Humanism is an intellectual and cultural current that breaks with the theological idea that God is the center of the universe, becoming the human being and his qualities and values.

It should be noted that establishing a conceptualization of Humanism is a very complicated task, because it is a polysemic term. According to the RAE, this concept can encompass meanings such as “knowledge of human letters” or “interest in philological and classical studies”.

But its most relevant meaning is the one described in the first place, since this paradigm shift meant a radical transformation in the way of thinking, researching, doing science, and facing life in general. Due to the great importance of moving from God, as the center of everything, to human nature.

Origin of Humanism

Humanism has its origin in the fourteenth century and extends to the sixteenth century, and did so hand in hand with the Renaissance, beginning first in Italy and later spreading throughout Europe. For this reason, this current is often referred to as Renaissance Humanism.

The invention of the printing press explains its great expansion throughout Europe. In addition to patronage and universities, many of which were created in the 14th and 15th centuries.

Characteristics of Humanism

In summary, the most outstanding characteristics of Humanism are the following:

  • Replacement of theocentrism by anthropocentrism.
  • Classical works and authors are once again of great importance.
  • Sciences and areas of knowledge such as philosophy, rhetoric, history and literature are developed.
  • Break with the Middle Ages and its prevailing principles and values. In this line, it jumps to the Modern Age.
  • Knowledge becomes more accessible. During the Middle Ages it was restricted to the clergy and the nobility.

The previous characteristics declare the importance of Humanism during the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Importance of universities in Humanism

University teaching has a great role in Humanism, since it is in them where the methodological change of teaching takes place, in addition, the printing press greatly facilitated the exchange and depth of knowledge. During the Middle Ages, teaching was characterized by its scholastic methodology. The reading of an author was carried out, as a result of this a series of doubts and questions were generated and finally they were debated.

This method was replaced in Humanism, adopting a more scientific methodology based on experimentation. Reading continued to prevail as a basis for learning, but later what was read was interpreted and applied. In addition, as previously stated, other disciplines such as history, moral philosophy and the arts were developed, and classical authors were recovered.

He also specialized in teaching at universities, so to speak of Cambridge and Oxford was to speak of teaching in art and to speak of Bologna was to refer to Law.

Main representatives of Humanism

Among the authors who stand out as representatives of Humanism are:

  • Erasmus of Rotterdam: He was a priest, philologist, theologian and philosopher among many other occupations. He stood out for trying to modernize the Catholic Church, since he considered it too ideologically immobile. He made translations and interpretations of the New Testament. He was highly criticized by the most conservative sectors of the Church, and highly recognized by others.
  • Tomás Moro: He was an important English writer and jurist, at a literary level well known for his work "Utopia." He opposed the Protestant drifts of King Henry VIII, who separated from Catholicism because the pope did not grant him the nullity of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. The refusal to recognize the King as the religious head of the Anglican Church cost him his death in 1535.
  • Nicolás Copernicus: Astronomer scientist recognized for being the author of heliocentrism, a theory in favor of the planets moving around the Sun, contrary to what was established in his time.

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