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Humanism is the term generally applied to the predominant social philosophy and intellectual and literary currents of the period from 1400 to 1650 The return to favor of the pagan classics stimulated the philosophy of secularism the appreciation of worldly pleasures and above all intensified the assertion of personal independence and individual expression Zeal for the classics was a result as well as a cause of the growing secular view of life Expansion of trade growth of prosperity and luxury and widening social contacts generated interest in worldly pleasures in spite of formal allegiance to ascetic Christian doctrine Men thus affected -- the humanists -- welcomed classical writers who revealed similar social values and secular attitudes Coates et al 23 Historians are pretty much agreed on the general outlines of those mental attitudes and scholarly interests which are assembled under the rubric of humanism The most fundamental point of agreement is that the humanist mentality stood at a point midway between medieval supernaturalism and the modern scientific and critical attitude Medievalists see humanism as the terminal product of the Middle Ages Modern historians are perhaps more apt to view humanism as the germinal period of modernism Blackham 110 Perhaps the most it can be assume is that the man of the Renaissance lived as it were between two worlds The world of the medieval Christian matrix in which the significance of every phenomenon was ultimately determined through uniform points of view no longer existed for him On the other hand he had not yet found in a system of scientific concepts and social principles stability and security for his life In other words Renaissance man may indeed have found himself suspended between faith and reason Blackham 115 As the grip of medieval supernaturalism began to diminish secular and human interests became more prominent The facts of individual experience in the here and now became more interesting than the shadowy afterlife Reliance upon faith
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