Historical Humanism developing of

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HISTORICAL HUMANISM, development of Only one hundred years after Petrarch (1304-1374), knowledge of the classics was ten times greater than it had been during the entire previous thousand years. Petrarch searched through ancient codices, trying to correct a distorted memory, and in so doing initiated both a movement to reconstruct the past and a new point of view that included the flow of history, which had been blocked by the “immobilism” of the epoch. Another early humanist, Manetti, in his work De dignitary et excellentia hominis (“On the Dignity of Man”), revindicated the human being from the “contemptu mundi” or scorn for the world preached by the monk Lothar of Segni (later to became Pope Innocent III). Subsequently, Lorenzo Valla in his De voluptuary (“On Pleasure”) attacked the ethical concept of pain, an idea of central importance in the society in his time. Thus, at the same time the economy and the structures of society were undergoing transformation, humanists were creating a consciousness of this process, generating a cascade of productions which gradually gave shape to a movement that spread beyond the cultural ambit and ultimately called into question the structures of power in the hands of the Church and the Monarchy. It is well known that many of the themes implanted by the humanists continued to develop, eventually giving inspiration to the encyclopedists and revolutionaries of the eighteenth century. However, following the American and French Revolutions, the humanist attitude began to wane, and finally sank from sight. By then, critical idealism, absolute idealism, and romanticism, which in turn inspired absolutist political philosophies, had abandoned humankind as the central value, converting the human being into an epiphenomenon of other powers.