Renaissance Humanism - Paper

Topics: Renaissance, Ancient Greece, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola Pages: 6 (2012 words) Published: May 26, 2011
Renaissance Humanism encompasses the philosophy that people are capable of truth and goodness. Much of this ideology and philosophy representing art and literature, whose roots are deeply planted in classic Latin, came to the forefront in the Fifteenth Century. Art and literature in the Fifteenth Century were a revival of “Greek and Roman studies, which emphasized the value of the classics for their own sake, rather than for their relevance to Christianity” (Hunter & Payne, 2003). Humanists believed that through the study of “…the classical study of text of ancient Greece and Rome” (Humanism, 2007) one would be able to improve on society as a whole. During previous periods, this type of teaching was kept mostly to theologians, authors and philosophers. During the Renaissance though, the people who had the means and desire to study classical art and literature were from a broad spectrum of royalty to merchants. The students were not studying for professional reasons but more so for pleasure. The interest in art broadened from works Classical Greece to what, at the time of the Renaissance, were referred to as contemporary works and existed as objects of learning or ideal beauty Literature had its foundation deep in classical roots and there are many similarities and contrasting points of view in their themes. One of the most significant documents of literature, during this period, was the theses (“intellectual propositions”) written by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola which was entitled Oration of the Dignity of Man. The theme of this work “…is that humanity stands at the apex of creation in a way such as to create the link between the world of God and that of the creation” (Cunningham & Reich, 2006). Stating simply that man is the peak of the two forces, one being God and the other being all that is around him. One of the scholars that Mirandola studied was the Greek Philosopher, Plato and his Platonic Realism. Plato believed that “good people attain their reward for goodness in another world” (Ross, 2001). Once those have completed their life on this earth, they will be justly rewarded in the next world. Man has passed the point of being in between the two worlds and has now joined the world of God. In the Oration of the Dignity of Man, Mirandola states, “of what may be the condition in the hierarchy of beings assigned to him, which draws upon him the envy, not of the brutes alone, but of the astral beings and of the very intelligences which dwell beyond the confines of the world. A thing surpassing belief and smiting the soul with wonder. Still, how could it be otherwise? For it is on this ground that man is, with complete justice, considered and called a great miracle and being worthy of all admiration” (Baird, 2000). This is a direct correlation what theories are and is where to in “…the basic hierarchy, or Great Chain of Being, included God, the angels, man, animals, plants and inanimate objects, with each of the orders below God subdivided into it constituent hierarchies as well” (Hunter & Payne, 2003). When these are in harmony, man is close to God, but yet never equal to God. Mirandola is stating that men are just, honest with morals and values but more than anything there is a predetermination of man that he was not placed by accident, but there is a justification that man has been placed here “…at last, the Supreme Maker decreed that this creature, to whom He could give nothing wholly his own, should have a share in the particular endowment of every other creature. Taking man, therefore, this creature of indeterminate image, He set him in the middle of the world and thus spoke to him” (Baird, 2000). In Plato’s most famous work, The Republic he focuses on the basic thought of “is it always better to be just than unjust” (Brown, 2003)? Plato also believed “that there is some interesting and non-accidental relation between the structural features and values of society and...

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Madonna with the Carnation (Madonna with the Vase) c. 1475
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