Impact of Humanism on Italian Jews Humanism is a philosophical approach that emphasizes on the values and morals of human beings rather than on divine matters. According to Greg Epstein “Humanity today can be categorized as a movement, a philosophy of life or worldview, or….lifestance”1…
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It is not dependant on divine notions of reality. Humanity provides human beings the rights and privileges to defend individual beliefs and interests. This paper focuses on the impact of humanism on the Italian Jews in the fifteenth century. Humanism a cultural, literary and scholarly movement The concept of cultural humanism was originated in the European Age of Enlightenment in the eighteenth century. The Western and Central Europe stepped towards the modern world from the medieval world between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. During this time the spirit of cultural humanism was originated by the Renaissance and was adopted by the Protestant Reformation. The power of the Church and the noble class was lost as doubts fell on “old secular and religious authority”3. The Reformation together with the Enlightenment initiated the developments as “religious liberty, pluralism and religious toleration”4. At the end of eighteenth century there was a restructuring of society. This was influenced by the French and American revolutions. Religion was no longer the center of political social structure as all religions became equal in the eyes of the law5 Renaissance humanism was a cultural, literary and scholarly movement. It embraced academic disciplines like “grammar, rhetoric, poetry, history and moral philosophy”6. ...
According to Edwin Wilson, humanism was not the right term used by the literary humanists because their position was exclusive. These humanists did not advocate changes in humanism or society. While the religious humanists believed that scientific knowledge would play a major role in development of human life, the literary humanists did not support this theory. They overtly rejected science. Dr. Firkins of Chicago University described literary humanism as having a “background that is scholarly, its basis is introspective and retrospective; it looks into its own soul”9. Literary humanism embraced the study of non-science subjects like philosophy, history and literature. It focused on literary culture and encouraged people to improve their lives through literature. It has been seen that religious humanism is often mistaken as part of literary humanism movement10. Scholarly humanism was an important part of the Renaissance movement in Europe in the medieval period. It was disregarded by the historians of that period as it was seen as“degeneration into technicalities”11. Scholarly humanism was the “first expression” of scientific humanism12. It went through a development process for two centuries until it was met with doubts and controversies in the early fourteenth century. It again emerged in scientific development during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Humanism viewed grammar as the base of education as it taught the students the regulations of speech and writing in languages like Latin and Greek. Grammar also helped the students get knowledge of “classical Greek and Latin prose and poetry”13. Based on this the students were adequately
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