humanism, philosophical and literary movement in which man and his capabilities are the central concern. The term was originally restricted to a point of view prevalent among thinkers in the Renaissance. The distinctive characteristics of Renaissance humanism were its emphasis on classical studies, or the humanities, and a conscious return to classical ideals and forms. The movement led to a restudy of the Scriptures and gave impetus to the Reformation. The term humanist is applied to such diverse men as Giovanni Boccaccio, Petrarch, Lorenzo Valla, Lorenzo de' Medici, Erasmus, and Thomas More. In the 20th cent., F. C. S. Schiller and Irving Babbitt applied the term to their own thought. Modern usage of the term has had diverse meanings, but some contemporary emphases are on lasting human values, cultivation of the classics, and respect for scientific knowledge.

See M. Hadas, Humanism: The Greek Ideal and Its Survival (1960, repr. 1972) and The Living Tradition (1966); J. Maritain, Integral Humanism (tr. 1968, repr. 1973); R. W. Southern, Medieval Humanism (1971).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Humanism: Selected full-text books and articles

In the Footsteps of the Ancients: The Origins of Humanism from Lovato to Bruni
Ronald G. Witt.
Brill, 2001
Imperfect Garden: The Legacy of Humanism
Tzvetan Todorov; Carol Cosman.
Princeton University Press, 2002
History of Humanism
Giuseppe Toffanin; Elio Gianturco.
Las Americas, 1954
Humanism as a Philosophy
Corliss Lamont.
Philosophical Library, 1949
Humanism and Early Modern Philosophy
Jill Kraye; M. W.F. Stone.
Routledge, 2000
Medieval and Renaissance Humanism: Rhetoric, Representation, and Reform
Stephen Gersh; Bert Roest.
Brill, 2003
A Humanist Science: Values and Ideals in Social Inquiry
Philip Selznick.
Stanford University Press, 2008
Religion: A Humanist Interpretation
Raymond Firth.
Routledge, 1996
A Culture of Teaching: Early Modern Humanism in Theory and Practice
Rebecca W. Bushnell.
Cornell University Press, 1996
Feminism as Radical Humanism
Pauline Johnson.
Westview Press, 1994
In Defense of Secular Humanism
Paul Kurtz.
Prometheus Books, 1983
Atheistic Humanism
Antony Flew.
Prometheus Books, 1993
The Courage to Become: The Virtues of Humanism
Paul Kurtz.
Praeger, 1997
Humanism in Renaissance Scotland
John MacQueen.
Edinburgh University Press, 1990
Humanism and America: An Intellectual History of English Colonisation, 1500-1625
Andrew Fitzmaurice.
Cambridge University Press, 2003
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.