Renaissance Humanistic Concept of Man
The Renaissance Humanistic Concept of Man.

Each century brings something new into this world. Some ages thus become prominent, others don't seem to contribute a lot to the humanity. The Renaissance became the symbol of awakening, the symbol of excellence and rebirth. It gave birth to the doctrines and principles that dominate the philosophy up until nowadays. Humanism developed as one of the principal philosophical concepts of Renaissance.
What does this concept mean, why is it so crucial to understanding of the epoch of Renaissance? With the philosophy of humanism 14th century Italy obtained the major doctrines of the revival: study of the classics, importance on learning, and emphasis on the human values, concern with man and his problems. The latter is the main difference between the Middle Ages and Renaissance: the Renaissance is man-centered, the other one is God-centered. The problems of free will, virtue, fate are closely connected and broadly discussed by the thinkers of Renaissance.
From the very beginning of humanistic thought, starting from Petrarch, the idea of individual's importance started to develop among the literary philosophers. In his writings Petrarch expresses a great concern with the ignorance of men towards themselves. "Men go to admire the heights of mountains, the great floods of the sea, the courses of rivers, the shores of the ocean, and the orbits of the stars, and neglect themselves," he quotes St. Augustine in "The Ascent of Mount Ventoux". In fact, this entire writing is an allegorical description of the struggle within his self that had eventually led to the conversion and elevation to the higher state of mind. The mountain itself can be an allegory for all the knowledge to be mastered in order to obtain the wisdom and virtue of happiness, or it could be a deceitful path to faith in God.
Petrarch believes that our understanding of the world starts with the self-exploration and awareness attained through classical learning, later known as Studia Humanitatis. He probably makes the first humanistic attempt to stress out the significance of the humans in the modern philosophical thought.
The characteristic feature of the Renaissance is the praise of human mind, first found in the ancient Greece. "Nothing is admirable besides the mind; compared to its greatness nothing is great. " Man is primarily praised for his reason, for his arts and skills, derived from his own potential through the path of secular knowledge. But human's dignity has to be attained and realized through man's effort. Only then, as expressed in Marsilio Ficino's writing in 1468, man becomes a dominant power over all elements and animals, he is the ruler of nature; he is assigned a central place in the hierarchy of the universe. While being extremely religious "Five Questions Concerning the Mind" deal with a system of the universe only because it justifies the glorification of the human soul.
The entire concept of human 'dignity' was, in fact, based upon a heroic vision of humanity. The glorification of man goes further in Vives stories where human is given the power of self-transformation: "A Fable about Man." The perfect human "determines his own being, has material power over the world and moral power over himself." Man is able to choose his own destiny, to become sovereign beautiful being. Everything depends on his free will, according to Pico; man's dignity is based on his 'freedom'. The human has to strive to 'dignity' by asserting his potentials, by cultivating reason rather than blind feeling within his mind. Only tasks that are morally and intellectually worthwhile can lead us beyond "the narrow confines of his personal interests and ambitions. "
A number of humanistic treatises deal with individual virtues. Some of them are discussed in the works of Neapolitan humanist, Giovanni Pontano: courage, altruism or discretion. The notion of finding the precise philosophical definitions for them continued with the later literary works.
During the three centuries of the Renaissance in Western Europe, even though it went through some changes, the concept of self did not lose its original importance. The praise of human mind and knowledge, as well as accent on classical studies, remained consistent even by the end of the era.
The difference between the works of early humanists like Petrarca and the later ones: Ficino and Pico; becomes very clear: they all use the same roots of the classical philosophers and take over from them a profound concern with humanity, but they develop a completely new idea of distinctive human position within the system of universe. Furthermore, now his dignity is defined and justified in terms of this position. Through the purification of the soul: obtaining the supreme knowledge, man becomes a central figure in the universal hierarchy. The figure of man becomes equal to God and his authority is almost unquestionable.
The idea of self-fashioning had gradually occupied the place of merely spoken at the time of Petrarch concept of sovereign human being. The self-fashioning doctrine came from North, developed by Erasmus and Thomas Moore. It was based on the ability of knowledge to shape the human personality. And thus ability of man to make his own choice was re-established in the society. The enthusiasm in growing importance of the concept of individualism was strengthened with the emergence of civic humanism that brought a concept of man skillful in all the secular professions. Castiglione's "The Book of the Courtier" creates a perfect picture of the 'Renaissance man' of the end of Renaissance era. In his book Castiglione is discussing the issue of the perfect courtier, who has to have all the virtues: kindness, courage, wisdom, knowledge. He is suggesting that knowledge would help someone to attain all those virtues, thus to becomes a skillful spokesman, polemicist, writer and thinker.
Even though, the capacity to grow was obtainable only to the elite, renaissance, due to its humanistic tendency that allowed a crucial shift towards the development of sciences and arts, philosophy and literature, became an important era in the history of mankind. And the idea of human importance played a major role in the process of renaissance achievements. The mere fact of the existence of severe self-criticism of ones abilities encouraged people to learn and thus evolve, produce masterpieces in art and relics of the modern philosophy. Renaissance has been praised for its magnificent heritage, seen as the first step in an intellectual development that led to Enlightenment and modern secular thought. And Humanism became its major vehicle that allowed people to believe in their aim to achieve a fair measure of human happiness.

Bibliography:
1. Kristeller, Paul O., Renaissance Concepts of Man, New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1972.

2. Martinez, Lauro, Power and Imagination: City-States in Renaissance Italy, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985.

3. Ed. by Cassier, Ernst; Kristeller Paul O.; Randall, John H. Jr., The Renaissance Philosphers of Man, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1948.


 
Bibliography:
Bibliography: 1. Kristeller, Paul O., Renaissance Concepts of Man, New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1972. 2. Martinez, Lauro, Power and Imagination: City-States in Renaissance Italy, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985. 3. Ed. by Cassier, Ernst; Kristeller Paul O.; Randall, John H. Jr., The Renaissance Philosphers of Man, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1948.
 
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    Some topics in this essay  
 
    Renaissance Renaissance | Concerning Mind | Humanistic Concept | Ficino Pico | Studia Humanitatis | Thomas Moore | Mount Ventoux | Western Europe | Marsilio Ficinos | Giovanni Pontano | human mind | dignity based | renaissance renaissance | kristeller paul | praise human | system universe | praise human mind |  
   
 
 
 
 
   
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