Humanism : The History of Early Ages of Intellectual and Scientific Impetus (Rennaisance) in Italy and Europe 1200 -1500

A.D. By Ahmad Daud ibn Ishak el-Merbawiy Centre for Islamic Thought and Understanding (CITU) MARA UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY TERENGGANU CAMPUS 23000 Dungun, Terengganu, MALAYSIA INTRODUCTION This writing tries to discover a rebirth of the new environment of humanity, intellectual and liberty for European societies on their capacity of knowledge, human right as individual, family, party and society after long period been cramped by Feudalism and Eccliasticism upon their freedom of thought, liberty, literature, recognized nature. Humanist emerged to reshape the future civilization. Generally humanism for us is usually refer to the development of literature, language, poetry, art, social, human values1 and rhetoric in Latin or Greek. Indeed, humanism has the important role in early ages of Rennaisance which was recognized and actually it was the turning point to scientific revolution in Italy and western Europe. THE HUMANISM PHENOMENON Etymological Aspect. Humanism is derived from humanitas or humanus of Latin which used by Cicero and Aulus Gellius referring to the study of human letters, the languages and literature of Greece and Roman classics, where by many humanists believed that the study was the only way to gain humane culture.2 Thus humanity also means owing himself as man or in sense of doctrina means mental cultivation befitting a man, liberal education, good breeding, elegance of manners and language refinement.3 It defines as an attitude of mind attaching to human values and regards as the central theme of Rennaisance.4 In the sense of philosophy, humanism recognizes the value, dignity of man, man as the measure of all things
Chales B. Shmitt, Humanism in The Cambridge History of Rennaisance Philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press ,1990 p.113 2 A.S.Rappoport, R.F. Patterson and John Dougall, Encyclopaedia Dictionary of The World, V.6, New Delhi : Akashdeep Publishing House, 1989, p.226.; See DPRE, p.137 3 Charton T. Lewis, A Latin Dictionary, Oxford : The Clarendon Press, 1987, p.869

or somehow puts human nature’s unlimited interest as the theme.5 When humanism reached to the revolting against the limitations on knowledge, they allowed reviving and learning and emphasized on enjoying this existence to the utmost.6 Humanism will upgrading human over natures, participating, having great desire and impressively develop their rational ability and governing the world. The humanism has provided wide spectrum of freedom in thought, liberty of educational desire, freedom of expression their classical languages, arts, poets, social hierarchy and human dignity been apprenticed. They become the center of every things, having freedom in wills, discoveries, critics against pseudodoctrines and seeking the true knowledge. Concept of Humanism Humanism is a term applied to the literary and intellectual movement which started at close of the middle ages about fourteenth century until sixteenth century. The focused was on antiquity, emancipated education and thought over the shackles scholasticism, accentuating the meaning and worthy mundane of freedom in thought and act from the Ecclesiastics slavery bondage.7 Paul Edward in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy elaborates that humanism is a basic aspect of Rannaisance to reintegrate man into the nature of world from his perspective by educating man, giving their rationale authority, reshaping nature and their history and inheriting the positive ancient literature for the future progressive activities. 8

The New Encyclopedia Britanica, ver.Micropaedia Britanica, Vol. 6, New York : Encyclopedia Britanica Incorp., 1985 p.137; See DPRE. p.137. 5 Paul Edwards, The Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, New York : Macmillan; London : Collier Macmillan, Vol.4, 1972, p. 69. 6 .Dagobert D. Runes and Authors, Dictionary of Philosophy, Ancient, Medieval and Modern, New Jersey : Littlefield Adam Co., 1981, p.130. 7 See EDTW . Vol.6, p.226 8 Paul Edwards, The Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, Vol. 4, New York : Macmillan ; London : Collier Macmillan , 1972, p.69-70.


Two major humanistic school of thought are firstly the intellectual movement characterized the culture of literature of classical Greece and Roman, where still perfectly consistence with belief in God and particular Christianity and second school of thought in the late fourteenth century was rejected all religious beliefs and insisted that they would be exclusively concerned on human welfare and natural world.9 Prof. Hans Baron who saying that there is no contradiction between his books of De Vita Assiciabili et Operativa and De Seculo et Religione of Colluccio Salutati (1331-1374) where the second book tried to give a guidance for a friend who entered monastic order. He asserted in his rescuer bookVita Activa, that although he suggested contemplative life is the best, but yet it’s not always preferable.10 The seculum was established as the characteristic of Quotrocento against the feudal authorities and Ecclesiastics who performed very rigid towards worldly natures, humanities and religious practices. Patrarach’s book on De Vita Solitaria and Vita Monastrica who saying that there is no religious conformity stand for people who involved actively in worldly activities to provide a proper way of life.11 Salutati tried very hard to employ standards between two extremes and knew precisely the distruction because of misinterpretation among the humanist friends. HUMANISM IN ITALY AND IMPACT TO RENNAISANCE Europe in twelfth and thirteenth century has terribly low in general knowledge. Only few of them could writing and majority knew nothing about science, art etc. The famous two books; The Bible and The Encyclopaedia of Useful Knowledge which compiled by Aristotle in fourth century B.C. The Letters reached Northern Europe via the Moors in Spain. Who ever opposed the two books, they might be considered as propagating black magic and being executed by the Holy Inquisition of papal court which has established since 13th century.
Deter A.Angeles, Dictionary of Philosophy, New York : Harperprennial, First Ed.,1991, p116 Hans Baron, The Crisis of The Ealy Italian Rennaisance, New Jersey : Princeton University Press, (New Revision ) 1966. p. 105-108. 11 Ibid, p.109-110
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That was the age of the famous Christian theologian St. Thomas Aquinas and the significant case of Nicholus Copernicus (1473-1553) who explained the motion of heavenly bodies as the result of rotation of the earth and has to withdraw it due to his security. This moment of inspired the scholar and poet, Francesco Petrarca (Ig. Petrarach) (1304-1374) who rouse the Italian people by his stories about love and nature. Art and literature, became crazy for newly discovered on beauty of the words in ancient Greece and Roman. The learned scholars in 14th century called Humanists and were considered the heroes of these period.12 Humanist The Founder and Intellectual Activists. First of all, Italian humanist Pertrarach (1304-1374) whose scholarship in classics Latin writings and the other groups gave impetus to a movement that eventually spread from Italy to all over the western Europe. Humanist has facilitated Latin language well in every disciplinary of studies on literature especially in Latin and Greece classics literature and poetry. They encouraged people an attitude which exalting men’s receptionship to God, believe in free wills and superiority of men over nature. The antiquity as mentioned before is concern about the finding on man’s request for truth and goodness, confirmation on a system of philosophy, religious doctrine and abstract reasoning which in favor for human values.13 It is very significance to explain that humanists were challenge the order of Ecclaiscist bodies and influence human mind towards a new paradigm shift of new interpretation of knowledge. A. S. Rappoport and the authors listed out their functions as the scholars and poets, great lover in learning the beauty of thought, broader outlook upon life and humanity of spirit and regard human life as an independent center of interest and at last, man will become the center of every things and measure of their own superiority.14

S.W.Tromp, The Religion of Modern Science (Neo Materealism), Leiden : L.W. Sithoff’s Hitgeversmaatschappi, 1947 p. 353-354. 13 Micropaedia Britanica, Vol.6, p.137 14 EDTW., Vol.6. p. 226


Italian humanists had an ability and more powerful at playing these roles and activities from inside the Ecclesiastic bodies, papal institutions and the authority bodies in the name of literature, learning ancient classics art, education and as leaders in high institution such as Italian Universities were governed by humanism activists. The humanist founder Petrarach was the great lyric poet, very enthusiastic of Roman antiquity and untiring collector of ancient manuscripts due to his concern on the important of a knowledge of Greece. Dante (1265-13210) who gave final expression to the loftiest spirit of medievalist. Boccaccio (1313-1375), who passionately collecting all characteristics of early humanist, the first Grecian Leotard Greek language from Leontius Pilatus in Florence and a figure who was the first introduced to Greek language was Manuel Chrysoloras a ‘native of Byzantine’ in Florence in 1396. They attained the higher position and played major roles to influence people, as lectures to the numbers of all ranking society and also became wealthy men who later became patrons of humanism. The distinguished figures were Nicholas V, Pius II and Leo X and other patrons were Cosmo and Lorenzo de Medici in Florence, Alfonso, King of Naples and many others insisted humanists.15 Humanists and New Italian Mentality Italian Humanists in fifteenth century were successfully influenced people by numbers of efficient efforts including their professional works, effective literary productions, their recognized achievements and the contributions in philosophical foundation.16 The educators actually are very important part in delivering theories, teaching and tutoring on reforming the higher learning institutions in Europe. For instance the School of Guarno de Verona In Ferara and Vitturino de Feltre in Mantua attracted students from all over Europe17 to study there. They emitated on curriculum design, on learning methodologies, classical languages, literary
See EDWT, Vol.6, p. 227. Charles B.Shmitt and Editors, The Cambridge History of Rennaisance Philosophy,(CHRP) Cambridge :Cambridge University Press, 1990, p.114 -137. 17 Ibid, Professional Activities; Humanis, CHRP, p. 114.
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information and intellectual disciplines as moral standards. The influenced educational method flourished without interruption by the rapid changes and surviving in many religions, political and social revolution. They were professors at various universities including Florentine Studio, Luca, Venice and Milan. Instead of servicing at universities, they also involved as chancellors or secretaries, Master of Latin prose composition, informal orators for King and Princes for instance Petrarach had ever served the Princes of Milan and Padua.18 In Universities, humanists played persistent roles in the curriculum of the universities. They also served the papal Curia and the Florentine Republic, the King of Naples, the dukes of Milan and other princes republic, 19 appeared in courts of foreign king and princes and pursued career abroad.20Later on many humanist student also involved actively in public as teachers, secretaries, churchmen, statesmen, bankers, merchants, patrons of humanist scholarship, productive scholars and writers such as Pius II, was writing after appointed as cardinal and pope. They also happened to be bishops, clerics or monks, or member of ruling circle in Florence or Venice.21 In the middle of the fifteenth century, many humanists became lawyers, physicians, theologians who learned humanists at universities and became part timer scholars and writers. In Academic field, humanists were among the book traders and have established for mass production22 and they were book suppliers to monastic and process cathedral libraries, for Ecclesiastical bodies, princely and noble collectors, the university professors and students.23 By sixteenth century there were countless printing processes actively operated in Europe and the leading institutional
Ibid, Professional Activities; Humanism, CHRP, p.115 Ibid, Professional Activities; Humanism, CHRP, p.116;See footnote 10, the listing name of orators like Colluccio Salutati, Leonardo Bruni, Poggio Bracciolini, Antonio Beccadelli (Panormita), Giovanni Pontano, P.C. Decembro and many others. 20 Ibid, Professional Activities; Humanism, CHRP, p.116 ; See fotenote 11, among the the abroad activies were Enea Silvio Piccolomini, later Pope Pius II, Served as sectretary at the imperial court; Philippus Callimacus in Poland and Polydore Vergil in England. 21 Ibid, Professional Activities; Humanism, CHRP, p.116 See foonote 13 about the last group were include Donetto Acciauoli, Alamanno Rinnuccini, and Giannoz zo Manetti in Florence; Francesco and Ermolao Barbaro, Leornardo and Bernardo Giustiniani in Venice. 22 The first established printing in Italy by Italian Humanists was in 1465. 23 Ibid, Professional Activities, Humanism, CHRP, p.117-118,
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centers of publishing and book traders were widespread in Venice, Lyons and Basle whereby about the books of classical heritage and humanist contents. As scholars of literature, humanists focused on their productions for developing public opinion. Sometime they omitting technical terminology to prioritize on conceptual precision which required for adequate philosophical discourses.24One tendency which very successful was replacing scholastic philosophy with rhetoric has done by Lorenzo Valla. The fine genre and oration of humanist were used in many functions like judiciary, deliberation in classical and the original practice, funerals, wedding speeches, ambassador’s speeches, an augral of newly elected popes or magistrates, speeches on graduation occasions, speeches of the beginning school year, opening of laity customs or religious gathering and state letters.25 According to the contributions given by humanist, they were considered successful to reconstruct Italian culture and new civilization through the classic Latin and Greek literature. The humanist achievement in fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and among the glorious parts are the Latin literature was wide circulated in manuscripts and printed editions.26They produced humanist scripts on education, textual criticisms, interpretation of the ancient writers, study Latin grammar, vocabulary, spelling and prosody.27 This period of the west started to accept the Byzantine scholars to impose their methods and traditions in teaching to western students and colleagues.28.One step forwards success in second half of fifteenth century was extending their interested subject out of the humanist traditions,
Ibid , Scholar Movements and Literary production, Humanism, CHRP. p.119-123. Ibid, Scholar Movement and Literary Producttion, Humanism, CHRP p.124-127.The distinguished publisher Aldus Manitius was in Venice while Estienne and Morel families well known as scholarly editors, proofreaders and writers on their own of both Latin and Greek classic texts 26 Ibid, The Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries, Humanism, CHRP, p. 130-133 27 The Greek’s translations into Latin in various parts of huamists were known intrested on them. 28 Ibid, The Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries, Humanism, CHRP, p. 131; See also footnote 48, They were included Cardinal Bessarion, Theodore Gaza, George of Thebizond and Agyropolos., Dematrius Chalcondylas and Marcus Musurus., Constantine and James Laccaris and many others. The most distinguished Greek scholars involved were Poliziano and Ermolao Barbaro; also see original on Geanalcoplos:1962 (ed. 1966).
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later on many of them became philosophers, scientists, physicians, medical scholars, jurists and even theologians.29 Aftermath, the humanists traveled on teaching abroad, communicated with foreign patrons, students, scholars who visited Italian universities and so on. Petrarach and friends reached Bohmia and France in early fourteenth century and the leading center of Italian humanism in Hungary was ‘The Court of Matthias’. Some of the foreign humanists who surpassing Italian humanist movement contemporaries.30 In late sixteenth century and early seventeenth, humanist Latin poetry and prose were widespread in the north, west and east of Europe like in Italy, and Flonshed in Scotland, Portugal, Portland, England, Spain France and Germany. In France humanist movements became the leading centers of classical scholarship, both in Latin and Greek.31 Finally the main contribution of humanists was in philosophy which happened direct or indirect contributions on the ancient ideas of philosophy especially Aristotelian philosophers were famous as scholastics; meanwhile Platonist metaphysics had influenced by humanism and scholasticism including Plato’s and Neo-Platonist works initiated by Ficino. Humanists still has significant or greater contributions in philosophy ‘as a systematic and technical discussion’ of the subject matters,32 Actually humanism doesn’t contribute in general but in individual form or small group of humanists like Valla and Agricola up to Rasmus and Nizolio for example, they tried to replace the conceptual precision with the syllogism of invention topic and argument, the method of evidence, and deductive clarity.33

Ibid, The Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries, Humanism, CHRP p.131-132; also see footnote 42, mentioned that the list of the figures involeved were Marsilo Ficino and Giovanni Pico; Leon Battista Alborti and Giorgio Valla; Niccolo Leoniceno; Andrea Alciato, Giles of Viterbo and many others. 30 They were Johannes Reuchlin, Erasmus, Guillaume Bonde, Thomas More and Juan Luis Vives. 31 Opcit, The Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries, Humanism, CHRP, p. 133 32 As mentioned by the ancient or medieval period of scholars. 33 Opcit, Humanism and Philosophy, Humanism, CHRP, p.134-135.


While indirect contributions were including providing sources of the ancient philosophy and science, discussions or commentaries, interpretation of materials which later on directed to mathematics, medicine, botany or others sciences based on Greece commentators of Aristotle influenced. The conducive environment for the intellectual climate in the new science and philosophy provided by Rennaisance humanism. Philosophers and few scholars has linked with humanism rather than be associated with Platonism, yet all sources directly provided by humanist.34 This proves are giving crystal clear that humanist had played the important roles to be a foundation and early stage of development in Italian mind, culture and intellectual achievements. The Humanist Legacies Italian Humanists ventured many areas in writing productions on their literary developments and achievements. The great achievement were in Latin and Greek literature, scientific and philosophy, history and human sciences, religion and education.35 It’s very precise that Italian humanism have their own legacies to the world be proud off, as the concrete proved that they have done a reformation upon Italy and citizens, and also to the society where’s very close to her. From their amazing works in very basic of human knowledge’s and inquiries, it must placed them as reformer to the new era called Rennaisance. HUMANISM : INTELLECTUAL AND SCIENTIFIC IMPETUS Italian Humanism and Transferring Process to Europe. Peter used verb ‘spread’ of humanism to show that Italian humanism was spreading to all western Europe like an oil slicked.36That is happened to Italian
Ibid, Humanis and Philosophy, Humanism, CHRP, p. 135-137 John O. Reidl, A Catalogue of Rennaisance Philosophers, Milwaukee : Marquete University Press, 1940, p.1-2; 35-59. 36 Peter Burke, The Spread of Italian Humanism in Prof. Danys Hay compilation of Humanism Essays entitled The Impact of Humanism on Western Europe (IHWE), London and New York : Longman, 1990,
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humanism transferring to western Europe in fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. There were many ways such as by the Italian expatriates to European countries, immigrants to Europe and European people were coming to the Italian famous cities. Humanists were invited by European rulers or being encouraged on working in Europe. The Protestant seeking for literary study in Greek and Latin, moral literature and attractive model of education at higher learning institutions. European students learnt humanist and diplomatic which suited to Italian civilization. Meanwhile European countries odder many books from Florence and finally European academic terminology’s were used according to Italian humanist’s frame work.37 Humanist Reformation in European Society. Humanism urged great changes and tried to reform the European countries directly or indirectly through the strong organizational movements, political thought, in the court and art, also in magic and science area were not putting aside. That was wide range of the reformation to the massive western European societies. Here it should be discussed two significant reforms ever happened in Italian humanism towards western Europe. Humanist Movement Apparently humanists had influenced people in religious practices, education’s, developing institutional of higher learning, establishing art and literary studies,38 social activities especially in seeking knowledge and well behave with humanist ethics. So, the humanists have their own way to reform the society39 without any antagonistic action, anti establishment and sharp ideological contradictory.

p. 2-3. 37 Ibid, The Spread of Italian Humanism, see IHWE, p.3-20.

Peter Materson, Humanism and Reform Movement, IHWE, p. 24 - 26. Ibid, IHWE, p. 27, See footnote 20 on the persuit of holiness in late medieval and Rennaisance Religion, ed. Trinkaus and O. Oberman, (Leiden : 1974).
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They accustomed European people gradually to pursuit of holiness, 40 shifted people mind into philosophic-theologically based on a ‘positive’ point of view like ‘Biblical Humanism’ of Erasmus, had closed collaboration with church fathers, Judaic and Rabbinical writings and performed alliance with the reformist groups in social activities such as for educational application in all level of European society. Humanist and Scientific Development Angelo Poliziano and Giovanni Pica, the humanists started with massive works on prescribing how far one should follow the ancient poet rules. He said : “I began to wonder, most learned Pico, if these ancient observations were derived from natural cases or from the crudity of vulgar.”41 In the late 1480s, and early 1490s two of them embarked on physical and intellectual voyages of greatest novelty and interest. Poliziano interested in the dialectic, metaphysics and natural philosophy of the ancients and had change focus from the incomplete ‘Sucunda Centuria’ of his ‘Miscellane’.42 During the second half of fifteenth century, humanists literary studies has decisive effects on the history of natural philosophy, the theory and practices magic and the original modern science. They also imposed Empirical Medical Science, history cases for instance in Hippocratic epidemic and Galenic anotomae which was on use of the part of the body. They applied empirical method in consistent way like Vasalius, in making correction of textual errors, establishing of genealogies of botany and natural history areas. Humanists exactly offered the firm foundation on which new science could be conveniently emerged.43
Ibid, IHWE, p.27 -32. Antony Grafton , Humanism, Magic and Science, IHWE, p.99 -100.; See original, that the relevent portions of pliticiono’s letters ( epistolae: Prose volgari imedite e poesie latine e greeko edite e enidite (Florence :1867) , p.326 -328. 42 Ibid, IHWE, p. 100; Also refer to his book of Coronis Miscellaneorum, in an original Opera, p. 310 43 Ibid, IHWE, p. 103; Also see original reference of C. Nauert, C. Plinnius, in Catalogus tranlationum et commentarium ( Washington D.C : 1960) Vol. IV, p. 297 - 422; K. Reeds, Rennaisance
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Humanists also reoriented the rhetoric of natural philosophy in fundamental way, they discovered new ways of scientific provocative and accessible in classic rhetoric. Cicero and Plutarch contemplated on a helio centric rather than geocentric cosmos. This inspired Nicholus Copernicus on his work ‘De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium’. They provided the sound environment for a new sciences, a new culture of knowledge and were accommodating with nature enthusiastically and energetically.44 Nancy Sirasi has traced that Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine has been used as a basic text of medieval medical learning in Italian medical schools. Seem to be humanism has controlled and managed the supremacy of scientific methodology all over the fields; Philosophical and scientific as well as philological and literature.45 This fact was proved by the statement of Angelo Poliziano as he said: “(The grammarian - refer to humanists) must inspect not only the school of philosophers, but the juriconsultants, and all who make up what call the encyclopedia of learning, and all the philologist - and not just inspect them but inspect them from close-up.”46 Humanism has merely no single approach towards nature or attitude on magic and science, but also developed the nature of sixteenth century to suit on it and shifted cosmic into a sense of intellectual order. Furthermore they enhanced philological skill, philosophical textual and empirical historically scientific realm.47 CONCLUSION Even humanists started with small part of human culture, like literature and language of ancient Greek and Latin, yet they are clever enough to generate all
humanism and Botany, Annual of Sciences (1976), p.519 -542. 44 Ibid, IHWE, p. 103-104. 45 Ibid, IHWE, p. 104. 46 Ibid , IHWE, p. 104-105; See also original of Angelo Poliziano, Opera. p.229 47 Ibid, IHWE, p. 117


the revolutionary thought and civilization down to the practical activities for Italian people and European society in general. As a conclusion here are the most consequent efforts has been done by humanists to reshape Italian mentality or European people.48 Italian humanists and European one did much more recovery translations in humanist that focused on human nature, society and art by establishing literary genres to enable realistic view of human nature and their society. The most important part is presenting a secular world view in the midst of the crisis of certainty between religious stand point and worldly life working plan. The society was allowed to withdraw the traditions of Christian philosophy and theology. Finally humanism created an independent world view where they exaggerated pursuit of single aspect of universe which can be the dramatic and meaningful result like the emergence of modern sciences.

Wa Allahu a‘ lam bissawaab.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. 1. Anthony Flew, A Dictionary of Philosophy, New York : St. Martin’s Press, 1984. 2. A.S. Rappopport, R.F.Patterson and John Dougall, Encyclopaedic Dictionary of the World (EDTW), vol. 6, New Delhi: Akashdeep Publishing House, 1989. 3. Charles B. Schmitt, The Cambridge History of Rennnaisance Philosophy (CHRP), Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1990. 4. Dagobert D. Runes and authors, Dictionary of Philosophy Ancient, Medieval and Modern, New Jersy : Littlefield Adam Co., 1981.

Ibid, IHWE, p. 135-136.


5. Danys Hay, The Impact of Humanism on Western Europe (IHWE), London/ New York : Longman, 1990. 6. Hans Baron, The Crisis of Early Italian Rennaisance, Princeton : Princeton University Press, 1966 (Second edition 1967). 7. John O. Riedl, A Catalogue of Rennaisance Philosophers, Milwaukee : Maquete University, 1940. 8. Paul Edwards, The Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, vol. 4, New York : Macmillan; London: Collier Macmillan, 1967 (reprint 1972). 9. Peter A. Angel, Dictionary of Philosophy, New York : Harperprennial, (first edition 1991). 10. S.W. Tromp, The Religion of the Modern Scientist (Neo-Materialisme), Leiden : A.W. Sithoff’s Hitgeversmaatschappi, 1947. 11. William L. Reese, Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion, Eastern, and Western Thouhgt, Sussex : Humanities Press, 1983.


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