Italian Humanism: Philosophy and Civic Life in the Renaissance [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 20 (3):540-541 (1967)
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This is the first English translation of the work of Eugenio Garin, one of the foremost modern historians of the Italian Renaissance. The present text, translated so intelligently, is based on the revised Italian edition of 1958.. Garin treats the growth of Italian humanism from Petrarch in the fourteenth century to its point of radical transformation with Tommaso Campanella at the beginning of the seventeenth century. The commentary on Giordano Bruno is especially clear, concise, and penetrating. For Garin, the elements of Renaissance humanism are multiple. It sought its own rhetoric and shrank from the dry syllogistic reasoning of scholastic philosophy. It used philology as an essential tool and basis of a revolutionary historiography. As well, Renaissance humanism was engage in civic life. In seeing Renaissance humanism as the link with the modern world, Garin opposes those historians of science who posit medieval science and philosophy as the vital bridge. Garin minimizes the importance of Aristotelianism and finds Renaissance humanism severely hostile to scholasticism. Nevertheless, the book is a rich mine of facts, summarization, and syntheses of texts; the very index of the book, restricted to Italian Renaissance figures, occupies five pages of double columns. In addition, Peter Munz has written an introduction which is a full-blown critique—P. J. M.



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