Classical humanism is distinguished by emphases on philosophy, written codes of virtues and ethics, and the creation of a body of literature and art. It often looks back to a prior age of heroism. It is generally the philosophy of a privileged aristocracy.(The term, as we use it here, describes a type of humanism, and is not exactly contiguous with the Classical Era)
- Chou Dynasty (Chinese) Humanism (ca. 1200-200 B.C.):
Philosophy has always been crucial to Chinese identity. In the first period of Chinese Humanism, two major schools of thought were developed:
- Taoism, the way of virtue. This was a highly mystical and metaphysical look at the basic nature of the universe. It advocated a system of virtue based on harmony with nature. Although too abstract to be truly humanist, the Taoist metaphysics established the foundation for the development of Chinese medicine.
- Confucianism, a very different look at virtues and ethics. Confucianism was profoundly humanist, composed (as it was) of hundreds of detailed precepts on the subject of human existence and the social order. Structure, propriety and ritual were the guiding concepts of Confucianism. Like Taoism, Confucianism looked to nature for guidance.
- Human-centered sculpture and painting, in a increasingly natural and realistic style.
- A fascination with mathematics and geometry, leading to advances in architecture.
- The development of the art of drama, and the creation of great works of theater.
- Writings on the subject of virtue and excellence.
- The three greatest Western philosophers, and their philosophies:
- Socrates: He used paradox and discourse to rid students of preconceptions, and give them a radically different perspective on life. Socrates was very concerned with virtue, but disavowed the codification of the same.
- Plato: He developed a mystical and metaphysical view of the universe. The profound truths he uncovered could be applied to any situation. He was to have a profound influence on the later development of Christian theology.
- Aristotle: He was concerned with the minute details of human life and the social order. He believed that Divine order was embodied in the physical world, and discoverable though investigation. His “physicalized metaphysics” became the foundation for Western Science.
|<< Previous||Next >>|