Early Humanism

Humanism first began to develop during the Renaissance in Italy. It began with scholars, writers, and civic leaders going about cultural, and educational matters in a different and new way.  Humanism was obviously a logical belief system, since the smartest, most educated and reasonable types of people at that time were the founders of the beliefs. Florence and Naples were some of the first places, and later were the main centers of humanist thoughts and practices. Humanism first started showing up during the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, in opposition to the narrow minded Scholasticism ideas at the time. Scholasticism was a focus on preparing men to attain professions such as lawyers, and doctors, but did not value many of the important pursuits and skills required to be successful humans. Scholasticism put emphasis on practical, scientific, and professional studies, while humanist goals were to educate the community, sometimes including women, to be well spoken, to be able to write clearly, and to participate in the wellbeing of the community. The motivation behind these values and goals were to educate humanist believers in grammar, rhetoric, history, poetry and moral philosophy, so that those people could better convince others to engage in humanist beliefs and actions. Humanist teachings gave people the skills to work as a strong and functional community, in addition to educating people on a broader, more important scale than the scholasticism approach. Since humanist ideas and practices were so useful, beneficial and practical, the humanist educational program quickly gained respect, and by mid-fifteenth century it was very common for upper class children to receive humanist educations. Around 1501 with the discovery of large-scale printing, humanist beliefs and practices spread from Italy to France, Germany, Holland, and England, which must have presented those people with a practical and logical alternative to all the unnecessary religious conflicts that occurred frequently in Europe.


Grudin, Robert. “Humanism – Some History | Humanism.” Humanism. Encyclopedia Britannica, 3 Aug. 2011. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.

Kreis, Steven. “Renaissance Humanism.” The History Guide — Main. N.p., 7 Oct. 2008. Web. 15 Feb. 2012.



  1. mralexacademic2014

    Enjoyable post, I learned a lot about the history of humanism, but I didn’t learn what it was. What is it? Also, I didn’t quite understand your views on the subject, if any. Again, thanks for a good read.

  2. janine248

    Jana, I enjoyed your post. You mentioned that humanism helped people avoid conflicts because of their lack of religion. Do you encourage humanism because of this? Should everything in life be practical?

  3. josh1818

    Really interesting post Jana. Good job showing the different attributes and contrast between humanism and scholasticism. It seems like humanism focuses on educating the community while scholasticism focuses on gaining new knowledge. Which do you think is more important, getting everyone else caught up or going ahead and finding new information?

  4. georgialeeann

    Jana- good work on your post! I enjoyed all of the detail you put into it, it helped me further my understanding of the roots of humanism and why it came about in the first place. I was wondering how you felt about humanism, though. Do you, too, believe that “humanist ideas and practices [are] useful, beneficial and practical” as you stated the purpose for it was back when this was a new and growing view? Cheers!

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