The Renaissance Humanistic Concept Of Man

1406 words - 6 pages

The Renaissance Humanistic Concept of Man

Each century brings something new into this world. Some ages thus become prominent, others don’t seem to contribute a lot to the humanity. The Renaissance became the symbol of awakening, the symbol of excellence and rebirth. It gave birth to the doctrines and principles that dominate the philosophy up until nowadays. Humanism developed as one of the principal philosophical concepts of Renaissance.
What does this concept mean, why is it so crucial to understanding of the epoch of Renaissance? With the philosophy of humanism 14th century Italy obtained the major doctrines of the revival: study of the classics, importance on learning, and emphasis on the human values, concern with man and his problems. The latter is the main difference between the Middle Ages and Renaissance: the Renaissance is man-centered, the other one is God-centered. The problems of free will, virtue, fate are closely connected and broadly discussed by the thinkers of Renaissance.
From the very beginning of humanistic thought, starting from Petrarch, the idea of individual’s importance started to develop among the literary philosophers. In his writings Petrarch expresses a great concern with the ignorance of men towards themselves. “Men go to admire the heights of mountains, the great floods of the sea, the courses of rivers, the shores of the ocean, and the orbits of the stars, and neglect themselves,” he quotes St. Augustine in “The Ascent of Mount Ventoux”. In fact, this entire writing is an allegorical description of the struggle within his self that had eventually led to the conversion and elevation to the higher state of mind. The mountain itself can be an allegory for all the knowledge to be mastered in order to obtain the wisdom and virtue of happiness, or it could be a deceitful path to faith in God.
Petrarch believes that our understanding of the world starts with the self-exploration and awareness attained through classical learning, later known as Studia Humanitatis. He probably makes the first humanistic attempt to stress out the significance of the humans in the modern philosophical thought.
The characteristic feature of the Renaissance is the praise of human mind, first found in the ancient Greece. “Nothing is admirable besides the mind; compared to its greatness nothing is great. ” Man is primarily praised for his reason, for his arts and skills, derived from his own potential through the path of secular knowledge. But human’s dignity has to be attained and realized through man’s effort. Only then, as expressed in Marsilio Ficino’s writing in 1468, man becomes a dominant power over all elements and animals, he is the ruler of nature; he is assigned a central place in the hierarchy of the universe. While being extremely religious “Five Questions Concerning the Mind” deal with a system of the universe only because it justifies the glorification of the human soul.
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