What is humanism?

Humanismis a philosophical, intellectual and cultural currentthat focuses its attention on the human being. The origin of humanism was in the Middle Ages between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, whose conceptbreaks with the paradigm that God is the center of the universeand revaluing the dignity of man.

In this sense, humanism is a term referring to ananthropocentric doctrinewhich had a rapid diffusionthanks to the invention of the printing press, being its most notable precursors in Italy the philosopherDante Alighieri  the Italian writer and humanist GiovanniBoccaccio (3) and the philosopher and poetFrancesco Petrarca (4) and outside Italy the humanistErasmus of Rotterdam stood out

To highlight: Erasmus of Rotterdam was a priest, who stood out in his time fortrying to modernize the Catholic Churchby considering it of stagnant thoughts in time.

What are the characteristics of humanism?

Here arethe most important characteristicsof humanism, as an intellectual tendency:

1. It originated in the bourgeois society of Italian cities

Humanism was born, as a response to aseries of cultural concerns not satisfiedby the church of the time in bourgeois and urban environments ofEurope, specifically in Italy.

In this sense, the clerical culture responds only to the belief of a single God and humanism prefers the observation that seeks in works of classical antiquity, a source of inspiration.

Note: This look of humanism towards the past, seeks the simplicity and purity of early Christianity , which investigates a substantial change in the conception of man within the universe.

2. He discarded the theocentric conception of the universe

of the universe, this current of thought

You should know: The humanist position is not contrary to faith in God , but a position in rejection of the dogmas of the existing clerical power at the time.

3. Emphasized critical thinking instead of dogmatic

Before the emergence of the Renaissance(9), the prevailing thought was dogmatic, where theprinciples and beliefs that were generated were considered absolute truth andlacked any form of refutation. Generally this production of knowledgewas in the power of the ruling class.

To highlight: The appearance of humanism gives man the possibility of a change towards critical thinking, where man can analyze and even refute those reasonings considered as absolute truths.

4. Contributed to scientific and technical development

With the appearance of critical thinking, the scientific method is developedto generate knowledge. From that moment, manhas access to scientific research , to compare the arguments present at the time to ratify, expand or refute them.

Note: This is how a large number of contributions in science are attributed to the time of humanism and the Renaissance, among which it stands out that the earth was not the center of the universe but the sun.

5. He promoted the study of philosophy, classical ideas and other languages

Another of the advances to which humanism contributed was the Access to Classical and Ancient Knowledge to which many people had no control.

In this sense, education was an aspect that greatly interested this intellectual current, promoting the inculcation in almost all social strata, the study of philosophy, classical ideas and the learning of classical languages.

6. Led to the rise of the Renaissance

The Renaissance is an artistic and cultural movement, which marked the transition between the medieval world and the modern world.

You should know: Despite the fact that humanism arose independently of the Renaissance, it is considered the most important cause of the consolidation of the Renaissance thanks to the diffusion of the ideas of humanism at that time.

On the other hand, humanism gave the opportunity for other psychological schools such as cognitivist , systemic and psychoanalysis to focus on the study of man.

7. It evolved over time and divided into several types

Like any intellectual current that is open and sensitive to evolution, the following types of humanism emerge:

  • Classical humanism , with a naturalistic background.
  • Renaissance humanism , of a rationalist nature.
  • Modern naturalistic humanism , linked to the scientific consideration of man.
  • Existential humanism, which promotes self-knowledge. 
  • Direction suprahumanism , Christian trend and tends to a new conception of man surpassing. (10)

To highlight: All those people or social groups that promote the ideas of humanism, can be called humanists.

What is the importance of humanism?

The importance of humanism within society is that it gave a turn to the universal way of thinking, especially the way in which man’s participation was conceived within it.

On the other hand, humanism provided freedom of thought, creativity, rationality towards what was already established as dogma, allowing human beings independence, evolution, expansion and advancement of scientific knowledge and, above all, participating as the central axis of the universe.

Important: Humanism todayis focused on enhancing knowledgein all sectors of life.

Key Conclusions

  • Humanism is a philosophical and cultural current, which later became an intellectual current.
  • This intellectual current focuses its attention on man, placing him as the center of the universe.
  • Humanism breaks with the dogma of theocentrism and proposes anthropocentrism.
  • Humanism contributes to scientific development and the growth of education.
  • Humanism brought freedom of thought , creativity and rationality.

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