Historical Humanism

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In the Western academic world it is customary to label as “humanism” the process of cultural transformation that, beginning in Italy, especially Florence, between the end of the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries and ended in the Renaissance with its expansion throughout Europe. This current appeared linked to the humanae litterae (texts referring to things human) in contraposition to the divinae litterae (with the accent on things divine). And this is one of the reasons why its representatives are called “humanists.” Following that interpretation, humanism in its origins is a literary phenomenon, with a clear tendency to consider anew the contributions of Greco-Latin culture, which had been smothered by the medieval Christian vision. It should be noted that the rise of this phenomenon was not due simply to the endogenous modification of economic, social, and political factors in Western society, but that it received trans-formative influences from other environments and civilizations. Extensive contact with Jewish and Arabic cultures, trade with cultures of the Orient, and a broadening of the geographic horizon all formed part of a context that gave incentive to a concern for things generically human and discoveries of things human.