Monday, February 27, 2017

Humanism (as in the Humanities)

I read an older book recently, recommended via the Classics e-list and obtained via Interlibrary Loan (love that service!—your tax dollars at work!): Humanism and the Rhetoric of Toleration. It's not what you think (unless you've studied the Middle Ages); classic humanism is where we get the word Humanities; it's all about becoming more fully a well-rounded human, knowing how to think. Anyway, we'll be excerpting from it for a bit here; even though it was written in 1996, it is still extremely relevant. Here's the first snippet:

The humanists did not accept the rationalism of the Enlightenment; they were deeply religious men who believed in divinely revealed truths. Nor were the humanists religious individualists, à la liberalism. Unlike liberal advocates of religious liberty, the humanists did not place the right to conscience at the center of their defense of religious tolerance.—Humanism and the Rhetoric of Toleration, page 4

<idle musing>
Oh, I forgot to mention, liberal here doesn't mean what it does today. Liberal was the word used for those who advocated such radical ideas as freedom of religion, rule by the people, and repudiated the divine right of kings. A bit of historical perspective is always nice : )
</idle musing>

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