Erasmus and Humanism

Discussion in 'History Forum' started by thjplgvp, Jul 31, 2006.

  1. thjplgvp

    thjplgvp
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    What are the differences between the humanism brought to the forefront in the late 1400's by Erasmus and the humanism of today?

    :type:
     
  2. av1611jim

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    I may be wrong, but it is my understanding that E taught that humanism per se was the idea of charity towards your fellowman and seeking his good.

    Today, it is generally understood to have flipped on its head. Nowadays humanism teaches that one focuses on his OWN good, sometimes to the exclusion of others.
     
  3. rsr

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    In connection with Erasmus, humanism resulted from the rediscovery of the classic Latin and Greek writers. Humanists advocated study of the classics and classical culture -- they studied the "human" texts, not just the "sacred" texts. Erasmus was probably at the pinnacle of the tradition; Thomas More would be another example of a Christian humanist.

    Billions of pages could be written on the effects of humanism and its influence on the Renaissance and the Reformation, and later on the Enlightenment. Just a couple of points:

    Erasmus' production of his Greek New Testament was a direct result of the rehabilitation of classical learning. So was the preparation of works on Hebrew grammar and Hebrew dictionaries by other scholars.

    The attitude of the classicists -- which attacked the pedantry that dominated education -- helped pave the way for Luther and others. The humanists criticized the scholastics (and the hierarchy) for their methods and lack of imagination. Thereafter, it would be easier to take the next step to criticism on theological grounds.

    Of course, humanism without its Christian base can quickly lead to skepticism and what can be termed "secular humanism."
     
  4. Magnetic Poles

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    Not "generally understood" that way at all. The following is an excerpt from Humanist Manifesto III. The full text is at http://www.americanhumanist.org/3/HumandItsAspirations.htm
     
  5. Magnetic Poles

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    I might add that as Christians, we should not misrepresent or falsify what others teach. It reflects badly on us. If we don't know, it is best to remain silent.
     
  6. Taufgesinnter

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    Humanist/humanism from humanities

    Erasmus was a "humanist" and involved in the movement of "humanism" because he studied "the humanities." According to The American Heritage Dictionary, the humanities were
    1. The languages and literatures of ancient Greece and Rome; the classics.
    2. Those branches of knowledge, such as philosophy, literature, and art, that are concerned with human thought and culture; the liberal arts.
    So today we regard philosophy, literature, and art as the humanities, but originally, the humanities were the classical languages and literature. Erasmus studied these, making him a "humanist." Thus even today a "humanist-in-residence" at a university is a scholar of literature--not a follower of John Dewey and fellow traveler with Gene Roddenberry.

    Words change meanings or nuances over time. "Girl" once meant child (any sex), "deer" meant animal (even one climbing a tree), and "starve" meant to die (of any cause). Each is much more specific now. "Humanism" no longer denotes only study of humanities, so its meaning has broadened, and the word itself has only existed since about 1801 anyway. Erasmus was not a humanist in the newer sense.
     
  7. J.D.

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    The humanism of the Erasmus was not secular per se, but it was a development of the change in world view from God-centerednes to man-centeredness. We can see Erasmus' humanism in Luther's "Bondage of the will" when he argues against Erasmus' flippancy toward doctrine. Erasmus apparently was an ancient forerunner of today's ecuminists that say we ought to avoid doctrine for the sake of unity. Erasmus said, in effect, "why bother people with doctrine if their happy in their religion". By this he accuses Luther of stirring up unnecessary trouble by "asserting" bible doctrine into the "peoples" religion. So for Erasmus, it was the "happiness" of the people that mattered most, not the "happiness" of God.
     

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