What is Humanism?



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What is Humanism?


Renaissance Humanism is the spirit of learning that developed at the end of the Middle Ages with the revival of classical letters and a renewed confidence in the ability of human beings to determine for themselves truth and falsehood.

The definition of religion used by Religious Humanists is a functional one. Religion is that which serves the personal and social needs of a group of people sharing the same philosophical world view.


Renaissance humanism (often designated simply as humanism) was a European intellectual movement beginning in Florence in the last decades of the 14th century. Initially a humanist was simply a student or teacher of Latin and Latin literature. By the mid-fifteenth century humanism described a curriculum - the studia humanitatis - comprised of grammar, rhetoric, moral philosophy, poetry and history as studied via classical authors.
The over-riding goal of humanists, who may be said to have valued the witnesses of reason and the evidence of the senses in reaching the truth over the Christian values of humility, introspection, and passivity, or "meekness" that had dominated European thought in the previous centuries, was to become eloquent in rhetoric. Beauty, a popular topic, was held to represent a deep inner virtue and value, and an essential element in the path towards God. The humanist movement developed from the rediscovery by European scholars of many Latin and Greek texts.

The central feature of humanism in this period was the commitment to the idea that the ancient world (defined effectively as ancient Greece and Rome, which included the entire Mediterranean basin) was the pinnacle of human achievement, especially intellectual achievement, and should be taken as a model by contemporary Europeans. Humanists placed a heavy emphasis on the study of primary sources rather than the study of the interpretations of others.



Neo-Platonism replaced the Aristotelianism of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Ethics was taught independently of theology, and the authority of the Church was tacitly transferred to the reasoning logic of the educated individual. Thus humanists constantly skirted the dangers of being branded as heretics.

Humanists were:


- Rodolphus Agricola (Phrisius)
- (Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (May 3, 1469June 21, 1527) was an Italian political philosopher, musician, poet, and romantic comedic playwright. He is a figure of the Italian Renaissance and a central figure of its political component, most widely known for his treatises on realist political theory (The Prince)
-François Rabelais (c. 1494 - April 9, 1553) was a major French Renaissance writer.
-Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (March 6, 1475February 18, 1564), commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet and engineer. Despite making few forays beyond the arts, his versatility in the disciplines he took up was of such a high order that he is often considered a contender for the title of the archetypal Renaissance man, along with his rival and fellow Italian Leonardo da Vinci. Indeed it was said that a true Renaissance man needed to have all these talents and also to have been a diplomat and that Michelangelo was the only person to have ever embodied these criteria.
-Sir Thomas More (7 February 14786 July 1535), also known as Saint Thomas More,

- Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci April 15, 1452May 2, 1519) was an Italian polymath: scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, musician, and writer.

He was born and raised near Vinci, Italy, the illegitimate son of a notary, Messer Piero, and a peasant woman, Caterina. He had no surname in the modern sense, "da Vinci" simply meaning "of Vinci". His full birth name was "Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci", meaning "Leonardo, son of (Mes)ser Piero from Vinci."

Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the "Renaissance man", a man whose seemingly infinite curiosity was equalled only by his powers of invention. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived.[2]

It is primarily as a painter that Leonardo was and is renowned. Two of his works, the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper occupy unique positions as the most famous, the most illustrated and most imitated portrait and religious painting of all time. Their fame is approached only by Michelangelo's Creation of Adam. Leonardo's drawing of the Vitruvian Man is also iconic.

As an engineer, Leonardo conceived ideas vastly ahead of his own time, conceptually inventing a helicopter, a tank, the use of concentrated solar power, a calculator, a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics, the double hull, and many others. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or were feasible during his lifetime.[3] Some of his smaller inventions such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire entered the world of manufacturing unheralded.

He greatly advanced the state of knowledge in the fields of anatomy, civil engineering, optics, and the study of water. Of his works, perhaps 15 paintings survive,[4] together with his notebooks, which contain drawings, scientific diagrams, and notes.



The importance of printing
Johann Gutenberg, of the German city of Mainz, developed European printing technology in 1440, with which the classical age of printing began.

Gutenberg's invention of the printing press revolutionized communication and book production leading to the spread of knowledge. Rapidly, printing spread from Germany by emigrating German printers, but also by foreign apprentices returning home. A printing press was built in Venice in 1469, and by 1500 the city had 417 printers.


Renaissance


The Renaissance (French for 'rebirth', or Rinascimento in Italian), was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th through the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. It encompassed the revival of learning based on classical sources, the rise of courtly and papal patronage, the development of perspective in painting, and advancements in science.[1] Despite its wide-ranging consequences in all intellectual pursuits, the Renaissance is perhaps best know for its artistic aspect and polymaths such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who have become known as "Renaissance men".[2][3]

There is a general - though by no means unchallenged - consensus that the Renaissance began in Florence in the fourteenth century.[4] Various theories have been put forward to attempt explain why the Renaissance began there, as well as why it had the unusual characteristics it had. These theories have focused on an assortment of factors, including the social and civic peculiarities of Florence at this time, its political structure, and the patronage of its dominant family, the Medici.

The Renaissance has a long and complex historiography, and there has always been debate among historians as to the usefulness of the Renaissance as a term and as a historical age.[1] Some have called into question whether the Renaissance really was a cultural "advance" from the Middle Ages, instead seeing it as a period of pessimism and nostalgia for the classical age.[5] While nineteenth-century historians were keen to emphasise that the Renaissance represented a clear "break" from Medieval thought and practice, some modern historians have instead focused on the continuity between the two eras.[6] Indeed, it is now usually considered incorrect to classify any historical period as "better" or "worse The word Renaissance has also been used to describe other historical and cultural movements, such as the Carolingian Renaissance and the Byzantine Renaissance.

Overview



Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man shows clearly the effect writers of antiquity had on Renaissance thinkers. Based on the specifications in Vitruvius's De architectura, da Vinci tried to draw the perfectly proportioned man.

The Renaissance was a cultural movement that profoundly affected European intellectual life in the early modern period. Beginning in Italy, and spreading to the rest of Europe by the 16th century, its influence was felt in literature, philosophy, art, politics, science, religion, and other aspects of intellectual enquiry. Renaissance scholars employed the humanist method in study, and searched for realism and human emotion in art.

Renaissance thinkers sought out learning from ancient texts, typically written in Latin or ancient Greek.

They did not reject Christianity; quite the contrary, many of the Renaissance's greatest works were devoted to it, and the Church patronized many works of Renaissance art. However, a subtle shift took place in the way that intellectuals approached religion that was reflected in many other areas of cultural life.


Assimilation of Greek and Arabic knowledge


The Renaissance was so called because it was a "rebirth" of certain classical ideas that had long been lost to Europe, the rediscovery of ancient texts that had been forgotten by Western civilization, but were preserved in some monastic libraries, as well as the Islamic world.

Classical authors as Plato, Cicero and Vitruvius were searched. Additionally, as the reconquest of the Iberian peninsula from Islamic Moors progressed, numerous ancient Greek works were captured from educational institutions such as the library at Córdoba, which claimed to have 400,000 books.[11] Along with these, the works of Arabic scholars (e.g. Averroes), were imported into the Christian world, providing new intellectual material for European scholars.

Greek and Arabic knowledge were not only assimilated from Spain, but also directly from the Middle East. The study of mathematics was flourishing in the Middle East, and mathematical knowledge was brought back by crusaders in the 13th century

Cultural conditions in Florence
Lorenzo de' Medici, ruler of Florence and patron of arts.

It has long been a matter of debate why the Renaissance began in Florence, and not elsewhere in Italy. Scholars have noted several features unique to Florentine cultural life which may have precipitated such a cultural movement. Many have emphasised the role played by the Medici family in patronising and stimulating the arts. Lorenzo de' Medici devoted huge sums to commissioning works from Florence's leading artists, including Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, and Michelangelo Buonarroti.


Characteristics of the Renaissance

Humanism


Humanism was not a philosophy per se, but rather a method of learning. In contrast to the medieval scholastic mode, which focused on resolving contradictions between authors, humanists would study ancient texts in the original, and appraise them through a combination of reasoning and empirical evidence. Humanist education was based on the study of poetry, grammar, ethics and rhetoric. Above all, humanists asserted "the genius of man... the unique and extraordinary ability of the human mind."

Humanist scholars shaped the intellectual landscape throughout the early modern period. Political philosophers such as Niccolò Machiavelli and Thomas More revived the ideas of Greek and Roman thinkers, and applied them in critiques of contemporary government. Theologians, notably Erasmus and Martin Luther, challenged the Aristotelian status quo, introducing radical new ideas of justification and faith.


Art


Renaissance painting and Renaissance architecture

Science


Scientific Revolution

The upheavals occurring in the arts and humanities were mirrored by a dynamic period of change in the sciences. Some have seen this flurry of activity as a "scientific revolution," heralding the beginning of the modern age. Others have seen it merely as an acceleration of a continuous process stretching from the ancient world to the present day. Regardless, there is general agreement that the Renaissance saw significant changes in the way the universe was viewed and the methods with which philosophers sought to explain natural phenomena.

Science and art were very much intermingled in the early Renaissance, with artists such as Leonardo da Vinci making observational drawings of anatomy and nature. Yet the most significant development of the era was not a specific discovery, but rather a process for discovery, the scientific method. This revolutionary new way of learning about the world focused on empirical evidence, the importance of mathematics, and discarding the Aristotelian "final cause" in favour of a mechanical philosophy. Early and influential proponents of these ideas included Copernicus and Galileo. While both were later hailed as thinkers of seminal importance, at the time they attracted much controversy, particularly from the Roman Catholic Church.

The new scientific method led to great contributions in the fields of astronomy, physics, biology, and anatomy. With the publication of Vesalius's De humani corporis fabrica, a new confidence was placed in the role of dissection, observation, and a mechanistic view of anatomy.


The Renaissance Spreads


In the 15th century the Renaissance spread with great speed from its birthplace in Florence, first to the rest of Italy, and soon to the rest of Europe. The invention of the printing press allowed the rapid transmission of these new ideas. As it spread, its ideas diversified and changed, being adapted to local culture. In the twentieth century, scholars began to break the Renaissance into regional and national movements, including:

  • The Italian Renaissance

  • The English Renaissance

  • The German Renaissance

  • The Northern Renaissance

  • The French Renaissance

  • The Renaissance in the Netherlands

  • The Polish Renaissance

  • The Spanish Renaissance

  • Renaissance architecture in Eastern Europe


Religion

Reformation and Counter-Reformation






Alexander VI, a Borgia pope infamous for his corruption.

Main articles: Reformation and Counter-Reformation

It should be emphasised that the new ideals of humanism, although more secular in some aspects, developed against an unquestioned Christian backdrop, especially in the Northern Renaissance. Indeed, much (if not most) of the new art was commissioned by or in dedication to the Church. However, the Renaissance had a profound effect on contemporary theology, particularly in the way people perceived the relationship between man and God. Many of the period's foremost theologians were followers of the humanist method, including Erasmus, Zwingli, Thomas More, Martin Luther, and John Calvin.

The Renaissance began in times of religious turmoil. The late Middle Ages saw a period of political intrigue surrounding the Papacy, culminating in the Western Schism, in which three men simultaneously claimed to be true Bishop of Rome.

While the schism was resolved by the Council of Constance (1414), the fifteenth century saw a resulting reform movement know as Conciliarism, which sought to limit the pope's power. While the papacy eventually emerged supreme in ecclesiastical matters by the Fifth Council of the Lateran (1511), it was dogged by continued accusations of corruption, most famously in the person of Pope Alexander VI, who was accused variously of simony, nepotism and fathering four illegitimate children whilst Pope.

Churchmen such as Erasmus and Luther proposed reform to the Church, often based on humanist textual criticism of the New Testament. Indeed, it was Luther who in October 1517 published the 95 Theses, challenging papal authority and criticising its perceived corruption, particularly with regard to its sale of indulgences. The 95 Theses led to the Reformation, a break with the Roman Catholic Church that previously claimed hegemony in Western Europe. Humanism and the Renaissance therefore played a direct role in sparking the Reformation, as well as in many other contemporaneous religious debates and conflicts.

The Renaissance Spreads


In the 15th century the Renaissance spread with great speed from its birthplace in Florence, first to the rest of Italy, and soon to the rest of Europe. The invention of the printing press allowed the rapid transmission of these new ideas. As it spread, its ideas diversified and changed, being adapted to local culture. In the twentieth century, scholars began to break the Renaissance into regional and national movements, including:

  • The Italian Renaissance

  • The English Renaissance

  • The German Renaissance

  • The Northern Renaissance

  • The French Renaissance

  • The Renaissance in the Netherlands

  • The Polish Renaissance

  • The Spanish Renaissance

  • Renaissance architecture in Eastern Europe


Leonardo Da vinci, why was he so different from other artists?

Abridged


Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (pronounciation (help·info), April 15, 1452May 2, 1519) was an Italian polymath: scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, musician, and writer.

He was born and raised near Vinci, Italy, the illegitimate son of a notary, Messer Piero, and a peasant woman, Caterina. He had no surname in the modern sense, "da Vinci" simply meaning "of Vinci". His full birth name was "Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci", meaning "Leonardo, son of (Mes)ser Piero from Vinci."

Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the "Renaissance man", a man whose seemingly infinite curiosity was equalled only by his powers of invention. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived.[2]

It is primarily as a painter that Leonardo was and is renowned. Two of his works, the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper occupy unique positions as the most famous, the most illustrated and most imitated portrait and religious painting of all time. Their fame is approached only by Michelangelo's Creation of Adam. Leonardo's drawing of the Vitruvian Man is also iconic.

As an engineer, Leonardo conceived ideas vastly ahead of his own time, conceptually inventing a helicopter, a tank, the use of concentrated solar power, a calculator, a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics, the double hull, and many others. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or were feasible during his lifetime.[3] Some of his smaller inventions such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire entered the world of manufacturing unheralded.

He greatly advanced the state of knowledge in the fields of anatomy, civil engineering, optics, and the study of water. Of his works, perhaps 15 paintings survive,[4] together with his notebooks, which contain drawings, scientific diagrams, and notes.


Relationships and influences




Florence — Leonardo's artistic and social background

Personal life1476-1519


Leonardo had many friends who are figures now renowned in their fields, or for their influence on history. These included the mathematician Luca Pacioli with whom he collaborated on a book in the 1490s and Cesare Borgia, in whose service he spent the years 1502 and 1503.

Leonardo as a painter

Leonardo's drawings




The Adoration of the Magi. This important commission was interrupted when Leonardo went to Milan.

The earliest known dated work of Leonardo's is a drawing done in pen and ink of the Arno valley, drawn on 5 August, 1473.

Leonardo as observer, scientist and inventor






Journals


Renaissance humanism saw no mutually exclusive polarities between the sciences and the arts, and Leonardo's studies in science and engineering are as impressive and innovative as his artistic work, recorded in notebooks comprising some 13,000 pages of notes and drawings, which fuse art and natural philosophy (the forerunner of modern science). These notes were made and maintained daily throughout Leonardo's life and travels, as he made continual observations of the world around him.

Scientific studies


Leonardo's approach to science was an observational one: he tried to understand a phenomenon by describing and depicting it in utmost detail, and did not emphasize experiments or theoretical explanation. Since he lacked formal education in Latin and mathematics, contemporary scholars mostly ignored Leonardo the scientist, although he did teach himself Latin. In the 1490s he studied mathematics under Luca Pacioli and prepared a series of drawings of regular solids in a skeletal form to be engraved as plates for Pacioli's book Divina Proportione, published in 1509.

It has also been said that he was planning a series of treatises to be published on a variety of subjects though none survives; it appears he did complete a coherent treatise on anatomy, which was observed during a visit by Cardinal Louis D'Aragon's secretary in 1517.[26]


Anatomy


Leonardo's formal training in the anatomy of the human body began with his apprenticeship to Andrea del Verrocchio, his teacher insisting that all his pupils learn anatomy. As an artist, he quickly became master of topographic anatomy, drawing many studies of muscles, tendons and other visible anatomical features.



Anatomical study of the arm.

As a successful artist, he was given permission to dissect human corpses at the hospital Santa Maria Nuova in Florence and later at hospitals in Milan and Rome. From 1510 to 1511 he collaborated in his studies with the doctor Marcantonio della Torre and together they prepared a theoretical work on anatomy for which Leonardo made more than 200 drawings. It was published only in 1680 (161 years after his death) under the heading Treatise on painting.

Leonardo drew many studies of the human skeleton and its parts, as well as muscles and sinews, the heart and vascular system, the sex organs, and other internal organs. He made one of the first scientific drawings of a fetus in utero.

He also studied and drew the anatomy of many other animals as well. He dissected cows, birds, monkeys, bears, and frogs, comparing in his drawings their anatomical structure with that of humans. He also made a number of studies of horses.

As an artist, Leonardo closely observed and recorded the effects of age and of human emotion on the physiology, studying in particular the effects of rage. He also drew many models among those who had significant facial deformities or signs of illness.





A design for flying machine.


Engineering and inventions


Fascinated by the phenomenon of flight, Leonardo produced detailed studies of the flight of birds, and plans for several flying machines, including a helicopter powered by four men (which would not have worked since the body of the craft would have rotated) and a light hang glider which could have flown.[27] On January 3, 1496 he unsuccessfully tested a flying machine he had constructed.

During his lifetime Leonardo was valued as an engineer. In a letter to Ludovico il Moro he claimed to be able to create all sorts of machines both for the protection of a city and for siege. When he fled to Venice in 1499 he found employment as an engineer and devised a system of moveable barricades to protect the city from attack. He also had a scheme for diverting the flow of the Arno River in order to flood Pisa.



In 1502, Leonardo produced a drawing of a single span 720-foot (240 m) bridge as part of a civil engineering project for Ottoman Sultan Beyazid II of Istanbul. The bridge was intended to span an inlet at the mouth of the Bosporus known as the Golden Horn. Beyazid did not pursue the project, because he believed that such a construction was impossible. Leonardo's vision was resurrected in 2001 when a smaller bridge based on his design was constructed in Norway. On 17 May 2006, the Turkish government decided to construct Leonardo's bridge to span the Golden Horn.[28]

Leonardo, the "Legend"


Within Leonardo's own lifetime his fame was such that the King of France carried him away like a trophy, and was claimed to have supported him in his old age and held him in his arms as he died.[29] Vasari, in his "Lives of the Artists" written about thirty years after Leonardo's death, described him as having talents that "transcended nature".

The interest in Leonardo has never slackened. The crowds still queue to see his most famous artworks, T-shirts bear his most famous drawing and writers, like Vasari, continue to marvel at his genius and speculate about his private life and, particularly, about what one so intelligent actually believed in.
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