The Competitiveness of Nations in a Global Knowledge-Based Economy

Edgar Zilsel

The Methods of Humanism *




1. The Professions of the Italian Humanists 1300-1600

2. Erudition, Fame and Mastery of Style –

          The Professional Ideals of the Humanists

3. Usefulness of Knowledge and Pride in Knowledge.

           The Psychological and Sociological Roots of Scholarship

4. The Humanistic Erudition

5. The Humanists as Dispensers of Fame

6. Mastery of Style

7. The Humanists and the Scientific Literature

            of Classical Antiquity

8. Rational Methods in Humanism

9. Sociology of Extra-Italian Humanism









[1943?] in Social Origins of Modern Science

Edgar Zilsel, Diederick Raven, Wolfgang Krohn, R. S. Cohen

Kluwer Academic Publishers, ISBN: 0792364570

10/01/2000, 22-64



The first representatives of worldly learning in the modern era were the Italian humanists.  Humanism is older than modern science.  Though they conform in some respects - both humanism and science deal with worldly subject matters and proceed rationally - the two intellectual attitudes differ hardly less from one another than science and scholasticism.  Just because of this contrast an analysis of humanism can shed light on the characteristics of the scientific spirit.  As the methods of the scholastics are understood best through the study of their professional tasks, so the sociological analysis of humanism must start with the occupations and professional aims of its representatives.


1. The Professions of the Italian Humanists 1300-1600

The ancestors of the humanists are found among the public officials and secretaries of the late medieval Italian cities.  In thirteenth century Italy merchants and artisans, conscious of their worldly interests and their wealth, had arisen.  Numerous noblemen had moved from their castles to the cities and in some cities, as in Florence, had even turned to trading like burghers.  Feudalism which had settled all public affairs within the framework of the traditional relations between the feudal lords, their vassals, and bondsmen, was disintegrating.  The advance of money economy had considerably increased the tasks of public administration and required public officials with rational training and juridical knowledge.  Also the intellectual world of the feudal period, being substantially rural, could no longer satisfy the rising townsmen.  On the other hand, some ancient traditions still survived in the doctrines of the church and

* [This essay has not been previously made public.  We know that a first version of this essay was written before the summer of 1941 for in his ‘Report on the present state of the study of Dr. Edgar Zilsel on the Sociological Roots of Science’ of June 22, 1941, Zilsel mentions a MS on humanism and writes “The Chapter on humanism and its conformities with and differences from science is nearly ready for the press” (HP/Z).  In his first application to the American Philosophical Society (APS) of October 28, 1941, Zilsel again mentions what we take to be the same MS.  This time he writes: “The section of the relation ship of the scientific to the humanistic methods (about forty typewritten pages) is nearly ready for the press”.  For reasons that are unclear to us Zilsel did not publish this MS.  In his second application to the APS of February 28, 1943, he writes: “The section on the methods of humanism (71 typewritten pages)... [is] ready for the press”.  We take this to be a reference to the MS published here.  Like he did in his essay ‘Problems of Empiricism’ Zilsel makes use of what could be called ‘supporting evidence paragraphs’.  In the original MS these paragraphs are indicated to put into small print.  Following his practice in his ‘Problems of Empiricism’ we have put these paragraphs in the main text and have not turned them into footnotes. Eds.]

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the learning of the theologians.  Particularly in Italy where numerous monuments testified to the grandeur of classical antiquity the memory of the past was not dead.  The Italian burghers looked up with envy to the achievements of ancient Rome when their own world appeared small and poor.  It is strange that a youthful society, faced with the task of building up an intellectual culture of its own, looked back to the past.  Yet this “renaissance” - process, one of the most impressive testimonies to the power of tradition in history, is susceptible to sociological explanation.  Ancient civilization was but incompletely known to the Middle Ages.  The fundamental differences between the nascent capitalistic society and the Roman republic of the Roman empire, therefore, could not be noticed.  It was manifest, however, that classical civilization had been higher than the contemporary and, being a worldly civilization of city dwellers, it fitted the cultural desires of the trading noblemen and burghers better than the half military, half rural culture of the knights and the religious ideals of the monks.  In the Flemish, French and German cities this congeniality was not able to produce the humanistic enthusiasm for antiquity; it was sufficient only later to make its adoption possible after it had developed in Italy.  In the Italian cities, on the other hand, where the burghers considered themselves the direct descendants of the ancient Romans, the sociological congeniality was supplemented by patriotic pride in a past that was felt to be their own.  Rienzi, the son of a tavern-keeper, thus could carry on his burgher insurrection against the Roman nobility with ancient slogans and by imitating political institutions of the Roman republic.

Rienzi was a political revolutionary and had no literary aspirations.  Before he had himself proclaimed “tribune of the Roman people” in 1347 he had been a notary of the Roman municipality and later of the Papal See at Avignon.  Other public notaries, enthusiasts or classical antiquity, combined burgher patriotism with literary activity.  Half a century before Rienzi, Lovato des Lovati, a contemporary of Dante, called himself “judge and poet of Padua”.  His disciple, Albertino Mussato, proudly signed his letters as “poet and historiographer of Padua”.  He wrote a Latin tragedy composed in the style of Seneca with a patriotic-political purpose and several Latin works on contemporary history and moral philosophy.  By profession Mussato too was a city official: he was a notary public, a member of the public council of Padua, and headed diplomatic legations of his native city to the Pope and the Emperor (1302 and 1311).  From their legal education these political city clerks knew more of ancient Rome than the artisans and merchants.  Hence they could express the contrast between the new burgher culture and the world of feudalism by ideals formed after ancient patterns and become, thus, the true initiators of the “revival of learning”.

Usually Petrarch (1304-1374) is considered as the first humanist.  Though a friend and admirer of Rienzi, he was more a literary man than a politician or office-holder.  He too, however, was the son of a Florence notary, had studied law at Montpellier and Bologna, and was often employed as a political ambassador by the Pope and the Archbishop of Milan.  Several times the position of an apostolic secretary, that is of a permanent official of the curia,


was offered to him.  He made his living as a protege of wealthy noble families (the protection of the Colonna family, however, was lost by him, when he advocated the cause of Reinzi) and from numerous ecclesiastical sinecures.  Powerful patrons - prelates, princes, and cities - competed for his services after he had become famous.  Petrarch’s friend Boccaccio (1313-1375) was like Petrarch primarily a literary man, but also in his life public offices play a certain part.  He was the son of a merchant and, before he turned to literature, a merchant himself.  As a young assistant to a merchant he made contact with the scholar officials at the court of Naples.  After he had distinguished himself by his literary activity and classical scholarship he was frequently employed as ambassador by his native city, Florence.  He lived on his modest wealth and from an annual stipend, allowed to him by the city of Florence for his public lectures on Dante.  The lives of both Petrarch and Boccaccio show the close connection between office and scholarship in the period of early humanism.  In the fourteenth century literary activity, if it did originate in governmental activity, was at least rewarded by political offices.

Up to the sixteenth century numerous Italian humanists were chancellors, secretaries, and officials of princes, cities, and the curia.  The humanist office-holders chiefly had to conduct the foreign affairs of their employers.  Their offices, however, tended to become sinecures.  More and more humanists developed into court historians, court orators, and court poets or free literati dependent on princes, noblemen, and bankers as patrons.  Others were engaged as tutors of the sons and, sometimes, the daughters of princes, or founded schools for children of noblemen.  Or they travelled from city to city giving lecture-courses on classical authors to older students, the lectures being paid by the municipalities.  Several humanists held academic chairs.  At the universities, however, the spirit of scholasticism still predominated.  The medieval and Renaissance universities were not devoted to research but to teaching: they were but institutes for the theoretical training of clerics, notaries and attorneys, and physicians; the seven liberal arts - grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music - were at most universities not completely represented and everywhere regarded as merely preparatory subjects preceding the true, that is professional, training.  The humanists in the Faculties of Arts - for them the first three of the liberal arts came into consideration - were, consequently, less esteemed and paid considerably less than the theologians, jurists, and medical doctors.  Usually the humanistic teachers of “eloquence” were engaged for one year only and were more like travelling lecturers than permanent professors.  Most of the fifteenth century humanists, however, took the occupations as professors, lecturers, and political secretaries alternately, and even the court poets and free literati were, at least occasionally, employed as political ambassadors by their patrons.  Such court positions, connected with occasional official missions but without office and university routine, were best liked by the humanists.

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A few humanists became bishops and cardinals and one - Enea Silvio Piccolomini - even pope, the secretarial activity was the start of their ecclesiastical careers.  Before the invention of printing the copying of ancient manuscripts offered the possibility of a livelihood to many humanistic scholars.  (In the university cities there had been professional copyists even in the scholastic period).  After the establishment of the first printing press in Italy in 1465 many humanists worked with printers as assistants, editors, and proofreaders.  The great printer of classical texts, Aldo Manuzio (1450-1514) employed over thirty classical scholars and was himself humanistically educated.  He had been a tutor to the nephews of the count della Mirandola before he became a printer.  Besides there were a few exceptional cases. Niccolo Niccoli (d. 1437), the scholarly collector of manuscripts, whose home was the center of the humanist circle in Florence, was the son of a trading nobleman and originally a merchant himself, he later lived without occupation on his modest wealth.  Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), the son of the physician to Cosimo Medici, was from his boyhood educated to become the head of the “Platonic Academy”, lived as such in the house of Lorenzo Medici, and was ordained as priest in his old age.  At the end of the fifteenth century the above-mentioned Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and his nephew Francesco were rich counts.  Vespasiano da Bisticci was a humanist bookseller in the fifteenth, and so was the archaeologist Jacopo Mazochi in the sixteenth centuiy; the former still had despised the printing press.  Ciriaco de’ Pizicolli (d. 1450), the collector of Roman inscriptions, was a travelling merchant.  A few humanists were monks.  In the sixteenth century the humanistic travelling lecturers, free literati, and political secretaries gradually disappeared.  Since such positions were no longer available, in the later half of the century the humanist university professors regarded teaching as their permanent profession: the type of erudite and pedantic philology professor that flourished in 17th century France and Holland began to develop.  Our survey refers to the Italian humanists only until the end of the sixteenth century; the humanists outside Italy will be discussed later.

The following list of occupations from Petrarch to 1600 is based chiefly on Georg Voigt: Die Wiederbelebung des classischen Alteriums, 3rd ed. Berlin 1893; J.A. Symonds: The Renaissance in Italy, vol. 2: The Revival of Learning. The Modern Library, New York; J.E. Sandys: A History of Classical Scholarship, vol. 2, Cambridge 1904; and the Enciclopedia Italiana.

Political secretaries and officials: Giovanni di Conversino (1347-1406, secretary of Petrarch, chancellor of Ragusa and Carrara, professor at Florence, vagabond humanist), Zanobi da Strada (cf. below p. 11), Coluccio Salutati (1331-1406, assistant to an apostolic secretary, chancellor of Florence), Aurispa (1369-1459, prebends, temporarily apostolic secretary), Loschi (1365-1441, prebends, chancellor of Ferrera, apostolic secretary and protonotary), Lionardo Bruni (1369-1443, apostolic secretary, chancellor of Florence), Carlo Marsuppino (1398-1453, professor of eloquence, chancellor of Florence, title of an apostolic secretary), Gianozzo Manetti (1396-1459, Florentine nobleman, wealthy merchant, and ambassador; at the court of Naples; apostolic secretary), Flavio Biondo (1388-1463, apostolic secretary), Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457,


professor of eloquence, secretary of King Alfonso of Naples, apostolic scriptor), Pier Candido Decembrio (1399-1477), apostolic secretary; at the Milan court), Poggio Bracciolini (1380-1459, copyist, apostolic secretary, chancellor of Florence), Bartolomeo Facio (1401-1457, teacher, later chancellor in Genoa, secretary and historiographer to the King of Naples), Benedetto Accolti (1415-1466, professor of civil law at Siena, chancellor of Florence), Platina (1421-1481, tutor, secretary to Cardinal Gonzaga, abbreviator apostolicus).

Lecturers and university professors: Manuel Chrysoloras (d. 1415, Greek ambassador to Venice, 1396 Greek chair at the University of Florence), Argyropulos (after 1456 lecturing on Greek and philosophy at Florence and Rome), Georgios Trapezuntios (after 1420 Greek lectures at various universities), Theodorus Gaza (1400-1448, Greek chairs at Ferrara and Rome), Poliziano (1454-1494, professor of eloquence, tutor to the son of Lorenzo Medici), Pomponio Leto (chair of eloquence Rome), Pomponazzi (1462-1524, professor of philosophy), Alciato (1492-1550, professor of civil law at various universities), Leonicus Thomaeus (after 1497 professor of philosophy at Padua), Mario Nizolio (1498-1576, professor of philosophy at Parma and Sabionetta), Robortelli (1516-1567, professor of eloquence at various universities), Sigonio (1524-1584, professor of eloquence at various universities).

Educators: Gasparino da Barzizza (d. 1431, professor of eloquence at Padua, court orator to Filippo Maria Visconti, the tyrant of Milan; principal of a school at Milan), Guarino (1370-1460, professor of eloquence at various universities, tutor to the son of the Duke of Ferrera and principal of a school), Vittorino da Feltre (1378-1446, professor of eloquence at Padua, principal of a school for the sons of the Marquess of Gonzaga and other children).

Free literati: Beccadelli-Panormita (1394-1471, lecturing in Bologna and Pavia; receiving presents; at the court of the King of Naples, tutor to the crown prince and often ambassador), Porcellio (born 1406, historiographer to the condottiere Malatesta and the King of Naples, vagabond humanist); Filelfo (1398-1481, professor of eloquence at the University of Padua, lecturing in Venice, secretary at the Constantinople imperial court and in a Byzantine legation to the sultan and the kings of Hungary and Poland, lecturing in Venice, professor of eloquence in Bologna and Florence, receiving presents, professor of eloquence in Rome, died impoverished in Florence), Pontano (1426-1503, at the court of Naples: secretary, ambassador, tutor).

Prelates: Bessarion (1403-1472, Greek archbishop of Niccea, converted to catholicism at the council of Florence, cardinal), Enea Silvio Piccolomini (1405-1464, secretary in the Vienna imperial chancery, bishop, cardinal, pope), Marco Musuro (d. 1517, professor of eloquence at Padua, assistant to the printer Manuzio, bishop of Malvasia), Paolo Giovio (1483-1552, physician in Milan, apostolic secretary, bishop of Nocera), Bembo (1470-1547, at the courts of Ferrara and Urbino, apostolic secretary, cardinal), Sadoleto (1477-1547, apostolic secretary, bishop, cardinal), Aleander (1480-1542, professor of eloquence in Paris, librarian of the Vatican, apostolic nuntius to Germany, archbishop, cardinal).

Monks:Luigi Marsili (1330-1394, Augustinian), Ambrogio Traversari (after 1431 General of the Camaldolentic order).

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2. Erudition, Fame and Mastery of Style –

The Professional Ideals of the Humanists

The professional group of the humanists arose from the diplomatic and administrative needs of the early capitalistic cities and principalities.  Florence, whose municipal offices in the thirteenth century had been known as the best place for public notaries to acquire higher training, became in the fifteenth century the center of humanism.  From 1375 to 1466 Florence had seven chancellors: five of them - Salutati, Lionardo Bruni, Carlo Marsuppini, Poggio, and Benedetto Accolti - were famous humanists.  The fact, however, that everywhere in Italy the humanistic offices turned into sinecures and the office-holders into literati shows that the original needs were supplemented by others of a less vital character.  With growing wealth analogous processes frequently occur in social evolution.  In the case of the humanists it was the desire for prestige that came into play - prestige, incidentally, being in politics hardly less useful than efficiency of office work.  The political secretary and ambassador was required to increase the prestige of his employer and this secondary function gradually became primary.  Since the office-holder was working with his pen, his tongue, and his brain, the prestige he could give was based on his style, his eloquence, and his learning.  Naturally, classical antiquity presented the literary models and the sources and contents of the erudition.  Hence mastery of style, learning and prestige became the professional ideals of the humanists.  The embryonic stage of these ideals is disclosed in a passage in Giovanni Villani’s chronicle on a thirteenth century public official.  It reads: Brunetto Latini, the chancellor of Florence, “was the first to teach the Florentines the rudiments and to make them skilled in well speaking and the knowledge of how to govern our republic according to the art of politics”.  Both Latini and Villani still belong more to the Middle Ages than the modern era.  Latini was born half a century before Dante; his Latin still is entirely medieval and his cyclopedias epitomize the learning of scholasticism.  Villani, the contemporary of Petrarch, is a merchant and, consequently, hardly touched by the spirit of humanism.  Yet he praises the late medieval city clerk as the pioneer of worldly learning and eloquence: two of the three ideals which we are analyzing appear as early as in this voice from the very dawn of the modern era.  The public officials turned into humanists a century later, when they put the tasks of public administration, still emphasized in Villani, in the background behind their function as givers of prestige.  The humanists, who in the Renaissance crowded the office of the Papal See and the Italian princes and cities, wanted to have as little as possible to do with office routine.  Most of them, of course not the Florentine chancellors, were employed primarily for display as official orators, ambassadors, and authors of polished diplomatic notes.  Besides there were other clerks, trained in civil or canon law, who did the real office work.  The humanists, however, despised the jurists because of their lack of eloquence and, at the same time, envied them their higher salaries and greater influence.  When


the problems of public administration multiplied under the pressure of growing capitalism the public officials for mere display disappeared and were again replaced by jurists in the late sixteenth century.

The sociological reasons why the officials chose classical authors as literary models have been indicated above pp. 19ff.  We repeat the dates of the officials and authors mentioned: Brunetto Latini 1220-1294, Lovati 1236-1309, Dante 1265-1321, Mussato 1261-1329, Giovanni Villani’s chronicle about 1345, Rienzi 1313-1354, Petrarch 1304-1374.  On the reputation of the Florentine notaries, the chancellors of Florence 1375-1466, and Villani’sjudgement on Latini cf. Georg Voigt: opere cit. (l891) 1392.

When in 1329, Petrarch who often was temporarily employed as official ambassador once aspired to a permanent position as apostolic secretary he had to undergo an examination in the papal business style.  Since his Ciceronian style was found too pompous he failed (cf. Ibid. II, 4).  Petrarch’s failure seems to indicate that the humanistic ideals have originated rather elsewhere than in the office and invaded it only later.  Actually, office routine always and everywhere is very conservative.  The new, specific humanistic style was, therefore, first used by men as Petrarch and Boccaccio who were not ordinary and permanent officials.  Yet, not only did all of them have close contacts with offices, but also appreciation of literary skill and worldly learning first arose among office-holders in modem civilization.  In 1358, six years after Petrarch’s failure, a certain Zanobi da Strada, was as the first true humanist permanently employed in the Papal chancery.  Zanobi had been a Latin teacher in Florence and a political secretary of the King of Naples before he became apostolic protonotary.  Petrarch’s admirer, Coluccio Salutati, entered the municipal office of Florence after a legal training in 1373.

The skills of the humanistic secretaries were required also for the humanists who had developed into free literati.  In all periods in which authors or artists are not yet dependent on a large public but on individual patrons, the protege has the sociological function of increasing the prestige of his protector.  The writer humanist was maintained by a prince, a pope, a city tyrant, or banker.  The more impressive his writings were and the more famous he became the more fame redounded to his patron.  Viewed sociologically, the writer-humanists were primarily “dispensers of fame”: in the dedications of their works they took care adequately to fulfill this task.  The humanistic professors, lecturers, and schoolmen, finally, are but a necessary consequence of this development; when a special group of professional dispensers of fame has monopolized the intellectual leadership of the age and attracts gifted young people, teachers who prepare for this profession must develop, and the upper classes must feel the desire to make also their children familiar with the new spirit, too.  Altogether mastery of style, erudition, and fame are the specific professional ideals of humanism in all its varieties and, manifestly, the secretarial office is the soil from which they have sprung.

Among the humanists there were followers of all kinds of philosophies.  Although there were Platonists and Aristotelians, idealists and Epicurean materialists, orthodox Catholics, a few admirers of the Cabbalah, and many irreligious freethinkers, pornographers and highly moral family men: they all


shared the three ideals of fame, perfection of style, and classical erudition.  And they agreed only in these ideals - and, of course, in the veneration of classical antiquity.  The three professional ideals of humanism, therefore, must be discussed in greater detail.  Though mastery of style is the basic element in the triad, we shall start with the analysis of erudition, since this is comparatively nearest to the aims of science.  The differences between phenomena that are nearest to one another usually are most instructive.


3. Usefulness of Knowledge and Pride in Knowledge.  The Psychological and Sociological Roots of Scholarship

Knowledge is esteemed by man for two different reasons.  First, in numerous cases, knowledge is useful biologically.  He who knows where food can be found is superior, biologically, to the man who is ignorant of this fact.  Since one must know the causes to be able to produce desired effects this biological usefulness applies to knowledge chiefly of causes and physical laws, that is of recurrent associations of phenomena.  Viewed more accurately, even the given illustration implies a regular connection between quite a number of facts.  He who knows the habitat of an edible plant knows that at a place with certain properties always or frequently certain objects are found which, if eaten, appease hunger.  It is not a single fact but a recurrent association of several phenomena that is known and proves useful to him.  This kind of knowledge plays a decisive part in all economic acts, in technology and all crafts and, obviously, is the biological basis and economic root of science.  A man who, faced with the task of lifting a load, studies the law of the lever may be taken as the archetype of the scientist.  As has been proclaimed by Francis Bacon, knowledge is power: it enables man to control nature.  Since control of processes is based on the ability to predict them and since all actions point to the future, scientific knowledge tends to refer to the future.  At any rate it aims at general statements.  Universal implications are its adequate logical expressions: always, if certain conditions, A, are realized, certain phenomena, B, occur

Man is a social animal.  It is a matter of course, therefore, that the man who possesses useful knowledge enjoys social esteem, just as the strong are more highly esteemed than the weak, the skilful more highly than the awkward.  It is remarkable, however, that knowledge also of disconnected facts which are of no use at all can be the object of social esteem and considerable pride.  The origin of this pride implies a problem.  It is not the well known sublimation of values that we have here in mind.  Rather often activities, originally esteemed only because of their usefulness, later become values per Se.  In this way, on a higher cultural level, scientific investigation of causes is esteemed for its own sake.  This sublimation is not only understandable, psychologically, but also quite indispensable.  Many abstract theories, developed without regard to any use,


only later have met with practical application; satisfaction even of the practical needs of society, therefore, can not be safeguarded unless science, i.e. knowledge of causes and laws, is esteemed as a value per Se.  All this is well known and does not need further discussion.  On the other hand, it implies a problem: how it happens that so many people are proud of knowing isolated facts unknown to others.  Why are these polyhistors conceited?  Whoever has observed quarrelling scholars and the ardor with which they endeavor to clear themselves of the suspicion of some very unimportant ignorance will not doubt that pride in knowledge can be a strangely strong motive of human behavior.

This motive is not restricted to the ranks of scholars.  Otherwise it could not be explained why crossword puzzles, “quizzes”, and similar opportunities to display one’s knowledge of entirely useless details have met with such popularity.  Certainly a social motive plays a part in this appeal.  When one succeeds in such tests one is considered “educated” and the lower ranks of society are characterized by lack of education: nobody wishes to be counted among them.  But behind this additional motive the original problem reappears.  Why is it that in all civilized nations accumulation of knowledge, not referring to any practical needs, is a component of higher education and gives certain social privileges?  Knowledge of isolated facts is obviously a luxury.  Certainly any fact can, occasionally, become a stepping stone to later knowledge of causes; no detail is so unimportant that this possibility can ever be excluded in advance.  The possibility, however, is too indirect to explain why erudition is considered a value.

What is, for example, the use of knowing the names of rare and remote objects?  Do primeval ideas come into play here?  Primitive societies believe in word magic and are convinced that things can be influenced by pronouncing their names.  Before technology had separated from magic, knowledge of names could, therefore, be considered just as useful as knowledge of causes.  The medicine man had to know even the most secret names: he had to undergo a specific training, his occupation was probably the first profession, and he and his colleagues formed the first privileged group in human society.  The analogy between a modern “quiz” contestant who is proud of his knowing the names of the nine Muses, a Renaissance humanist, and a medicine man believing in word magic may appear artificial.  Yet pride in knowledge is, sociologically, a primitive, psychologically, an infantile trait.  It most probably originates in the fact that children are both weak and ignorant and look up to their father, who not only protects but also teaches them.  To him they ascribe both surpassing strength and surpassing knowledge.  All children want to be like the father: they want to be grown up and, certainly, showing knowledge is as good a proof of one’s being grown up as proving one’s strength.  This motive becomes particularly manifest in children who are proud of knowing the facts about birth and procreation.  There is no evidence that all pride in knowledge derives from the infantile pride in sexual knowledge.  The infantile desire, however, to be grown up like the father offers the best if not the only explanation of the remarkable

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phenomenon that even quite useless knowledge is esteemed by men.  All men have been children and once have looked up to their fathers.

In many cases the relation of man to his ideals and authorities mirrors the relation of the child to the grown up and, particularly, the father.  Gods are always imagined superior to man both in power and knowledge.  In the monotheistic religions, together with omnipotence, omniscience is attributed to the deity.  The same attributes appear among the professional ideals of some of the most ancient professions.  The medicine man, the priest, and after the invention of writing, the scribe (as in ancient Egypt) all laid claim to superior knowledge.  Since in primitive civilisations every knowledge is still believed to be useable for magic, usefulness of and pride in knowledge can not yet be separated in the case of the medicine man.  The wisdom of the priest, too, may have, originally, been used for magical purposes.  The case is different with the scribe.  The secular scribes in ancient Egypt had nothing to do with magic and proved useful in public administration and in administration of the big estates.  Both the priests and the scribes, however, were privileged groups.  They were in the position, consequently, to disregard practical utility and based their claims to social esteem more on the superiority than the usefulness of their knowledge: especially the Egyptian scribes were exceedingly proud of knowing more than the ignorant common people, as the precepts of the scribe Duauf to his son Pepi disclose.  Together with the medicine man, the priest and the secular scribe are the most ancient scholars.  In prescientific civilizations practically useful knowledge appears almost exclusively in the form of technological skill in the lower ranks of society, namely among the despised artisans.  It is a remarkable phenomenon but it hardly can be doubted that social esteem of the mere volume of knowledge is older than esteem of its utility: scholarship is older than science.

Egyptian scribes, proud of their knowledge cf. A. Erman: Agypten und agyptisches Leben im Altertum, ed. H. Ranke, Tuebingen 1923, pp. 374f., pp. 443, 448; looking down upon artists and artisans, Ibid, pp. 504, 533.

Scholars are proud of knowing as many facts as possible.  In prescientific theoretical literature there is, therefore, a tendency to the accumulation of unconnected details.  Thus the compilations and cyclopedias are composed that are so characteristic of the medieval scholastics and all priestly scholars when they turn to secular subject matters.  Scientific connection of facts by general implications is still unknown in periods of mere scholarship.  Even today this prescientific form of theoretical activity prevails in works ordering their contents alphabetically.  The Nouveau Petit Larousse Illustre, for example, the most popular French dictionary, gives definitions of all words.  Under the heading “mer” it explains that the sea is “a vast accumulation of salt water covering the greater part of the globe”.  Under the heading “mere” it says that a mother is “a woman who has given birth to one or several children”.  Although such dictionary articles are familiar to us, it is worthwhile to question their


ends.  Manifestly the definitions given are practically useless, since every Frenchmen knows the meanings of both headings and non-Frenchmen who do not know them understand the French definitions even less.  Where then do they originate?  The addictedness to exact definitions would indicate a survival of the scholastic spirit.  The sentence, however, given to illustrate the second definition, clearly points to humanism as the historical source of the method used: “Agrippinna”, the dictionary says, “was the mother of Nero”.  In prescientific civilizations fledgling scholars learned in this way what a mother is.  Even after the rise of science, however, the spirit of scholasticism and humanism survives in many fields, especially in education.

A French dictionary has been selected as example since the humanistic spirit is especially strong in French education.  - Our remarks were not intended to advocate practical utility as the only aim of education.  As mentioned above, not even in the merely intellectual training of a scientist would this goal be sufficient.  In addition, education aims at development of emotional patterns always at least as much as the training of technicians and theorists.  Particularly the advocates of humanistic education have always stressed emotional and esthetic values: classical culture is connected, by indissoluble links, with western religion, literature and art.  We have, however, not to discuss goals of education but to describe sociological facts and to compare the intellectual procedures of science and scholarship.

A remarkable relation to time must be disregarded.  Science originates in the needs of action and action points to the future.  The scientist, being primarily interested in recurrent associations of events, endeavors to predict what will happen if certain conditions are realized: he tries to extrapolate the regularities observed in the past to the past.  The scholar, on the other hand, is primarily interested in the past.  Factual knowledge is based on experience and tradition, that is on recollection of’ past events.  When the scholar is proud of knowing disconnected facts and of knowing as many of them as possible, he inevitably must turn to the great receptacle of facts: the past.  History, archeology, philology, therefore, are the very fields of scholarship.  Hence a noteworthy difference between science and scholarship results.  Scientific zeal is frequently linked to progressive ideas.  The more the scientist stresses action and the more he regards science, as Francis Bacon did, as a means of controlling and changing events the more science develops into a tool of progress.  Sometimes science was, and more frequently it was considered, even a tool of revolution.  Erudition and scholarship, on the other hand, are eminently conservative.  This becomes manifest as early as in the most ancient representatives of the scholarly professions: the medicine man, the priest-scholar, the Egyptian and Babylonian scribe, all were custodians of tradition.  Just as pride of knowledge, apparently, is older than esteem of its usefulness, so, in the social development of knowledge, the conservative tendency precedes the progressive one.  Both phenomena originate in the division of society into subgroups.  Learning and preservation of tradition are specific ideals of certain, numerically small, professional groups.  To the whole of society action, utility of knowledge, and


progress are more important.  The historical development, however, is determined rather by interaction of social subgroups than by the interests of an abstract whole of society.

In the case of Renaissance humanism the retrospective tendency of the scholars met halfway with certain progressive desires of the rising middle classes.  The burghers tended to detachment from the feudal past; they were, however, ignorant and still unable to settle their problems intellectually by their own means.  The scholars, on the other hand, looked back to antiquity.  Yet the retrospective learning of the scholars had something to offer to the burghers.  The link between the two apparently opposite tendencies was formed, as we have pointed out before, by the urban and worldly character of both the classical and the early capitalistic civilization.  Thus the birth of the new city culture, intellectually, took the shape of a “Renaissance” and a “revival”.  The revival of learning appears “reactionary” when we view only the words of the humanists; it points to the future in so far as it expresses cultural desires of the new middle classes - to which, after all, the humanists themselves belonged.  However, the technical needs of manufacture and trade eventually proved stronger than the professional ideals of a few scholar-officials and literati: humanism declined and scholarship was superseded by science in the seventeenth century.


4. The Humanistic Erudition

After having discussed the characteristic features of scholarship in general it is easy to demonstrate them in Renaissance humanism in particular.  Since we are interested in the sociological origins we shall restrict ourselves primarily to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.  In the humanist, pride in knowledge is expressed by a deep contempt for the non-scholars.  Petrarch would rather be not understood than extolled by the multitude; as he explains, it is a disgrace to the learned to be praised by the mob.  Coluccio Salutati, the chancellor of Florence (1331-1406), points out that knowledge and eloquence distinguish man from beast and man from man; in this respect, however, the distance between man and man is even greater than between man and beast.  The terms Salutati uses -wisdom, eloquence, intelligence - are obviously meant to characterize the humanist and manifestly, in his opinion, the scholar is further above the non-humanist than man above the beast.

Petrarch, epist. famil. XIV, 2 (ed. Fracassetti, vol. I, p. 279); cf. Ibid. I, 7 (vol. I, p. 63).  Salutati, Epistolario, ed. F. Novati in Instituto Storico hal., Fonti 15-18, I, 77, 79, II, p. 204.

The contrast between the theoretical aims of humanism and of science stands out most distinctly in the tendency of the early humanists towards accumulating scraps of knowledge without theoretical connection.  Thus Petrarch wrote “On


things to be remembered” and “On famous men”.  Boccaccio on “The genealogies of the pagan gods”, on “The vicissitudes of famous men”, on “Famous women”, on “Mountains, woods and rivers”.  In the merely enumerative method these compilations agree with the numerous “summae” of the scholastics, and, especially, with the late medieval cyclopedias for laymen, such as the Trésor of Brunetto Latini.  The only difference is that the humanist compilations drew the facts from a considerably greater number of classical authors and replaced the medieval Latin with Ciceronian style.  In the fifteenth century these half medieval compilations develop, on the one hand, into essays such as Poggio’s On the vicissitudes of Fortune and On the calamities of princes, on the other, to learned archaeological encyclopedias such as Biondo’s Roma Instaurata, Roma Triumphans, and Italia Illustrata that were the forerunners of the modern handbooks of classical archeology.  Even as late as in 1506 Rafael Volaterranus wrote a encyclopedia, Commentarii Urbani, which tried to comprehend the whole of humanistic knowledge in three volumes, entitled geography, anthropology and philology.  Volaterranus’ work differs from a modem encyclopedia by the absence of scientific criticism and alphabetic order, from the medieval cyclopedias for laymen by the fact that it abounds with veneration of classical antiquity.  Also, collections of biographies and lists of celebrities are very numerous in Renaissance literature.  Among them are several collections of famous women and such a strange work as Manetti’s six books On famous long-lived persons (c. 1450) in which the lifes of “all” celebrities who reached the age of sixty years, from Adam to the humanist Niccoli, are described.  A tendency to collection of curiosities is rather manifest in humanist literature from Petrarch up to the beginning of the sixteenth century.

The encyclopedia of Volaterranus was widely read.  The Catalogue of Printed Books of the British Museum gives seven Latin editions and one Italian translation between 1506 and 1603.  On collections of biographies cf. Edgar Zilsel: Die Entstehung des Geniebegriffes, Tuebingen 1926, pp. 159-175.  Collections of curiosities: Domenico di Bandino d’Arezzo: Fons memorabilium universi (c. 1370); Gulilelmus Pastrengo (a friend of Petrarch): De originibus rerum (printed Venice 1547; deals with inventors, founders of cities, ancient offices and names etc.); Polydorus Vergilius: De rerum inventoribus, Venice 1499 (deals with comparatively few technological inventors, but reports on the genesis of writing, marriage, prostitution, various sects, etc.  For the greater part it gives fabulous stories and myths collected without any criticism.  It appeared from 1499 to 1680 in at least 20 Latin editions and 12 translations); Sabellicus: De rerum et artium inventoribus (a poem printed in 1560); Alexander Sardus: De rerum inventoribus (intends to fill the gaps in the work of Polydorus Vergilius); Pierio Valeriano (d. 1558): De infelicitate literatorum (printed 1620; a collection of biographies of “unhappy” literati).

Reference works, encyclopedias, and tables are required also in modern science.  They are not regarded, however, as the true achievements of science but contain only the material from which the scientific structures are built.  A

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considerable part of the humanist literature, on the other hand, resembles such collections of material, rather inadequately arranged, while scientific elaborations are absent.  The deficiencies of humanism are best illustrated by a comparison with a contemporary pioneer of the really scientific spirit.  In 1554 Niccolo Tartaglia mentions the rule for the solution of equations of the third degree, discovered by him.  He tells how he, fortunately, found the method after a rival in a mathematical competition had set him several problems leading to cubic equations.  If he had not discovered the rule he would have been blamed “by the ignorant crowd but certainly not by intelligent people”.  For, as he adds, “one particular secret does not make a man a scientist, because science deals with general rather than with particular subjects; the number of the particular subjects is infinite and it is not possible, consequently, to know every one of them”.  This is the voice of a representative of the true modern era.  As self evident as Tartaglia’s remark sounds to us, one will meet with a similar remark in none of all the humanists.  Much too proud of their erudition to regard the slightest scrap of knowledge as unimportant, they knew as little of the difference between fruitful and sterile insights as the medieval scholastics.  This is a decisive difference between humanism and science.  Humanism, and all prescientific scholarship, esteems the mere volume of learning; scientists appreciate knowledge only if it results in further knowledge.  In the case of Tartaglia the question is of a general mathematical rule but in the same desire to make knowledge work and bear fruit Galileo’s general physical laws also have their origin.  Tartaglia, by the way, was also one of the forerunners of Galileo in the investigation of mechanical laws.  He was, of course, not a humanist but wrote in the Venetian vernacular and belonged rather with the artisans.  This remarkable man was a self educated mathematics teacher who sold mathematical advice to gunners and architects, ten pennies one question, and had to litigate with his customers when they gave him a worn out cloak for his lectures on Euclid instead of the payment agreed upon.

Tartaglia on the scientific insignificance of particular subjects Quesiti et inventioni diversi IX, 25 (Venice 1554, fol. 106 v.); “ten pennies (scudi) a question” Ibid. III, 10 (fol. 42 r.); the worn out cloak Travagliata inventione, Venice 1551, appendix terzo ragionamento (sig. F ij v.).

The merely accumulative and enumerative method of humanism manifests itself also in other traits.  Even those works that are not just compilations are always interwoven with unnecessary references to classical authors.  Manifestly, the Renaissance scholars used every occasion to display their classical reading.  By citation reputation as a scholar was acquired.  In a contemporary report on the first lecture at the University of Florence of Carlo Marsuppini the later chancellor is expressly praised in that “there was no Greek nor Roman author from whom he did not quote”.  By this, the biographer adds, “he gave a great proof of his memory”.  The emphasis upon memory is significant.  The official speeches which the political secretaries were required to deliver on the occasion


of princely weddings, coronations, and diplomatic missions had to be made from memory.  Otherwise they would not have befitted the festive occasions and would not have gained credit for the employers of the speakers.  A good memory, therefore, belonged to the professional requirements of a humanist.  From the fourteenth century, when Petrarch dedicated a chapter of his book On the Remedies for the Vicissitudes of Fortune to the praise of memory; good memory was mentioned time and again when the eminent gifts of a famous author were enumerated.  To scientists too a good memory is useful; yet it would never be counted among the characteristics of a good scientist in a scientific age.  As early as in the fifteenth century Leonardo da Vinci, who was not a humanist but on artist-engineer, that is a superior craftsman, had the scientific attitude towards memory: “who ever appeals to authority, he says, applies not his intellect but his memory”.  Galileo and Descartes also scoffed at the humanistic esteem for memory and, in contrast to it, stressed causal reasoning and mathematical demonstration.

The report on Marsuppini in Vespasiano da Bisticci: Vite; Petrarch’s chapter on memory in De remediis utriusque fortunae I, 8; Leonardo on the contrast intellect-memory.  Analogous passages in Galileo and Descartes cf. below p. 42; qualities of eminent authors were frequently enumerated.  Instances: Boccaccio, Eulogy of Petrarch (printed in Petrarch, De remediis, Rotterdam 1649, at the beginning): Petrarch was distinguished by his “innate gifts (ingenium) and his memory”; Boccaccio, Opere volg, Firenze 1833, XV, 49: Dante was distinguished by his “capacity, memory, intellect, innate gifts (ingegno), and invention”; Alberti, Opusc. mor., ed. Bartoli, Venice 1568, p. 160: authors of eminent “memory, mind, and innate gifts (ingegno)” are very rare; Erasmus, Ciceronianus (1528) in Opera, Basel 1540, 1, 829: eminent authors are distinguished by “invention, arrangement of ideas, imagination, emotion, charm, memory, learning, spirit and genius”; Trissino, Poetics (1563), in Opera, Verona 1729, II, 120: Dante was distinguished by his “memory, his innate gifts (ingenium), his marvellous nature, and his learning”.

To people who appreciate memory so highly, the past means more than the future.  The merchants, artisans, and navigators of the Renaissance must have been conscious of the newness of their achievements and their age; otherwise they could not have accomplished the complete transformation of feudal technology and economy.  From artists - who belonged with the artisans -we have a few remarks expressing such sense of youth.  The literati, on the other hand, felt aged and tired even at the very beginnings of humanism.  As early as in the 14th century Petrarch complains of the lack of eminent men and contrasts “the misery of his century” with the grandeur of classical antiquity.  His friend, Salutati, points out that the authors of the period do not produce anything new; we are, he says, “botchers only, patching together garments from pieces of classical cloth”.  Similar expressions of resignation recur frequently in humanist writings.  We are but diminutive men (homunculi) exclaims Lionardo Bruni (c. 1400) and the same term in Greek translation (anthropiskoi) is repeated in Bessarion (1462).  Only the ancients, particularly the ancient authors, are in the

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opinion of the humanists real men.  This senile attitude of the literati is among the strangest phenomena in the rise of the new society.  How it derives from the professional ideals of the scholars has been explained before.  Probably it is a somewhat artificial product and may be compared to a flourish by which the scribe attests his professional dignity.

Feeling of decay in Petrarch, Epist, famil., ed. Fracassetti VI, 4, vol. I, 336 ff., cf. ibid. I, 1); Salutati’s remark quoted in Karl Vossler: Poetische Theorien der Fruehrenaissance, p. 54; Bruni’s remark ibid. 82; Bessario’s remark in a Greek letter to Apostolios (Migne, Pairologia, Patres Graeci, CLXI, 688 ff.).

The sense of inferiority to antiquity is the emotional background of both the literary and the philosophical method of humanism.  In their ideas of literary style the humanists virtually never got beyond the ideal of imitation.  They occasionally disagreed on the question as to whether the perfect writer has to imitate one author - Cicero - or better imitates several classical models alternately.  The idea, however, that writers could have their own personal style, though a familiar notion to a plebeian author such as Pietro Aretino, who wrote in the vernacular, occurred extremely seldom to learned humanists.  And in their philosophical quarrels they always uncritically refer to their ancient authorities and attack the authorities of their opponents.  Even if once a scholar tries to conciliate, as Bessarion did in the quarrel between the Platonists and Aristotelians of his period, he pleads for eclecticism and without discrimination proclaims all philosophers of antiquity as authorities that, by a modern, must be followed, not attacked.  Just in this context the modern thinkers were called “diminutive men” by Bessarion, as mentioned above.  The notion of autonomous investigation of truth, manifestly, was foreign to humanism.  Laurentius Valla only (about 1450) occasionally advocated philosophical originality, Johannes and his nephew Franciscus Pico originality of literary style (about 1500).

Imitation of Cicero advocated in Paolo Cortese’s letter to Poliziano (the letter before the last in Politianus, Opera, Basel 1553); likewise Bembo in his letter to Joh. Franc. Pico (Bembo, Opera: Basel without date III, 17 ff.); eclectic imitation of several authors advocated in Joh. Franc. Pico’s letter to Bembo (in Pico, Opera II, 123 f., contained also in Bembo, bc. cit. III, 3 ff.); likewise Erasmus of Rotterdam, Ciceronianus (Opera, Basle 1540, 1, 820 ff.).  Personal style advocated in Pietro Aretino, Lettere I, 123; cf. I, 82 and 114; III, 176.  Though a literary celebrity, Aretino was proud of his lack of education; he always scoffs at humanistic erudition.  - Laurentius Valla advocating philosophical originality: philosophers always had the freedom of saying what they think not only against heads of other schools but also their own school head; this applies the more to philosophers who have joined no school at all (in Dialectica, preface).  Valla’s sense of originality, however, must not be overestimated, though he has a certain tendency to criticize established authorities.  In the quoted work he is opposing Quintilianus, who at this time was not generally recognized, against the authority of Cicero, pointing out that Quintilian can be surpassed only by a god (op. cit. chap. 40, 1509 edition, fol. 29 v.).  On both Pico’s cf. below p. 44 f.


The ideal of imitation, though interesting to historiographers of literary style, need not be discussed here.  The humanist belief in authority, on the other hand, directly concerns our problems.  It hardly differs from the prescientific attitude of the medieval scholastics.  These believed in the authority of the Scripture, the church fathers, and Aristotle, the Renaissance scholars in the authority of the secular writers of classical antiquity: this is the only difference.  The humanist belief in authorities is entirely unscientific.  It is in accord rather with the traditionalism and collective mindedness of the Middle Ages than the individualistic spirit of early capitalism.  The merchants, many artisans and artists of the Renaissance were already used to relying on their inventive spirit and their individual abilities.  In these ranks appreciation of novelty and, among a few artists of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, even ideals of originality had developed.  It is remarkable how little this individualistic spirit influenced the scholars of the early modern era.  Obviously it was not humanism that has produced modern thinking.  Viewed sociologically humanism was the ideology of a caste of literati-officials that, in their time, monopolized the intellectual leadership of the age but since then has become extinct.  Viewed historically humanism was a by-path rather than the main road of the advance of the scientific spirit, and the modern spirit in general.  Certainly the humanists have helped to replace ecclesiastical with secular thinking.  They have, moreover, rediscovered classical philosophy, literature, and art and, thus, transmitted the intellectual achievements and aesthetic ideals of antiquity to the subsequent centuries.  In intellectual developments, however, methods are more important than material contents.  The spirit of science, which sets off the modern era from all other periods, originated in social groups which, as artisans and navigators, were not touched by or were opposed to humanism.  From these ranks came Francis Bacon’s enthusiasm for progress and the seventeenth century insurrection against belief in authorities.  In Galileo, Descartes, and Bacon this revolt was directed against scholasticism and humanism alike.  Science arose in open opposition to humanism.

A considerable portion of the spirit of prescientific scholarship, however, survives in the age of science.  Primarily our present philology and historiography, directly descend from Renaissance humanism.  Both are more interested in single facts than in general laws, more in the past than in prediction, and they are not always free from certain implications of the pride in erudition.  On the other hand our historians and philologists have not adopted the uncritical belief in authority and the passion for imitation from their Renaissance ancestors.  In the modem world of natural science and machines even the “humanistic studies” could not remain unaffected by essential elements of the scientific spirit.

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5. The Humanists as Dispensers of Fame

We have at length discussed the humanist ideal of erudition.  The ideal of fame, having less relations to the scientific spirit, may be treated more briefly.  The desire for fame is very strong in man.  It is particularly powerful in the upper classes and can, hence, even become the economic basis of special professions.  In many civilizations with a warlike nobility professional bards make their living by spreading the fame of members of the upper ranks.  In the tribes of the North American Indians the warriors themselves sang of their deeds.  In Greece of the Homeric period and among the ancient Norsemen the primeval tribal equality existed no longer; there a nobility had developed and professional rhapsodists and scalds had taken over the task of singing the deeds of the heroes.  The prestige of the upper class in early capitalistic Europe was based more on wealth, political power, and display of luxury than on warlike deeds.  Especially in Italy, however, the desire for fame reached a degree unknown in any another culture except classical antiquity.  Probably it was the division in numerous small states, rivalling with one another, that in Italy produced the unusual intensity of the desire for fame.  Apparently the same sociological cause produced the same effect in ancient Greece.  Also a certain fading of religious faith in the early modern era contributed to the increase of the passion for fame, for the glory ideal cannot fully develop as long as the spiritual interest is directed towards non-worldly objects.

At any rate the municipal governments, princes, and popes, city tyrants, bankers and noblemen of Renaissance Italy competed with each other for fame.  To this end they used a special professional group, the humanists.  It has been mentioned how the political secretaries not only had to conduct foreign affairs but also to increase the prestige of their employers, by their literary activity.  This function was discharged in two ways.  Primarily the humanists were required to insert rather immoderate glorifications of their protectors in their writings or, at least, in their dedications.  This was the direct method, used to excess by the literati.  On the other hand the prestige of a prince or prelate was increased more indirectly by the mere fact that he was able to maintain outstanding writers or scholars.  In this respect painters, sculptors, and architects could render the same services as literati.  Famous authors or artists at the court of a prince discharged the same sociological function as his palace, his suite, and his luxurious garments and jewels.  Almost in all civilisations princes and noblemen increase their prestige by display of costly luxuries that sometimes are very important for the development of civilization.  Viewed sociologically, the writers and artists of the Renaissance belong with these luxury goods of the upper class.  In addition most of the dynasties and all city tyrants in Renaissance Italy could not rely on the prestige of ancestors.  Usurpers need dispensers of fame much more than old dynasties with inherited prestige and the same is true for popes who come to power by election.  Hence in many cases the Renaissance patrons even hunted after celebrities with offers of donations and positions, endeavoring to win them over if they were in the service of a competitor.


To the writer the profession of a dispenser of prestige offered the financial basis for his literacy activity.  This is a phenomenon common to all periods in which a large and educated public has not yet developed and in which, consequently, authors, and artists are dependent on individual patrons.  In the Renaissance, particularly, there existed a kind of symbiosis between the humanist and his patron.  The author was supported by his patron and, in return, made him famous.  Sometimes the authors were fully conscious of this reciprocity.  The more rationally the “give and take” was handled by the dispenser of glory and the more frequently he changed his patrons the more his activity degenerated into adulation and blackmail.  The low of this development of an in itself morally neutral sociological relationship is represented by the humanist Filelfo in the fifteenth century and the vernacular writer Pietro Aretino in the sixteenth.  Both were extremely gifted authors who procured themselves patrons according to mere rational business principles without any moral inhibitions.  In a period in which authors do not live on donations from individual patrons but on the sale to an anonymous public of their books, writers like Filelfo and Aretino would probably have made use of publicity agents.  In the Renaissance they used shameless extortion.  It is significant that those humanists who, by their occupation, were more remote from the fame business lived up to the moral standards of the contemporary middle class.  The bookseller Vespasiano da Bisticci, the educators Vittorino da Feltre and Guarino, the printer Aldo Manuzio were exemplary business, family, and professional men.  In the world of the free literati and their upper-class protectors, on the other hand, glory displaced virtually all other ideals.  The greed of fame, probably, was increased also by the specific reciprocity of the patron - protege relationship.  It was certainly more honorable to be protected by a famous than by an unknown patron and more glorious to be praised by a celebrity than by an unknown scribbler.  Both sides, therefore, were interested in the increase of fame.

Ever since humanism had come into existence the ideas of the humanists were dominated by glory.  As early as in the fourteenth century, Petrarch dedicated quite a series of chapters to the problems of fame in his book Remedies for the Vicissitudes of Fortune.  There we find chapters “on glory” and “on the hope of fame”, “on fame hoped from buildings” and “on fame hoped from intercourse”, “on infamy”, “on contempt”, and “on posthumous fame”.  The book, however, is a dialogue and of the protagonists only one praises fame, whereas the other, advocating the vanity of all worldly goods, always opposes eternal bliss to desire for fame.  Manifestly, in Petrarch the medieval ideal of Christian humility still combats the humanistic ideal of fame.  Over the same conflict Petrarch drudges his life away in his dialogue On Contempt of the World.  There St. Augustine advocates Christian humility whereas Petrarch, who himself appears as the other speaker of the dialogue, reproaches himself with his vanity.  The dialogue ends with the promise of the humanist to collect all his strength against the allurements of fame: “may God assist me”.  Still, thirty years later, the same conflict of the two ideals - characteristic of a period of transition - appears in the letters of the chancellor Salutati.  When, on the other hand, later humanists -

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Erasmus, Lorenzo Valla, Francesco Pico - occasionally object to fame, the Christian arguments are, for the most part, replaced by Stoic ones.  Such humanists attacks against greed for fame, however, must not be taken too seriously.  Just as the analogous attacks in ancient Stoics and Sceptics, they only confirm the strength of the adversary.  Before business people preachers declaim against the treasures that are eaten by rust and moths; before an audience of literati, and protectors of literati, other literati declaim against fame.

Petrarch De remediis utriusque fortunae (together with De contemptu mundi) Rotterdam 1649. De rem, I, 117, 122; II, 25. De cont. III, 808 ff., 812, 820, 823.  Epistolario di Coluccio Salutati in Instiiuto Storico lialiano, Fonti no. 15-18: for fame: I, 10, 89, 105, 110, 198; II, 182, 204; III, 86; against fame: III, 349, 425, 471.

The idea that dispensing of fame is the chief function of the literati emerges very early.  It is implied in an odd theory of Boccaccio on the sociological descent of the poets.  In ancient times, Boccaccio explains, the kings had used priests to achieve veneration of themselves and their ancestors; from these priests, in his opinion, the writers descend.  The economic background of the idea clearly stands out in the Latin letters of Filelfo.  In 1433 Filelfo, one of the most influential and unscrupulous of the humanists, begins a letter to Cosimo Medici by mentioning the gracious reception given to him by the addressee and stresses that, in return, he has in his writings commended Cosimo’s name to immortality.  This is but the introduction to an attempt to set his protector against two humanists rivals.  The main part of the letter explains that Niccoli and Carlo Marsuppini are worse than pestilence and accuses them of having called another competitor, the old Chrysoloras, a lousy beard.  Curiously enough the writer protests a few lines later that he has not learned to flatter and to adulate.  In another letter to a certain Simoneta of 1451, Filelfo first assures the addressee of his love.  After mentioning that others prove grateful for benefits by gold and gems he continues: “I, however, make gods out of men and give them the immortality which is implied in the eternity of glory.  Certainly you can see what you may expect from me”.  The real project of the letter is a petition for a donation.  Filelfo’s Latin letters were published and later printed.  It is significant that in his Greek correspondence, which was not intended to be published, the “dispenser of fame” ideology occurs only once, in a letter to the Sultan.  There Filelfo asks for the release of a few female relations who had been captured by the Turks.  Beginning with the affirmation that he has already heard of the glorious deeds of the sultan, he introduces himself as follows: “I am among those who make mortals immortal by the glory that the word dispenses”.  The request follows.  In Filelfo the give and take in the glory business is quite manifest.

Family tree of the poets: Boccaccio, Opera volga, Florence 1832, XV, 53 f. (Vita di Dante); Filelfo’s Latin letters: Epistobarumfamiliarum libri 37, Venice 1502, fol. 12 r, and fol. 54 V.; letter to the sultan: Emile Legrand: Cent-dix lettres Grecques de Filelfe, Paris 1892, p. 63.  Further evidence of the “dispenser of glory” ideology: G. Voigt, op. cit. I, 334 (Poggio), 446 (Petrarch, Beccadelli-Panormita), 527 (Filelfo).


Sometimes strange ideas result from the “dispenser of fame” ideology.  In the middle of the 15th century Benedotto Accolti, the chancellor of Florence, states the dark ages had actually achieved as much as classical antiquity; only the historical writers had been deprived of their remunerations and had, for this reason, hushed up all eminent achievements.  Or Porcellio, court humanist to the King of Naples, about the same time considers the dispensers of glory more important that the glorified persons; he begins his exposition of the deeds of the condottiere Piccinino with the praise of the writers “by whose documents the praiseworthy men live in eternal memory of mankind and, miraculously, become immortals from mortals”.  About half a century later an Italian court humanist to the emperor Maximilian I, Sbrullius, who had been portrayed by Dürer and, in return, had dedicated a poem to the painter, affirms with a strange reversal that Dürer will become immortal by the poem and he himself by the picture.

Accoltus: De praestantia virorum sui aevi. Parma 1697, p. 60 (the same opinion expressed in Poggio: Dc varietaic fortunae, cf. Voigt, op. cit. II, 492); Porcellio in Muratori: Rerum btabicarum scriptorcs, Milan 1761, XXV, 2A; Sbrullius in J. von Schlosser: Materialien zur Quellenkunde der Kunstgeschichte III (Wiener Akademie Berichte, philo.-hist. Klasse vol. 180 (1916), 72) On Sbrullius or Sbrollius cf. C.G. Jöcher: Allgemeines Gelehrtenlexicon, Leipzig (1751).

The passion for fame of the Renaissance literati results in a remarkable phenomenon that essentially distinguishes humanism from modern science.  Since the time of Francis Bacon scientists usually give control of nature, progress and furthering of human civilization as aims of their activity.  If they ever mention fame as a motive they speak, at the highest, of the prestige of their scientific school, their university, or their fatherland, but even this is done only in somewhat backward countries.  No modern scientist would admit that he does his research in order to become famous.  Just this is plainly stated by the Renaissance humanists.  In doing so, they only follow, however, classical models.  To classical literature not only the “dispenser of fame” ideology is familiar but also the desire for fame is very often given by ancient authors as the decisive incentive of cultural activities.  Thus Cicero declares in his Tusculaneans that “it is honor that nourishes the arts and men are impelled to the studies by fame”.  This idea was with enthusiasm adopted by the Renaissance.  As early as in 1386 Coluccio Salutati quoted the saying of Cicero and expressed his agreement.  Salutati, however, rejected the same saying as heathenish seventeen years later since, as mentioned before, he still wavered between the humanist ideals and Christian humility.  In the following centuries fame is very often used even as an argument in theoretical controversies.  Over and over again it is pointed out that the behavior, the literary style, or the doctrines of some adversary are not likely to make him famous: obviously this argument is considered to be a valid refutation.  The fame ideology is a typical product of humanism.  Originally it was foreign to the artists who in the fourteenth century still adhered to the guild ideals of the artisans and thereby, in some respect, were nearer to the

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modern spirit than the literati.  When in the early Renaissance the artist rejected love of gain as incentive he demanded love of his art from the painter without even mentioning fame.  In the middle of the fifteenth century, however, the fame ideology spread from the literati to the architects, painters, and sculptors who began to be ashamed of their descent from artisans.  The sixteenth century artists gave desire for fame as a motive of their activity just as the humanistic dispensers of glory.

Fame as motive in classical antiquity: Cicero, Tusc. I, 2, 4 and pro Arch. 6 and 11.  Similar passages: Plato, conviv. 208 C ff., Horace, ep. II, 3, 324.  On the “dispenser of fame” ideology in classical antiquity cf. Alexander’s complaint of having no equal herald of his deeds as Achilles had in Homer; furthermore Theognis 237 ff., Pindar, Nem. 4, 6 ff.; 7, 13; Pyth. 1, 90ff.; 3, 114ff.; 01., 9,27; Cicero, ad. fam. V, 12, l3;pro. Arch. 6, 9 and 12; Horace, carm. IV, 8 and 9; ep. II, 1, 229 ff.; Vergil, Aen. IX, 440 f.; Pliny, nat. hist. pref. 25 (on Apion); Seneca ep. 21, 3 ff.; Claudianus, de cons. Stilich. 3 pref.

Renaissance: fame as motive: Salutati, Epistolario loc. cit. I, 70 and III. 86 (Cicero quotations).  Bessario (In calumniatorem Platonis, Venice 1516, I, 1) starts his attack on George of Trapezunt with the remark that he had expected George’s work to have been written “in order to gain posthumous fame”.  Franciscus Pico, letter to Bembo (1512) in Opera II, 123 f.: literary imitation must be avoided since it is detrimental to fame.  - Likewise Erasmus, Ciceronianus (1528) in Opera, Basle 1540, I, 840 ff.  - Cardano, De vita propria (1542) in Opera, Lugduni 1663, I fol. 7 r: “immortalization of name” praised as “glorious invention”.  Desire for fame given as motive for the composition of his book by the French humanist Bachet (1621), full quotation below, p. 48. Michelangelo Biondo, Treatise on Painting (1549) in Quellenschriften für Kunst-Geschichte, Vienna 1888, vol. 5, 32: all artists should strive for fame.  The treatise begins with the wish for “immortal fame to all excellent artists of Europe” (Biondo is a medical doctor and not strictly a humanist; his treatise is written in the vernacular).

Guild ideals in artists: Cennini, Treatise on Painting (c. 1390), chap. 2 (in Quellenschriften für Kunstgeschichte, vol. 1, new ed. Vienna 1888 p. 4).  Glory ideals in artists: Leone Battista Alberti, Treatise on Painting (1435) in Quellenschriften für Kunstgeschichte. Vienna 1877, vol. 11, pref. and pp. 49 and 99.  Leonardo, Treatise on Painting (c. 1500): I am addressing myself rather than to painters greedy for money, to artists “who want to gain fame and honour through their art” (ed. Ludwig, Quellenschr., vol. 15-17, Vienna 1882, I § 81, cf. I § 65; Leonardo is otherwise very little influenced by humanism).  Vasari, Biographies of Artists, in Opera, ed. Milanesi, Florence 1887, I, 91: eminent artists produce perfect works “inflamed by desire for fame”; ibid I, 11: Michelangelo created his works “in order to leave posthumous fame like the ancients”; cf. ibid. VIII, 163.  Francesco d’Ollanda (a friend of Michelangelo), Da pintura antiga (in Quellenschr. N.F., vol. 9, Vienna 1899) p. 27: immortal name is the only valuable aim in human life.

It can hardly be assumed that the writers, and artists, of the Renaissance were essentially vainer than their modern colleagues.  Many modern scholars too may be motivated in their research by the desire for prestige.  The fact that Renaissance authors openly admit personal fame to be their aim whereas modern scholars, as far as such questions are discussed at all, put fame in the background behind impersonal ideals makes the real difference between the two periods.  Of


course, many humanists, more or less sincerely, professed religious ideals.  Impersonal intellectual ideals, however, were far less developed in the period of the Renaissance than of modern science.  This, apparently, is correlated to the absence of any co-operative organization of intellectual activities before the seventeenth century.  Scholars, by their very nature, seem to tend towards personal rivalries.  In the Middle Ages the strength of group tradition and the common membership of the church were counterweights to such individualistic impulses.  Yet even at the late medieval universities, where institutions corresponding to modern laboratories and research institutes were unknown, the practice of disputation produced a considerable quarrelsomeness among the schoolmen.  In the Renaissance rivalry among the scholars greatly increased.  The disintegration of feudalism and the rise of economic competition had, sociologically and economically, prepared the soil for literary individualism.  The professional conditions of the literati produced it.  In their belief in authorities the humanists still were medieval; in their quarrelsomeness hyperindividualistic.  Literary polemics became as frequent and vehement as never before and personal quarrels and intrigues were regarded as an unavoidable part of the life of a literary man.  In this general struggle of all against all, every kind of humanist took part: political officials as Lionardi Bruni, Carlo Marsuppini, and Poggio, free literati as Filelfo, university professors as Robortelli and Sigonio are among the most quarrelsome of the scholars.  Only those humanists who were more remote from the “fame business” - the booksellers, printers, and educators - abstained from the general passion for polemics.

The idea that scholars have to promote knowledge by mutual co-operation was as yet unknown to all of these individualistic advocates of the fame ideal.  Even at the end of the sixteenth century Henri Estienne (the younger), because of scholarly rivalry, did not allow his son-in-law Isaac Casaubonus to use his library for philological studies.  Both Estienne and Casaubonus were Geneva Huguenots and very remote from the amoral literati of the Filelfo and Panormita period, both were outstanding classical scholars, but their scientific ideals were entirely individualistic.  It is not mere coincidence that Francis Bacon, who first proclaimed the objective ideals of progress of science and control of nature, at the same time rejected personal fame and advocated foundation of research institutes based on co-operation of scientists.  Not before the middle of the seventeenth century were Bacon’s ideas realized, the Royal Society was founded and the first scientific periodicals were published.  At any rate the hypertrophy of fame in the Renaissance is but the reverse of the absence of any co-operative scientific institutions.  Only the scientific age views science as a great building, rising stone by stone through co-operation of scientists, each of whom uses the results of his fellow workers and predecessors.  The complete lack of this idea in the Renaissance is among the most characteristic differences between science and humanism.  It must not be overlooked, however, that even in the scientific age, and even after the rise of learned periodicals and research institutes both for the sciences and the humanistic studies, a certain liking for learned polemics


might occur more frequently among philologists than among natural scientists.  This, certainly, is a survival of the humanistic spirit.

On Henri Estienne vs. Casaubonus cf. Sandys, loc. cit. II, 205.  Francis Bacon against personal ambition as scientific motive Novum Organum I, 129 (Fowler, p. 337); for research institutes, co-operation, and division of labor in scientific research Nova Atlantis.


6. Mastery of Style

Mastery of style is the third of the professional ideals of the humanists.  We discuss it last not because it plays a smaller part than the ideals of erudition and of fame but because it is remotest from the scopes of science.  It has grown out from the tasks of the political office and refers both to the written and the spoken word since the political secretaries had frequently to act as official orators.  Because of this connection with speech-making, mastery of style was usually called “eloquence” in the Renaissance.  As far as humanism was represented at the European universities the chairs of eloquence were its seats.  How far valuation of eloquence went may be shown by a few remarks of an early humanist.  Eloquence, Coluccio Salutati says: “is the greatest of all humanistic studies, the most beautiful of all sciences”.  In a letter on the death of his master and friend Petrarch Salutati expresses his conviction that in heaven the deceased “with his eloquent breast” will succeed in persuading God early to reunite Petrarch’s admirers with their master.  He, Salutati, is looking forward to meeting his friend again and will regale himself in the other world of the “nectarean suavity of Petrarch’s eloquence”.  The quotation at once gives a good instance of the rhetorical exaggerations that by the humanists were considered eloquent style.  The emphasis upon style lasted up to the end of the Renaissance.  At the beginning of the sixteenth century Bembo, papal secretary and later cardinal of the Roman church, cautioned authors against reading the epistles of St. Paul; St. Paul’s Greek would have spoiled the style of the readers.  Not before the decline of the literati and the rise of the professors in the later half of the sixteenth century did classical erudition become more important in humanism than imitation of classical eloquence.  Even the most learned and pedantic professors, however, attached great value to the linguistic purity of their Latin expositions.

Salutati on eloquence loc. cit. I, 179 21 f., I, 230 1. 9 f., II. 295; on Petrarch in heaven, ibid. I, 199. Bembo on St. Paul cf. J.A. Symonds op. cit. 511.

Science is interested in factual and logical content, mastery of style is a formal and aesthetic ideal.  A great portion of the humanist aims, therefore, has nothing to do with scientific knowledge.  Even from the merely stylistic point of view, however, the prose writings of the Renaissance humanists differ considerably from modern scientific works.  Before the rise of the professors at the end of the Renaissance these writing are virtually always pathetic, often satirical, and abound with declamations and rhetoric repetitions even when theoretical


arguments are brought forth.  It is not here our task to give value judgements but to investigate humanism causally and to compare it with science.  Theoretical knowledge certainly does not exhaust the totality of human activities; in the scientific age, too, there are in addition to science fine arts and letters.  From the aesthetic and the educational point of view the emphasis upon style and the refinement of literary language, due to humanism, are of considerable historical importance.  In classical antiquity rhetoric had played a great part in higher education.  The sense of the aesthetic values of language was widely spread and also considered a prerequisite also of historiography and every philosophical and scholarly activity.  Among the monks of the Middle Ages this sense had been lost: they were too much interested in the other world and subtle theological arguments to care much for language.  Literary style and language were rediscovered as objects of interest by the political secretaries of the early Renaissance and this discovery has left its mark on the civilization and the education of the Western world.

It is another question whether the specific style favored by the humanistic still appeals to the modern mind.  The language of modern science is exact, factual, and concise.  Since also the non-scientific literature has not been left untouched by this new style the literary taste of our age may take offense at the overheated declamations and the verbosity of the humanists.  The merely factual writings on technological topics of Renaissance artisans (their contents will be analyzed later) and the witty letters of the completely uneducated Pietro Aretino make a much more “modern” impression on readers of our time than the works of the humanists.  They are nearer to the modern sense of style just because their authors were not touched by humanism.  Of all sixteenth century Italian prose writers with humanistic education, only Macchiavelli is virtually free of the Renaissance rhetoric that appears so unmodern to us.  Macchiavelli, however, wrote in the vernacular just as the artisans.

The specific style of the humanists has more to do with the absence of the scientific spirit than historians of thought who disregard the literary form of the publications possibly assume.  Actually the great advocates of experimentation at the beginning of the seventeenth century scoffed in their writings not only at the sterile subtleties of the scholastics but also at the rhetoric of the humanists.  Such antihumanistic attacks occur frequently in the works of William Gilbert, Galileo and Francis Bacon.  It is remarkable, however, that Gilbert and Bacon themselves are still strongly influenced in their style by humanistic verbosity; Galileo only writes an unsophisticated, though witty, Italian which stems from the plain language of the plain people.  Descartes too is entirely free of humanistic “eloquence”.  Even from the stylistic point of view modern science arose in manifest opposition to humanism.

Attacks against humanism: William Gilbert, De Magnete, London 1600, preface to the reader: the contemporary writers are “destroyers of the good arts, literary idiots, grammarians, sophists” etc.  He, Gilbert, will not “refer to the ancients and Greek auxiliaries, since neither Greek arguments nor Greek words are able better to prove or to illustrate the

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truth...  And we have not used the paint of eloquence or the adornment of words in this work but have restricted ourselves to discussing difficult things in such a style and by such words that are necessary to understand them”.  - Galileo, Diabogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo, Edizione nazionale VII, p. 87, line 20 ff. : if the argument were on “human studies where there is neither truth nor falsity... skill of speaking” would be instrumental, but “in the natural sciences oratory is inefficient”; ibid 135 I, 1 ff.: by mere combining and interpreting everything could be proved from Virgil and Ovid and even better from the alphabet; ibid. 139 I. 4 f.: opponents who refer to authorities in their argumentation would better call themselves “historians or doctors of memory” than philosophers; subject of the argument is “the world of the senses not the world of paper”; ibid. 293 I, 7: “rhetorical flowers” do not fit in with scientific arguments; they belong to “orators and poets”.  - Francis Bacon, Advancement of Learning I, 4, 2: the humanists prefer words to the matter and believe in authorities;  - Descartes, Récherche de la vérité, Oeuvres, ed. Cousin XI, 341: Latin and Greek are of no more importance than the Swiss and Breton dialects; rational argumentation, not memorized knowledge is the point that matters.

In an argument Pico della Mirandola, the younger, says that things are more important than words.  Pico’s remark is a noteworthy exception in humanist literature for, in general, the interest of the humanists is primarily directed towards language.  They were engrossed in “eloquence” and the classical purity of the used phrases, in products of classical literature and Latin and Greek grammar.  Objects of nature and theoretical problems interested them, in general, in so far as they had been treated before in classical literature.  A humanist once pointed out that Caesar had made himself immortal through his description of the conquest of Gaule - not by the conquest itself.  Another humanist dispenser of glory, in a work on famous men, mentions the invention of printing among the great achievements of the age.  He does not give, however, technological details of the invention or appreciate its import on the spread of material knowledge, but sees its merit in “the destruction of linguistic barbarism”.  The odd report on printing ends with the praise of a humanist colleague, well deserved, for his pure Latinity - the name of Gutenberg is not mentioned.  The numerous “philosophical” writings of the humanists are primarily exercises in eloquence.  They are more literary collections of Platonic, Pythagorean, Aristotelian, and Stoic quotations than original efforts to solve philosophical problems.  Only the neo-Platonic philosophy of Ficinus seems sincerely interested in material questions, his interest, however, originating rather in his Christian faith than in a zeal for scientific explanation of the world.  Not until the decline of humanism at the end of the sixteenth century did a more original natural philosophy arise - Telesio, Giordano Bruno - and this was, in Bruno, combined with vehement attacks against humanistic overestimation of language and linguistic pedantism.  The analogous attacks of the first modern physicists and scientific philosophers have just been mentioned.  In their combats with rising humanism the scholastics too had brought forth the same arguments against their victorious rivals.  They too reproached the humanists with disregard of the material problems and with the preference given to words.  In this respect, after the humanistic interlude, science has returned to the standpoint of


scholasticism - though the scientist and the scholastic might considerably disagree on the question as to which problems belong to the “material” ones and by which methods they have to be investigated.

On Pico cf. the end of this note.  - Caesar and the conquest of Gaule in Muratori, Rer. hal. Script. XX, 448, 453.  - Printing and Latinity in Egnatius (Cipelli) De exemplis illustrium virorum, Paris 1554, fol. 299 f. Polydorus Vergilius too in his well known De rerum invcntoribus, Venice 1499, only points out that printing has diminished the price of books and made preservation of classical authors possible (book 2, chap. 7).  - Bruno against humanism, della causa, dial. 3 (at the beginning), dial. 4 (beginning).  - Scholastic opposition to humanist overestimation of words: the Cologne professor of theology Hochstraten (1521) in his reply to Hutton’s Letters of Obscure Men and a scholastic magister in a protest against the new humanistic curriculum at the University of Leipzig (1519), cf. Friedrich Paulsen: Gcschichte des gelehrten Unterrichtes, 3rd ed. Leipzig 1919, 1, 52 n. and 109; the Vienna professor of theology Saeldner against followers of Enea Silvio Piccolomini (about 1450) cf. G. Voigt, loc. cit. II, 292.

“Things more important than words”, Johannes Franciscus Pico in his second letter to Bembo on the imitation of Cicero (Works of both Pico’s, Basle 1601, II. 145).  Pico himself, however, ends his first letter on the same subject with a long apology for the lack of stylistic polish.  Yet few parallels to Pico’s attack on overestimation of words might be found in humanistic literature.  Altogether the younger Pico (1470-1533) and his uncle Giovanni Pico (1463-1494), who is so often quoted as a representative of the Renaissance spirit, are rather exceptions among the humanists.  The elder Pico, proclaiming love of truth as the only motive of a true philosopher, disregards fame (loc. cit. I, 212, de hominis dignitate); he argues against overestimation of classical antiquity, underestimation of the own period, and demands study of the scholastics, Arabs, and Chaldeans (ibid. I, 79, apologia).  The younger Pico argues against fame as aim: philosophy and science must be studied only for the sake of God and truth (ibid. II, 24 de studio phibosophiae); he attacks imitation (II, 123 ff. letter to Bembo) and underestimation of the own period (ibid. II, 125 f.).  The special position of the elder Pico possibly is partly explained by his training in scholastic philosophy at the Paris university; except for the few humanistic monks, he is, probably, the only humanist who had such a training.  In addition both Pici, being wealthy counts, were farther remote from the usual fame business of the literati.


7. The Humanists and the Scientific Literature of Classical Antiquity

In the humanist literature, the almost complete silence on the contemporary technological inventions and geographical discoveries is striking.  The period of the Renaissance was a period of technological revolution and an unprecedented expansion of the geographical horizon.  Of these great historical events in which the artisans, manufacturers, and merchants were naturally highly interested virtually nothing is to be noticed in the writings of the Italian humanists.  This silence is closely linked with the separation of liberal and mechanical arts or, what is the same, the disdain of manual labor.  Technological inventors and navigators were “mechanics”.  Humanists, on the other hand, were proud of being representatives of the “liberal arts” and, particularly, representatives of

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their more distinguished division.  This superior division (the “trivium” of grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric) comprehended those arts in which relationship to speech is especially manifest.  To the inferior “quadrivium” (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music) the Italian humanists paid virtually no attention.

The treatment of the discoverers and inventors in contemporary literature will be discussed later more extensively.

Certainly several humanists worked also on ancient mathematics and natural science.  They edited Euclid, Archimedes, Apollonius, and Diophantus, translated them into Latin and, by these editions and translations, considerably influenced the rising modern physics and mathematics.  Yet it would be erroneous to ascribe understanding of mechanical and mathematical problems to the editors.  All of these editions and translations are the work of philologists who edited the ancient scientists because they were ancients rather than because they were scientists.  The texts and translations are not only full of material mistakes but the prefaces reveal the merely literary attitude of the editors and, sometimes, a remarkable lack of mathematical understanding.  The first Greek edition of Archimedes (Basle 1544), the work of a certain Thomas Gechauff, a German humanist, is the most superficial.  Archimedes was by far the most eminent mathematician of antiquity and virtually the only ancient physicist to investigate quantitative laws by means of experimentation and mathematics.  Compared to Aristotelian and medieval “physics” his work represents an entirely new approach to the problems.  Actually it contributed a great deal to the development of modern scientific mechanics after it had come into the right hands.  Of all this the humanist editor is not aware.  His preface is manifestly intended to hide his mathematical ignorance behind the usual laudatory phrases of the professional dispensers of fame; as scientific achievements of Archimedes he gives statements that were known both to every ancient and every sixteenth century schoolboy; and the value of mathematics is proved by means of a classical quotation from Quintilianus stating that mathematical knowledge is necessary for the orator.  The application to technology of mathematics, with which the contemporary architects and engineers were intensely occupied, obviously is considered as too inferior by the humanist.  The verbiage of Gechauff’s prefaces is in a remarkable contrast to the first Latin edition of Archimedes that had appeared one year earlier (1543). Its editor was Tartaglia, one of the forerunners of Galileo, who really understood the great ancient scientist and, in practice and treatises, applied Archimedean methods and results to technological problems.  Tartaglia, however, was, as mentioned above, not a humanist but a self-educated mathematics teacher and mathematical adviser to gunners, architects, and merchants.  Of course, Tartaglia, who admitted that he knew little of the ancient languages, had not himself translated the Greek text but edited a thirteenth century Latin translation.  All of his own words are written in the vernacular.


The preface to the first Greek edition of Diophantus (Paris 1621) - the editor was Bachet, a French humanist - is sounder than Gechauff’s preface to Archimedes.  Bachet compares his tract with a previous Latin translation and is concerned with textual correctness and the biography of Diophantus.  In a lengthy and “eloquent” explanation, however, he gives as incentive of his publication emulation with another scholar and his desire to become famous.  He is an adherent of the humanistic glory ideology and a conscientious philologist but not a mathematician.  The preface to the first Greek edition of Euclid (Basle 1533) is typical of humanism.  It too, however, does not contain any evidence of real mathematical knowledge.

The prefaces to the first editions of ancient scientists are reprinted in Beriah Botfield Prefaces to the First Editions of the Greek and Roman Classics, London 1861.  The following quotations refer to this work.  The editor of the first Greek Archimedes edition, Thomas Gechauff, called Venatorius, was a Nuremberg preacher who wrote several theological works and translated also Aristophanes.  His Archimedes edition also contains the Latin Archimedes translation of Jacob of Cremona.  It has three prefaces.  In the first the scientific importance of Archimedes is proved as follows (loc. cit. 416 f.): Gechauff points out that the circle has no beginning and no end: “who of the ancients, I ask, has more clearly written on this fact than Archimedes?”  The cube stays stable however it falls: “who, I adjure you, has more eruditely, more accurately, more diligently explained these facts than our Archimedes?”  There follows an enumeration of ten contemporary eminent “mathematicians”; all of them are classical scholars, only three - Regiomontanus, Schöner and Rheticus - actually were mathematicians.  Several classical anecdotes on Archimedes conclude the first preface.  The second preface (420-425) begins with long references to ancient philosophers on mathematics and quotations from Homer and Vulcanus.  The value of mathematics is proved (423 f.) by means of Quintilianus’ statement that the orator requires mathematical knowledge.  As an example Gechauff at length discusses the size of an ancient acre that must be known to the orator and gives no fewer than five diagrams to illustrate the concept of the area of a rectangle.

The editor of the first Greek Diophantus, Claude Gaspard Bachet, sieur de Meziriac, was a humanist and lawyer, author of Latin, French, and Italian poems and a French translation of Ovid.  His Greek Diophantus contains also the editor’s Latin translation of the text.  The first preface is addressed to a lawyer.  Just as Themistocles competed with Miltiades “in honourable emulation for fame”, Bachet begins, I am thinking day and night of how I might become as famous as you are.  You have surpassed all jurists and even Papiniamus.  To which field am I to turn?  After having examined all other disciplines, I decided to choose mathematics “since it wonderfully delights the minds and since in mathematics the subtlety of the intellect specially comes to light.  This Diophantus will give evidence of my achievements and show whether I have deserved fame beyond the ordinary mathematician”.  The preface to the reader (658-665) is less personal.  It gives learned biographical notes on Diophantus, mentions an earlier Diophantus translation of Xilander (1575), “that is much worse than ours”, and states that in the following edition the text has been purified for the first time and that additions of the editor have been enclosed in brackets.  A French translation of the first books of Diophantus (from Xilander’s Latin translation) had been published thirty-six years earlier by Simon Stevin (L’arithmetique, Leyden 1585) who was not a humanist but, originally, a bookkeeper and cashier of the municipalities of Bruge and Antwerp, later a military engineer and Quartermaster general of Holland, and who really understood mathematics.

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- The editor of the first Greek Euclid (Basel 1533) was Simon Grynaeus, a Basle professor of Greek, a friend of Thomas More, and editor of works of Aristotle, Plato, Plutarch, and Ptolemy.  The preface loc. cit., 381 ff.  - The German humanists Peuerbach and Regiomontanus, however, in contrast to their colleagues, were eminent mathematicians.

The editions of Euclid and Archimedes exerted their influence rather in circles linked to the mechanical arts and opposed to humanism than among the colleagues of their humanist editors.  And only a small minority of the humanists were engaged in work on classical scientific literature.  Scientists were edited scarcely before the sixteenth century, that is about two centuries later than the ancient orators, poets, and philosophers.  Interest in ancient science did not belong to the original aims of humanism.  Apparently the humanists began to occupy themselves with classical scientists only when other circles became interested in mathematics and natural science.  In his History of Classical Scholarship, Sir John Erwin Sandys gives two lists of first prints of Latin and Greek authors.  The Latin list contains seventy-one first editions from 1464 to 1596, starting with the Mainz print of Cicero’s de officiis of 1464.  Among them there are only three books - Pliny the Elder (1469), Lucretius (1473), and Vitruvius (1486) - that can be called works on topics of the natural sciences or technology.  The list of Greek first editions begins with Aesop’s fables of 1478 and contains one hundred and eight prints.  Seven works - ancient astronomers, Galen, Hippocrates, Ptolemy, Euclid, Archimedes, Diophantus - deal with astronomical, medical, geographical, mathematical, and mechanical subjects.  The first Greek Euclid was printed in 1533 - sixty-nine years after Cicero - the first Greek Archimedes in 1544, the first Greek Diophantus not until 1621.  Neither Euclid nor Archimedes appeared in Italy but in Basel, Diophantus in Paris.  Certainly, these printed first editions do not exhaust the ancient scientific literature that was at the disposal of Renaissance readers.  There were handwritten copies before the invention of printing and there were Latin, and later vernacular, translations of Greek authors.  And, certainly, it was not the fault of the humanists that the great majority of preserved ancient writers were orators, philosophers, poets, and historiographers.  But just this fact discloses the part played by science in the humanist “revival of learning”.  Somewhat less than 6.5% of the first prints of ancient authors dealt with scientific problems.  It is historically understandable that Galileo, scoffing at the humanistic way of thinking, would remark that his was the world of the senses not the world of paper.

The two lists of first prints in Sandys op. cit., vol. 2, Cambridge 1908, 102 ff.  Galileo on the world of papers, cf. above p. 42.

The rise of interest in zoology and botany too is somewhat linked with humanism.  The first print of Pliny’s Natural History, Rome 1469, was edited by the humanist Theodorus Gaza, a Greek refugee who also translated the biological works of Aristotle into Latin.  Among the earliest zoologists of the modern era is Aldovrandi (c. 1522-c.l605) who published thirteen folio volumes on natural history.  Aldovrandi was a professor of philosophy at Bologna, an Aristotelian who had turned to zoology upon stimulation of the


Montpellier physician Rondelet.  Humanist influence is distinctly noticeable in his work.  Of his two books on the eagle the first treats its subject philologically and archaeologically and only the second describes the biological facts.  The other eminent zoologists of the sixteenth century - Rondelet (1577-1666), Salviani (1514-1572), Gesner (1516-1565), and Belon (1517-1564) - were medical doctors with few relations to humanism (cf. E.W. Gudger: The five great naturalists of the sixteenth century, Isis 22, 1934, 21 ff.).  Between 1469, the year of Gaza’s first edition, and 1600 thirty reprints of Pliny’s Natural History were published, but before 1469, there was no humanistic literature dealing with biology.  Obviously also the biological interest of the late Renaissance originated outside humanism.

It cannot be overlooked that preoccupation with language and related problems is characteristic primarily of the Italian humanists.  In Germany, England, and France a not negligible fraction of the humanists took part in the religious struggle of the period, advocating the cause of the Reformation.  Other non-philological questions too engaged the non-Italian humanists.  A humanist like the English Chancellor Thomas More considerably differs, in his problems, his style, his life, and his death, from his Italian literary and office colleagues.  The humanist alchemist to Queen Elisabeth, John Dee, wrote a preface in the vernacular to an English Euclid translation (1570) and showed interest in, and a limited understanding of, the mechanical arts, cartography, and navigation.  His fellow countrymen and contemporaries, the mathematicians Recorde, Leonard and Thomas Digges, furthered commercial arithmetic, surveying, and gunnery in spite of their humanistic education.  The two most eminent astronomers before Copernicus, Peurbach and Regiomontanus, lectured in the middle of the fifteenth century at German universities alternately on astronomy and Latin poets.  And after all, Copernicus himself had received a humanistic education at the University of Cracow.  Obviously, outside Italy, eloquence and language had absorbed less of the interest of the humanistic scholars, a fact that should require a sociological explanation.


8. Rational Methods in Humanism

The professional ideals of eloquence, fame, and erudition basically distinguish humanism from science and its aims.  Yet humanistic scholarship is not less rational than science and in some way the Renaissance scholars were even more intellectualistic than modern scientists.  This intellectualism appears in their idea of poetry.  Though the ancient idea of poetical “enthusiasm” - the idea of divine frenzy - was, at least as a metaphor, very familiar to the Renaissance, poetry was considered a learned and often a learnable activity.  Even when the innate gifts of the eminent poet or writer were stressed, Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, was considered a fitting allegory for the donors of these gifts.  Only the uneducated and anti-humanist Pietro Aretino has an anti-intellectualistic conception of poetry that is much more modern than everything written on this subject by humanists.  The Renaissance conception of painting is not less intellectualistic.


When the painters were rising from handicraft they attached great value to their lack of relationship to the mechanical arts.  After the second half of the fifteenth century they therefore emphasized that painting, since it requires geometrical knowledge, is a science.  This argumentation is humanistic as is disclosed by the frequent reference to Pamphilus, a Greek painter who about 400 B.C. had used the same argument for the same social reasons.  Great painters, moreover, are frequently called “great intellects” in the numerous Renaissance treatises on painting.

Minerva as allegory for innate poetical talent in Erasmus, Ciceronianus (Works, Basel 1540, I, 830 f.) and in Trissino, Poetics (Works, Verona 1729, II, 116).  On the idea that painting is a science and the reference to Pamphilus cf. Edgar Zilsel: Die Entstehung des Geniebegriffes, Tuebingen 1926, p. 147.  Great painters as great “intellects”: Alberti, On painting (about 1440) in Quellenschichte für Kunstgeschichte XI, 47; Giovanni Santi (The Father of Rafael, about 1480) in Federigo de Montefeltroe, ed. Holtzinger, Stuttgart 1893, XXII, 16 vers 90a; Michelangelo Buonarotti, Rime c Leticre, Firenze 1903 p. 432; cf. Zilsel loc. cii., p. 266.

The intellectualism of the Renaissance is nearer to the Middle Ages than to the spirit of our century.  In prescientific periods the majority of the population is strictly bound to tradition whereas the small “learned” minority which is able to read and write overestimates reason.  The medieval theologians were extremely intellectualistic and there is a continuity of the same attitude in Renaissance humanism.  Even in the scientific era the importance of the irrational elements of the human mind was discovered, by Rousseau and the German Romanticists, not before the end of the eighteenth century.  In the evolution of human civilization reason is younger than irrational tribal instincts, irrational custom, irrational tradition.  But this is true only if humanity is viewed as a whole.  The majority of mankind is mute and does not leave written documents.  As soon as literary men appear they are so proud of their exceptional position as scholars that they stress the characteristics by which their profession stands out from the rest of the population.  For this reason everywhere written literature starts with intellectualism and only very late do the men who produce and leave written documents discover the irrational elements by which the behavior of mankind, and of themselves, is still dominated.  The intellectualism of Renaissance literature, therefore, is not a scientific but a primitive trait and one must be very careful not to mistake the rational procedure of the humanists for a scientific one.

In humanism the systematic method that is characteristic of science was but slightly developed.  This is true even of the quintessential field of humanist activity, philology.  Up to the middle of the fifteenth century imitation of classical “eloquence” was the chief aim of the humanists.  The classical scholars felt enthusiastic for ancient manuscripts, collected them, and emended the text if passages were not understandable.  They replaced the mistakes of the medieval copyists, however, rather arbitrarily with phrases conforming with their opinion on classical “eloquence”.  A sense of historical exactness was foreign to them.


Though as early as in the fourteenth century Salutati had detected the spuriousness of the pseudo-Ciceronian On Differences, Lorenzo Valla’s proof of the spuriousness of the donation of Constantine is the methodically most eminent achievement of the fifteenth century and, probably, all Renaissance philology.  This document, on which the pope based his claims to worldly domination was shown by Valla to be a medieval falsification.  His treatise was written in 1440 but, for political reasons, could be printed only seventy-seven years later by Ulrich von Hutten.  Valla’s analysis of the document uses both linguistic and historical considerations and is as rational as that of a modern philologist.  He worked by order of the King of Naples, a political adversary of the curia with an aversion to the church - Valla was an Epicurean and, probably, a free thinker - which might have sharpened his criticism.  It is significant both of the scholars and the church in the period of humanism, that Valla a few years later made his peace with the pope and became an apostolic writer.  Valla also knew that the correspondence between St. Paul and the philosopher Seneca was a medieval falsification.

Valla’s treatise on the Donation of Constantine reprinted and translated by C.B. Coleman, New Haven, 1922.  On his philological achievement cf. George Voigt, op. cit. I, 69 and II, 475 f., 496 f.; J.E. Sandys op. cit. II, 66 f., and Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf Gcschichte der Philologie (in Einleitung in die Alieriumswissenschafi, ed. A. Gercke and E. Norden, 3rd. ed. Leipzig-Berlin 1927) I, 11 f.

In the fifteenth century there was some more exact philological analysis.  Poliziano who in his Miscellanies (1489) wrote on the chronology of Cicero’s letters and the use of the tenses in Greek inscriptions was, in the judgement of U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, “a real philologist though not a textual critic”.  Many of the humanists who lectured on or edited Latin and Greek authors were eminent classical scholars.  It certainly was not easy to read the manuscripts, to correct the mistakes of the copyists, to understand and to interpret the often very difficult texts without the help of the numerous reference works that are at the disposal of modern scholars.  All these activities presupposed a considerable amount not only of learning but also of rational thinking.  After the invention of printing philological exactness also increased.  The humanists who in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century edited classical authors in the printing offices in Venice, Paris and especially in Basel, and did a great deal of textual criticism and textual emendation.  They proceeded with much greater care than the early humanists and habitually compared various manuscripts of the same text.  Yet, all of this rational philological work was lacking in systematic method.  To some extent this is true even for the eminent classical scholars among the sixteenth century professors, Robortelli and Sigonio in Italy, both Scaligers, Henricus Stephanus and Casaubonus in France, Lipsius in Holland.  True, imitation of classical eloquence was no more their chief aim.  But they did not systematically use the results of their colleagues; they had no method for determining and comparing the age and reliability of the codices; and even the

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sixteenth century scholars more frequently edited, emended, and interpreted single texts than investigated general questions.

It is remarkable how rarely the humanists gave an account of their methods.  There are a few humanistic expositions of logical problems, composed by Laurentius Valla and the German Rudolphus Agricola in the 15th century, by the Italian Nizolius and the Frenchman Petrus Ramus in the sixteenth.  All of these humanistic logicians attack the Aristotelian logic of the scholastics, reproach it for artificiality, and want to replace Aristotle with Quintilianus.  All of them conceive logic as a branch of rhetoric, an approach that is typically humanist -and unscientific.  The methods of humanist philology, however, were not discussed in these treatises.  Methodological writings were rarely composed by the classical scholars.  Even for elementary instruction in Latin grammar the medieval memorial verses of Alexander of Villadei were used up to the end of the fifteenth century.  The first modern Latin grammar was composed by the learned bishop Perotti, one century after Petrarch, in 1468, the first successful modern Latin prosody by the same author in 1453.  The elegantiae of Lorenzo Valla (c. 1440) deals more with “eloquence” than with proper grammar and is an extremely learned juxtaposition of details without any systematical arrangement.  The humanists occupied themselves with the correct spelling of Latin words as early as in the fourteenth century.  The first learned Latin dictionary was published by Robert Estienne in 1532, two centuries after Petrarch, its Greek counterpart by Henri Estienne in 1572.  The first treatise on the method of textual emendation was written in 1557 by Robortelli (On the Art and Method of Emending Ancient Books), seven years later a treatise On the Methods of Emending Greek Authors by the Dutch professor, Willem Canter followed.  The codices were always used without exact methods of determining their age.  The first treatise on paleography in which such methods were given was composed by Mabillon in 1681, almost one century after the period which is the subject of our analysis.  Not until 1697 did Bentley publish his treatise on the spuriousness of the Epistles of Phalaris - the first contribution to historic-philological criticism that equals and surpasses the achievement of Lorenzo Valla of 1440.  Investigation of the “genealogical tree” of the codices was first demanded by protestant theologians in the middle of the eighteenth century and the exact method of textual criticism was accomplished by Lachmann in the middle of the nineteenth century.  Thus one of the outstanding classical scholars of our time, Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, could say that it was “the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that elevated humanism to the level of a science”.  Of course, this development was a gradual one and, certainly, the professor-humanist in the sixteenth century proceeded more critically and thoroughly than the political secretaries and literati in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. 

Humanistic treatises on “logic”: Valla: Dialecticae disputationes contra Aristotelicos, printed posthumously 1499; Agricola: De inventione dialectica, 1480; Ramus:Dialecticae partitiones, Paris 1543; Nizolius: De veris principiis et vera ratione phibosophandi contra pseudophilosophos, 1553.  On the development of the humanistic


methods cf. Voigt, op. cit. II, 373 (Latin grammar), 376 ff. (Latin grammar, Perotti), 378 (Valla’s elegantiae), 379 ff. (prosody and Greek Grammar), 381 ff. (textual emendation); Sandys op. cit. II, 202 f. (Scaliger the elder), 141 (Robortelli), 216 (Canter); Wilamowitz-Moellendorf op. cit., 22 f. (Scaliger the elder), 28 f. (humanism rising to the level of science only after the Renaissance); Giorgio Pasquali: Storia della critica del tesio, Firenze 1934, p. 3 (Lachmann), 9 (protestant theologians), 90 and 93 (l6th century humanists guessing on the age of codices).

On the whole the sixteenth century humanists investigated their problems by relying only on their intelligence and without giving an account of their methods.  One might object to this characteristization that it fits the nascent natural sciences as well.  Yet this objection is erroneous.  The first representatives of modern natural science were so well conscious of the novelty of their aims that they proceeded much more methodically than the sixteenth century, let alone the early humanists.  Galilei very often discussed his new scientific method in interspersed remarks, most extensively in his God-Weigher (1632); Francis Bacon opened his combat for the new scientific approach to nature with a most extensive exposition of the method of induction (1620); and Descartes’ first publication, his Discourse on the Method for well directing one’s Reason and investigating Truth in the Sciences, is, as the title indicates, a program not only of the new philosophy but also, in spite of the disregard of experience, of the new scientific procedure.  In humanism analogous methodological expositions are absent, since it had started from stylistic ideals and had turned to theoretical aims only gradually.  If one disregards this difference one may say that more critical and more exact methods arose in humanism in about the same century (1590-1690) as in the natural sciences.  Humanism, however, was two and a half centuries older than science.

This synchronism is remarkable.  Since direct influence between the two competitors can hardly be assumed, both phenomena may be considered as two effects of one common cause: the increase of individual thinking and rationality in sixteenth century society.  Of both critical philology and natural science there are certain beginnings in classical antiquity.  Both are absent in the oriental cultures, though in China philological activities of literati-officials, comparable to the early humanists, were richly developed.  The emergence of critical and systematical methods in philology is also a characteristic peculiarity of modern Western civilisation as the rise of science, the development of machine technology, and modern capitalism.  In the Renaissance, however, only the first beginnings of the exact philological methods appeared.

What distinguished the humanist from the scholastic method?  The humanists themselves were well conscious of the difference.  The early humanists derided the “barbarous” Latin of the scholastics and their ignorance of classical authors.  The attacks on the scholastics in Ulrich von Hutten’s Letters of Obscure Men (1515) were pointed in the same direction.  Still about 1600 Casaubonus, after having attended a disputation at the Sorbonne, is said to have remarked: I have never heard so much Latin spoken without understanding it.  A similar Casaubonus anecdote, however, already points to a difference that passes

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beyond linguistic and stylistic ideals.  To a friend, explaining that in this auditorium of the Sorbonne scholars have been disputing for four hundred years, the philologist is said to have replied: what have they decided?  This reply of a humanist could as well have been made by a scientist.  The method of disputation at the late medieval and early modern universities is scholastic.  Casaubonus’ answer shows that humanism rejects this method and, at the end of the fifteenth century, had developed a concept of exactness that differs from the exactness aimed at by the scholastics in logical distinctions and syllogisms.  Certainly, Casaubonus did not miss experimentation and mathematics in the scholastic disputations.  What else he did miss is, unfortunately, not pointed out.

Casaubonus’ aversion to the method of disputation is typically humanist.  When, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, humanism conquered many German universities, the obligatory disputations were replaced in the curriculum by “declamations”, i.e. exercises in public speaking.  Cf. Friedrich Paulsen: Geschichte des gelehrten Unterrichts auf den deutschen Schulen, 3rd. ed., Leipzig 1919, I, 120 f.

We, heirs of a scientific evolution of three hundred years, are in a better position than Casaubonus to see the methodological problems.  There is not only one kind of rationality.  Compared to the methods of knowledge and action in every day life in a precapitalistic society bound to tradition, the methods of scholasticism, humanism and science are equally rational.  These three varieties of rational procedure, however, are substantially different.  In the eyes of the scholastics logical distinctions, syllogisms, and criticism of the opponent, based on the doctrines of some authority, represented the peak of rationality.  The humanists proceeded rationally even when their chief endeavor still pointed to imitation of the style of the classical authors; this endeavor, though not a theoretical one, was an entirely intellectual and learned affair.  Later the humanists gradually developed the rational methods of historical criticism and textual emendation, methods which, unfortunately, up to now have been much less analyzed than those of physics and mathematics.  Neither the scholastics nor the humanists, however, used the methods of science.  As far as humanism is concerned, this fact is partly a consequence of the difference of subject matters: experiments can not be performed in the study of literary products of the past.  It can not be explained by the peculiarity of the objects of their studies, however, that the humanists virtually never investigated causes.  This is a difference of mental attitude that basically distinguishes humanism from science.  The humanist, proud of his erudition, gathers single facts, the scientist wants to explain and to predict.  And even methodologists of our time might disagree on the question as to whether the humanists did not use quantitative methods and never investigated general laws, because their field of research does not admit these methods, or because their interests lie in a different direction.  Even today these methods are almost exclusively reserved to the natural sciences; they are used in the social sciences more rarely and extremely seldom in the investigation of literary and historical objects.  In our opinion this fact has less to do with


intrinsic differences between natural objects and human activities than with the descent from Renaissance humanism of our humanistic studies.  Investigation of causes and general laws, quantitative methods (and experimentation) do not fit, sociologically and intellectually, into scholasticism and humanism.  These methods, the very characteristics of science, do not go back to the “liberal arts” of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance; they rather ascended to the scholars and professors from the ranks of the artisans.  But this did not happen before the end of the sixteenth century and will be discussed in the following sections.


9. Sociology of Extra-Italian Humanism

A few words are necessary on the sociology of the extra-Italian humanists.  The Italian origin of European humanism has hardly ever been doubted.  Numerous German, French, English, and Spanish humanists had studied in or visited Italy.  The Councils of Constance (1414-1418) and Basle (1431-1449), at which prelates and princes with their secretaries met from all parts of Europe, contributed much to the spread of humanism.  Just as in Italy, in Germany, France, and England political secretaries were the first representatives of the humanistic spirit.  Even before the Council of Constance, in the time of Petrarch, there were humanists in the imperial offices of Charles IV at Prague. Jean de Montreuil, the first French humanist, was secretary to the curia at Avignon, to the Dauphin, and later chancellor to Charles VI (1380-1422) of France.  A few decades later Adam de Molyneux, the first English humanist, was secretary of state to Henry VI of England.  Still in the sixteenth century there were such humanistic officials outside Italy: the chancellor Thomas More (1480-1535) in England and the secretary to Louis XII, Guillaume Budé (1467-1540) in France are the most famous examples.

In extra-Italian humanism, however, political secretaries played a smaller part because the Papal See and the great number of Italian princes, city republics, and city tyrants were lacking in France and England.  In Germany there were a considerable number of princes, free city republics, and prelates subject to the Emperor alone and, consequently, a considerable number of humanist office holders and city clerks.  Yet even in Germany as early as in the first half of the sixteenth century virtually all the more eminent humanists were professors.  This predominance of the teaching profession can be accounted for by the specific development of higher instruction in Central Europe.  In Germany between 1456 and 1544 no fewer than ten universities were founded.  These, as new institutes, were less open to medieval traditions than the old Italian universities and some of them owed their foundation even to the direct intention of the reigning princes to promote humanism.  After the appearance of Luther, in addition, many protestant princes and cities founded secondary schools, all of them with humanistic curricula.  Most of the old Latin schools had given up the medieval curriculum even before Luther.  In Germany, for all these reasons, classical scholars with theoretical interests had considerably more opportunities to teach

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as university professors or as rectors and masters of secondary schools than in Italy.

In western Europe too most of the fifteenth and sixteenth century humanists were professors.  Many of them taught eloquence at the universities of Paris, Montpellier, and Bourges, Oxford and Cambridge, Louvain and Leyden.  Since outside Italy the universities, usually, offered resistance to the intrusion of humanism, at two of them special colleges for the studies of ancient languages were established, the collegium trilingue at Louvain in Belgium (1518) and the college de France at Paris (1531).  Everywhere the humanists were members of the faculties of arts which, however, were considered merely preparatory for the other faculties and afforded less pay to their professors.  Only at Paris were there also humanist professors of law, the great role played by the newly introduced Roman Law in France accounting for the considerable number of jurist-philologists.  In England after 1512 several new “public schools” came into existence where also many humanists were headmasters and masters.  In Switzerland the University of Basel (founded in 1459) was a center of humanism.  In the late sixteenth century the French professors, in the early seventeenth the Dutch were the leading classical scholars in Europe.

Paris jurist-philologists: cf. The Cambridge Modern History, vol. I, New York 1903, p. 577; English Public School, ibid. 1, p. 582.

The early appearance and the great number of professors must not be interpreted as evidence of the origin of extra-Italian humanism from academic instruction.  It was, on the contrary, rather want of skilled political secretaries that produced the new educational establishments.  In Prussia, before the foundation of the university of Konigsberg, the elector of Brandenburg applied to Melanchthon, then the leading classical scholar in Germany, for an expert Latinist.  The elector, as he expressly wrote, needed good Latinists, then lacking in Prussia, for his diplomatic correspondence with Poland.  To satisfy this want the university was established (1544) and Melachthon’s son-in-law, professor Sabinus, became its first rector.  A few years earlier the same Sabinus had introduced the humanistic reform at the University of Frankfurt-on-the-Oder with a speech on the importance for the statesman of a polished Latin style.  The foundation of the University of Konigsberg is not an isolated case.  Outside Italy the humanistic reform of the universities was everywhere carried through under pressure from the princes against the resistance of the Scholastic minded professors.  The collegium trilingue in Louvain was established by the bequest of the royal counselor Busleiden; the college de France by King Frances I, upon the instigation of his political secretary Budé: in both cases humanist statesmen were the real founders.  The charters of several German Renaissance universities disclose the influence of Enea Silvio Piccolimini, then an official in the imperial chancery.  As far as humanism spread to eastern Europe the royal chanceries at Prague, Ofen, and Cracow were its first seats.  Everywhere in Germany the princes, reigning prelates, municipalities, and, primarily, the emperor were the


real protectors of humanism.  Their motives, probably, were identical to those which had led to the establishment of the University of Konigsberg.  In the last analysis, probably, most of the numerous new universities and secondary schools in all parts of Europe were founded to promote education of skilled political officials: “skilled”, in the Renaissance, meaning “able to write polished Latin”.

Greek and Hebrew were not used in the diplomatic correspondence and yet were almost always included in the new humanistic curricula.  Educational aims, however, and the development of public instruction must not be interpreted too narrowly.  Ideas are not separated by impenetrable walls.  The ruling ranks of the Renaissance sought after spiritual values, apt to embellish their lives and to increase their prestige.  The monastic ideals of the Middle Ages contradicted their love of luxuries and the university professors were pedantic scholastics.  In this period of transition the humanistic officials were the only intellectuals able to present the required values.  Since the officials considered eloquence and philology to be the very keys to the new world of humanism, the princes promoted the studies of the ancient languages even beyond the direct diplomatic requirements.

Some features of extra-Italian humanism, however, exceed the ideology of the literati-officials as it had developed on the other side of the Alps.  The studies of Hebrew and Greek belong to them.  That is the language of the Old Testament, this of the New.  Very few Italian humanists were interested in Hebrew and the enthusiasm for Greek did, in Italy, not at all refer to the New Testament.  Manifestly, in central and western Europe, the philological interest in language and words was much more frequently combined with a religious interest in the word of God than in the country of the Papal See.  After Luther and Calvin this combination resulted in the well known alliance between humanism and Protestantism.  Both partners hardly had more in common than certain individualistic tendencies and hostility to catholic scholasticism.  A few Renaissance universities, however, were founded at least as much to further protestant theology as to promote humanistic eloquence.  All these relations need not be analyzed here.  The Lutheran and Calvinistic varieties of humanism have nothing to do with our problems, since their relationship to the science of philology is independent of the question as to whether the philologist deals with Tacitus or the text of the Bible.  Sixteenth century protestant theology is certainly not nearer to science than the contemporary secular philology.  At the German universities Lutheran theology rather soon returned to methods not very different from those of the scholastics.  Even disputations, which had first been eliminated from the artistic faculties by the humanists, were reintroduced a few decades later.  Historical criticism in the manner of Laurentius Valla was first applied to the Bible by the heretic Jew Spinoza in the late seventeenth century and by Jean Astruc, the catholic physician, in the early eighteenth century.  Protestant theology did not contribute, substantially, to the development of the philological methods until the eighteenth century.

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On the development of the German universities in the period of humanism cf. Friedrich Paulsen: Geschichte des gelehrten Unterrichts auf den deutschen Schulen, 3rd. ed., Leipzig 1919, vol. I, book 1, chap. 4 and book 2, chap. 1-4; on the German secondary schools, ibid 1, 5 and II, 4-7.  A comprehensive exposition and sociological analysis of the intrusion in the non-German universities of humanism would be desirable.  A few data in Stephen d’Irsy: Histoire des Universités, vol. I, Paris 1933, chapter 10 and 11.  On the foundation of the University of Konigsberg cf. Paulsen op. cit. I, 241.  Foundation of the collegium trilingue ibid. 129; Aeneas Sylvius and German university charters ibid. 138; the German princes, prelates, and municipalities and the humanistic university reforms ibid. 172 and 112 (Wittenberg), 121 (Rostock, Greifswald), 123 (Mainz), 128 (Cologne), 131 (Vienna), 135 ff. (Heidelberg), 139 (Basel, 142 (Tuebingen), 153 f. (Nuernberg); foundation of protestant universities for theological reasons, p. 252 f. (Jena and Helmstedt) (1558 and 1576).  Elimination of the disputations ibid., 120 f., their reintroduction, 271 ff.

In spite of their great number the professors were not the only humanists in western and central Europe.  There were in Germany numerous court-humanists to prelates and princes and wandering poets making their living as dispensers of fame by selling laudatory lines to more or less munificent municipalities.  Culturally, however, fifteenth century Germany had not yet caught up with the native country of the Renaissance.  Compared to their Italian colleagues the German literati-humanists, therefore, were rather poor fellows, both financially and intellectually.  Ulrich von Hutten (1488-1523), the merciless antagonist of the medieval spirit, is the most brilliant of them.  In his adventurous life - he was successively a student, soldier, courtier with the archbishop of Mainz, poet laureate, and a persecuted fugitive - he resembles more the wandering scholars of the late Middle Ages than the successful Italian literati such as Filelfo and Panormita.  The first German humanist professors too really belonged with the wandering poets.  “Professors” Peter Luder (14 15-1476) and Conrad Celtes (1459-1508) moved from university to university, giving lectures on poetry, sought to sell their eulogies to cities and prelates, occasionally worked as political secretaries, and lead a rather loose life, more similar to the Italian literati than to pedantic university men.  Only after 1520, in the period of Melanchthon, when humanism had gained a firm footing at the faculties of arts, did the German humanist professors adopt the mode of life of their more respectable colleagues.  In France Jean Dolet (1509-1546) differed considerably from the professors.  He was successively secretary of the French embassy in Venice, poet, orator, printer, and eventually was executed as a heretic.  Furthermore there were, as in Italy, humanist printers in Basle (Amerbach, Froben, Cratander), in Paris (Robertus Stephanus), in Antwerp and Leyden (Plantin, Elzevir); many other humanists were employed by these printers. There were quite a number of humanist catholic canons and protestant pastors in Germany, humanist physicians to prelates, and humanists living with aristocratic patrons in France.

One humanist, the most famous of all of them, Erasmus of Rotterdam (1467-1536), resembles sociologically, even the modern literary celebrities.  Erasmus originally had been a priest.  He entered the service of the bishop of Cambrai and


went with him to Paris where he lived as a Latin teacher.  As a tutor to an English nobleman he came to England, then gave lectures at Oxford and Cambridge and became a professor of divinity at Cambridge.  Later he went to Basel and lived in the house of the humanist printer Froben.  Froben not only paid him a salary for his activity as a literary adviser and proof reader but, as a novelty, also royalties for his books.  Though Erasmus also received pensions from patrons, he is the first author in history to live, to a substantial degree, from the sale of his publications to an anonymous public.  Of his Adagia (translations included) thirty thousand copies are said to have been sold in Europe during the author’s lifetime.  Only three hundred years later when, with the rise of the middle classes, a large educated public had come into existence, did professional writers, living on the return of their publications, become a common phenomenon.  In his period Erasmus is an exceptional case, accounted for by his unusual fame.  He does, therefore, not essentially differ in his intellectual attitude from the other humanists as, in general, ideas are influenced by sociological changes only if considerable groups of individuals are affected.  Not until the nineteenth century did the rise of professional writers leave noticeable marks on modern ideology, as, for example, on the modern ideas on genius, posterity, and misunderstood persons.

On Erasmus as a professional writer, cf. John Clyd Oswald: A History of Printing, New York 1928, p. 135 ff., and G.H. Putnam: Books and their Makers During the Middle Ages, New York 1897, II, 214 ff.

On the whole the sociological bases of extra-Italian and Italian humanism do not substantially differ.  Beyond the Alps too the humanistic style and the humanistic spirit arose first in the political offices.  Everywhere the political secretaries underwent the same social development as in Italy.  Everywhere they turned into literati, dependent on patrons, living as dispensers of fame on the one hand, as professors on the other.  Everywhere, therefore, eloquence, erudition, and fame were the professional aims of humanism proper.  Outside Italy the humanists took a considerably greater part in the religious struggles of the period although, sociologically, the alliance between humanism and protestantism was a rather extrinsic affair, however seriously it may have been taken by many humanists.  Apart from this more religious attitude the greater percentage of professors is, sociologically, the greatest difference between European and Italian humanism.  The ideals of eloquence and fame, therefore, had fewer and less brilliant advocates beyond the Alps.  Literary dispensers of fame were virtually absent especially in England.  One more sociological phenomenon that seems to be peculiar to England would require further analysis.  In the later half of the sixteenth century, apparently, more English scholars with academic training published works in the vernacular on problems of mathematics and the mechanical arts than in any other European country.  England, furthermore, is the only country in Europe in which the first printed book - Caxton’s The Dictes or Sayings of the Philosophers - appeared in the vernacular.  It dealt, of course, with

62 Index

classical philosophers and was the translation of a French book.  These two facts are possibly connected.  English scholars, apparently, looked down on the mechanical arts less than their continental colleagues; and a public with theoretical interests though without university affiliation was in England possibly more numerous than abroad.  If both facts are correct their historico-sociological explanation would be of importance for the problem of the genesis of modern science.

The following list of occupations of extra-Italian humanists before 1600 is based, primariily, on Sir John Edwin Sandys op. cit., The Cambridge Modern History, vol. 1, chap. 16, the Allgemeine Deutsche Biographic, the Grande Encyclopedic, the Biographic Nationale de Belgique, and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  The list contains 72 persons; 45 of them (62,5%) are professors, nine (12.5%) political office holders.  The corresponding list of Italian humanists (above pp. 6 ff.; 43 persons) contains 15 (34.9%) professors and educators and 15 (34.9%) political secretaries.  Although both lists are not at all complete, they are composed according to analogous principles and may be compared.  The comparison shows the much greater percentage of professors among the extra-Italian humanists.  Both lists contain only better known authors and, in the period of early humanism, also humanists noteworthy for sociological reasons.  Authors remote from classical scholarship proper have not been listed, even if they play a leading part in the Renaissance literature of their countries.  Of the seven leading French Renaissance poets (“La Pleiade”) one (Dorat) was a professor, one (Belleau) secretary to a marquis, and five (Ronsard, Du Bellay, Jodelle, Baif, Pontus de Thyard) were noblemen.

secretaries and political officials:

France: Jean de Montreuil (1361-1418, chancellor to Charles V, friend of Lionardi Bruni, historiographer); Jean Lemaire (1473-1525, royal financial clerk, secretary to the count of Ligny, historiographer and poet); Guillaume Budé (1467-1540, secretary to Louis XII, maître de requêtes, diplomatic missions; pioneer in the studies of Roman Law and Roman coinage); Jacques de Thou (1553-1617, councillor of state). Germany: Johann of Neumarkt (d. 1380, notary, bishop and chancellor to Charles IV, friend of Petrarch); Willibald Pirckheimer (1440-1530, counselor and ambassador of Nuremberg, historiographer, translator); Sebastian Brant (1457-1521, professor of law, Basle; city clerk Strassburg); Johannes Cuspinianus (1473-1529, poet and statesman). England: Adam de Molyneux (d. 1450, keeper of the privy seal to Henri VI), Thomas More (1480-1535). Holland: Busleiden (d. 1518, royal counselor).

Professors, master of secondary schools:

France: Nicolas de Clemanges (1360-1440, professor of eloquence, Paris); Faber Stapulensis (1455-1537, professor, Paris); Alciati (1492-1550, professor of Roman law at Avignon, Bourges and Italian universities); Grouchy (1520-1572, professor of philosophy at Bordeaux and Paris); Pierre Ramus (15 15-1572, professor of philosophy and eloquence, Paris); Cujas (1522-1590, prof. of law at Toulouse, Geneva and German universities), Hotman (1524-1590, professor of law); Doneau (l527-159l,jurist); Brisson (1531-1591, jurist); Godefroy (1549-1621, jurist); Casaubonus (1559-1614, professor at Geneva and Montpellier, lectuer du roi and librarian at Paris); Passerat (1534-1602, professor of eloquence, Paris); Turnebus, Dorat, Lambin (sixteenth century, royal readers). Germany: Peuerbach (1423-1461), magister, lectures as the first at the University of Vienna on Latin poets, visits Italy, astronomer-humanist); Regiomontanus


(1436-1476, visits Italy, magister Vienna, librarian to Mathias Corvinus, Budapest; lecturer Nuremberg, bishop, astronomer-humanist); Peter Luder (1431-1474, wandering poet and professor; M.D. Padua, political secretary to Sigismund of Austria); Hegius (1433-1498, master at secondary schools); Rudolphus Agricola (1440-1485, studies in Italy; town clerk Groningen, prof. Heidelberg, often diplomatic missions); Wimpeling (1450-1528, professor); Reuchlin (1455-1522; visits Italy, counselor to the count of Wurtemberg, judge of the Swabian Confederation, professor); Conrad Celtes (1459-1506, poet laureate, wandering professor); Von den Busch (1468-1534); Heinrich Bebel (1471­1528) and Helius Hessen (1488-1540): Wandering poets and professors; Melanchthon (1497-1565, prof.); Simon Grynaeus (1493-1541, head master, professor); Joachim Camerarius (1500-1570, prof.); Johannes Sturm (1507-1589, prof.); H. Wolf (1516-1580, secretary to J.J. Fugger, headmaster); Neander and Basilius Faber (16th cent., headmasters); Crusius, Frischlin, and Xilander (16th century, professors); Justus Lipsius (1547-1606, secretary to Cardinal Granvella, prof. at Jena, Leyden, and Louvain). England and Scotland: William Lily (1468-1522, highmaster of St. Paul’s); Richard Croke (1522, public orator, Cambridge); John Cheke (1540 regius professor, Cambridge); George Buchanan (1506-1582, professor, public official); Roger Ascham (1515-1568, Cambridge); Thomas Wilson (1525-1584); Andrew Melville (1545-1622); John Owen (1560-1622, master).


Julius Caesar Scaliger (1484-1558, in Italy soldier, physician to French bishop); Rabelais (1490-1553, proofreader, physician); Linacre (1460-1524, Greek studies in Italy, M.D. Padua, physician to Henry VIII of England, later priest); Hartmann Schedel (1440-15 14, M.D. Padua, physician).

Theologians, monks, clergymen:

Jean Heynlin and Guillaume Fichet (professors of theology at the Sorbonne, introduce first printing press in Paris in 1470, first printed book: the letters of Gasparino Barzizza); Amyot (15 13-1593, professor Bourges; bishop of Auxerre); William Selling and William Hadley (benedictines, 1460-170 Greek studies in Italy); William Grocyn (1446-1519, professor of theology, Oxford prebends); Colet (1466-15 19 dean of St. Paul, London, prebends); Latimer (1485-1555, bishop of Worcester); Rudolf von Langen (1438-1519, canon MUnster); Conrad Muth (1417-1526, canon Gotha); Thomas Gechauff(1510-1551, German pastor).

Living with patrons:

Joseph Justus Scaliger (1540-1609, living with French nobleman).