose consolidation was even greater during the papacy of Pius II, considered the greatest humanist and protector of the arts of his time.
- The action of the patrons . The emergence of patronage as a means of financing numerous humanist works, financing their impression or welcoming the scholars in their palaces. Such was, for example, the case of the Florentine Medici.
- The creation of universities . Once the humanist thought was installed, the great European schools echoed it and helped to spread and strengthen it throughout the continent.
While the idea of ??the Creator remained important in humanist thought, and still had a fundamental role in his conception of the universe, there was an important shift of attention towards man as the axis of the world and human reason, which allowed breaking with the closed and theocratic conception of the world that the Christian medieval imposed for centuries.
The human intelligence thus emerged as the supreme value of the hand with religious faith, but the power of the Church, weakened by the Protestant reforms and appreciation of rationality of modern man, ends the Holy Inquisition of the Catholic Church .
The appearance of the printing press also democratizes the possession of the book, ending the ecclesiastical hegemony and allowing the free interpretation of the scriptures, which will further accentuate the Protestant spirit of the time.
This will lead to the same, a model of spirituality more interior, free and direct.
The recovery of myths and legends, as well as the imaginary of Greco-Roman antiquity, also plays a role in the opening of man to ancient knowledge and the exploration of his historical sources, thus constituting knowledge and Fine Arts as values ??of the time , protected by institutions such as the papacy or the incipient patronage.
The old texts are translated and they are studied again . The rereading of Plutarch, for example, and its biographies, recover as a model to follow the courtier and the poet-warrior, displacing from the popular imagination the medieval knight and his fanaticisms. They also recover the aesthetic idealization of the real of Plato , and also the Aristotelian logic .
See also: Renaissance Art , Classicism
Contrary to medieval times, commerce and enrichment are beginning to be well seen by the Calvinist logic, which sees in them the earthly blessing of God to human work. This will be key to the emergence of the Protestant spirit, indispensable in turn in the later birth of the bourgeoisie and capitalism.
Fame, glory, power and prestige are rescued as ambitions that ennoble man , and that leads to faith in exploratory exploits (such as the Discovery of America and the expansion of trade routes), architectural, artistic and even politics ( The prince of Nicolás Maquivelo appears in 1513).
All this will lead to a state of optimism and faith in modern man , contrary to medieval pessimism and the millenarian doctrine that awaited the imminent end of the world (and the coming of Christ). Human realization can take place on earth.
Humanism recovers in the figure of the Greco-Roman Venus a model of femininity more linked to the epicurean enjoyment , to love or sensuality and beauty. This contrasts with the figure always covered in the Catholic virgin, and the naked woman only as a representation of original sin and the punitive myth of Eve.
During the mid-sixteenth century, Spain lived a model of humanism not anthropocentrist , that is, that did not make man the privileged creature of God and blessed on earth, but Christocentric, insisting on asceticism and mystical life as methods of realization human on earth, no doubt from the hand of the Catholic Counter Reformation and the Spanish reconquest (culminating in 1492 with the end of the Nazari Kingdom of Granada).
This Christian variant of humanism would later give way to the disappointment of the baroque, with its brutality of forms and its satirized man, marching against the grain of the rest of the renovating Europe that bet on new horizons.
One of the direct products of Renaissance humanism was the Enlightenment, an intellectual movement born in France and England during the seventeenth century , which led to the French Revolution, although in other countries it was extended until the 19th century.
The illustration opted for human reason as a beacon to illuminate the darkness of existence, fighting ignorance, tyranny, superstition and betting on a world designed economically, socially and politically for man.
The illustration produced neoclassicism as an aesthetic (especially pictorial) expression of said pretensions.
The secular humanism
Although secular or secular humanism is a new organizational aspect (twentieth century), its ideas come from classical Greek philosophers, just like those of Renaissance humanism. The secular humanists embrace the path of free thinking of Diderot, Voltaire and David Hume, as well as the premises of the French Revolution: freedom, equality, fraternity.
To date there have been several humanist manifestos:
- The first in 1933, signed by 34 North American adherents, who proposed the creation of an ethical and moral model alien to metaphysics.
- The second took place in 1973, during the Cold War, and was signed by numerous intellectuals worldwide.
- The third occurred in 1980, in response to attacks by various ecclesiastical and religious institutions on secular humanistic teaching in North American schools.
- A fourth document emerged in 1988, the Declaration of Interdependence, a call for a new humanistic global ethic.
- The last manifesto appeared in 2000, and it was called to review the thinking of humanity in the face of the new century.