Psy 4606 Module 2
Module 2: Lecture 2.1
(+/- 1450 – 1600) means rebirth. During this period, the tendency was to
go back to the more open-minded method of inquiry that had characterized early Greek
philosophy. It was s time when Europe gradually switched from being God-centered to
being human-centered. If God existed, he exited in nature. Attention was diverted from
the heavens to humans living in the world.
denotes an intense interest in human beings as reflected in four
a belief in the potential of the individual
an insistence that religion be more personal and less institutionalized;
intense interest in the past –
interest in the classics;
negative attitude toward Aristotle’s philosophy. The humanists did much to break the
authority of the church and of Aristotle’s philosophy. This had to happen before a
scientific attitude could develop. As the power of the church deteriorated, inquiry
became increasingly objective because findings no longer had to fit church dogma.
(1304-1374): He challenged religious and philosophical
authority which helped pave the way for modern science.
Augustinian priest and biblical scholar. Nailed his 95 Theses (challenges to church
dogma and hierarchy) to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg and so began the
Reformation. When Luther was excommunicated in 1521, the protest that he
represented grew into a new religious movement,
, with Luther as leader.
There were many other Renaissance humanists: DaVinci, Machiavelli, Shakespeare.
The emphasis was always the same – on the individual. Although Renaissance
humanists added nothing new to philosophy or psychology, the belief that individuals
could act upon the world to improve it was conducive to the
of science. It
was a paradoxical time. It was a time of persecution, superstition, witch hunting and
execution, fear, torture, and exorcism. Abnormal individuals were tr4eated with extreme
harshness. Wars destroyed much of France and Germany, the Black Death had cut
Europe’s population by about a third, major famines occurred, and syphilis was
epidemic. Yet, there was almost unparalleled creativity in the worlds of art, literature,
and architecture. The Renaissance displayed the best and worst of humanity; the stuff
from which modern philosophy and science emerged.
The Renaissance and the breakdown of the church authority went hand in hand. The
decline in the church’s authority was directly related to the rise of a new spirit of inquiry
that took as its ultimate authority empirical observation instead of Scriptures, faith, or
revelation. Gradually (slowly), church dogma was replaced by the very thing it had
opposed the most – the direct observation of nature without the intervention of
theological considerations. There are many reasons for this reawakening of the spirit of