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Humanistic education - Wikipedia
Anaxagoras brought philosophy and the spirit of rational inquiry from Ionia to Athens. Pericles , the leader of Athens during the period of its greatest glory was an admirer of Anaxagoras. Other influential pre-Socratics or rational philosophers include Protagoras like Anaxagoras a friend of Pericles , known for his famous dictum "man is the measure of all things" and Democritus , who proposed that matter was composed of atoms.
Little of the written work of these early philosophers survives and they are known mainly from fragments and quotations in other writers, principally Plato and Aristotle. The historian Thucydides , noted for his scientific and rational approach to history, is also much admired by later humanists. He was also the first Greek philosopher to admit women to his school as a rule. Many medieval Muslim thinkers pursued humanistic, rational and scientific discourses in their search for knowledge, meaning and values. A wide range of Islamic writings on love, poetry, history and philosophical theology show that medieval Islamic thought was open to the humanistic ideas of individualism , occasional secularism , skepticism , and liberalism.
According to Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, another reason the Islamic world flourished during the Middle Ages was an early emphasis on freedom of speech , as summarised by al-Hashimi a cousin of Caliph al-Ma'mun in the following letter to one of the religious opponents he was attempting to convert through reason : .
Bring forward all the arguments you wish and say whatever you please and speak your mind freely. Now that you are safe and free to say whatever you please appoint some arbitrator who will impartially judge between us and lean only towards the truth and be free from the empery of passion, and that arbitrator shall be Reason , whereby God makes us responsible for our own rewards and punishments.
Herein I have dealt justly with you and have given you full security and am ready to accept whatever decision Reason may give for me or against me. For "There is no compulsion in religion" Qur'an 2 and I have only invited you to accept our faith willingly and of your own accord and have pointed out the hideousness of your present belief.
Peace be with you and the blessings of God! According to George Makdisi, certain aspects of Renaissance humanism has its roots in the medieval Islamic world , including the "art of dictation , called in Latin, ars dictaminis ", and "the humanist attitude toward classical language ". Scholars including Jacob Grimm , J. Tolkien and E. Turville-Petre have identified a stream of humanistic philosophy in the Icelandic sagas.
In his Teutonic Mythology , Grimm wrote:. It is remarkable that Old Norse legend occasionally mentions certain men who, turning away in utter disgust and doubt from the heathen faith, placed their reliance on their own strength and virtue. These strophes include numerous items of advice on good conduct and worldly wisdom.
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Renaissance humanism was an intellectual movement in Europe of the later Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. The 19th-century German historian Georg Voigt —91 identified Petrarch as the first Renaissance humanist. Paul Johnson agrees that Petrarch was "the first to put into words the notion that the centuries between the fall of Rome and the present had been the age of Darkness".
According to Petrarch, what was needed to remedy this situation was the careful study and imitation of the great classical authors. For Petrarch and Boccaccio , the greatest master was Cicero , whose prose became the model for both learned Latin and vernacular Italian prose. Once the language was mastered grammatically it could be used to attain the second stage, eloquence or rhetoric.
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This art of persuasion [Cicero had held] was not art for its own sake, but the acquisition of the capacity to persuade others — all men and women — to lead the good life. As Petrarch put it, 'it is better to will the good than to know the truth'. Rhetoric thus led to and embraced philosophy.
Leonardo Bruni c. The basic training of the humanist was to speak well and write typically, in the form of a letter. One of Petrarch's followers, Coluccio Salutati — was made chancellor of Florence , "whose interests he defended with his literary skill. Contrary to a still widely held interpretation that originated in Voigt's celebrated contemporary, Jacob Burckhardt ,  and which was adopted wholeheartedly — especially by modern thinkers calling themselves "humanists" —  most specialists today do not characterise Renaissance humanism as a philosophical movement, nor in any way as anti-Christian or even anti-clerical.
A modern historian has this to say:. Humanism was not an ideological programme but a body of literary knowledge and linguistic skill based on the "revival of good letters", which was a revival of a late-antique philology and grammar, This is how the word "humanist" was understood by contemporaries, and if scholars would agree to accept the word in this sense rather than in the sense in which it was used in the nineteenth century we might be spared a good deal of useless argument. That humanism had profound social and even political consequences of the life of Italian courts is not to be doubted.
But the idea that as a movement it was in some way inimical to the Church, or to the conservative social order in general is one that has been put forward for a century and more without any substantial proof being offered. The nineteenth-century historian Jacob Burckhardt, in his classic work, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy , noted as a "curious fact" that some men of the new culture were "men of the strictest piety or even ascetics". If he had meditated more deeply on the meaning of the careers of such humanists as Abrogio Traversari — , the General of the Camaldolese Order, perhaps he would not have gone on to describe humanism in unqualified terms like "pagan", and thus helped precipitate a century of infertile debate about the possible existence of something called "Christian humanism" which ought to be opposed to "pagan humanism".
The umanisti criticized what they considered the barbarous Latin of the universities, but the revival of the humanities largely did not conflict with the teaching of traditional university subjects, which went on as before. Nor did the humanists view themselves as in conflict with Christianity. Some, like Salutati, were the Chancellors of Italian cities, but the majority including Petrarch were ordained as priests, and many worked as senior officials of the Papal court.
In the High Renaissance , in fact, there was a hope that more direct knowledge of the wisdom of antiquity, including the writings of the Church fathers, the earliest known Greek texts of the Christian Gospels, and in some cases even the Jewish Kabbalah , would initiate a harmonious new era of universal agreement. The humanists' close study of Latin literary texts soon enabled them to discern historical differences in the writing styles of different periods.
By analogy with what they saw as decline of Latin, they applied the principle of ad fontes , or back to the sources, across broad areas of learning, seeking out manuscripts of Patristic literature as well as pagan authors. In , while employed in Naples at the court of Alfonso V of Aragon at the time engaged in a dispute with the Papal States the humanist Lorenzo Valla used stylistic textual analysis, now called philology , to prove that the Donation of Constantine , which purported to confer temporal powers on the Pope of Rome, was an 8th-century forgery.
Instead, after the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Turks in , which brought a flood of Greek Orthodox refugees to Italy, humanist scholars increasingly turned to the study of Neoplatonism and Hermeticism , hoping to bridge the differences between the Greek and Roman Churches, and even between Christianity itself and the non-Christian world. After , when the new invention of printing made these texts widely available, the Dutch humanist Erasmus , who had studied Greek at the Venetian printing house of Aldus Manutius , began a philological analysis of the Gospels in the spirit of Valla, comparing the Greek originals with their Latin translations with a view to correcting errors and discrepancies in the latter.
Henceforth Renaissance humanism, particularly in the German North, became concerned with religion, while Italian and French humanism concentrated increasingly on scholarship and philology addressed to a narrow audience of specialists, studiously avoiding topics that might offend despotic rulers or which might be seen as corrosive of faith. The ad fontes principle also had many applications.
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The re-discovery of ancient manuscripts brought a more profound and accurate knowledge of ancient philosophical schools such as Epicureanism , and Neoplatonism , whose Pagan wisdom the humanists, like the Church fathers of old, tended, at least initially, to consider as deriving from divine revelation and thus adaptable to a life of Christian virtue. Richard Bauman writes:.
Homo sum: humani nihil a me alienum puto. The words of the comic playwright P. Terence, an African and a former slave, was well placed to preach the message of universalism, of the essential unity of the human race, that had come down in philosophical form from the Greeks, but needed the pragmatic muscles of Rome in order to become a practical reality. The influence of Terence's felicitous phrase on Roman thinking about human rights can hardly be overestimated. Two hundred years later Seneca ended his seminal exposition of the unity of humankind with a clarion-call:.
There is one short rule that should regulate human relationships. All that you see, both divine and human, is one. We are parts of the same great body. Nature created us from the same source and to the same end. She imbued us with mutual affection and sociability, she taught us to be fair and just, to suffer injury rather than to inflict it. She bid us extend our hands to all in need of help. Let that well-known line be in our heart and on our lips: Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto.
Better acquaintance with Greek and Roman technical writings also influenced the development of European science see the history of science in the Renaissance. This was despite what A. Crombie viewing the Renaissance in the 19th-century manner as a chapter in the heroic March of Progress calls "a backwards-looking admiration for antiquity", in which Platonism stood in opposition to the Aristotelian concentration on the observable properties of the physical world. However, by the mid-to-late 16th century, even the universities, though still dominated by Scholasticism, began to demand that Aristotle be read in accurate texts edited according to the principles of Renaissance philology, thus setting the stage for Galileo's quarrels with the outmoded habits of Scholasticism.
It was in education that the humanists' program had the most lasting results, their curriculum and methods:. The humanistic school, animated by the idea that the study of classical languages and literature provided valuable information and intellectual discipline as well as moral standards and a civilised taste for future rulers, leaders, and professionals of its society, flourished without interruption, through many significant changes, until our own century, surviving many religious, political and social revolutions.
It has but recently been replaced, though not yet completely, by other more practical and less demanding forms of education. Renaissance scholars associated with humanism were religious, but inveighed against the abuses of the Church, if not against the Church itself. In the Renaissance to be secular meant simply to be in the world rather than in a monastery. Petrarch frequently admitted that his brother Gherardo's life as a Carthusian monk was superior to his own although Petrarch himself was in Minor Orders and was employed by the Church all his life.
He hoped that he could do some good by winning earthly glory and praising virtue, inferior though that might be to a life devoted solely to prayer. By embracing a non-theistic philosophic base,  however, the methods of the humanists, combined with their eloquence, would ultimately have a corrosive effect on established authority. Yet it was from the Renaissance that modern Secular Humanism grew, with the development of an important split between reason and religion. This occurred as the church's complacent authority was exposed in two vital areas.
In science, Galileo's support of the Copernican revolution upset the church's adherence to the theories of Aristotle, exposing them as false. In theology, the Dutch scholar Erasmus with his new Greek text showed that the Roman Catholic adherence to Jerome's Vulgate was frequently in error. A tiny wedge was thus forced between reason and authority, as both of them were then understood. For some, this meant turning back to the Bible as the source of authority instead of the Catholic Church, for others it was a split from theism altogether. This was the main divisive line between the Reformation and the Renaissance,  which dealt with the same basic problems, supported the same science based on reason and empirical research, but had a different set of presuppositions theistic versus naturalistic.
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