Renaissance Philosophy Marked Important Changes in Humanist Thinking in Europe

The Renaissance period marked important changes in humanist thinking
in Europe. Renaissance marked the transition of Western civilization from
medieval to modern times. During the 16th century, two important schools
of thought were established that greatly influenced many literary works
during this period.One of this is the skepticism, and the other, the rise
of humanist thought. In both schools of thought, Michel de Montaigne, a
French writer who was popularly known for his published work Essais (1580-
95), is one of the advocates of skepticism and humanist movement.
Montaigne wrote the essay “Of Cannibals” to emphasize his criticism of
Western thought and culture by adopting themes in the essay that strongly
expresses “pessimistic views” of man’s capacity for knowledge.This essay
was written to explore human awareness of his surrounding world; that is,
man should be aware of the existence of societies and cultures far
different from the Western tradition, and an individual should learn how to
accept that society’s “legitimate existence” rather than condemn and reject
this society.This humanistic thought serves to criticize Europe’s
seemingly arrogant behavior in perceiving that the Western society and
culture is the only existing and “superior” society.This is put in
contrast to the Renaissance’s humanist philosophy, emphasizing the role
that the individual plays in the society.Niccolo Machiavelli, author of
the seminal work, “The Prince,” provides stark contrast to Montaigne’s
claims in his essay.In his work, Machiavelli discusses the importance of
a rationalized society as an essential factor that shall help maintain a
well-governed state under the rule of a rightful Prince.”The Prince”
brings into focus the role that humans play in the improvement of society
and the primary movers of social change and reform, as opposed to “Of
Cannibals” symbolic, yet effe…


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