Humanism was actually a really vague idea to me when the first time I read it in the McKay textbook. But it is not that complicated, and humanism can somehow be defined as human perfection. It was an alien thought to the old Medieval Age which people mostly believed in God, because it advocated people to think in reason and ethics. Humanism is to make people perfect both physically and spiritually. However, retrieving different ideas, or learning new things on the basis of the information that one already has, can make people perfect as well.
Humanism has diverged into two parts, which are secular humanism and Christian humanism since people have mainly focused on either material or religious life. According to Julie, an OES Upper School teacher, the religious thoughts have a big difference between each other. However, in either of the two parts of humanism, the elements of another side are not absolutely separated. The secular humanist didn’t deny all of the ideas of Christian humanism. The power of church was still great during that time, so they just avoided to talk about religion and mainly focused on their ideas with reason. Also, in Michelangelo’s David, Michelangelo used the form of human body, which is not preferred in religious culture, to express the story in the religion.
People in Renaissance started to meet the ethics, reasons, on the basis of religion beliefs. The situation was, religion was accepted by most people, but the ethics seemed to be more reasonable. The ideas of both sides mixed, which is inevitable when people think. I think this is the action of improving human themselves as well—people take things that benefit them and to promote their understandings to this world in their own ways. Being consistent on the same thing wouldn’t make people improve; taking the ideas that one need could express himself more perfect among others.
As well, there might be two or more definitions to the same thing or idea because people have their own considerations. So that’s why discussion is developed and is important in the society. For example, I received two different explanations of Christian humanism from two different resources. One is from online text resource, and the other one is from a teacher. They have totally different definition: According to Julie, Christian humanism is using humanism as tools for a religious purpose; but according to the book in Google Book, it is using religious doctrines, or practices for human needs.
That made me felt confused. However, as what I’ve wrote, things can have more explanations. I wouldn’t need to cognize only one of them is correct. Mike told me that, both of them would be acceptable, although he would agree with the one that Google Book says. This kind of thinking way makes people see a broader world, and I consider that it is the influence from education and society.
Boccaccio, . “The Story of Griselda.” Internet Medieval Sourcebook. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, 2001. Web. 9 Feb 2012.
Chapman, Roger. “Culture wars: an encyclopedia of issues, viewpoints, and voices.” Google Books. M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 2010. Web. 6 Feb 2012.
Law, Stephan. “Humanism: a very short introduction.” Google Books. Oxford University Press, 2011. Web. 6 Feb 2012.
McKay, John, Bennett Hill, et al. A History of Western Society. 9th. B. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008. 416. Print.