Renaissance Humanism

By: Surabi and Haemin (5th period)


A Renaissance cultural movement that turned away from medieval scholasticism and revived interest in Ancient Greek and Roman thought.

Humanists: the first hipsters

Why Classics?

  • The revival of pre-Christian texts written in Latin spurred a group of people (humanists) who wanted to restore the classics.
  • This led to the massive reconstruction of society known as the Renaissance (French for "rebirth").
  • Believed the classics would save society from the dark ages.

Characteristics of humanists

  • Reliance upon faith and God weakened; secular interests started to arise instead.

  • Regarded as an aesthetic movement; beauty in material possessions was prized. This was significant because previously, immersion in the material world was looked down upon as being shallow. An austere lifestyle centered around God was encouraged instead- but that slowly started to stop.

  • One of the causes of the humanism movement was a commercial revolution in Italy, which led to more wealthy individuals who had a disposable income that could be put towards different things, such as the arts and sciences.

Effects of the humanists movement

  • People became less preoccupied with the afterlife and the spiritual world, and instead focused on living a pleasant life on the Earth. Hellenic texts stressed this especially, which may have contributed to the morphing beliefs during the Renaissance.

  • Individualism, which had previously been scorned by the Church as being arrogant and sinful and had been limited by a rigid caste system, began to rise again as more Greek and Roman philosophy was read. Greeks and Romans were exceptionally good at individualism and wrote extensively about the subject.

  • Human concerns were given more attention; people started working towards how to improve the lives of themselves and others, as opposed to benefiting the church.
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