The 15 Characteristics of the Most Outstanding Classical Humanism

He Classical humanism Has its origins in Italy, and spread throughout Europe, between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, at the height of the Renaissance.

It is a cultural movement based on the study and rescue of the thought of classical antiquity manifested in Greece and Rome.

Traits humanism current affairs

It promotes the anthropological vision, typical of the Renaissance, which promotes the rebirth of classical culture, centered on human qualities such as intelligence, creativity and rectitude. His motto is:"Everything revolves around man".

In this period, the human being considered himself free to have his own thought as well as an ability to decide. In contrast to what happened in the Middle Ages, where man was subject to the designs of God and had no interference in fate and his works were grace of the highest.

This ideology manifested itself, above all, in art, in disciplines such as painting, literature, architecture, music, among others.

In the writing, for example, they emphasized artists like Francesco Petrarca, Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola and Giovanni Boccaccio, who were main humanistic exponents, as much in poetry, prose and philosophy.

You may also be interested in The leading philosophers of the ideas of rebirth .

The main characteristics of humanism

1- Recovery of the classical culture

The renaissance, between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, was characterized by the recovery of the classical culture seen in ancient Greece and Rome.

What is now known as art and culture in the West is precisely the cultural heritage of the Greco-Latin world.

In turn, the exponents of humanism devoted themselves to studying the works found in the great cities of antiquity, such as Athens and Rome. They also reviewed classic texts and advocated maintaining their recovery, thereby reinterpreting the canons of this worldview.

2- The desire for power is legitimized

Humanism promotes the development of human potentialities and, therefore, defends the legitimate right of fame, prestige and power. Such a position can be seen in the book"The Prince"by Nicolás Machiavelli, read by rulers of today and whose tactics of power are closely followed.

These values, more mundane than divine, enhance the human virtues to the detriment of the Christian morality of God, who was careful to avoid sin and to emphasize religious goodness in the scholastic period.

3- Man is aware of his rights

In this period, European civilizations evolved from the ethical, moral and judicial point of view. In this sense, thanks to this, man was more aware of his rights and also of the principles of equality before the law, against injustices or misdeeds that occurred at that time.

In this sense, rules were created like those of now where society is civilized to avoid more deaths and to leave behind the traumas of the past that left the medieval wars.

4- Optimism beats medieval pessimism

In humanism there is a faith in man, which leaves aside faith in God. The cult of ego takes shape and spreads the idea that it is worth fighting for fame and glory to transcend. In this way, a world is created that impels to perform great feats.

The optimistic man owns his life and does not delegate his future to God, since that conservative pessimism loses it and dares to innovate, burying the past.

5- Rise of great artists

Francesco Petrarca, Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola and Giovanni Boccaccio, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello, among others, are the artists who lived in that era of humanistic splendor.

Thus, in the political and religious field, people emerged as Erasmus of Rotterdam and Giordano Bruno, the latter was condemned to death by the Inquisition, since he began to study astronomy, against"the designs of God."

Bruno held that there was a vast universe, of which the Earth was only a small sphere. However, they did not believe him, they considered him blasphemous and publicly incinerated him. Over time, science, you would be right.

6- Ginecolatry and respect for women

If in medieval times there was a contempt for women, in the Renaissance, under the eaves of humanism, that misogyny was buried.

If one considers, for example, the naked body of the woman, the art of the Middle Ages depicted Eve, associating her directly with sin and, therefore, evil.

On the contrary, humanist artists represented in painting and literature the epicurean enjoyment of life; An apology to love and beauty and innocence, given by the goddess Venus, to the female body. In general, there was great respect for women, a value that is still trying to have today.

7- Emerging scientific research

The advent of science as we know it arises in this age. In humanism, man began to use his intelligence and wondered about its origin. That is how he also began to carry out scientific research, with the use of his reasoning.

The science, made to leave aside the myths, legends and divine stories, of gods, and to take value to the sacred books like the Bible, that so much preponderance had had in previous decades.

8- Platonic vision

The use of reason and Platonic idealism are reborn with humanism. Therefore, the stylization of reality takes on strength.

Reality must be painted better than it is, it is ennobled ( I will not bother ). With the balance of forms in human sculpture and painting, the beauty estheticatoma forms, with the highlight of the human figure, female and friendly with nature.

9- The elite contributes in the art

The patrons were the elite that contributed to the art. They were people who, by having abundant economic resources, took under their protection an artist or scientist so that they could do their works or investigations, but always thinking of benefiting or taking advantage of it.

In particular, patronage is the manifestation of this link that could, to some extent, be a circumstance similar to what was vassalage in the Middle Ages.

10- Most Popular Art

It should be noted that humanist art is inspired by popular themes, and chooses to make it into something stylized and idealized. In poetry, singing to love, war or existence acquire relevance.

On the other hand, the pastoral novel emerges, which recreates a country life far removed from the usual preoccupations of the peasants.

Popular does not mean vulgar. That is, in humanist art there is no room for ordinary manifestations of the" plebs "(Town), those that will see apogee later with the Baroque, in century XVII.

11- Anthropocentric vision

In humanism, a vision was imposed on the role of man different from the one he had had in the previous era and gave birth to the modern age.

This is anthropocentrism. It alludes to a branch of philosophy which, in addition to studying man in society, understands it as a factor of social change:"Man is the driver of civilizations and builder of cities; Is the reference for everything that is conceptualized and conceived".

In particular, what this doctrine claims is that man be the measure so that everything is executed and constituted at his own will, and not justify his actions before a higher being, as it happened in the Middle Ages.

12- Trading is not a sin

The economy begins to have a boom and the commercialization between countries ends up imposing itself and growing constantly. Commerce was no longer considered a sin. Quite the opposite.

Even the Protestant John Calvin, glorifies money. He believes it is a sign that God, who has blessed the people who work, with the payment of bills.

13- Mimesis of the tongue

In humanism, it also happens that you seek to rescue the classical language, with scripts written in Latin or Greek.

That is to say, there was a mimesis of the language and the worldview of the classic Greco-Latin literature. Except because no longer believed in the gods of antiquity like Zeus, Poseidon, etc., but in the Aristotelian mimetic look to imitate nature in art and highlight the aesthetic, perfection and human harmony.

14- Equanimity of expression

The forms, contours and textures, in paintings, sculptures and, even in the poetic elegance, had to follow a fair pattern.

That is, there must be a symmetrical balance in the various forms of humanistic expression. The decorations and details should not be recharged or with a complex concept; The sense of art must be clear, simple and beautiful.

"The style I have is natural and, without any affectation, I write as I speak; I am only careful to use words that mean what I want to say, and let me tell you how much more simply I can,"said the Italian humanist and Protestant writer, Juan de Valdés.

15- Separation State-Church

Although in the Middle Ages, political, religious and economic power fell into one person; The king (sovereign representative of God on Earth), through the monarchical system, which sought to consolidate empires; Was a system that in the Renaissance was suppressed.

In humanism arose a desire to separate the moral from the politics in European countries and where the kings were losing more and more power. In addition, the Church loses influence and voices arise that ask for temporal authorities and that the divine is immersed only in the religious sphere.

The rational man is organized in society with norms created by him and not coming from the divinity, which was the leitmotiv of his exhibitors.


  1. Study:"The change of collective mentality: rebirth, humanism, reform and counter-reform"(2010). Aitor Pérez Blázquez. Item 42 of the agenda of oppositions of Geography and History planned for 2012. Proyecto Clío 36. ISSN: 1139-6237., Madrid, Spain.
  2. Study:"Humanistic psychology: its origins and its meaning in the world of psychotherapy half a century of existence"(2014). Edgardo Riveros Aedo, Adolfo Ibáñez University, Santiago, Chile.
  3. Study:"Deep ecology: biocentrism v / s anthropocentrism"(2000). Opinion directors of Cuadernos, Fundación Chile Unido - Alianza 1746, Vitacura, Santiago, Chile.
  4. Study:"For a critique of humanistic reason: use and abuse of humanism in international law"(2013). Pablo Antonio Anzaldi, Member of the Editorial Board of the Consensos Magazine. University professor in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Loading ..

Recent Posts

Loading ..