How Humanism Has Shaped the World of Today


Imagine a world without technology – no phones, no laptops, no TV’s, nothing. Most of us can’t even survive a day without logging into Facebook, or texting with our friends. If it weren’t for humanism, that’s the kind of world we would be living in right now. We wouldn’t have any airplanes, and we wouldn’t have the Internet. We certainly wouldn’t have been able to land a man on the Moon. We would be living in an isolated world, and most of what we have invented in the past few centuries wouldn’t even exist. Scary thought, right?

When we listen to a song on an iPod, or play on the Xbox 360, we never actually think about the countless hours of development and testing that’s involved. One of the key components of most of what we use today is electricity. Electricity was first put to use by Thomas Edison, a man who invented the first light-bulb. How do you think Thomas Edison was able to accomplish this goal? Well, with a little bit of luck and intuition, he was able to change the world. Most of what he knew came from two key individuals – Leonardo Da Vinci and Isaac Newton. Leonardo Da Vinci was an Italian polymath, who came up with many ideas, some of which are being used in our world right now. Isaac Newton made large contributions in the areas of calculus, and is considered the father of mechanics.

Our way of thinking has been refined and developed from a way of thinking during a very important time period – the Renaissance. The Renaissance, meaning rebirth, was a time that succeeded the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages were a time where nothing but bad happened. Events like the Black Death severely reduced the population of the world. There weren’t any significant inventions either. The Renaissance was a time where many thinkers emerged. There were many debates at the time, and rational thought was everywhere. Humanism resurfaced at the time, and many people began looking back at history and studying human nature. These individuals helped the world leave the Dark Ages, and eventually led the world to where we are right now.

Had it not been for humanism, our world would be lacking many things. We wouldn’t have the art, technology, and way of thinking that we presently have. We, as a race, would lack the grace and character that we possess. Our rational thought and creativity allows us to excel and continue to further our abilities. We owe it to the individuals who lived before us, as they have contributed to the world as we know it.

Works Cited

 “The Humanism of the Renaissance.” Humanism and the Renaissance. Web. 20 Feb. 2012. <http://www.all-about-renaissance-faires.com/renaissance_info/renaissance_and_humanism.htm&gt;.

“Isaac Newton’s Life.” Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences. Web. 20 Feb. 2012. <http://www.newton.ac.uk/newtlife.html&gt;.

Brooks, David. “The New Humanism.” NYTimes. The New York Times, Mar.-Apr. 2011. Web. 8 Feb. 2012. <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/08/opinion/08brooks.html?_r=1&gt;.

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12 comments

  1. josh1818

    I really liked reading your post Ajay. Great job on directly relating technology to the reader. I understand the huge roles that Da Vinci, Newton, and Edison played in shaping the modern world, but do you have any insight about their opinions of humanism? Were they just scientist, or also humanists?

    • Thanks Josh! Da Vinci, Newton, and Edison were all scientists and inventors. I know for a fact that Newton was a philosopher, who focused a lot on rational thought. Other than Newton, I don’t really think that Da Vinci and Edison had any opinions on humanism.

  2. ottol808

    I really liked how you opened up the post with your first paragraph, because it made readers think about the possible alternate reality. You were very clear when relating technology with Da Vinci and Newton. Were there any other humanists who changed another aspect of our world?

    • Thanks Otto! Machiavelli and Petrarch are two individuals who examined human nature. Their examinations led to a different way of thinking, which spread throughout society during those times. I know I mentioned technology a lot in my post, but artwork and human values surely changed during those times.

  3. jinny0905

    It was interesting how you mentioned technology at the beginning. Like Josh, I was also wondering if those inventors; Thomas Edison, Newton, and Da Vinci ever concerned about humanism.
    ~Jinny

  4. natalie518

    Nice job on your post Ajay.
    In relation to the comments above, how do you think an interest in human nature led to the development of technology? Do you think that if the Renaissance had had all of the new ideas that it did minus humanism that technology still would have developed?
    Again, good job!
    ~Natalie

    • Thanks Natalie! Those are some interesting questions you bring up. I think that an interest in human nature can lead to changes in peoples’ thought processes, which can eventually lead to the development of technology. One of the main views of humanism is maximizing one’s potential and putting skills to use. in the cases of Thomas Edison and Isaac Newton, I’m sure that countless hours of effort were put into all that they discovered/invented.

      Your second question is very interesting as well, as humanism played a key role in the development of ideas during the Renaissance. I’m sure some devices would’ve been developed to help our daily lives, but the question is, how much better or worse would it be in comparison to current technologies? That’s a question we can’t really answer though, because we aren’t able to view how that alternate reality would play out.

  5. Hi Ajay:
    I like how you bring up technology and how it has shaped the world we live in today, I also like how you explain the idea of Humanism can be indispensable in creating all those wonderful inventions. I agree with you that Humanism idealism has changed the way people think and the world thus produced so many creative scientist, inventors and etc.

    This is just a little further question I’m curious about:
    Do you think it would be interesting if we try comparing inventions created during Middle Ages and inventions created after the Renaissance, and show how it differs.

    -Gary

    • Thanks for reading, Gary! I think it would be very interesting to compare the inventions of the Renaissance to modern inventions. For example, the first mechanical clock was invented in the 13th century. Now when you want to check the time, it’s almost always on your phone, or on your laptop – It’s now digital instead of analog. When you look at inventions of the past and compare them to the future, you will always see the same pattern of improvement or perfection. All of what we come up with leads to more ideas, and those ideas lead to even more ideas. It’s amazing how one small thought can change the world!

  6. rogina9993

    Hi Ajay,
    It was a nice post for me to read! The idea of technology and art in the text was interesting. However, I think the things that we have in the world are not only art and technology. As what you said at the end of the post, the character and the rational thoughts that we have now are shaped, and in my opinion, those are the main reasons that make this world become a technology society, so I think if how human’s minds were shaped should be more developed in the post?
    It’s really a good post and so it requires me to think a lot!
    -Rogina

    • Thanks Rogina! I agree with you completely. The basis for any invention or discovery is human desire and perseverance. Without countless failures, Thomas Edison could never have built the first working light bulb. It takes some drive – something worth working for – to do what all those people did.

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