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Posted: November 24th, 2022

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Were Renaissance Humanists in the right by rejecting religion and superstition in favor of Modern Secular Principles?
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Is it possible that Renaissance Humanists were correct in their decision to reject religion and superstition in favor of Modern Secular Principles?

In the 16th century, the protestant and catholic reformations were in revolt against the Renaissance secularism and Humanism, which had been adopted by the Renaissance Humanists as their philosophical foundation. After a series of religious disputes and wars, the Reformation opened the door for humanists to advance in their belief in secular principles such as “free will,” human rights, and universal education. Furthermore, the efforts of the renaissance humanists were critical in shifting the focus away from the medieval-period ideals emphasized by the church and toward the arts and social changes of the time period (Stearns, 70). It is the purpose of this essay to discuss the benefits that the world has received as a result of the efforts of Renaissance humanists in promoting western civilization. People’s religious and superstitious beliefs have a special significance in their lives, but observing them to an excessive degree can have negative consequences for the advancement of the world.

Breaking away from the church’s medieval-period ideals resulted in the scientific revolution and the establishment of absolute power, among other things. The scientific revolution resulted in breakthroughs such as the discovery of planetary motion, which established the scientific method and world view. Absolutism, on the other hand, was concerned with bringing about political reforms in opposition to the existing absolute monarchs. The Renaissance Humanists intervened in Europe to change the way kings ran their governments by introducing absolutisms, which, in turn, changed the way monarchies ran their governments. Furthermore, the Reformation interfered with the church while simultaneously granting the king the authority to control trade, resulting in increased wealth creation. Due to the fact that it went against biblical doctrines, the church, and the absolute monarchs, this discovery caused a commotion. These scientific breakthroughs resulted in the formation of democratic governments in opposition to the existing absolute monarchies.

A similar argument can be made that the renaissance humanists were responsible for the emergence of the Enlightenment, which was an age of reason according to Eurocentric narratives. Reason was considered the primary source of authority and legitimacy by enlightenment thinkers, and it was believed that it was necessary to distinguish between religion and the state. Additionally, they called into question the existing traditional authority and opted instead for the notion that rational change could benefit humanity as a result. This enlightenment was a cultural movement that emphasized the importance of rationalism, political theory, and economic theory as components of the scientific revolution as part of the scientific revolution. When it comes to political modernization in the west, it is the enlightenment that is responsible for religious conflicts in Europe that have resulted in enormous differences and the establishment of new churches. As a result, the enlightenment and romanticism ushered in modern western consumerism by extolling the virtues of material progress and encouraging emotional satisfaction through material possessions.

Because of this, the period witnessed an increase in commercialization both domestically and internationally, with European merchants playing a crucial role in the period’s success. Instead of meeting individual needs, production for market sales increased, and specialization began, as in France and Germany, with shoe production, scissors production, and nails production being the primary focuses (Stearns, 72). Nevertheless, as international trade grew in importance, the use of money increased in various sectors of western society, particularly as Europe pushed for agricultural societies and commercial structures. Trade was favored by religious reformations to a certain extent because they encouraged business life as a means of gaining God’s favor. Furthermore, people began to adopt more modern ways of life, which included new fashions, an increase in the number of stores, and advertisements designed to entice customers to purchase new items on the market. Renaissance humanists advocated for the secular principle of “free will” in commercial innovations and social change, and they pushed for mass consumerism, new acquisitions, and a strong sense of one’s own self.

When it came to the establishment of bureaucratic institutions, renaissance humanists played a critical role. It marked the beginning of a new political imagination and cultural identity, which was later characterized by republicanism, and served as the foundation for the emergence of a new political identity, as well as the foundation for the development of European political modernity (Delanty, 120). For example, in France, prior to the establishment of these institutions, there were no restrictions on movement across borders. Nonetheless, because of the changes in governance, it was difficult to cross the border into Spain because of the laws and economic regulations in place there. However, while western civilization had not yet been fully organized into nation-states, monarchies such as the Habsburgs, which would later come to be known as multinationals, were gradually fading with the introduction of nation-state economies in the western world. As much as this change interfered with the previous religious monarchies, it also brought about unfavorable changes that promoted human rights and universal education in the process.

Because of this, the Renaissance humanists contributed to the development of the European family style, which was nuclear in nature. This type of family delegated authority to the man as the family’s head, and the wife played an important role in the family’s functioning (Stearns, 75). In this family setting, where informal sharing served as the basis for decision-making, a new spark of gender relations could be observed. Furthermore, this period was associated with the protestant reformations, during which the clergy were permitted to marry and further defined the responsibilities of the husband and wife in a family setting while praising the institution of marriage, as opposed to the monarchies, during which the clergy were not permitted to marry and praised the institution of marriage. As a result of the revolutionary new family setting, certain previously held superstitions about women being more sinful than men were abolished, and patriarchal societies were promoted.

As a key factor in generating educational interest, which in turn resulted in changes to the existing popular culture, humanism played an important role. By the 18th century, a large number of West Europeans had read something that had altered information sources and altered the way people thought about the world. Before the Reformation, religion had taken hold of the way people thought and perceived things; however, the Reformation encouraged people to think in new ways. Furthermore, despite the fact that renaissance humanists held secular beliefs that were in conflict with religious beliefs, they accepted certain Christian beliefs. Instead, they believed that the church had no right to rule over civic affairs, and instead concentrated on spiritual matters while allowing civilization to develop organically around them. Examples include how, as a result of civilization, people’s manners changed both among elites and among the masses, resulting in a growing value placed on individualism, a belief in the emotional qualities of family life, and a growing belief that nature can be arranged by human foresight, among other things. It is possible that society would still be dominated primarily by the church without the intervention of Humanism.

Throughout history, Western civilization, through the work of Renaissance humanists, has played a significant role in the development of institutions and values that are still held dear in contemporary society. The governmental institutions that recognize the fundamentals of human rights serve to protect both the individual and the general public through the implementation of constitutional rights that are clearly defined. People today have the freedom to engage in their commercial activities and attend the religious services of their choice, regardless of their religious beliefs or affiliations. Additionally, education has emerged as a critical component of people’s lives, as all scientific discoveries rely on it to advance the world’s technological advancement. The scientific revolution, which was only made possible by the efforts and determination of the renaissance humanists in their opposition to the rigidity of religious beliefs, is largely responsible for the incredible period of development that the world has experienced.

Works Cited
Delanty, Gerard. “The Renaissance and the Rise of European Consciousness.” Formations of European Modernity. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2019. 109-131.

Stearns, Peter N. Western civilization in world history. Routledge, 2008.
“The Renaissance and the Rise of European Consciousness,” by Gerard Delanty, is available online. Formations of European Modernity in the nineteenth century. Cambridge, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019. 109-131.
Gamarra, Yolanda. “Theorizing on the Institution of War in Erasmus and Vitoria During the Universalmonarchie of Charles V.” In Empire, Humanism and Rights, pp. 189-208. Springer, Cham, 2022.
Eyffinger, Arthur. “Natural Law and National Polity: The Leiden Discourse on State and Church (1575–1625).” In Sacred Polities, Natural Law and the Law of Nations in the 16th-17th Centuries, pp. 29-55. Brill, 2022.
Peter N. Stearns’ Western Civilization in World History is a classic work of historical scholarship. Routledge & Kegan Paul, 2008.

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