Middle Ages – Essay Example
Humanism, a word of German coinage and Greek credentials has its roots in the term humanismus, probably devised in the early nineteenth century by aneducationalist named Friedrich Immanuel Niethemmer based on what have been known as “humanities” since Middle Ages (Davies 9-10). It refers to the concept of human beings as being an entity of the utmost importance. It is an idea and a substantive identity that has the power to shape the itinerary of human affairs.
Humanism first came to recognition in the fourth and fifth centuries B.C.E in Greece where it was developed as a term promoting human faculties and as a route to enable man reach the highest level of excellence of which he is capable of. In the first century B.C.E, Cicero who happened to be among the ruling class of Rome, defined humanism in the light of an educational and cultural curriculum as an idea that had its roots in the concept of humanitas. Of all the major movements in the name of humanism, the most influential was the one carried out in Italy in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries which designated each individual as an imperative part of society, which in turn led to a change of philosophy concerning the common conceptions relating to arts and sciences which formed the foundation stone of Renaissance. It was centered on human interests, dignity, moral concerns and man’s liberty to do good or evil (Zagorin 132: 87).
The application of the concept of humanism has become a vital focus in all spheres of life be it business, education, culture, politics etc. For example, organizations like UNESCO and World Health Organization are contributing to the development of health, education and culture all across the globe. In addition to that now we have also seen people like Andrei Sakharov, Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem fighting for the cause of human rights. In other fields we can also mark Mathilde Krim and Margaret Atwood as the influential humanists who have battled with the AIDS epidemic and raised voice for the literary freedom respectively (Edwords). Having said that, we can see that humanism is an ambiguous term denominating the amalgamation of all the fields working for the good of the overall humanity.
Davies, Tony. Humanism, the New Critical Idiom. London: Routledge, 1997. Print.
Edwords, Frederick. “What is Humanism”, American Humanost Association, 1989 Web 17
April. 2010. http://www.jcn.com/humanism.html
Zagorin, Perez. “On Humanism Past and Present” Daedalus 132.4 (2003) 87 Print