THEME 5.Philosophy of Renaissance period. Philosophy of Renaissance culture and Reformation.
Renaissance means ‘rebirth’ or ‘recovery’, has its origins in Italy and is associated with the rebirth of antiquity or Greco-Roman civilization. The age of the Renaissance is believed to elapse over a period of about two centuries, approximately from 1350 to 1550. Above all, the Renaissance was a recovery from the Middle Ages and all the disasters associated with it: the Black Death, economic, political and social crises. For the intellectuals, it was a period of recovery from the “Dark Ages”; a period, which was called so due to its lack of classical culture.
First Italian and then intellectuals of the rest of Europe became increasingly interested in the Greco-Roman culture of the ancient Mediterranean world. This interest was fostered especially by the migration of the Greek intellectuals during the Middle Ages and the fact that the ancient Greek works could then be translated more precisely into Latin. Increasing popularity of archeology and discovery of ancient Roman and Greek constructions also participated in this intense interest for the classical culture.
But the Renaissance was not exclusively associated with the revival of classical antiquity. It is believed that precisely from the fifteenth century great changes took place affecting public and social spheres of Europe and then the rest of the world; the basis of the modern European civilization and capitalist system were then founded. Technological innovations increased the rates of economic development. Great geographical discoveries opened up the boarders of the Western world, thus accelerating the formation of national, European and world markets. Major changes in art, music, literature and religion wrecked the system of medieval values.
The Renaissance saw the emergence and growth of humanism. Humanism was a form of education and culture based on the study of classics. Being primarily an educational form, it included the study of such liberal arts subjects as grammar, rhetoric, poetry, ethics and history that were based on the examinations of classical authors. Humanists occupied mainly secular positions such as teachers of humanities in secondary schools or professors of rhetoric in universities; they were mostly laymen rather than members of clergy. Education was central to the humanist movement since humanists believed that education could change immensely the human beings. Humanists wrote books on education and developed secondary schools based on their ideas. Their schools though, were principally reserved for the wealthy elite; children from the lower social classes as well as females were largely absent from them. In Renaissance philosophy a change was expressed through an assimilation of Platonic philosophy into Christianity by means of translation and interpretation. This led to the emergence of a new form of philosophy known as Neoplatonism. Renaissance humanists saw a human occupying central position in the great chain of being between the lowest form of physical matter (plants) and the purest spirit (God). A human being was the link between the material world (through the body) and the spiritual world (through the soul). M. Ficino (1433-1499) was one of the most important humanists that contributed to the emergence of the Neoplatonism. Concerning religion, Renaissance philosophers were not rejecting Christianity, they mostly believed in God and were only against the policies and practices of the Catholic Church at that period.
OBLIGATORY READING MATERIALS: 4 (p – 45-125)
ADITIONAL READING MATERIALS: 5(p – 23-45)
Education as a centre within humanist movement.
The emergence of a new form of philosophy known as Neoplatonism