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A history of philosophy in the renaissance and baroque

Continuities[ edit ] The structure, sources, method, and topics of philosophy in the Renaissance had much in common with those of previous centuries. Structure of philosophy[ edit ] Particularly since the recovery of a great portion of Aristotelian writings in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, it became clear that, in addition to Aristotle's writings on logic, which had already been known, there were numerous others roughly having to do with natural philosophy, moral philosophy, and metaphysics.

These areas provided the structure for the philosophy curriculum of the emerging universities. The general assumption was that the most 'scientific' branches of philosophy were those that were more theoretical and therefore more widely applicable.

The Renaissance and Baroque Art Periods

During the Renaissance too, many thinkers saw these as the main philosophical areas, with logic providing a training of the mind to approach the other three. Sources of philosophy[ edit ] A similar continuity can be seen in the case of sources. Although Aristotle was never an unquestioned authority [1] he was more often than not a springboard for discussion, and his opinions were often discussed along those of others, or the teaching of Holy Scripturemedieval lectures in physics consisted of reading Aristotle's Physicslessons in moral philosophy consisted a history of philosophy in the renaissance and baroque examinations of his Nicomachean Ethics and often his Politicsand metaphysics was approached through his Metaphysics.

The assumption that Aristotle's works were foundational to an understanding of philosophy did not wane during the Renaissance, which saw a flourishing of new translations, commentaries, and other interpretations of his works, both in Latin and in the vernacular. Philosophical texts and problems were typically approached through university lectures and 'questions'. The latter, similar in some ways to modern debates, examined the pros and cons of particular philosophical positions or interpretations.

They were one of the cornerstones of the ' scholastic method ', made students who proposed or responded to questions quick on their feet, and required a deep familiarity with all of the known philosophical tradition, which would often be invoked in support of or against specific arguments. This style of philosophy continued to have a strong following in the Renaissance.

Pico della Mirandola's Disputations, for instance, depended directly on this tradition, which was not at all limited to university lecture halls. Topics in philosophy[ edit ] Given the remarkable range of Aristotelian philosophyit was possible to discuss all kinds of issues in medieval and Renaissance philosophy. Aristotle had treated directly problems such as the trajectory of missiles, the habits of animals, how knowledge is acquired, the freedom of the will, how virtue is connected with happiness, the relationship of the lunar and the sublunar worlds.

Indirectly he had stimulated discussion on two points that were particularly of concern to Christians: All of these continued to be of considerable interest to Renaissance thinkers, but we shall see that in some cases the solutions offered were a history of philosophy in the renaissance and baroque different because of changing cultural and religious landscapes.

The same outline as above will be used, to show that within trends of continuity one can also find surprising differences. Sources of philosophy[ edit ] It is therefore useful to reconsider what was mentioned above about philosophical sources.

The Renaissance saw a significant broadening of source material. Plato, known directly only through two and a half dialogues in the Middle Ages, came to be known through numerous Latin translations in fifteenth century Italy, culminating in the hugely influential translation of his complete works by Marsilio Ficino in Florence in 1484. Petrarch was also a great admirer of Roman poets such as Virgil and Horace and of Cicero for Latin prose writing.

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Not all humanists followed his example in all things, but Petrarch contributed to a broadening of his time's 'canon' pagan poetry had previously been considered frivolous and dangeroussomething that happened in philosophy as well. In the sixteenth century anyone who considered himself 'au fait' read Plato as well as Aristotle, trying as much as possible and not always very successfully to reconcile the two with each other and with Christianity.

This is probably the main reason why Donato Acciaiuoli's commentary on Aristotle's Ethics first published in 1478 was so successful: This was never really the case for Epicureanism, which was almost always caricatured and considered with suspicion, but Scepticism and Pyrrhonism did make a comeback thanks to writers like Michel Montaigneand the movement of Stoicism made an impressive re-appearance in the writings of Justus Lipsius.

Structure of philosophy[ edit ] While generally the Aristotelian structure of the branches of philosophy stayed in place, interesting developments and tensions were taking place within them. In moral philosophy, for instance, a position consistently held by Thomas Aquinas and his numerous followers was that its three subfields ethics, economics, politics were related to progressively wider spheres the individual, the family and the community. Politics, Thomas thought, is more important than ethics because it considers the good of the greater number.

This position came under increasing strain in the Renaissance, as various thinkers claimed that Thomas's classifications were inaccurate, and that ethics were the most important part of morality.

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He insisted, for instance, on the value of the practical aspects of ethics. Petrarch's position, expressed both strongly and amusingly in his invective On His Own Ignorance and That of Many Others De sui ipsius ac multorum ignorantia is also important for another reason: This perspective, so typical of Italian humanism, could easily lead to reducing all philosophy to ethics, in a move reminiscent of Plato's Socrates and of Cicero.

Method of philosophy[ edit ] If, as mentioned above, scholasticism continued to flourish, the Italian humanists i. As we have seen, they believed that philosophy could be brought under the wing of rhetoric.

Humanism in the Renaissance and the Baroque

They also thought that the scholarly discourse of their time needed to return to the elegance and precision of its classical models. They therefore tried dressing philosophy in a more appealing garb than had their predecessors, whose translations and commentaries were in technical Latin and sometimes simply transliterated the Greek. He hoped to communicate the elegance of Aristotle's Greek while also making the text more accessible to those without a philosophical education.

  • The invention of moveable types in the 1400s played a significant role in the dissemination of ideologies and artistic varieties throughout Europe as was evident in the increased interest in literature and travel;
  • We cannot even understand our own human nature since a human being is a complex organic whole that consists of countless tiny parts in both body and mind, and we can never gain access to those parts;
  • Born into an aristocratic family in northern Italy, his mother put him on an educational fast track for a career in the Church;
  • But what about your happiness?
  • The Social Contract A second great contributor to a new conception of morality and natural law was Thomas Hobbes 1588—1679 , who took a more skeptical approach to the subject than did Grotius.

The driving conviction was that philosophy should be freed of its technical jargon so that more people would be able to read it. At the same time, all kinds of summaries, paraphrases, and dialogues dealing with philosophical issues were prepared, in order to give their topics a wider dissemination. Humanists also encouraged the study of Aristotle and other writers of antiquity in the original. Desiderius Erasmusthe great Dutch humanist, even prepared a Greek edition of Aristotle, and eventually those teaching philosophy in the universities had to at least pretend that they knew A history of philosophy in the renaissance and baroque.

Humanists were not, however, great fans of the vernacular. There is only a handful of examples of dialogues or translations of Aristotle's works into Italian during the fifteenth century. Once it had been determined, however, that Italian was a language with literary merit and that it could carry the weight of philosophical discussion, numerous efforts in this direction started to appear, particularly from the 1540s onward.

Alessandro Piccolomini had a programme to translate or paraphrase the entire Aristotelian corpus into the vernacular. Efforts got underway to present Plato's doctrines in the vernacular as well. This rise of vernacular philosophy, which quite predated the Cartesian approach, is a new field of research whose contours are only now beginning to be clarified.

We know that debates about the freedom of the will continued to flare up for instance, in the famous exchanges between Erasmus and Martin Lutherthat Spanish thinkers were increasingly obsessed with the notion of nobility, that duelling was a practice that generated a large literature in the sixteenth century was it permissible or not?

Earlier histories gave perhaps undue attention to Pietro Pomponazzi 's pronouncements on the immortality of the soul as a question that could not be resolved philosophically in a way consistent with Christianity, or to Pico della Mirandola's Oration on the dignity of man, as if these were signals of the period's increasing secularism or even atheism.

In fact, the most successful compendium of natural philosophy in the period Compendium philosophiae naturalis, first published in 1530 was authored by Frans Titelmans, a Franciscan friar from the Low Countries whose work has a very strong religious flavour.

Comparisons of the Renaissance and Baroque Periods Essay

In other words, religion had a massive importance in the period, and one can hardly study philosophy without remembering this. This is true among others for the philosophy of Marsilio Ficino 1433—1499who reinterpreted Plato in the light of his early Greek commentators and also of Christianity. Ficino hoped that a purified philosophy would bring about a religious renewal in his society and therefore transformed distasteful aspects of Platonic philosophy for instance, the homosexual love exalted in the Symposium into spiritual love i.

  1. Here a point is eliminated.
  2. Herbert is often recognized as the founder of deism, which was a philosophical approach to religion during the eighteenth-century with the general theme that God created the world but thereafter left it alone, without interfering in the laws of nature that he established.
  3. He describes this condition of brutality in one of the most famous passages in philosophy. You may freely and honorably mold, make, and sculpt yourself into any shape you prefer.
  4. First, he maintains that the ethics of pleasure focuses both on others and oneself. Although philosophy has progressed, in the sense that each new philosopher has taken into account the arguments of the preceding ones, the same questions persist throughout the history of philosophy.
  5. In his efforts to break Christianity free from the rule of the Catholic Church, he concluded that the entire university curriculum also required serious overhauling, especially by rejecting its heavy reliance on books by Aristotle. She goes into Alberto's house and finds that the postcard angers him, but he tells her the crucifix was just a "cheap trick.

Ficino and his followers also had an interest in 'hidden knowledge', mainly because of his belief that all of ancient knowledge was interconnected Moses, for instance, had received his insights from the Greeks, who in turn had received them from others, all according to God's plan and therefore mutually consistent; Hermeticism is relevant here.

Although Ficino's interest in and practice of astrology was not uncommon in his time, one should not necessarily associate it with philosophy, as the two were usually considered to be quite separate and often in contradiction with each other.

In conclusion, like any other moment in the history of thought Renaissance philosophy cannot be considered to have provided something entirely new nor to have continued for centuries to repeat the conclusions of its predecessors. Historians call this period the 'Renaissance' in order to indicate the rebirth that took place of ancient particularly classical perspectives, sources, attitudes toward literature and the arts.

At the same time, we realize that every reappropriation is constrained and even guided by contemporary concerns and biases. It was no different for the period considered here: