Humanism (the ideas that make you a person)

Humanism (the ideas that make you a person)

Summary:
– Marcus Tullius Cicero – 106 BC – lawyer, politician, Roman philosopher & the founding father of humanism (in reaction to Roman philistinism & superstitious traditions of pagan religions)
– his academy, Studia Humanitas, taught the art of living well & blessedly through learning & instruction in the fine arts (& was influenced by Greek philosophy – in particular Platonic philosophy – which was translated)
– it was about teaching people to care for themselves based on looking inwards & through philosophy/philosophical spiritualism (based on dialogue to facilitate learning) learn to be a better & happier person who attends to individual & social responsibilities (working together with other people)
– He personally studied philosophy in Athens
– he was also a so-called New Man – at the centre of power in Rome
– the academy was focused on changing how Roman leadership elites & the intelligentsia thought about themselves
– it published letters of its work & gave people (outsiders) a sense that they could join the leadership & intelligentsia cliques through reading (the idea that education enables progress & that language enables a person to respond to ideas)
– humanism placed Man – not God – at the centre of the universe
– his ideas ultimately became Renaissance ideals (it would be the motor of this period despite the authoritarian church of the time)
– Cicero has been credited with giving humanity the philosophy of Stoicism:
– attending to public duty & dealing with power in the public sphere through a philosophically-trained ability to look inward & come to terms with things in yourself (& not necessarily pleasing some external master)
– humanism has been credited with giving us: human rights & democracy
– However, there are contemporary thinkers who believe humanism has also given humanity: elitism (the exclusion of the other), sexism & Nazism (based on race & nation where the ideals had already been achieved in the past – in antiquity – in Greece)
– in addition, ideas such as Stoicism unfortunately advocate that when you think your life is unbearable, that you should take your life.
– Augustine (Church) was trained in the Ciceronian tradition; however, he eventually becomes an anti-humanist
– Jerome & Piallgius were also of the Church
– early 20th century – anti-humanism – Hume (1914), T.S. Eliot (essayist, poet & social critic) & his friend, Pound
– note: Karl Marx’s Ph. D was on Greek philosophy

Source: BBC Radio 4 | In Our Time | Podcast date: 8 February 2001

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