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IGNOU History BA and MA Materials in PDF Baliyan History Notes PDF · A Brief History of Modern India by Rajiv Ahir (Spectrum) PDF · Early History of INDIA. eGyanKosh · Indira Gandhi National Open University(IGNOU) · School of History Community home page EHI History India From 8th to 15th Century. BA History Study Material Ignou Pdf Download for UPSC Indian Economic Development:Issues and Perspectives; Agricultural Development in India.
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Such sentiments had already informed the writing of the 13th century humanists like Leonardo Da Vinci. Ficinos glorification of human nature takes the pursuit of the human glory beyond the everyday life of the middle class Florentines. Ficino, despite his knowledge in platonic philosophy on which he regularly lectured before students in his platonic academy, was a believer in magic and astrology. Ficino belonged to a circle of some prominent intellectual figures, which included a young prince of Medici family whose name was Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola.
Mirandolas most famous work, Oration on the dignity of man, published in deals with the theme of human dignity by suggesting that of all Gods creation man received complete freedom to choose his own place in the Great chain of being. By his own free choice man creates himself either in a spiritual fashion or in the manner of a beast.
His view of human nature did not look towards divine grace but celebrated worldly achievement. The secular morality of the humanists, therefore was grounded in a belief in mans intellectual and moral capacity, a new sense of history, and a highly sophisticated mode of learning.
Faith in human capacity came form the realisation that the educated could attain wisdom without the help of priests or intellectuals.
The conception was strengthened by a renewed acceptance of the ancient proposition that virtue was knowledge. Behind this lay a belief that knowledge could elevate human beings. These attitudes constituted an idea not just of individualism but also a different ideal of public man, setting out not just a few new assumptions about humanity but also a normative procedure for assessing human actions. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the scholars, the artists, the architects, the musicians and the writers, all those who shaped the culture of Humanism, began to experience a more general sense that their society had entered upon a new age, an age which Renaissance and the Idea of the Individual 13 Theories of the Modern World has removed the darkness of the preceding centuries: the Renaissance.
While this interpretation of history was an exaggeration of what they were professing, it was yet undeniable that a new vision of man was being created. The new man was considered sovereign in the world and, with his reason and creative powers, was able to refashion the world in accordance with his will.
Increasingly, the studium humanitatis and the general cultural climate of the Renaissance produced texts which showed this deepening interest in the essence of what made man more civilized, humane being and which were therefore called humanist literature. Texts written on a variety of subjects sought to expose what man was and could do both as an individual and as a member of society. The autobiography, in which a person tells his own, unique story of his life was born in humanist circles.
A fine example of this kind of writing was the one written by the famous goldsmith and sculptor, Benvenuto Cellini , it was a secular and realistic work which told the story of his life. His readers were persuaded to see the world around him through his eyes, not according to all sorts of idealizations which the Church had earlier imposed on Christian communities. Thus, Cellini writes of the necessity to record ones deeds, and in the process informs the posterity about his experience and engagement with reality.
He writes about the ancient monuments that inspired him, giving an idea of the sense of life and movement in Michelangelos work, often graphically describing Michelangelos quarrels with his competitors. Another instance of this genre of writings is Vasaris Lives of the Artists, in which the author, who was himself an artist, reflected on the achievements of some of his contemporaries in relation to their personalities, in short describing the place of the creative individual in society.
His work, as those of other great names of the renaissance like Niccolo Machiavelli was informed by the sentiments that all men were capable of achieving wisdom and glory a feeling which merged into the new humanist ideas in the intellectual circles. This enabled them to understand afresh the history of texts, in the process laying out the groundwork for classical scholarship of modern times.
A consequence of such intellectual interest enabled the humanists to develop a new understanding of man in society. The moral basis of this ideal was derived from the belief in mans capacity to understand truth on the strength of his reason and worldly sense an idea that the intellectuals of the renaissance had inherited from classical learning.
At one level this human capacity was looked upon as a divine gift; at another level human achievement depended on free choice which implicitly acknowledged a certain self definition of goals and responsibilities by an individual, who was as much capable of sound decisions as of faulty strategies. The description of man incorporated both virtue and vice. The historian Buckhardt wrote about the development of the individual as an aspect of this new consciousness, attributing this to the material life and political culture of the Italian city states.
This new consciousness created the ideal of the universal man in the sense of a certain recognition of the individual personality and private achievements. To men like Machiavelli pursuit of glory was a perfectly human virtue.
MORALISM Apart from the pursuit of glory, the self-development of an individual personality through cultivation of arts and sciences emerged as another social ideal allowing a great flowering of creative activity. The cult of artistic personality was the other side of the same coin an ideal which figures prominently in Vasaris Lives who linked artistic excellence to a psychology of achievement.
To some extent Vasari had followed 14 the procedure which had been adopted by the celebrated Roman biographer Plutarch.
Plutarch had presented before the humanists a vision of man in society whose achievements were results of their pursuit of glory and entwined with a certain conception of virtue. The idea was attractive and powerful because of its intense realism. Niccolo Machiavelli , a Florentine scholar, who, in his famous tract The Prince, describes the role of man in that segment of society which is called politics.
Machiavelli, too, was secular and a realist; he showed that the will to power was a dominant motive in human action though often coated with nice words of religious and ethical nature.
Upon a closer look it revealed itself as pure self-interest; and more importantly there was nothing wrong about it. Machiavellis political thought is often interpreted as the activation, in one sense or another, of a pagan morality, without being contaminated by Christian asceticism. It is also argued that being a realist he suggested a dual morality. What was moral in the public sphere might have been immoral in ones private life.
Machiavellis condonation of cunning on the part of a ruler in the larger interest of the realm, is the well-known example of the dual morality. Machiavelli apparently was interested more in what men did in the public sphere than what they preached.
Scholars like Quentin Skinner have painstakingly argued that this was essentially a pre-Christian pagan morality where success was worshiped as virtue. Even though Machiavelli had a gloomy opinion about the way life was governed by fortune, he placed a large premium on the appropriate initiatives by men to overpower fortune.
In a sense this was a celebration of man as a selfdetermining being. Such a dynamic concept of man which appears with the renaissance, like humanism, cannot be precisely defined. It certainly implied an individualistic outlook and has often been described as renaissance individualism. In a way it fell far short of the individualism of a mature bourgeois society, yet it was bourgeois individualism in its embryo.
Probably the ideal of the self-made man which renaissance humanism proclaimed was suggestive of the way the individuals were capable of shaping their own lives rather than the more mundane pursuit of power and money. This ideal was closely tied with certain versatility or many-sidedness of human nature going against the ordered existence that was imposed on man by Christianity and feudalism.
The Christian concept of man was founded on the idea that man necessarily had a depraved existence and could be delivered only by the grace of god. At another level he was a member of a feudal order or an estate.
The status of an individual either as a member of a feudal order or as a member of the Christian community allowed him an extremely narrow range of freedom. One could of course rebel against the church and could be condemned as a heretic.
But even that rebellion was staged in the name of the Christ, always weighed down by the belief in mans essential sinfulness derived from the Biblical notion of the original sin. The renaissance view of man replaced this with the dynamic view in which the two extreme poles were the greatness of man and also his littleness. Whether great or small, man began to be looked upon as a relatively autonomous being, creating his own destiny, struggling with fate, making himself.
This was no more than an idealised image of actual man, backed up adequately by a pluralism of moral values reversing a value system based on the seven cardinal sins and seven cardinal virtues of medieval Christianity.
The pluralism of moral values appears boldly in the way the renaissance intellectuals began to respond very differently to different human propensities. If the striving for power was perfectly acceptable to Machiavelli, to some others, like Thomas More, it was a source of much mischief. To put it simply the renaissance experienced the development of what may be labeled Renaissance and the Idea of the Individual 15 Theories of the Modern World as realistic ethics, suggesting a situation where values became relative and contradictory calling upon man to look for the appropriate measure to distinguish between good and bad against the background of a significant transformation of social life.
The new ideal of man presumes a larger amount of freedom of action which the medieval Christian community did not allow. The city state was one sphere in which it became increasingly evident that man is the maker of his own world together with others instead of being determined by either Christian or feudal rules of conduct. One of the consequences was the gradual fading away of the old notion of sin.
The man of the age began to measure his action by their success or the lack of it. The emergence of such practical atheism was an important aspect of renaissance thinking about man. It also existed as the basis of the rational Christianity or a tolerant religion of reason taking its position against dogmatism and allowing a certain freedom of individuality and choice.
Ficino, for example, made a significant attempt to reconcile some of his platonic philosophical ideas with Christian thoughts imbued with the awareness of the creative power of man. The great renaissance figures discovered that the attributes of god in fact were the attributes of man as well.
One can perhaps think of an attempt towards the deification of man as one of the wonders of the world. There are many illustrations from renaissance sculptures where human heroes appear as divine figures. Michelangelos David looks like a Greek god. A man like Ficino not only argued that god created man, but also stressed that once created, man created himself over and over again. Ficino also spoke of the eternal restlessness and dissatisfaction of human mind returning to the same dynamic concept of man which refused to acknowledge any limits like an early modern merchant motivated by boundless opportunities for profits.
This vision of the greatness of man dovetailed with mans essential frailties. Machiavelli himself believed that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature partly because of the fact that human desires are insatiable. The most powerful motive Machiavelli sees as the incentive for every human action is self-interest. The vileness of human nature therefore had nothing to do with any deliberate design for evil and what Machiavelli described as human nature is synonymous with the general ethical belief of the emerging bourgeois society in which reliance was placed mainly on the unbiased observation of facts and behaviour.
This precisely was the ethic of experience which occupies a central place in Machiavellis definition of human nature when he writes that the desire to acquire possession is a very natural and ordinary thing, and when those men do it who can do it successfully they are always praised and not blamed. Artists presented this new vision of man as well. For the material remains of classical culture were now sought as assiduously as the surviving ancient texts: the 15th and 16th centuries saw the birth of archaeology.
Numerous works of art were discovered in the ruins of ancient Rome, and the finds reinforced the new view of man that had been developing in the previous century. A multitude of paintings and sculptures of perfectly proportioned men and women was the result. A new, ideal-type human being was created, which has captured our imagination through the ages.
Early in the 14th century life like frescos of Giotto di Baondone, had brought about significant changes in the artistic visualization of human figure breaking away from the mechanical style of the middle ages. In , the Italian sculptor Donatelo broke new ground with figures like his nude David, anticipating the more well known work on the same subject by Michelangelo in Leonardo da Vinci painted Monalisa, which has remained as one of the symbols of female beauty in modern times.
In painting, attempts were made to represent everything as it appeared. Though not totally absent in the previous ages, one can certainly maintain that for many centuries realism had been relatively unimportant. Already in the 14th and 15th centuries, during the first phases of humanist culture, painters increasingly attempted to reproduce reality, casting off preconceived ideas about what was morally or religiously acceptable.
Increasingly, what the eye could measure or observe was painted incorporating distance, depth and colour in order to make the painting more realistic. In sculpture too people were individualized, with recognizable faces, whereas the art of the preceding centuries had been a component of an architectural background - reliefs more than freestanding figures; in the changed context sculpted images presented man according to his newly-won vision of himself as an independent and free personality, displaying a certain pride in the beauty of the body, both the male and, in view of the conventions of the preceding age, the female too.
This was the case even when paintings and sculptures served religious purposes, and were composed in such a way that they aroused an appropriate devotional reaction in the viewers, like the Madonna and her child by the Italian painter Raphael or the huge frescos, mosaics and statues that adorned walls and ceilings and cupolas in the Church.
The new culture was admired and imitated all over Europe although, of course, by the better educated and the wealthy, only. For both south and north of the Alps, Humanism and the Renaissance were elite phenomena. Only very few of the new ideas and thoughts filtered down to the ordinary man who, after all, could not read or write the polite language, lacking, as the cultivated mind of the age saw it, the ability to acquire virtue and wisdom.
Yet in the15th and early 16th centuries, the educational institutions in northern Europe produced many humanists. Like their Italian colleagues, they too, began to focus on the classical Greek and Roman texts along with the holy books of the Christians.
Desiderius Erasmus, one of the most famous of these north European humanists, in a series of treatises, tried to lay down the rules for an educational system that despite its Christian foundation, came to be animated by the critical spirit of Humanism. Indeed, one should not forget that, contrary to what often has been suggested, most people living the culture of Renaissance and humanism did not display a heathenish, pagan spirit but remained firmly tied to a view of man and the world as, essentially, redeemable only by a Christian God.
By the beginning of the 16th century humanist values had begun to refashion the intellectual life of northern Europe. But unlike Italy, where professionals dominated the humanist movement and gave it a secular character even atheist in some cases in European humanism the leading protagonists were mostly members 18 of the clerical order.
Their reassessment of Christian theology set the stage for the Reformation by calling upon Christians to practice religion in the way it had been stated in the ancient texts of the Christian religion, by discarding unnecessary and unpalatable rituals, condemned as later accretions to a simple religion. With the advent of the Reformation, the humanist Self Congratulation on living in a golden age was eclipsed by theological battles of the time.
The waning of the Renaissance had begun. Yet the new view of man as a free rational agent was a principle to which the post-Renaissance philosophy returned over and over again, inspired by the belief in a distant god who created man but allowed him complete freedom to live his life freely, in pursuit of happiness here and now.
It starts by explaining that significant commercial, socio-cultural and literary developments in Europe during the 13thth centuries came to be viewed and conceptualized as Renaissance only in the 19th century. The Renaissance was marked by the emergence of a new culture with roots in Italian humanism. This culture was the product of a set of unique social, political and economic conditions prevalent in parts of Europe from the late 11th century onwards. These conditions were most conspicuous in the northern part of present-day Italy with the growth of commerce and cities.
These developments brought about an important shift in the centres of political power from the clerics men associated with the Christian Church and feudal nobles to wealthy urban merchants. At the same time there was also a tendency towards a consolidation of political power.
These crucial developments along with the emergence of new social groups lawyers and notaries , new ideologies humanism and tendencies towards secularism and new technologies print cumulatively transformed the socio-cultural and political landscape of Europe.
These developments also created new forces which, in the centuries to follow, worked towards a greater cohesion and integration of the world. Oligarchies : a small group of people in control of state power in the society. This term was generally used for the rulers of the city-states in medieval Europe. Although these changes did not occur at the same time or at the same pace in all countries, they structured a distinct historical era one that laid the foundations of the modern age.
The Enlightenment or the Age of Reason, as it came to be known subsequently, marked a sharp break from the past. Even though its anti-clericalism echoed the sentiments of the Renaissance and the Reformation it neither endorsed the paganism of the former nor did it share the faith of the latter.
It clearly identified two enemies: religion and hierarchy, and attempted to displace the centrality accorded to both in social and political life.
The Enlightenment men were not irreligious or atheists but they were bitterly opposed to and intolerant of the institutions of Christianity and they sought to challenge them by articulating a conception of man, history and nature that relied heavily upon the world-view expressed by the new discoveries in the natural sciences.
At the most general level, the Enlightenment used the scientific method of enquiry to launch a systematic attack on tradition per se. They questioned blind obedience to authority, whether that of the priest or the ruler. Nothing was any longer sacred and beyond critical scrutiny. The new social and political order that the Enlightenment thinkers aspired for expressed the optimism that came with the advancement of material and scientific knowledge.
They strongly believed that human beings were in a position to create a world in which freedom, liberty and happiness will prevail over all else. The writings of these theorists best express the spirit of the Enlightenment and its influence upon the modern age.
In this Unit we are going to discuss some of the essential features of the enlightenment. Through it the Enlightenment expressed the twin belief that a the present was better and more advanced than the past, and b this advancement has resulted in the happiness of man.
Both these claims about progress in history were based on the assessment of the changes that were taking place around them.
The scientific discoveries of Copernicus, Kepler and Newton and their applications by Galileo led them to believe that human beings could fully understand the functioning of the universe and gain an unprecedented degree of control over their natural and physical environment.
This sentiment was further reinforced by the changes that were taking place in the traditional organization of life. The incorporation of new technologies in the field of agriculture and in the manufacturing of goods had meant significant increase in the sphere of production. Coupled with improved communications, development of roads, canals, and the growth in internal and foreign trade, they believed they were standing on the threshold of a new era: an era that would be marked by abundance, perfectibility of man and the institutions of society.
At the most general level there was a feeling that we are now moving towards a condition in which, to quote Gibbons, all inhabitants of the planet would enjoy a perfectly happy existence. Theorists of the Enlightenment were convinced of the achievements and superiority of their age. They saw in history a movement from the dark ages to the civilized present. This did not mean that human history was slowly but steadily moving in one direction or that every stage marked an improvement over the previous one.
While pointing to progress in history they were primarily saying that there was a marked improvement in the quality of life in the present era. More specifically, the Philosophes philosophers who espoused this vision in France were claiming that there has been a tangible and undeniable advancement in every sphere of life since the Reformation.
For Chastellux, flourishing agriculture, trade and industry, the rise in population and the growth in knowledge were all indicators of the increase in felicity. The latter meant that their age was a much happier one. It was marked by peace, liberty and abundance. It was, to use Kants words, the best of all possible worlds. Unlike many of his contemporaries Kant was however of the view that happiness was not the main issue. It was not simply a question of increase or decrease in the levels of happiness because civilization, even in its most perfect form, could not bring about the happiness of men.
Hence it was not to be judged in those terms. Civilization, according to Kant, provided a setting in which men can test and prove their freedom. The present merited a special place in so far as it had created conditions in which men can encounter the most important category of reason, namely, freedom. The belief that man had advanced from the barbarous rusticity to the politeness of our age was characteristic of the Enlightenment.
Indeed, this reading of the past and the present marked a sharp break from the earlier conceptions of history. The Greeks, for instance, saw history as a cyclical process comprising of periods of glory followed by periods of decline and degeneration.
The Middle Ages, under the influence of Christianity, had little place for mundane history. Nothing in real history mattered because hope and happiness lay in the other-world. Mans fall from grace had meant the loss of idyllic existence.
Consequently, for them, it was only through redemption that men could hope to improve their present condition. The Renaissance broke away from this Christian reading of history but it had a pessimistic view of human nature. The Renaissance men believed that the achievements of antiquity, in particular, of Greek and Roman civilization, were unreachable.
They embodied the highest achievements of humankind that could not be surpassed. The Enlightenment, in sharp contrast to all this, focused on the here and now and saw in it unprecedented growth, accompanied by moral and intellectual liberation of man. Johnson is reported to have said, I am always angry when I hear ancient times being praised at the expense of modern times. There is now a great deal more learning in the world than there was formerly; for it is universally diffused.
The Scottish philosopher Dugald Stewart was even more unequivocal in affirming the progress in the present world. He argued that the increase in commerce had led to the diffusion of wealth and a more equal diffusion of freedom and happiness, than had ever existed before.
Technological innovations that accompanied capitalism The Enlightenment 21 Theories of the Modern World meant that men were released from the bondage of mechanical labour andfree to cultivate the mind.
The present was thus seen as the age of progress where there was unprecedented advance in every sphere of life. It was, in its view, riddled with superstition and dogma, and guided by religion and blind obedience to authority. Above all, it was marked by the absence of individual freedom. The theorists of Enlightenment believed that there were primarily two obstacles to progress wars and religion.
Both these could be, indeed they needed to be, destroyed by reason. Once that was done then the world would be a better place. It would, in the words of Condorcet, move from bondage to ultimate perfection of freedom and reason. Reason was, in a sense, the key to the earthly utopia. It was an instrument that individuals could use not only to interrogate all received forms of knowledge but also to lead a virtuous, rational and happy life.
For the Philosophes, reason was an ally of experience. It embodied a non-authoritarian source of knowledge that can be tested and proved. In the Preface to The System of Nature, Holbach wrote: [R]eason with its faithful guide experience must attack in their entrenchments those prejudices of which the human race has been too long the victim.
Let us try to inspire man with courage, with respect for his reason, with an indistinguishable love for truth, to the end that he may learn to consult his experience, and no longer be the dupe of an imagination led astray by authority.
Theorists, such as Holbach, believed that reason could liberate men from the oppressive power exercised by religion and, at the same time, provide them knowledge of the truth. Men had therefore to be taught to use reason and to act in accordance with its potentialities. This was the main Enlightenment project. Its spokesmen asserted with conviction that civilization was moving in the right direction and that it must continue to move in that direction.
The apparent progress in material and social life also gave them a sense of grandeur. They felt that there were no limits on what human beings could know and accomplish.
The development of human faculties and the advance that had been made by the sciences and by civilization as a whole, gave them enough reason to assert that nature had placed no limits on our hopes.
The belief that human beings could achieve whatever they set out to do was closely linked to the Enlightenment idea of progress. Progress indicated the increasing ability of individuals to control their natural and social environment. According to the Enlightenment thinkers, the visible improvement in human life was the result of active and effective application of reason for controlling physical and social environment.
Vice-versa, the success that their generation had in controlling their environment and harnessing the forces of nature for the betterment of humankind affirmed the belief that scientific application of reason would lead to the liberation of man. It could create an ideal world in which individuals could strive to combine the virtues of knowledge with liberty.
Three points need to be emphasized here. First, the Enlightenment thinkers linked knowledge with the natural sciences. The method of systematic observation, experimentation and critical inquiry used in the physical sciences was, in their view, 22 the only viable basis of arriving at the truth. Knowledge must be demonstrable. It must be backed by proof that is accessible through reason and the faculties of the human mind.
Based on this conception of knowledge, the Enlightenment posited a dichotomy between metaphysical speculation and knowledge.
The Middle ages, under the influence of Christianity, had assumed that the world created by God could not be known by human beings. It was, by definition, inaccessible to human reason.
The truth about man and the universe could only be revealed, and hence, known through the holy scriptures. Where the light of reason does not shine, the lamp of faith supplies illumination. Free Resources for English Literature Make sure there are no grammatical mistakes Often students make a lot of grammatical mistakes in their assignments.
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