Humanism and philosophy: a variety of ethical theory and practice that emphasizes reason, scientific inquiry, and human fulfillment in the natural world and often rejects the importance of belief in God (Dictionary. com, 2017). From this definition the values of the individual and realistic reason can be seen. These two factors are the biggest influences on the Humanistic movement in the Italian Renaissance. Humanism can be simply described as an intellectual movement but to leave it at that would be a discredit to this incredible regime, for Humanism brought self worth to what it means to be human.
It incorporated critical thinking, analyzation and questions. These aspects formed the modern scientific studies of today, bringing technology and understanding of the world to the human race. Humanism is a well integrated component in the Italian Renaissance with various influences from the Classical Antiquity leading to a number of ideological Humanists such as Petrarch and Giovanni, Humanism would also find its way into the church and art forms within Italian life. This essay with explore the major influences that Humanism affected as well as a description of the individuals who jump started and sustained the Humanistic propagation.
The first aspect of Humanism that should be discussed are the influences that brought about this widespread idealism. Arguably the biggest influence of Humanism are the individuals of Classic Antiquity. A defining factor of the Renaissance is the renewal of the Ancient Roman and Greek customs and revival of their literature (Basson, 2017). The Humanistic movement found huge inspirations within the works of the ancients and thus the educational movement of the studia humanitatis had begun (Nauert, 2006).
This Latin phrase has strong classical roots and refers to studies that is believed to better the individual, for example MARS 1F90; a humanities course is purposed with the task of providing students with a deeper understanding of individuals and events in order to better that student or individual (Basson, 2017). The study of the humanities became a well established subject of the Renaissance. Thanks to the Humanist movement the Renaissance period flourished with the study of humanities to better the individual. Individuals of the Classical period who had a major impact on the Humanism movement includes Cicero and Aristotle.
Cicero was an individual who spoke immensely about ‘the humanities and letters’ and his reference to the humanities was of the belief that these are subjects boys must study to achieve their full potential as human beings (Nauert, 2006). These subjects included the liberal arts, focusing on the development of the individual. On another hand, Aristotle focused his theories and efforts in natural science and medicine, which was closely linked with the study of general philosophies in Medieval and Renaissance universities (Nauert, 2006).
Unfortunately, Aristotle’s works were largely challenged by Humanist and Protestants in the Renaissance due to conflicting ideals with the field of theology (Nauert, 2006). In the modern period, however, Aristotle’s works formed foundational theories for many of today’s scientific fields such as astronomy and medicine. The influence of the classics fed the Humanistic regime and allowed for outstanding individuals to continue on this works advancing and recreating philosophies and ideologies.
Cicero and Aristotle’s philosophies created a foundation of spiritual and self improving nature, which the Humanist movement gathered, followed and improved. The impact this had on the Renaissance in general, was substantial, allowing individuals of all classes the opportunity to think and explore on these ideologies, causing an impactful Renaissance renewal. In the Humanist movement, there were a number of individuals who brought enlightened and deep intellectual thought and amazing realizations to Italy. Of these individuals, Petrarch and Giovanni were two who particularly stood out.
Petrarch especially, is well known as a Humanist of the Renaissance for his self aware realization of what time period he was in and his memorizing spiritual conquests. In his work The Ascent of Mount Ventoux, Petrarch describes “since the swift immortal soul can reach it’s goal in the twinkling of an eye, without passing through space, while my progress today was necessarily slow, dependant as I was was upon a failing body”(Petrarch, 1350 ). To talk about the human soul as an extraordinary part or one’s self was a very new development that Petrarch was able to bring to the Humanist movement.
To be able to make a connection between a physical and exhausting task like climbing a mountain to the ideology that the soul is an element of one’s self that can accomplish and achieve tasks in a similar manner can be described as a futuristic ideal that Petrarch introduced. In connection to modern times, the mindfulness movement as an exercise for mental health and the soul can traced back to Patriarchs original description of a soulful adventure through physical tasks. Petrarch contributed significantly to the Renaissance and Humanism bringing forth a number of advanced philosophies.
Giovanni is another pivotal figure of Humanism bringing forth new opinions about what it was to be human and live in God’s creation. Within his work Oration, on the Dignity of Man, Giovanni wrote “Thou, constrained by no limits, in accordance with thine own free will, in hand. ” (Mirandola, 1486-1496). In this statement, Giovanni explains that God has gifted humans with free will and therefore, we aren’t constrained by limitations. Furthermore, we should use this free will to make ourselves more than what we are to be educated an inventive and admire the world God has created for us.
This ideal of self improvement and worth of the individual was a new introduction found in the Renaissance complementary of the Humanists such as Giovanni. In the Middle Ages, the popular view on the person was a servant of God, nothing more or less. Giovanni represents a Humanist philosophy that introduces meaning, as well as keeping with traditional Christian beliefs that an individual can be of worth. The Renaissance period was greatly influenced by Petrarch and Giovanni.
These individuals were not only the pillars of Humanism, but also persuasive figures in the Renaissance period as well, with a number of followers and fans these role models allowed the Renaissance to obtain its prestige reputation. The church of the Renaissance was an important institution as it was in the Middle Ages and as it would continue to be through into modern day. Humanism had a great impact in church affairs and came to be closely lined with the issue of reforming the institution of the church arousing a deep spirituality in the general population (Nauert, 2006).
The Humanist movement was so influential the a Christian Humanist movement also came to see a light in the Italian Renaissance (Nauert, 2006). This church or christian humanist movement included many individuals do critical readings and analysis of the Bible, as well as integrating classical philosophies of Cicero and Aristotle into church ideals such as the human soul and the bettering of the individual (Nauert, 2006). However, like with any changes there are always those who oppose and have strong opinions against the movement of Humanism. When it comes to the church, Girolamo Savonarola was what can be defined as a traditionalist.
In his speech, The sermon on the Revolution of the Church, Savonarola argues “we must struggle against… the two-fold evil, that is, against the evil which the lukewarm commit today” (Savonarola, 1495). Essentially, Savonarola believes that the Humanist have tainted the Church and how they are supposed to run the house of God. Even more so, the Church is seeing these horrific changes and being neutral or ‘lukewarm’ when approaching them. Savonarola’s radical ideals and words help the hearts of many individuals within the Renaissance, as well as creating numerous enemies including the church.
The Renaissance church did not go untouched by the Humanist movement as this ideology impacted many people changing views on spirituality and what it meant to be the creation of God. The Church in the Renaissance was the most influential aspect of life. This is due to the aspect of personal belief, which is the most important aspect of life, even more so in the Renaissance. For the Humanist movement to have impacted this institution and to even cause an extreme reaction with individuals like Savonarola it shows the impact that this intellectual movement had on the Renaissance.
One of the characteristic traits of the Renaissance period was the outstanding number of great and influential art works by some of the most famous and well known artists of history, including Leonardo Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, and Donatello. This huge piece of Renaissance life was also not free from the influence of Humanism. In the Renaissance, art had taken on a new form as the expression of realism, mathematical placements, and accuracy became the new standard for painting and art (Basson, 2017). One of the examples as to how the Humanist impacted the arts can be found in the Instructions of Isabella d’Este to Perugino.
In this letter, Isabella describes a scene where Pallas and Diana are fighting vigorously against Venus and Cupid with a number of other famous characters like Athena, nymphs, Polyphemus, Mercury and angles (d’Este, 1503). There are a number of Humanistic aspects of this piece. The subjects chosen to be represented include a number of Roman and Greek mythological characters, this aspect is Renaissance and Humanistic in nature by comparison of the strict Christian gold leaf background paintings that are typically seen in the Middle Ages.
The structure of the painting also has Humanistic traces to it, the background is realistic and detailed, the proportions of the figures are correct with anatomy and the painting also features a vanishing point (Basson, 2017). The attention to a mathematical and realistic approach of painting is cherished by the Humanism effort and ideology. Ties can even be placed within the philosophies of Giovanni, believing that humans have a worth and to the new realistically represented and humanistic Gods in Perugino’s Painting. The art of the Renaissance is still very popular and widely studied today as a way to have a glimpse into Renaissance life.
The mathematical and Classical influence the Humanist movement had within art is just another demonstration of how Renaissance life was influenced. Humanism, a movement inspired by the advanced philosophies of Aristotle and Cicero with the emphasis placed on bettering the individual as a human being. Petrarch is a founding Humanist with his spiritualistic realizations and works, Giovanni, a Humanist of the Renaissance who also inspired people to think of them as a worthwhile being instead of just another simple creation of God.
Humanism also spread into the Church triggering a reformation concentrated around spirituality and enlightened ideals. The Humanistic influence can also be seen in the revolutionary artwork of the Renaissance periods where the world’s most iconic artists originate from. In conclusion, Humanism is an intellectual movement of the Renaissance, but more than that, Humanism was a revolutionary inspirational movement, well integrated within the lives of individuals. These influences and ideologies can even be seen today demonstrating a timeless revolution of knowledge and the individual.