When I first started this section on Humanism, only ten days ago, I had only heard of it but never had the opportunity to study the thoughts and ideas behind it. The concepts that were originally developed by ancient Greek philosophers, like Socrates and Plato, which were later re-born in the Renaissance, have help shaped not only America’s history but also that of Europe’s.
It’s understandable how Humanism could be appealing to people now rather than at any other time since the Renaissance, besides The Great Depression. How could someone divine allow something so negative, like the economic downturn, effect some many people? Turning away from something that they cannot see and switching to what’s real or what science can prove, like humans. Instead of glorifying Gods and supernatural beings, glorifying humans and the potential that they have to be great.
The thoughts behind the philosophers and scientists, who developed the idea of glorifying humans, were the ultimate desire to become the perfect human. A human who is smart and intelligent, good at sports, able to perform the arts, and to be socially eloquent. To achieve the ‘perfect gentleman’ one would study the humanities, classical literature from the ancient era, to gain knowledge about language and the arts. The literature would hold the information about classical ideas, such as the ‘democratic values and human freedom, with economic justice and equality for all persons’ (Bushnell).
Through this unit on Humanism I have found several pieces of evidence that supports my beliefs, and other information that I found interesting.
The ideas and concepts, in the article written by David Brooks, were finally agreeing and stating exactly what I had been feeling for the past several years, which is politicians in America have separated the statistical facts from the emotional reality that is, I think, required in politics. Brooks write about how Americans trusted the Wall Street Bankers with our money because we thought they were ‘rational creatures who wouldn’t do anything stupid’. French Humanism believes that human nature has the tendency to separate reason and emotion, because of the fear that emotion will make the reason more difficult to understand. If one mixes the two separate things, they are no longer black and white, but rather grey.
Although human nature is believed to keep rational things and emotions separate (what humanists believe), and there is strong evidence supporting that statement, Brooks says there is still hope to change that fact. He says that when ‘Sigmund Freud came up with his view of the unconscious, it had a huge effect on society and literature. Now hundreds of thousands of researchers are coming up with a more accurate view of who we are. Their work is scientific, but it directs our attention toward a new humanism. It’s beginning to show how the emotional and the rational are intertwined’.
Throughout my ten-day study of Humanism, I’ve read many documents stating, point blank, what is Humanism. They would state what the different aspects were, like: the difference between Secular and Christian Humanism, and Humanists beliefs on education, religion, and politics. In short, Humanism is the study of human nature and our intentions are. The study of what is real and what we can prove to be true, rather than that of a divine figure that we have to trust. Theses ideas were developed during the Renaissance from the concepts of ancient Roman and Greek literature.
1. Brooks, David. “The New Humanism.” The New York Times 7 Mar. 2011. Print.
2. Machiavelli, Niccolo. “Niccolo Machiavelli: The Prince.” Fordham University. Web.
3. Jebb, R. C. Humanism in Education,. London: Macmillan and, 1899. Print.
4. Bushnell, Rebecca W. A Culture of Teaching: Early Modern Humanism in Theory and Practice. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1996. Print.