Renaissance Humanism – Paper BY advocates 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 “… He 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 Miranda 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 Miranda 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, Miranda states, “of what may e 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” (Braid, 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.
Miranda 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 his creature of indeterminate image, He set him in the middle of the world and thus spoke to him” (Braid, 2000). In Plat’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 the psychological features and values of persons” (Levin, 2004). What Plato is stating is the link between what society wants and expects versus what our personal values and morals are. Throughout The Republic there are themes of politics, culture and philosophy but the overall theme Plato suggests is that there is no such thing as absolute truth. The truths that are told are because men are good and “… God is the cause only of good” (Brown, 2003. However, when a lie is told Plato asks, “which more fully is: something that partakes of the laws alike, immortal and true, is that way itself, and appears in things like that, or something that partakes of and appear in the never alike and mortal, and is that way itself” (Brown, 2003)? Through this, Plato is ascribing that when a lie is told is it more Just to be truthful but immortal or is it better to be unjust and lie and be mortal? This is a question that is still relevant today in how people accept responsibility for their actions and words.
Through the many examples and teachings of the Bible, it has been God’s purpose to bestow in the heart of individuals the true meaning of their purpose. These two pieces of literature, although written thousands of years apart, both have a similar theme and direct correlation that it is not by chance that man was created and placed on earth UT rather that there is a purpose from a higher being “… Whether or not they’re seen for what they are by all gods and men” (Hunter & Payne, 2003).
Humanists, such as Miranda, took their literary cue from the classical philosophy and they had this ability to make his arguments because of what was learned. “Central to the development of Renaissance art was the emergence of the artist as a creator, sought after and respected for his erudition and imagination. Art, too, became valued–not merely as a vehicle for religious and social didactics, but even more as a mode of arsenal, aesthetic expression” (Pooch, 2002). As in the literature of the Renaissance, there is a link between the art of Classical Greece and Renaissance art.
Renaissance art had developed a renewed interest largely in part to Saint Francis of Chassis who educated people to “… See God in the beauty of the world and its creatures” (Cunningham & Reich, 2006). Religion is a focus between Classical Greek art and Renaissance art. “The drama again arose, from Greek precedents recovered by Italy and often seen through Italian eyes” (Braid, 2000) speaks to the root of what Classical Greek art was; an expression of stories, religion, and emotions. The styles in which both Greek and Renaissance art expressed this were different, but both came back to the same theme.
Renaissance artist’s “… Turned their attention out to the natural world, so often rejected by medieval men, and took an active role as responsible players in the world and its history with its belief man is the measure of all things” (Birdman, 1973). As seen in how literature was focused on man as a natural being, art had begun to take this approach as well. In the Classical Greek period there were two predominant forms of artistic expression: painting of pottery and sculptures. Stories of daily life, war, sports, Gods by which things were Judged and measured.
Buildings were built to accommodate the body and please the eye of a man, not a giant. Gods were portrayed as resembling human beings, not fantastic creatures. And the ruler the lawmaker and judge was for the first time the ordinary citizen” (Button-Oliver, 1992). A classic example of this statement is the sculpture of Aphrodite Playing with Eros (http:// www. Rearrangements. Org/HTML_En/03/ham_1 _LLC. HTML). This is representing that man is mortal and it portrays a moment of peace and play between a mother and child.
Even though Aphrodite is portrayed as a mother and not God as thought of and depicted in other forms of artwork. The Greeks felt that truth was to be “found in the natural world, including man’s body and mind, not in some mystical, incorporeal world” (Suffix n. D. From http://www. All-art. Org/history. HTML). Greeks studied the real, the physical, the natural in their search for truth and wisdom. This sis into how Greek literature was approached, not in the context of religion, but in the central fugue not being “godlike” but rather one of man kind.
During the Renaissance, “… Italians of the Renaissance looked much further back into history, to fine their spiritual ancestors in ancient Greece” (Murray, 1963). Once again we see a correlation between the art of the time and the literature. The art work of the Renaissance … “Shows not only realism in the figures, but also a profound sense of human emotions: the shame and the dismay… ” (Cunningham & Reich, 2006). Madonna with the Carnation (Madonna with the Vase) by Leonardo dad Vinci (http:// is a primary example of the work of the time.