Thinking critically about its implications, what is humanism?

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ecofan74 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While humanism as a philosophical idea is typically associated with the Renaissance, its roots are in the Classical period of Greece and Rome.  In many Greek and Roman works, while the subject treats the deeds of gods and goddesses and their relationship with humans, authors explored the nature of the human condition.  Gods and goddesses were subject to the same weaknesses (and sometimes even more so) as the human population.  At its root, humanism reflects on the human condition and on humanity.  After the fall of Rome, humanism did not re-emerge until the Italian Renaissance in the mid- to late fourteenth century.  Rather than maintaining the Middle Ages' emphasis on humanity's relation to the divine, the focus of writers, artists, and sculptors again turned toward humanity as an end in itself.  In works such as Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, the viewer can see the emphasis on the physical structure of human beings, in the same way that works by Machiavelli and More explore human nature, as their texts serve as a response to certain realities they perceived in human nature. 

While numerous works in the Renaissance provide insight into the nature of humanism, Erasmus's The Praise of Folly, Sir Thomas More's Utopia, and Machiavelli's The Prince tend to stand out from others as in depth explorations of the human condition, particularly of human frailties.

priyaansh | Student

in the 16th century the word 'humanist' was used to signify those who either taught or wrote in the "humanities"-grammar,rhetoric,history,poetry and moral philosophy etc. and these humanists wrote works concerned with educational and moral aspects and were deeply influenced by classical writers.In 19th century a new word "humanism is used ideas related to human nature.general values etc..

this 19th century term is related to the revival of the study of greek and roman history,philosophy,and arts.renaissance humainsts presents a more positive image of man than the medieval.Milton and Erasmus combined the values of christian and classical cultures which comes to known as Christian 20th centry humanism came to signify moral philosophies that  abandon theological dogmas in favour of human concerns.New Humanists(Paul more and Irving Babbitt) contrasted humanism with scientific materialismMatthew Arnold was also one of the supporter of this view.

The Arnoldian Humanism(influenced anglo american literary culture),is a variety of prevalent Liberal Humanism.this liberal humanism has "come under challenge from post modernism which replaces the unitory concept of  man with that of subject"..

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