Category Archives: The Renaissance

Rhetoric and Renaissance

The elevation of rhetoric in the Renaissance has a deep connection with the long-running distinction between the “active” and “contemplative” lives (vita activa and vita contemplativa). In Italy especially, the turn toward the values of the Roman Republic, with its … Continue reading

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Contrasting Renaissance Views Of Man (II): A Few Optimists

By contrast to the pessimism of Aurelio in Fernán Pérez de Oliva’s Dialogue on the Dignity of Man, the character named Antonio cautions his hearers not to offend God “by making him guilty of a crime for having created a … Continue reading

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Contrasting Renaissance Views Of Man (I): A Few Pessimists

Fernán Pérez de Oliva (1494-1531) opens his Dialogue on the Dignity of Man with this pessimistic appraisal by a character named Aurelio: “We are located here in the dregs and depths of the world, living among beasts and covered in … Continue reading

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Sketch: Religious Humanism

Religious humanism was a variety of the humanistic endeavor that explicitly tied the new learning of the Renaissance to the explication and defense of the Christian religion. The religious humanists were all Christians working within the classical and Christian heritage … Continue reading

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Sketch: Philosophical Humanism

Philosophical humanism was a strain of Renaissance thought which, like the other strains of humanism, creatively made use of the existing philosophical schools to shed new light on contemporary problems. It was chiefly concerned with Platonism, for in the mid-fifteenth … Continue reading

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Sketch: Civic Humanism

Civic humanism was a movement within the Italian Renaissance which focused on encouraging young men to take an interest in the government of their cities, and to educate themselves primarily in rhetoric and ethical philosophy so as to best serve … Continue reading

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Piety and Learning

Here’s Petrarch on the fraudulent piety of “weak minds” that suppose the study of pagan literature necessarily leads to diluting one’s faith in Christ: Neither exhortations to virtue nor the argument of approaching death should divert us from literature; for … Continue reading

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The Nature of Ignorance

As someone who has frequently been maligned by people who don’t want to take the time to study anything with any reasonable degree of patience and with a desire to understand, not to find weapons to destroy others in ephemeral … Continue reading

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Borrow, But Don’t Steal

Petrarch on the proper way to imitate the Ancient writers, so as to bring to your own age from the writers of old somethign new: An imitator must see to it that what he writes is similar, but not the … Continue reading

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Hoary-Headed Children

The Renaissance humanists are generally known for opposing what they thought of as the fruitless speculations of natural philosophers (proto-scientists), metaphysicians, and professional theologians. Here Petrarch, “the father of humanism,” explains that it is not logic or the traditional liberal … Continue reading

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