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© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Humanism: Selected full-text books and articles

Imperfect Garden: The Legacy of Humanism By Tzvetan Todorov; Carol Cosman Princeton University Press, 2002
History of Humanism By Giuseppe Toffanin; Elio Gianturco Las Americas, 1954
Humanism as a Philosophy By Corliss Lamont Philosophical Library, 1949
Humanism and Early Modern Philosophy By Jill Kraye; M. W.F. Stone Routledge, 2000
A Humanist Science: Values and Ideals in Social Inquiry By Philip Selznick Stanford University Press, 2008
Feminism as Radical Humanism By Pauline Johnson Westview Press, 1994
In Defense of Secular Humanism By Paul Kurtz Prometheus Books, 1983
Atheistic Humanism By Antony Flew Prometheus Books, 1993
Humanism in Renaissance Scotland By John MacQueen Edinburgh University Press, 1990
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