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Humanism is a group of ethical theories that place the human being at the center of our moral concern. It also refers to a literary and scholarly movement during the Renaissance led by scholars like Erasmus.

Modern humanism

Humanists tend to believe that human beings can make progress through the application of human intellect without the need for religious authority, and many also believe that "man is the measure of all things",[1] although some people like the ethicist Peter Singer have questioned humanist attitudes to animals. Humanism is derived from both Unitarian Universalism and from the philosophies of the Enlightenment.

Renaissance humanism

The origins of the humanism of the renaissance are particularly associated with Petrarch, his revolt against scholasticism and its limitations, and his seeking out or new emphasis on classical authors other than Aristotle.


  1. Protagoras, 5th century BCE; see also Speake, Jennifer (2008). “MAN is the measure of all things”, A Dictionary of Proverbs, Fifth. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 441. ISBN 978-0-19-953953-6. OCLC 212857025.