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Early Modern Oct 15
Humanism: what is it?
The principle intellectual movement/force of the European renaissance
Renaissance: Means rebirth
If the renaissance is a recovery what was it recovering? Knowledge of antiquity (Greeks
What was the affect of this? The rebirth of European society Civility and learning
•Represented turning away from the “dark ages”
•The term Renaissance only came out in the 19th century
• 1860 Jacob Burckhardt published a book called “The civilization of Italy in the
• one of the most important historical books EVER. He argues: when we talk
about the renaissance Age between the medieval world and the reformation world.
This Renaissance represents a radically new era.
•It’s a new and different period and the people in the time period had totally
different ideas than the people who came before them.
•He argued that the Ren was marked by new individuality. People came to see
themselves as unique with there own strengths and weaknesses and were able to
pursue their own course in life.
•In the medieval world people always thought of themselves in terms of group
identity. “I am French/Christian/part of such and such family”. If you asked
someone in the Ren they would say “I am me/student/etc”
•New sense of human potential.
What group of people was very angry at Burckhardt? Medieval historians. They don’t
believe that the medieval world was dark and ignorant but rather vibrant and intelligent.
These Historians argue that there is no break between the two but a progression from one to
the other. They argue that the medieval world that there had been large chunks of classical
knowledge emerging. “Smaller renaissances”
Many historians disagree what humanism is and what role it played.
Humanism (19th century understanding of the term):
•Study of man
•Study of the natural world
•Philosophy Mans place within the world and human potential