Despite the domination of scholasticism in most universities throughout Europe, the Italian Renaissance produced humanism, which proved to be one of the most distinctive and special academic movements of the period. “Humanism was first developed in Italy in the fourteenth century and went through a maturation period that influenced the intellectual life encountered in Europe in 1500.” (Sgarbi 76). Humanism placed a strong emphasis on the human being over faith. It was centrally based on the notion of man as a representation of all that was present on earth, thus ignoring the status and position of women in society, thereby seeing them as subordinate beings to men. Humanism primarily emphasized and focused on secular education by the use of both Greek and Latin classics, mostly new rediscovered sources and shunning the application of medieval sources. Most scholars during the middle age period had substantial linking of their ideologies with the classical, in particular Roman and Greek sources, but with the primary intent of reinforcing Christian theology. Classical ideologies which conflicted with theology got rejected and were viewed as misleading to the Cristian faith and teachings.
The teachings in humanities got classified into five traditional subjects such as grammar, poetry, the study of moral philosophy, rhetoric, and history. Humanism has had a significant impact on philosophy through the revival of ancient Greek philosophical schools’ studies. “It has facilitated learning” (Charlton 178). The introduction of print is considered to have played an integral role in the spread of knowledge in this era as it promoted easy accessibility to readers hence the increased spread of classical philosophy as well as its influence. Humanists, therefore, believed that it is only through education that people get to improve themselves. They went ahead and established schools that taught Greek, Latin, history as well as philosophy.
The humanistic philosophers to a great extent referred to Platonism, Stoicism and not limited to Aristotelianism and Epicureanism. One of the most influential philosophers in Renaissance was Pico Ella Mirandola (1463-1494). In his works, he greatly emphasized on the uniqueness of entire human nature. His works get defined by his philosophy of “great chain of being’’ derived from Plato and Plotinus. The great chain of being expressed the presence of a spectrum of things, from the lowest level considered as a raw matter to that of God himself considered as the highest level. Between these principles existed intermediary factions such as the real, comprised of Angeles, rational creatures that bear physicality, lastly the physical bodies which lack the rational element. In understanding the hierarchical chain, a clean distinction of created things got grouped into three categories namely, the visible ones, for example, sky. The second one was the element and third being invisible also known as intellectual natures. They are often divine and angelical. Above all these, God was considered supreme. He got acknowledged as the author and architecture of all creatures, and it is only through him that divinity bore a casual existence. Divinity often flowed from God down to the angels.
Humanity has a lot of significance in the present world. “The first importance is the exploration of humanity has made it possible for human beings to engage their mind in both creative and critical thinking, reasoning as well as appropriately asking relevant questions” (Dunne 93). It is from these skills that new knowledge from paintings and not limited to poetry, politics, and models of business is acquired. Humanistic subjects play an integral role in liberal arts given that it was adopted by the ancient Greece and used as a method of teaching.
The second importance is that, the research conducted regarding human experience has enhanced a depth understanding of the world we live and its environs. Through the ancient works of humanistic scholars, we get to learn values present in different cultures, about all that is involved in the crafting of artwork and the manner in which history is often made. The efforts and significant accomplishments that they made in the past help us today in understanding our world as well as providing us with the necessary tools to project the future.
Lastly, humanistic knowledge is immensely used as a stepping stone to exploring and depth understanding nature and human experience. For example, an individual investigating a specific philosophical branch may find themselves beginning to have several thoughts regarding ethics. The learning of a particular language makes it possible for a person to recognize and appreciate the similarities noted in different cultures. Looking at someone’s art may make an individual draw inspirations of the artist regarding the drawings or sculpture made. The listening of the various historical teaching of a country may help an individual have a complete understanding of that nation the history while giving an insight of the nation’s future.
It is important to note that humanism got into existence as a result of renaissance and with it, has come several commendable changes in the study of humanity. Having been introduced in the 14th century, teachings derived from its concept of secular education from the Greek and Latin classics have to date significantly contributed to the field of humanities. Its importance portrayed through several ways such as making a person have a clear projection on of the future as well as comprehending the world they live.
Charlton, Kenneth. Education in Renaissance England. Vol. 1. Routledge, 2013.
Dunne, Gerry. “Beyond Critical Thinking to Critical Being: Criticality in Higher Education and Life.” International Journal of Educational Research, vol. 71, 2015, pp. 86-99.
Sgarbi, Marco. The Italian Mind: Vernacular Logic in Renaissance Italy (1540-1551). Brill, 2014.