Humanism

HUMANISM

– a popular belief during the Renaissance, from 1400 to 1650
– people can improve themselves
        –  with great effort
        –  develop better character
        –  become more resilient, honest, kind, etc.

Background
– during Middle Ages, people went on Crusades
– and then trading began with the Arab world
– in the Renaissance, more trading with the Arab world
– more exposure to Muslim beliefs
– Muslims believed in…
        – individualism
        – freedom of speech
        – value of reason

Petrarch
– Italian scholar in the 1300s
– believed that people should go back and learn from the wisdom of ancient Greece and Rome
– in ancient Greece, Thales and Thucydides believed the world should be explained using reason rather than myths

Desiderius Erasmus
– Dutch scholar
– called the ‘Prince of Scholars’
– but still was a devout Catholic
– believed that people should learn and develop their talents but still keep their Christian faith
– encouraged people to study grammar, rhetoric, poetry, ethics and history
– believed it was important to
        – do primary research
        – study the older Greek translations of the Bible
                – in order to better understand them
                    –  helped lead to the Protestant Reformation

Renaissance Men
– women still considered inferior to men
        – didn’t have the same rights
– some men became very knowledgeable and skilful in a variety of fields of study
    – the more they learned, the more they were respected

 

Michaelangelo
– an Italian engineer, inventor, painter, scientist and sculptor
– knew a lot about architecture, botany, geology, mathematics and philosophy
– one of the first to dissect human bodies
– made drawings to help scientists understand human anatomy

Leonardo da Vinci
– an Italian artist
    –  also wrote poetry
Leon Battista Alberti
    – an Italian archer, architect, artist, inventor and poet
    – also studied mathematics and science

Galileo Galilei
    – an Italian philosopher and scientist
    – invented the telescope
    – painted
    – played the lute

Benjamin Franklin’s Virtues
    – an American
    – lived in the 1700s
    – signed the Declaration of Independence
    – devised a list of virtues
    –  set out to focus on one virtue per week in order to improve his character

1. TEMPERANCE
Don’t eat or drink too much.
2. SILENCE
Only speak if it is of benefit. No idle chatter.
3. ORDER
Put things where they belong; take care of your responsibilities.
4. RESOLUTION
Make up your mind to do what you ought to do. Then, do it.
5. FRUGALITY
Don’t be wasteful of money or things.
6. INDUSTRY
Don’t be wasteful of your time. Always be doing something useful.
7. SINCERITY
Speak honestly and justly. Don’t lie.
8. JUSTICE
Be fair to others and take care of your responsibilities to others.
9. MODERATION
Don’t go to extremes. Don’t be overcome with resentment.
10. CLEANLINESS
Keep yourself, your belongings and your environment clean and tidy.
11.TRANQUILITY
Don’t get upset about the little irritations of daily life.
12. CHASTITY
Don’t hurt yourself or others or their reputations.
13. HUMILITY
Don’t think too highly of yourself. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

United Nations
– formed after World War II
– three humanists became directors of …
        – UNESCO
        – the WHO
        – the Food and Agricultural Organization

Humanism
– focuses on what is human
– not on the supernatural
– finds truth through reason and scientific observation
– recognizes that improving oneself is very difficult
– acknowledges that people may need help
–  focuses on making the world a better place for future generations

HUMANISM LESSON

A. Turn the notes above into Cornell notes.  (Do some online research if you are unsure how to set up Cornell notes.)
1. Make sure to have three sections: questions, notes, thoughts.
2. Use abbreviations for your notes.
3. Pause regularly to write your connections and reflections in the ‘thought’ section.

B. Assignment: write a reflective paragraph, double-spaced in ink, that address these questions:
1. Are you a humanist?  Do you believe people can change and become better people if they work very hard at it and get help if necessary?
2. If so, are you a secular humanist or a religious humanist?
3. Is everyone in this world  important? If so, do we all have an obligation – a duty, a responsibility – to learn how to be better people?

Click HERE to read responses by eighth grade students.

HUMANISM TEST

(This cloze outline can be used as a handout for students to use as listening practice during a lesson, as an adapted assignment for selected students, or as a test.)

People, with great _____________, can ____________ themselves
and develop better _________________.
A popular belief developed during the _____________, from 1400 to 1650.

ISLAM
In the Middle Ages, the Islamic world believed in ____________, freedom of speech and the value of ____________.

PETRARCH
An Italian scholar in the 1300s, he believed that people should go back and learn from the wisdom of ancient __________ and __________. In ancient Greece, Thales and Thucydides believed the world should be explained using __________ rather than ____________.

RENAISSANCE HUMANISM
Humanists celebrated the great things that people had done and could do. They believed that people could change their _____________ and their place in ___________ by _____________________.

DESIDERIUS ERASMUS
A Dutch scholar, he was called the ‘Prince of Scholars’ but still was a devout ______________ who believed that people should ____________ and develop their ______________ but still keep their ______________ faith. He encourged people to study ___________, ____________, ___________, ___________ and ___________.  He believed it was important to do primary research, to go back and study the older Greek translations of the _____________ in order to better understand them which helped lead to the Protestant _______________________.

RENAISSANCE MEN
Women were still considered inferior to men and didn’t have the same rights. Some men, however, became very knowledgeable and skilful in a variety of fields of study. The more they learned, the more they were respected.
Leonardo _________________ was an Italian engineer, inventor, painter, scientist and sculptor and knew a lot about architecture, botany, geology, mathematics and philosophy; he was one of the first to _______________ human bodies and made drawings to help scientists understand human anatomy.
Michaelangelo was an Italian _________________ who also wrote poetry.
Leon Battista Alberti was an Italian archer, __________________, artist, inventor and poet who also studied mathematics and science.
Galileo Galilei was an Italian philosopher and _________________ who invented the ________________ and also painted and played the lute.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN’S 13 VIRTUES
An American who lived in the 1700s, he signed the Declaration of Independence and devised this list. He set out to focus on one virtue per week in order to improve his character.
1. _____________________
Don’t eat or drink too much.
2. _____________________
Only speak if it is of benefit. No idle chatter.
3. _____________________
Put things where they belong; take care of your responsibilities.
4. _____________________
Make up your mind to do what you ought to do.  Then, do it.
5. _____________________
Don’t be wasteful of money or things.
6. _____________________
Don’t be wasteful of your time. Always be doing something useful.
7. _____________________
Speak honestly and justly.  Don’t lie.
8. _____________________
Be fair to others and take care of your responsiblities to others.
9. _____________________
Don’t go to extremes. Don’t be overcome with resentment.
10. _____________________
Keep yourself, your belongings and your environment clean and tidy.
11._____________________
Don’t get upset about the little irritations of daily life.
12. _____________________
Don’t hurt yourself or others or their reputations.
13. _____________________
Don’t think too highly of yourself. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

UNITED NATIONS
After World War II, three humanists became directors of _____________________, the _____________ and the _________________________________________.

Humanism focuses on what is __________ and not on the supernatural. It believes that we must find truth through ____________ and scientific ______________. It recognizes that improving oneself is very ____________ and cannot always be done without ________. It focuses on making the world a _____________ for the people who are yet to come.

WRITE A PARAGRAPH (topic sentence, at least 3 reasons or examples, concluding sentence) ON ONE OF THE FOLLOWING:
1. Provide your considered opinion of humanism.
2. Describe the importance of one of Franklin’s virtues.

[This page may be copied for use with students if the following credit is provided: ©2011 Sophie Rosen.]

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