What is Humanism?

What is Humanism Humanism is an attitude of thought that prioritizes “subjects” to understand reality and categories of world phenomena. Its outstanding historical example is Renaissance humanism of the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries. Which developed from the rediscovery of classical Latin and Greek texts by European scholars.

As a reaction against the authoritarianism of the Catholic religion in the Middle Ages emphasized human dignity, beauty, and potential. And influenced every aspect of culture in Europe, including philosophy, music, and art. The humanist emphasis on the value and importance of the individual influenced the Protestant Reformation. And brought about social and political change in Europe.

There was another round of revival of humanism in the. Age of Enlightenment in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as a reaction against the newly prevalent dogmatic authoritarianism of Lutheranism. Calvinism, Anglicanism, and the Counter-Reformation from about the late sixteenth to the sixteenth century. seventeenth century.

Over the past two centuries, various elements of Enlightenment humanism have manifested themselves in such philosophical trends as existentialism. Utilitarianism, pragmatism and Marxism. In general, Enlightenment humanism was ahead of Renaissance humanism in its secular orientation, and resulted in atheism. Marxism, and secular humanism. Secular humanism, which denies God and associates the universe entirely with material forces, has today replaced religion for many people.

 a broad sense, humanism means an intellectual attitude that emphasizes human dignity, the importance of individual personality and the full development of their abilities, and focuses on “humanity” and the practical endeavors associated with it: differs in principle (not only by virtue of this or that property) from all other living things.

 a narrower sense, humanism refers to the intellectual movement in Europe which seeks to derive a new educational ideal and self-image from references to rediscovered ancient Greek and Roman antiquity, as distinguished from the more comprehensive (culture and epoch) . the concept of “Renaissance”.

In ancient times, the efforts of the Romans to develop their own education, according to free-born people, in the literary and philosophical confrontation with Greek culture, were the forerunners of humanism. In the field of philosophy, Cicero made a decisive difference. He developed his notion of education especially in an address to the poet Archias in his address to Scipio’s circle.

Direct transmission of ancient literature and its path through Alexandria. Martianus Capella, Boethius, Cassiodorus, Isidorus of Seville; Alcuin. Hrabanus Maurus and others are inscrib. However, most of the old culture was only gradually discover in monastic libraries, through the Crusades, Arabic translators, etc., in Germany with the support of Charles the Greater. (“Carolingian Renaissance”) and Ottonen (“Ottoman Renaissance”).

12th century humanism open an era of polite culture; ancient traditions were especially reviv by the Chartres school. In the late 12th and early 13th centuries, national literature flourished, showing the influence of learned Latin education (Gottfried von Strassburg, Heinrich von Morungen, etc.).

Humanism’s critical relationship with the.

Middle Ages and the question of its precursor to the. Enlightenment seen primarily in terms of a gradual departure from. The theocentric and beyond-orient thinking of the Middle Ages: In the Middle Ages, religion was the most important public matter. The Pastor is without a doubt first class. Public and private life see their guide in the will of God. Christianity unites people across national and racial differences. However, in the early 14th century, influenced by the emergence of the Italian city-state and the beginning of world trade, secularization began. It changes people’s personal ideals.

His ideal is no longer a saint, but a strong and autonomous personality who ruthlessly lives his individuality. The glorification of power goes so far that sometimes all ties are sever and even the villain is glorifi. The feeling for the beauty of language, the beauty of nature and the structure of the inner and outer personality is greatly increas. Now a new type of scholar appears, the literary man. He is no longer a theologian, but cultivates profane humanitarian ideals. So he called himself a “humanist,” and that’s how the whole movement got its name.

The great cultural crisis of humanism, which coincided with such extraordinary events as the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in 1453, the discovery of a new world, the invention of the art of printing, and the disclosure of the mysteries of the universe, only seemed to have come to a halt. Overall, secularization is moving inexorably towards “enlightenment”.

Humanism only started in Italy in the 14th century. The increas national consciousness that first awaken here result in a heighten interest in history. And thus in the languages in which history  written. Classical Latin and Greek. Plann manuscript research (Poggio), initiat in part by the popes, again secur the most important writings of the Romans, which were collect in a vast library (Vaticana 1480) and then publish by humanistic printers.

Cleaning and explaining the text developed into a strict philology (Lorenzo Valla). As patterns and models of classical language considered Cicero (Petrarch). Through the mediation of Byzantine philologists, the preoccupation with Greek literature increased from the 15th century onward; especially Florentine Neoplatonism (M. Ficino) drew from him. The focus of Italian Renaissance humanism was Florence of the Medici, Rome of the popes (especially Pius II), the princely courts of Urbino, Ferrara, Mantua and Naples and universities.

A distinctive feature is the increased enthusiasm for the cult of antiquity as an archetype. A new ideal of humanity, the educational goal of an autonomous personality,  found here. Mirandola (1463-94) believed he had found a “new dignity of man”, and uomo universale, the universally educated and capable man, became the new ideal. The rebirth of antiquity was desir, and therefore this era received the name ” Renaissance”.

If antiquity was hitherto regard as the preliminary and pre-stage of Christianity and as the forerunner of the present, it is now idealiz and given absoluteness in form and partly in content. The goal is not further development, but ancient reproduction.

Belief in the continuity of abstract and dialectical scholastic thought waned. The love of thinkers is direct to the concrete and the individual. As faith in the conceptual world  shaken, knowledge fields diverge: they strive for autonomy and self-sufficiency and are secular.

Those who suffered the most from this new movement were representatives of scholastic philosophy, which gradually lost its dominance in the universities in favor of humanism. Aristotelianism was replac by the Christian understanding of Platonism. Rhetoric often replaces philosophy, even claiming to give philosophy its foundations.

Despite its liberal interpretation of Christian doctrine, humanism still seeks to balance the tension between antiquity and Christianity through a “free religiosity” that seeks to reconcile the moral content of the Bible with that of Plato and the Stoics.

From Italy, humanism gained a foothold in Germany in the 14th century at the court of Charles IV. In the north, especially through the reform councils of Constance (1414/18) and Basel (1431/49). After the Reich Chancellery was transferr to Vienna, Enea Silvio Piccolomini (as Pope Pius II), appointed there in 1443, taught; Natural science flourished here thanks to Regiomontanus (1450/67). Humanist circles formed in Nuremberg (W. Pirckheimer and others), Augsburg (K. Peutinger and others), Heidelberg (around Philipp the Sincere and HvDalberg) and Strasbourg (J. Wimpfeling, Geiler von Kaisersberg, S. Brant). The Archhumanist Conrad Celtis spread humanism throughout Germany.

The high spirit of the heyday can  seen in the Epistolae obscurorum virorum with their satire on monastic Latin scholasticism. Erasmus reached the summit from Rotterdam ; Ulrich von Hutten has been a witness to the crisis of humanism during the Reformation. Especially in Germany and France, humanism influenced the Pre-Reformation and Reformation movements. Some of the reformers (Zwingli, Melanchthon, Bucer, Calvin) were heavily influenc by humanism. However, there is really no alliance between humanism and the Reformation.

The humanism movement controlled almost all the important European countries: France (Jean de Montreuil, G.Budaeus), Spain (JLVives), England (Th.Morus), Netherlands (J.Lipsius, D.Heinsius), Hungary (Musenhof Raja Matthias and others) and Poland (Gregor von Sanok, J. Kochanowski). – Classical philology in particular becomes a legacy of humanism in the cultivation of ancient intellectual property. For a long time, Western poetry regarded ancient poetry as authoritative.

The renewal of the humanistic movement since around 1750 and associated with a return to classical antiquity is referr to as new humanism. The educational ideals of the older humanism had changed: Latin speech and poetry had gone out of fashion. Diplomacy has stopped using Latin. In the era of enlightened absolutism, people strove for a sophisticated and “dashing” education, but the awareness of the formal value of classical studies persisted and received a new impetus.

The New Humanism was initiat by W.Shaftesbury and the philologists M.Gesner and Ch.G.Heyne in Gttingen, JAErnesti in Leipzig. FAWolf became the principal founder of classical philology. Winckelmann and Herder see the idea of humanity embodied in the harmonious mental and physical development of the Greeks. It was the heyday of artistic renewal (Lessing, Goethe, Schiller, Hlderlin).

In terms of cultural policy Humboldt works as a promoter of neo-humanism. Through him, neo-humanistic educational ideals were introduc into schools. Latin and Greek were now the main subjects of the “gymnasium”, as the school was call. The study of Latin grammar and style  meant to educate the logical acumen and the dignity of the expression of ideas. However, spirit sought and found more in Greece.

The term “Enlightenment Humanism” is not as well known as “Renaissance Humanism”. The reason is that the relationship between humanism and the Enlightenment has not been explain as much by historians as the relationship between humanism and the Renaissance. But, there was actually humanism in the Enlightenment, and quite a number of historians have associated humanism with the Enlightenment. [2] Enlightenment humanism is characteriz by keywords such as autonomy, reason, and progress, and is usually distinguish from Renaissance humanism by its more secular nature. While Renaissance humanism was still somewhat religious, developing the kind of internalized religiosity that influenced the Protestant Reformation, Enlightenment humanism marked a radical departure from religion.

The Enlightenment was a reaction against the religious dogmatism of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Religious dogmatism at that time in Europe had been develop in three domains:

1) Protestant scholasticism by Lutherans and Calvinists,

2) “Jesuit scholasticism” (sometimes called “second scholasticism”) by the Counter-Reformation, and

3) theory of divine right king in the Church of England. It had sparked the bloody Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) and the English Civil War (1642-1651).

The Enlightenment rejected this religious dogmatism. The intellectual leaders of the Enlightenment saw themselves as the courageous elite who would lead the world toward progress from a long period of questionable tradition and ecclesiastical tyranny.

They reduce religion to essential things that can only be defend “rationally”, that is, certain basic moral principles and some universal beliefs about God. Taken to one logical extreme, the Enlightenment even produced atheism. Apart from these universal principles and beliefs, religion in its particularity has been largely banish from the public square.

In the course of the 19th century, the anthropocentric attitude that exist in antiquity (man being the measure of all things), which had been partially adopt by the Enlightenment and neo-humanism, is now fully develop (L. Feuerbach). While the older humanism was still defin by the notion that true humanity could develop in the educational process of the individual, this political-philosophical humanism soon saw the human concept more as a social postulate.

For M. Hess, “the actual doctrine of man” appears as “the doctrine of human socialization, that is, the anthropology of socialism.”. With respect to Hegel’s master and slave dialectics, Karl Marx saw in humanism the completion of humanization of humanity, the elimination of human self-alienation through communism (communism as “real humanism”). To distinguish them from dogmatic Marxism-Leninism, various Marxist tendencies emphasize this humanistic goal.

Idealistic humanism:

The term “humanism” was coin in 1808 by the Bavarian school reformer and philosopher Fr.J. Niethammer for defending the old school of humanistic grammar against the Realschulen of the Enlightenment with an idealistic theory:

The harmonious ideal of the Greek determines the goal of education Education means : to be Greek The Greek logos elevates man above raw nature to become spiritual and thus establishes his “humanity”. This Logos, made flesh in Christ, is the principle of human education and thus the basis of humanism, which promotes the humanity of the pupil in the Gymnasium, whereas the Enlightenment with its direction towards industry, industry and utilities is aim at human animalism.

This idealistic humanism was anti-Christian, aristocratic, anti-progressive, even anti-contemporary in its consistent proponents. He was soon attack as reactionary and as a museum. In 1840, the young Hegelian Arnold Ruge (starting from and in contrast to Niethammer) called humanism the historical principle of dialectics for transcending nature through spirit, abstracted from Greek culture.

Therefore, humanism for him is “confident and as effective enlightenment”, “a consequence of idealized industrialism and material”, “democracy, the rule of the people and everyone if possible of rigidity inside and outside themselves”, ” This world religion ” , which as ” embodied Christianity or humanism ” .

In 1946, Jean Paul Sartre defended his existentialism against Marxist and Catholic critics by calling it humanism, recognized not as a humanism originating from a fixed human destiny, but as a doctrine of human realization, in which man finds himself in the design of his destiny. and decides its existence in release from its condition and responsibility for its own design.

Since there is nothing but realization, there is no god, there is no other lawgiver, there is no world, the dialectical tension is the formal opposition between being and non-existence. Responding to the question of how one can give the word humanism a new meaning. Martin Heidegger develops a humanism of being, in which, like Sartre, he rejects the substantive determination of humanism. But reverses Sartre’s ego-centric point of view and starts from being, which as “Itself”  made absolute.

And elevat to the status of humanism. Man is not the contriver, but the design of existence, which, in his abandonment, in his abandonment, enters the clearing of being as a throwback of being and here his appearance can heal and experience the sacred.

Pragmatic humanism:

Apart from the European tradition. William James is referr to as humanism, because here truth  understood as a lot of humanly condition and humanly effective knowledge and therefore human behavior is not bas on supernatural standards, but on individual human natural consequences are judg. This pragmatic humanism, particularly through John Dewey, defined 20th-century American pedagogy and social philosophy.

Liberal democratic humanism:

The idealistic abstraction of Greek culture as “the dominion of the spirit over raw nature” was no longer regard as a uniquely classical model, but instead was replac by aspects of the dialectic of historical development, the postivist-rational construction of life, or the pragmatic goal of success. .

This liberal-democratic humanism, in its unbridl belief in reason. Has destroy respect for the incomprehensible and unavailable within and outside of humanity and thus lost the measure for human education. Succumbing to the uncontrolled play of historical forces unleash by humans, culminating in Technology and democracy, at the mercy of theoretically free and responsible citizens, in reality oppos to educational philistines who are disempower, selfish bon vivants, or manipulated achievers.

Humanism  understood as a historical process. Culminating in “democracy in the North American sense”. Humanism, as the first theorist of this view, Arnold Ruge, call it in 1840, must  understood as industrialism and democracy, as secular Christianity, as a dialectical process of ideally plac material and human self-alienation, as reason’s path to freedom through history, as enlightenment, progress, domination of nature through technology, the eradication of poverty and the proletariat through popular education and through the free development of the individual in a democratic state.

While the principle of freedom of reason has historically been based on a dialectical form of liberal-democratic humanism, freedom and reason are eternal principles in French positivism. That is why today’s rationalistic constructions (according to the non-historical scientific method) take precedence in “positive humanism”. An education based solely on this trains not an educated philistine, but a bon vivant, for whom all values are determin by life. The vital interests renounced from the selfish materialist crowd out free and responsible citizens in everyday life.

Freedom and reason are not historically determin principles or immutable principles of today’s rationalist constructs. But the pragmatic evaluation of human behavior is bas on a belief in the free play of forces that can  understood rationally. The highest benchmark is success. An “education” based solely on pragmatic humanism eschews philistine philistines and selfish bon vivants, but trains people to be successful entrepreneurs of any human strength, and thus members of a measurable and internally controllable technical organization.

This orientation of liberal-democratic humanism is still defining in the Western world today: They are based on philosophical theories that all go back to the last century and are no longer compatible with today’s epistemology. At a time when all the sciences have made the limitations of the perspective of their methods their principles, it is impossible for human images to represent the basis of education on the basis of infinite dimensions, such as the concepts of development, life and success. need.

From the very beginning, the weakness of liberal-democratic humanism, the gap between theory and practice, between ideology and reality, became the starting point of the new humanism: Karl Marx opposed Ruge ideologically with a “concrete” or “real humanism” in which it was not industrialism and materialism that he ideally placed, but working in the concrete form of the exiled proletariat to become a principle of historical dialectics and a return to human nature. In 1844 he drew the equation:

“This communism as perfected naturalism = humanism, as perfected humanism = naturalism;

it is the real resolution of the conflict between man and nature and with man[…]”. The justification of communism as humanism  thrown overboard in the. Communist Manifesto of 1848 and was only pick up again by communism in the sign of the People’s Front movement of the 1930s. Since then, humanism has become a basic concept. of Marxist, and especially Soviet, social philosophy.

The dialectic between nature and spirit, history and freedom is concretiz in Marxism in the concept of work. Humanism consists in eliminating the material self-alienation through the historical dialectic of work. It is a class struggle and revolution to create a free society in which the freedom of all people as workers is guarante by the rule of reason.

“Education” on the basis of Marxist humanism means rational knowledge. And world domination from the perspective of work as human self-alienation. The image of man is a revolutionary worker. Various evangelical tendencies wanted to find their description of humanity exclusively and directly in the Bible. While leaving archaic and post-testamental traditions behind.


In so far as this image of man shown to  dogmatic, i.e. binding in terms of content, features. It cannot evenbinding in general to Christian denominations. But so far as it attempts to express the experience of existential or enduring belief. It is not humanism, that is, it is not a rationally based programme.

Therefore, Protestant theology for the most part rejects “Christian humanism” as a contradiction in the adiecto. As an “iron wood” and speaks of Christian faith and humanism. Humanism here is the historical attempt by man to shape life morally. Which only acquires a Christian character through a completely different dimension of faith.

Within the limitations of humanism and belief in different dimensions of human self-affirmation. A humanistic encounter between different denominations  possible: There  no longer just one humanism. But every humanismunderstood as a perspective that limits human reason and freedom.

W. Jaeger made a very significant effort to rebuild idealist humanism. And thereby restore the place of grammar school education in Germany. Which had been question after the First World War:  Greek must therefore be the main subject of our education. Because in that historical development of the era modern in exemplary models, though not in ideal perfection. But in essence seems to have been design beforehand. Education consists in recognizing. The present from the origins of Greek history and shaping it in a meaningful way from this dimension.

Jaeger’s humanism was not very effective: He remained too idealistic because of his belief in direct theory. As expressed in his consideration of Greek art and payeia as the primary means of education. And on the other hand too little went beyond the Hegelian conception in his book. Views history as a process of intellectual history education.


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