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Humanism and the Age of the Renaissance

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Title: Humanism and the Age of the Renaissance


1
Humanism and the Age of the Renaissance
  • 1300-1500
  • (Fourteenth-Sixteenth Centuries)

2
  • Humanism focuses on human experiences, values,
    and interests it is a belief in humankind and
    its inherent worth and dignity.
  • In essence, classical humanism refers to the
    re-discovery of ancient classical Greco-Roman
    texts (translated, studied, and preserved by both
    Christian and Muslim scholars after the collapse
    of Rome in 276 ACE) as well as art and
    architecture.
  • In other words, classical humanism in the
    Renaissance shifted from the strongly religious
    focus of medieval times and focused instead on
    human and secular concerns in the areas of
    scientific inquiry, philosophy, medicine, art,
    and literature, with a special emphasis on the
    individual (individualism) and his or her
    potential.

3
  • For example, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola
    (Pico--1463-1494) in his Oration on the Dignity
    of Man writes that Who then will not look with
    awe upon this our chameleon man, or who, at
    least, will look with greater admiration on any
    other being? . . . By reason of this very
    mutability, this nature capable of transforming
    itself, quite rightly said was symbolized by the
    figure of Proteus (32). In this passage, we can
    see how highly Pico values human potential to
    change and transform, and we can also see how he
    uses classical mythology in his reference to
    Proteus, a sea god who was able to change his
    form, just as Pico argues that man, the
    chameleon, can also do. The idea that man can be
    and is worthy to be at the center of all things
    is evident throughout Picos text he even
    suggests that the divine Creator longed for such
    a creation as man.
  • Another example of classical humanism is Leonardo
    Da Vincis famous pen and ink drawing called
    Proportional Study of a Man in the Manner of
    Vitruvius or Virtruvian Man. Vitruvius was a
    famous ancient Roman architect, whose texts
    inspired Da Vinci and his interest in seeing how
    man and nature corresponded proportionally and
    geometrically. Like a scientist, Da Vinci looked
    closely at the natural world (plants, animals,
    atmosphere), human anatomy, geometry. In other
    words, he relied upon his close observation of
    the world and knowledge from ancient classical
    texts to inform his studies. In Vitruvian Man,
    we can see how the male figure is the ideal of
    proportion, fit into the circle and square
    (geometry). Man is here, as the book notes, the
    microcosm in the macrocosm (60).

4
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