Humanism is a term that encompasses a variety of philosophical positions that go back to the Renaissance, during which scholars such as Erasmus and Petrarch offered views of the social world that put people in the center, in contrast to the prevailing religious interpretations. Closely associated with humanism is hermeneutics (from Hermes, the Greek messenger of the gods), which is essentially the study of meanings; originating from medieval attempts to find the one “true” meaning of the Bible, hermeneutics was extended to include the multiplicity of meanings inherent in all literary texts and social actions.

A Very Brief History of Humanistic Thought

Two closely related approaches to humanistic thought have characterized it over time, phenomenology and existentialism. Both are concerned with the shape of human experience, the ...

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