New Publication: “Renaissance Humanism and the Ambiguities of Modernity”

We are excited to announce the publication of a special volume of The European Legacy dedicated to “Renaissance Humanism and the Ambiguities of Modernity“  edited by the members of the “Renaissance Humanism” research group adjunct to the “Migrating Knowledge” research group at the MHC:

Raz Chen-Morris, Hanan Yoran & Gur Zak (eds.), Renaissance Humanism and the Ambiguities of ModernityThe European Legacy 20(5), 2015.

Renaissance Humanisim and the Ambiguities of Modernitry - Special Issue Cover

From the introduction of this volume:

“Over the course of the twentieth century, the search for the origins of modernity shifted from the presumption of progress and emancipation to a more nuanced notion of modernity’s tensions and ambiguities. Two examples of this shift are Hans Blumenberg’s thesis that modernity is constantly engaged in the search to prove its own legitimacy, and Amos Funkenstein’s argument on the theological aspirations and anxieties at the very core of modern science. Other scholars, following Max Weber, have described the emergence of capitalism—a key dimension of modernity—not as the advent of an enlightened or rational attitude towards economic activity but rather as shaped by dogmatic imperatives and religious fears and hopes. Taken together, these critical analyses, developed between the 1900s and 1950s, have played a central role in turning scholarly attention to the darker, melancholic harbingers of the modern age.

In their accounts of modernity, Blumenberg and Funkenstein examined the transition from medieval nominalism to early modern astronomy and natural philosophy, while Weber’s focus was on the Reformation. All three of them relegated the Renaissance to a secondary role in the narrative of modernity. The essays included in this Special Issue, which are the fruits of a workshop held in June 2011, under the auspices of the Minerva Humanities Center, Tel-Aviv University, Israel, seek to turn scholarly attention back to Renaissance humanism and to examine its role in shaping this ambiguous and ambivalent version of modernity. While Renaissance humanists undoubtedly assumed progressive attitudes and cultural dispositions, their work also expressed—with various degrees of awareness and self-reflection—the internal tensions and paradoxes of modernity. Positing Renaissance humanism at the threshold of modernity thus requires a revisionary examination of the two major historiographical approaches to this intellectual movement, which were elaborated from the 1930s to the 1950s.”

The full volume can be accessed via the journal website

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