Humanism is a doctrine, attitude, or way of life that is centered on human interests or values and stresses an individual's dignity and worth and capacity for self-realization through reason. It was first developed in ancient Greece and Rome. It is no coincidence that many of our legal codes go back to Rome and many scientific and technical terms and ideas back to ancient Greece. But Greece in particular has influenced philosophy, which celebrates reason. We use the term Classical Humanism to refer to the humanism of this early period. In order to know what humanism is one must look at its history.
Although the term "humanism" was not applied to a philosophy or belief system until the European Renaissance, those early humanists were inspired the ideas and attitudes which they discovered in forgotten manuscripts from ancient Greece. This Greek humanism can be identified by a number of shared characteristics: it was materialistic in that it sought explanations for events in the natural world, and it valued humanity in that it placed One of the earliest person we might be able to call a "humanist" in some sense would be Protagoras, a Greek philosopher who lived around the 5th century B.C. Protagoras exhibited two important features which remain central to humanism even today. First, he appears to have made humanity gave the spark of different values and consideration when he said, "Man is the measure of all things." In other words, it is not to the gods that we should look when setting standards, but instead to ourselves. Secondly, Protagoras was cynical with regards to traditional religious beliefs and traditional gods. So much so that he was accused of impiety and exiled from Athens. Protagoras claimed that: "As to gods, I have no means of knowing either that they exist or do not exist. For many are the obstacles that impede knowledge, both the obscurity of the question and the shortness of human life." Protagoras may be the first one credited with writing...
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