Challenges of European Humanism 2017 – Participants and Abstracts

Gábor Almási

MTA-ELTE Lendület research group

Gábor Almási is interested mostly in 15–18th-century history of ideas. He published a book on The Uses of Humanism: Johannes Sambucus (1531–1584), Andreas Dudith (1533–1589), and the East Central European Republic of Letters (Leiden: Brill, 2009). He studies intellectual and information networks (the Republic of Letters), intellectual and political ideology, court culture and court careers, patronage, social advancement and mobility, religion and politics, religious attitudes of intellectuals, early modern patriotism and otherness’.

Education and Discipline: Work Ethic in the 16th Century

By today the principle theses of Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism have mostly been rejected, although Weber’s approach and many observations continue being influential. If we have a look at the world of learning in the 16th century, we find extraordinary examples of disciplined learning and work. The profound belief in the uses of education shared by humanists and the new models of scholarly life and habitus appear to have contributed to a new culture of work that lasted until the 20th century. Although these models had medieval sources as well, many facets of a new working culture were just being experimented with in the 16th century. By calling attention to humanist ideas on discipline and education and the transformations of scholarly habitus through a number of examples, this paper attempts to argue that humanism had a crucial role in the making of early modern (and modern) work culture.

Manca Erzetič

Nova revija Institute of Humanist Studies

Manca Erzetič is PhD candidate at Faculty of Arts UL and a young researcher at the Nova revija Institute of Humanist Studies; among her awards are Alumnus Primus, Prešeren Award for Master degree from Philosophy and Comparative literature and literary theory; three international awards for essays, Lirikonfestov zlát. She writes critical and research papers; participates in discussions at government sessions about language and culture; and is active as ecologist.

Testimony of Being Human

Speaking about humanism and being-human in 21st century seems paradoxical from many viewpoints: (1) because of the historical situation that humanity witnessed in 20th century in the presence of totalitarianisms, radical ideological propaganda, extermination and concentration camps; (2) because human condition is determined by technological development, which took over the educational, cultural and political sphere (with a consequence that humanism is understood only as an attribute of humankind); (3) because of the expectations of change brought by the new millennium (including the problem of understanding »humanism« in the perspective of globalization; and profit concentration versus humanitarian regression). – We are now confronted with the following philosophical contemplation: do humans find themselves in a controversial situation between production and praxis? Is this paradoxical situation caused by humans themselves or are they as humans put in the situation of paradox?

Aleksandar Gatalica

Institute for Literature, Belgrade

Aleksandar Gatalica has published translations of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, Sappho, Mimnermus, Solon, Archilochus, Hipponax and Anacreon, as well as novels The Lines of Life in 1993 (Miloš Crnjanski Award and Giorgio la Pira Award), Downsides in 1995, The End in 2000, Death of Euripides (Euripidova smrt) in 2003, and The Invisible in 2008 (Stevan Sremac Award), The Great War (NIN Award). He has also authored several books on music. He is editor of numerous anthologies in Serbian and other languages.

The Twentieth Century – The Century that Chose to be Art Itself

History teaches us – and that includes history being made at present – that the world of those who decide our fate is ruled by quite similar rules as in the Greek tragedies. All or almost all of the significant moves of the few people who make decisions on behalf of many, are in most cases led by conviction. We can safely say that this world is not ruled by scoundrels. What is the portrait of the crook? The crooks know that their moral views are deplorable, and on account of jealousy or some other malicious reasons, and they want to destroy the whole nation and admit it to themselves either with some delay or flat out. Does this match the description of any important person in human history, whether they had a largely positive or largely negative impact? No. Almost without exception, concrete decisions of concrete decision-makers are made out of conviction.

Sibil Gruntar Vilfan

Department of Medieval Studies, CEU, Budapest

Sibil Gruntar Vilfan got her BA and MA in English and Latin Language and Literature and is currently enrolled at the Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest. Her undergraduate thesis on Latin Phraseological Units in English and Slovenian: a Study Based on Erasmus’ Adagiorum Chiliades won Prešeren Student Award and in 2017 she won Best Academic Achievement Award at the Department of Medieval Studies at the CEU in Budapest. Her translation of the Dialogues by Sulpicius Severus is to be published in 2017.

Quasi nani super humeros gigantum? Reusing Classical and Medieval Quotations in Hagiographic Discourse

There is a tendency to perceive the tenth century as an intellectually less important period due to the lack of written sources. However, Liège was known as the Athens of the north. This paper analyses its cathedral school as one of the important intellectual and educational centres with emphasis on one of the representative texts created at that time, Vita Remacli Secunda (Vita II). The aim of this paper is three-fold. Firstly, to illustrate the fact that classical quotations were not used merely as petrified forms of ancient wisdom, but rather as raw gems which were polished to fit into the pattern of rhymed prose in which the dedicatory epistle and Vita II were written. Secondly, to point out that the older editions neglected the stylistic aspect of rhymed prose in the saint’s life resulting in a distorted image of the text. Thirdly, to propose an alternative way of editing hagiographic texts written in rhymed prose.

Matej Hriberšek

Department of Classical Philology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana

Matej Hriberšek is assistant professor for Greek and Latin language at the Department for Classical Philology (Faculty of Arts) at the University of Ljubljana. He got his PhD in Latin in 2003; and has studied in Zürich, Tübingen, Göttingen and Vienna. His main areas of interests are Latin and Greek grammar, ancient rhetoric and metrics, didactics of classical languages, medieval and neo-Latin literature, lexicography, and translation from classical languages (Thomas Aquinas, Tacitus, Plutarch, Galileo, Pliny the Elder, Aristotle, Herberstein etc.).

Literary Production of Slovenian Humanists of 15th and 16th Century and the Echoes of Ideas of European Humanism

During the 15th and the 16th century, political and economic conditions in the present-day Slovenian regions were not favourable for the spread of humanist ideas. Nonetheless, two important groups of humanist intellectuals were formed and they constituted the nucleus of humanist learning in the area: one in the coastal cities of the region of Primorska and one in Vienna. The latter contributed significantly to the expansion and development of humanism in the Habsburg lands. Slovenian humanists based in Vienna held important positions in the Church or worked as private tutors or as university professors; some entered the diplomatic service, while others established their careers as counsellors, antiquarians or writers of fictional and non-fictional works. Among the most prominent were Bishop Thomas Prelokar, educators Bernard Perger and Briccius Preprost, teacher and philosopher Matthias Hvale, antiquarian and epigrapher Augustinus Prygl (Tyfernus), Johannes Rott, diplomat and writer Sigismund von Herberstein and many others. Of particular importance were also some non-Slovenian humanists who dealt with this area, such as Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini.

Katarzyna Jerzak

Pomeranian University in Słupsk

Katarzyna Jerzak studied Comparative Literature at Brown University and Princeton University (PhD 1995). Between 1995 and 2012 she taught comparative literature at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. In 1999/2000 she was a Rome Prize Fellow in Art History at the American Academy in Rome. In 2013 she was NEH Distinguished Visiting Professor at SUNY Potsdam, NY. She is now Associate Professor of English Philology at the Pomeranian University in Słupsk, Poland. Her main research interest is exile.

The Medicine Cabinet and the Bookshelf: PTSD and Other Anxiety Disorders in Martin Buber, Mikhail Bakhtin, Boris Cyrulnik, and Jonathan Shay

Despite its ostensible state of peace, contemporary Western society is plagued by disorders common in combat zones: PTSD and other anxiety disorders, depression, suicide. Arnold Weinstein, in his A Scream Goes through the House: What Literature Teaches Us About Life, opposes the medicine cabinet to the bookshelf. In over twenty years of university teaching I have seen that works focusing on traumatic events, be it individual (Hiroshima mon amour by Duras) or collective (Jewish War by Grynberg), can have a therapeutic effect on students. In a culture in which Disney supplanted both the Bible and Greek tragedies, the lack of a humanist education deprives individuals of a meaningful way of addressing their moral injuries” outside of psychiatry proper. My paper seeks to elucidate this phenomenon by using the concepts and approaches worked out by Martin Buber, Mikhail Bakhtin, Boris Cyrulnik and Jonathan Shay. I propose to consider selected works by Janusz Korczak, Albert Cohen, Marguerite Duras, and Henryk Grynberg, as well as their reception among American and Polish university students. My thesis is that in a society in which most basic human needs are met for the majority of its members, there is nonetheless a humanist lacuna which contributes to the current psychological crisis.

Petar Jevremović

Department of Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade

Petar Jevremović (born 1964) teaches at the University of Belgrade, Serbia, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy. Among his research interests are psychoanalysis, philosophy, theology, and literature. Published books: Psychoanalysis and Ontology, Belgrade 1998; Lacan and Psychoanalysis, Belgrade 2000; Psihoanaliza, hermenevtika, cerkveni očetje, Kud Logos, Ljubljana 2006; Body, Phantasm, Symbol, Belgrade 2007; LOGOS/ POLUTROPOS: Towards hermeneutics of the oral discourse, Belgrade 2013; Being/Dispersal, Belgrade 2014.

Thinking as Subversion

The present state of affairs in the world makes it a matter of highest possible priority to rethink our own historical situation. This rather demanding task implies a necessity for critical rethinking of the idea of culture. We live in the world of tragical decline of the classical idea of culture and its ideals, in the world of the ideology. This ideology is deeply rooted in the metaphysics of economic pragmatism, media-obscurantism, and the seductive rhetorics of human rights and new-age happiness. All these changes in our world had made a tremendous impact on our individual and collective lives. Liberal sciences and arts are in serious decline. Europe, being without its inherent humanistic ideas, is no more than a castrated corpse. Everybody is looking for informations, trying to get adapted to the normative logic of the big network. Critical thinking is something desperately needed. But there is no real critical thinking and no possible subversion of any kind of repressive metaphysics without its being deeply rooted in the tradition of the humanist education and its historical tradition.

Markus Kersten

Universität Rostock, Heinrich Schliemann-Institut für Altertumswissenschaften, Rostock

Markus Kersten studied classics as well as mathematics at the universities of Rostock and Groningen. In 2015 he was based at the University of Oxford as a Visiting Scholar. In 2017, he completed his PhD course at Rostock, focusing on Lucan’s reception of Vergil’s Georgics. He is currently working as a lecturer. His research interests are Roman epic and bucolic poetry, particularly compositional details like metapoetic allusions and cryptogrammes. His new book will investigate Harry Kessler’s reception of classical literature.

Humanism That Has Gone Sour? The Status of Classical’ Literary Culture in Historical Roman Poetry

Augustan poetry, destined to become what may be called the most classic of all European classics’, not only dealt with sublime heroism, but was also obsessed with the latent danger of cultural breakdown. In establishing the idealist vision of a returning Golden Age, Vergil didactically’ promulgated the idea of a cultural renewal under – or just in spite of? – the principate. Often, this literary vision of gradual advance (back) to ancient peace and prosperity has taken central stage in the process of defining European humanism. – Yet only some decades after Augustus, Lucan hauntingly displayed human cruelty and crime in his Civil War as if to demonstrate that classical didaxis has been of no worth at all and that humanism cannot be taught by letters. This may be interpreted as anti-classicist and, hence, anti-humanistic. But can the ideals of civilization and humanity in fact be proved wrong? – I shall show that questioning the cultural impact of the classics’ is indeed at issue in Roman historical poetry – however rather as a defense than as a challenge. In acutely reflecting the impact of their reference texts these poems have made a distinctive contribution to the classification of the classics and developed a model still applied today: satirical redemption.

Matic Kocijančič

Department of Comparative Literature, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana

Matic Kocijančič is Young Researcher at the Department of Comparative Literature and Literary Theory, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His research interests include ancient Greek drama, philosophy of tragedy, and Slovenian post-war theatre. He won the Maribor Theatre Festival award for the best essay in 2006. His first book, Knjiga pohval in pritožb – a collection of film, book and theatre reviews – was published in 2016.

Heidegger’s Reading of Antigone and His Critique of Humanism

Heidegger and his Brief über den Humanismus”, 1946, decisively influenced philosophical debates on humanism, especially in France. The emergence of Heidegger’s text was prompted by Jean Paul Sartre’s L’existentialisme est un humanisme, 1946, and the French public accepted Heidegger’s concerns as a convincing critique of Sartre’s theses, which were eventually abandoned by Sartre himself. From the Renaissance through the Enlightenment to the post-modern era, the French intellectual millieu developed a highly profiled and continuous dialogue with humanist thinking – a relationship that, with its intensity, is unique within the European philosophical tradition. As Tom Rockmore proves in his study on Heidegger and French philosophy, 1995, Heidegger’s high-profile tematization of humanism is crucial for the immense popularity of philosophy in post-war France. Heidegger’s work also shares French fascination with Sophocles’ Antigone. Under the influence of Heidegger – and, of course, Hegel – this was also shared by Jacques Derrida and Jacques Lacan. In recent decades, Lacan’s reading of Antigone became a central philosophical reference. Heidegger unveiled his reading of Antigone in his Einführung in die Metaphysik, a series of lectures from 1935 published twenty years later. At the time of their emergence, there was a vigorous debate about humanism in Germany, in which Heidegger took part both philosophically and politically. My paper will highlight the links between Heidegger’s thematisations of humanism and his reading of Antigone, focusing on their potential – and actual – political consequences.

Dean Komel

Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana

Dean Komel is professor of contemporary philosophy and philosophy of culture at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, and is the head of research activities at the Nova Revija Institute for Humanities. In 2003 he received the Zois Award of the Republic of Slovenia for scholarly achievements in the field of philosophy. He publishes in phenomenological and hermeneutical philosophy, and is also the initiator of several humanistic institutions within scholarly community. He participated in a number of conferences and symposia and has helped organize about forty of them.

The Crisis of Humanism” and the Contemporality of Human Sciences

The actual relationship between the crisis of humanity and today’s situation of human sciences is within the proposed discussion encompassed in the concept of contemporality” with the intent to distinguish the theoretical use from the factual usage of the term contemporaneity”, which otherwise still retains its cultural value, as well as its thematic relevance within humanistic sciences. This is of great importance precisely, if we place the theme of contemporaneity in relation to the context of understanding, as it has been developed especially by the modern hermeneutic methodology of humanistic sciences.

In humanities, essential questions cannot be simply constructed; we are existentially placed in front of them. Knowledge society”, which is co-defined by understanding in culture”, presents general challenge to which it is not enough to respond, we have to answer to it. This seems especially important when we take into consideration the resurgence of political tensions on the borders of the EU, the insecure social and economic situation within the EU and the position of the EU within the global counter-balancing of power.

Robert Kuret

Independent researcher, Ljubljana

Robert Kuret studied Slovenian philology and finished his studies in 2016 with a study on mimetic desire in Vitomil Zupan’s novels. He worked as a journalist and web editor at Infodrom. He writes critiques and essays about literature and film where he tries to fuse psychoanalysis and mimetic theory. Twice he was among the Sodobnost’s nominees for the best Slovenian essay. He is a coorganizer and a founding member of Prebranec, a monthly event dedicated to new Slovenian prose.

The Individuum as a Consequence of the Relationship with the Other and towards the Other: The Other as a Better Me, the Other as an Imperfect Me

In his theory of mimetic desire, Rene Girard argues that human autonomy is illusory. Human person is not an individuum, but rather an interindividuum: it exists only in relations with others. A case in point is the novel by Vitomil Zupan called Journey to the End of Spring. The narrator of the novel, who is professor of Slovenian, exists primarily in relation to his student Tajsi. In this context, the subject’s dependence on the other means dependence of his desire on the other: he wants what the other wants or what the other has. Tajsi represents life untamed, an ideal identity that he wants for himself. The professor perceives Tajsi as someone who does not lack anything, so he considers him – in terms of Girard’s mimetic theory – as his model. He begins to imitate him more and more; he wants to become like him. He imitates Tajsi so much that at some point he metamorphs into him: the speaker is no longer the professor himself, it is Tajsi who speaks through him. The subject gives priority to the admired model. But such a project is doomed to fail. Even more, the perfect other does not exist. Professor realises this at the end of the novel, during his final encounter with Tajsi, when he discovers that Tajsi’s identity is also based on the imitation of someone whom Tajsi clearly admires. Thus the subject moves from the perception of the other as oneself in the sense of some ideal identity to perception of the other as oneself who also experiences deficiencies.

Adam Łukaszewicz

Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw

Adam Łukaszewicz, archaeologist, papyrologist and historian of antiquity, professor at the University of Warsaw, is head of a Polish archaeological expedition in Egypt, deputy chairman of the Committee for the Study of Antiquity (Polish Academy of Sciences), member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton N.J. etc. Among his published works are Les édifices publics dans les villes de l’Égypte romaine (1986), Aegyptiaca Antoniniana (1993), Świat papirusów (2001), Kleopatra (2005), Egipt Greków i Rzymian (2006).

Ambiguity of Knowledge and the Challenge of Humanism

Speaking from the field of research, how is one to understand the maxim of Socrates that the start of wisdom is in knowing one knows nothing? It is a popular misconception that the humanities and the sciences have little in common, especially in the area of exactitude, credibility, and accuracy. However, modern research methodologies in the humanities ensure a high level of credibility and strength of evidence, based on scholarly reasoning. The results of solid research in the humanities are far from unaccountable, undocumented, or frivolous.

Ewa Łukaszyk

University of Warsaw, Faculty of Artes Liberales”

Ewa A. Łukaszyk (1972), Ph.D. Habil., Romanist and Orientalist, specialized in Portuguese and Lusophone as well as Mediterranean studies and is professor at the Faculty Artes Liberales” (University of Warsaw) and LE STUDIUM fellow 2017–2018 (Loire Valley, France). Currently she develops a project The search for the Adamic language and the emergence of transcultural aspiration in the aftermath of the European maritime discoveries”, financed in the framework of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

Congregatio mundi Today: Neohumanist Perspectives of Guillaume Postel (1510−1581)

Guillaume Postel (1510−1581), a French polymath and utopianist, teaching Greek, Hebrew and Arabic at the newly created Collège de France, preferred to define his profession as congregator mundi. Building on his competence as a linguist and reflecting on the paradisical origin of language, he gradually developed the thesis on the possibility of achieving a universal harmony beyond the diversity of cultures, ethnicities and faiths, as well as a general restitution of the world to its original, unspoilt condition (restitutio omnium). At the same time, the restitution of the unspoilt, primordial, Adamic language would put us back on the path of truth, wisdom and knowledge (via veritatis perdita). – The aim of this paper is to reflect on the perspectives of a critical return to certain aspects of the Postelian heritage. Certainly, his equation (communication = concordia) remains generally valid to the present day, even for those who do not share his Adamitic and cabbalistic conceptions of language. On the other hand, his concept of congregator mundi appears as a valuable starting point for the discussion on the role and prerogatives of the intellectual as a mediator between human societies and the transcendent sphere.

Marko Marinčič

Department of Classical Philology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana

Marko Marinčič is professor of Roman and Greek literature at the University of Ljubljana. His main fields of interest and publication are Hellenistic and Roman poetry (Catullus, Virgil, Appendix Vergiliana, Ovid, Statius), Greek prose fiction (Life of Aesop, Achilles Tatius) and the reception of ancient literature (e.g. Petrarca, Chénier, Baudelaire, Prešeren). He translates Latin, Greek and French literature into Slovenian (Greek lyric poetry, especially Sappho; Aeschylus, Euripides; Plautus, Terentius, Catullus, Virgil, Ovid, Tertullian; Racine, Claudel).

Pier Paolo Vergerio: An Apostle of Translation between Homer and South Slavic Reformation

In the introduction to his translation of the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles into Slovenian (1557), the protestant reformer Primož Trubar paid reverence to Pier Paolo Vergerio the Younger, a prominent humanist and the former papal nuntio, as the individual who was, besides God, the most important instigator” of his work. In spite of this declaration, the contribution of Vergerio to the emergence of first translations of the Bible into Slovenian is usually downplayed in histories of literature and in textbooks, which tend to idolise the religious propaganda of the Protestants in the spirit of liberal romantic nationalism. This contribution shows that an internationally relevant earthly” intellectual context for Trubar’s over-mythified translations is provided by Vergerio’s spiritual biography, his development from an Erasmian humanist who supported Andreas Divus’ Latin translation of Homer and scorned Luther for his bad Latin to a militant reformer who acquiesced to foster and supervise translations of the Bible from Luther rather than from the original.

Olga Markič

Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana

Olga Markič is professor of philosophy at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. She is lecturing at the Philosophy Department and at Mei:CogSci program. Her main areas of research are Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Cognitive Science, and Neuroethics. Her two main books are Cognitive science: Philosophical Questions (Aristej, 2011, in Slovenian) and Mind in nature: from science to philosophy (with M. Uršič and A. Ule, Nova Science Publishers, 2012).

Challenges to the Humanistic Image

It is only recently that neuroscientists have been able to investigate cognitive phenomena that are the hallmarks of what it is to be human. Advances in theoretical and clinical neurosciences open a path to a better understanding of mental processes but at the same time raise the worry that understanding how brains cause behavior will radically change our understanding of the mind. Flanagan (2002) has described two competing images of who we are: the humanistic image and the scientific image. The humanistic image is much in accordance with our everyday thinking about the mind and has its roots in perennial philosophy, while the scientific image portrayed humans as natural systems and focuses on sub-personal processes. Some scientists and scientifically oriented philosophers are radical and think that many concepts employed by the humanistic image are just illusions without real reference, thus undermining our views about free will and, consequently, about moral responsibility. The paper will deal with the question of the relationship between these two images and suggest a possible solution to bridge the gap.

Dávid Molnár

MTA-ELTE Humanism in East Central Europe Research Group

Dávid Molnár is a historian of literature and philosophy, interested in Platonic movement in Europe and Hungary. After defending his PhD thesis Furor est cum cantat: Marsilio Ficino and the Hungarian Platonists in love” in the age of Matthias Corvinus, he has been affiliated as a research fellow in the Humanism in East Central Europe” Research Group (MTA-ELTE HECE). He is currently working on a monograph on the Sienese Pietro Illicino (Petrus Illicinus).

The Humanist Interpretation of Erotic Dreams

This paper explores the perception of erotic dreams in the works of 15–16th-century humanists. Erotic dreams were certainly a delicate theme which humanists attempted to treat scientifically in order to naturalise it, chiefly in their medical works. The appearance of erotic dreams, most often dreams about sexual acts, was supposed to indicate the imbalance of humours in the human body. In other words, humanists argued that these dreams were not a sign of devil’s work, tempting people to sin, but a diagnosable and curable physiological process. Moreover, erotic dreams did not simply help diagnosing the imbalance of humours but could also have healing power because they could restore the appropriate proportion of bodily fluids. Through contemporary humanist medical treatises, I will outline how erotic dreams were connected to bodily and mental diseases – especially to melancholy – and to love frenzy.

David Movrin

Department of Classical Philology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana

David Movrin is assistant professor at the Department of Classical Philology at the University of Ljubljana. He holds an MA in Medieval Studies from the CEU in Budapest and a PhD in Classical Philology from the University of Ljubljana. He has published a monograph on the history of translation, translated and adapted a set of Latin textbooks and workbooks, written a monograph on the relationship between pagan and Christian biography in Late Antiquity, and chaired a research project entitled What Good is Latin to Socialism?” at the Slovenian Research Agency.

Chommoda and hinsidias: Catullan Shaming of the Parvenu between Antiquity, Renaissance and Modernity

In his poem 84, Catullus presents Arrius, a parvenu of humble origins, who compulsively aspirates his words in order to appear educated; he thus pronounces chommoda” and hinsidias” instead of commoda” and insidias”. There were strong social implications and speakers of Latin who dropped their aspirates incurred a social stigma; as Nigidius Figulus remarked, rusticus fit sermo si aspires perperam”. But why commoda? Why insidias? These might just be two random words, and indeed some of the commentators argue that there is no reason to search for an additional level of meaning; entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem. The poem has a long history of less-than-exciting interpretations and translations; it was only renaissance editors who understood that the manuscripts actually lacked the aspirates and it was only in the twentieth century that the pun at the end of the epigram was discovered. Building on this tradition, the paper will argue that the poem hides another layer of meaning which provides a unique insight into Catullan understanding of the human nature.

Petra Mutlova

Department of Classical Studies, Masaryk University, Brno

Petra Mutlova got her PhD in Historical Sciences (2007, Masaryk University, Brno) and in Medieval Studies (2011, Central European University, Budapest); she is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Classical Philology, Masaryk University in Brno, working on medieval Latin language and literature. She is involved in a long-time project of preparing critical editions of the Magistri Ioannis Hus Opera omnia series for the Corpus Christianorum, Continuatio Mediaevalis for the Brepols publishers.

Jan Hus as an Inspiration in the Twenty-first Century

A medieval priest, church reformer and a seminal figure of the Bohemian Reformation of the 15th century, Jan Hus (d. 1415) was one of the key Czech representatives of medieval Christian ideals compatible with the tradition of European humanism developed in classical antiquity. The paper will focus on some aspects of Hus’s teachings and convictions expressed at the height of his academic career and the end of his life. I will present examples from texts that Hus composed in jail at the Council of Constance as well as from his personal correspondence. Modern scholars often stress the fact that some issues that Hus elaborated on – such as his emphasis on the role of personal conscience, freedom of speech, obedience to human commands and authority in general – have the potential to resonate even in the present. Although, given the current state of European society, these issues seem rather topical, the perception of Hus in Czech society is complex. Is it indeed possible to see Hus as a cultural and historical phenomenon with whom even the secular part of society can share the values of European humanity? And do we really need him?

Elżbieta Olechowska

University of Warsaw, Faculty of Artes Liberales”

Elżbieta Olechowska is a classical philologist and textual critic (Claudian’s De bello Gildonico publ. by E. J. Brill, Cicero’s manuscript tradition by Ossolineum, three Cicero’s speeches from 54 B. C. in Bibliotheca Teubneriana), as well as media expert (Challenges for International Broadcasting, vol. I‑VI, The Age of International Radio). She worked at the University of Geneva, Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and currently at the University of Warsaw focussing on history of Classics and reception of classical antiquity.

Innovative Diversity of Academic Offer as a Response to Audiovisual Propagation of Second-Hand Knowledge of the Classical Humanities

Instead of lamenting the disappearance of Greek, Latin, and Classical Antiquity from school curricula, we may take a pro-active approach and, in addition to traditional subjects in classics, offer university education that takes advantage of what students already know of the classical humanities, and build on that awareness which results basically from early exposure to mythical (or historic) heroes and narratives in audio-visual production for children and young adults. Exploring the creative process of reception behind films and television series inspired by classical themes known to creators only from secondary sources or in translation – most often genres such as fantasy, science fiction, or comic books – and inviting students to actively trace and analyze such themes in contemporary audio-visual culture, will allow them to grasp the significance, relevance, and continuity of universal values, conflicts, and characters the twenty-first-century youth shares with antiquity.

Áron Orbán

MTA-ELTE Humanism in East Central Europe Research Group

Áron Orbán is an assistant research fellow in the MTA-ELTE Humanism in East Central Europe Research Group (Budapest). His research area is humanist literature in Hungary, Austria, and Germany, especially its natural philosophical aspects. His publications that have appeared so far focus mainly on astrological matters. His dissertation dealt with Solar-astral Symbolism and Poetical Self-Representation in Conrad Celtis and his humanist circles.”

Variations for Micro-macrocosmical Relations in Conrad Celtis’s Amores

In the Latin poetry of Conrad Celtis (1459–1508), a pioneering figure of German Humanism, one of his basic ideas is that of the micro- and macrocosm, a network of correspondences that hold the universe together. My paper will show how Celtis could create such a magic” universe in his chief poetical work, the Amores. The poet demonstrates his (or his sodales’, his patrons’) astrologically favorable birth with horoscopes or allusions to certain planetary positions. The solar symbolism has a key role in Celtis. Other mythological figures, such as Orpheus, Bacchus etc., also participate in this cosmological-poetological symbolism, the ideas of which have their classical, medieval, or Italian Renaissance (especially Platonic) traditions, and their parallels in contemporary German intellectual life. Witchcraft-motifs could serve as powerful, spectacular symbolic means contributing in many ways to the construction of meaning in the Amores, expressing, first of all, the ambivalent nature and the dangers of love and magic, two powers whose close affinity – otherwise an age-old idea – became an important issue in several Renaissance scholarly theories and artworks.

Žarko Paić

School of Fashion Design, Faculty of Textile Technology, University of Zagreb

Žarko Paić is associate professor at the School of Fashion Design at the Faculty of Textile Technology, University of Zagreb, where he teaches aesthetics, fashion and media theory and visual communication. He is the editor of Fort, journal for theory, culture and visual arts. He has won several international awards for literature. His research interests are comprehensive and range from theories of globalisation and identities, aesthetics, philosophy of art, philosophy of politics, and media philosophy.

Technosphere and the End of Subject: The Culture That is Left

In consideration of the relationship between the basic notions that define the contemporary economy – politics – culture my attempt is to articulate three starting points. The first determines the acceleration of complex digital age that I will call technosphere. That circuit includes techno-science, information and communication technologies and the new media. The second is related to changes in the biosphere and it belongs to the physicality, animality and complex organization of human life in cybernetical model of eco-system and environment. Global capitalism currently moves through a third point. I call it mediosphere. This term refers to the increasing role of mediation in everyday life. From technological gadgets to computer equipment, the landscape of postindustrial societies is represented by the new visual archipelago of networks. The paper will articulate some critical standpoints on the footsteps which Foucault and Deleuze directed towards an analysis of the problems of power and freedom in society today, where culture displays new patterns of control instead of emancipating the subject.

Edoardo Pecchini

University of Warsaw, Faculty of Artes Liberales”

Edoardo Pecchini is a child neuropsychiatrist, working at the Bolzano Hospital within the Specialist Psychiatric Health Clinic during the Childhood and Development Period, taking care of children and young people with depressions, suicidal disorders, disturbances of perception of reality, attention deficit disorders, disturbances of social behavior, and autistic spectrum disorders. He is also a doctoral student at the faculty of Artes liberales, University of Warsaw.

Promoting Mental Health through Classics: Hercules as Trainer in Today‘s Labours of Children and Young People

Hercules’ myth will be discussed in my presentation on the ground of selected psychological and pedagogical theories. The hero will be compared with other characters, along with the pros and the cons of their use as models in psycho-educational situations. I will reflect on possible applications of Hercules’ Twelve Labours cycle in clinical and educational contexts, and particularly in cases such as high-functioning autism, disruptive behaviours, and conduct problems.

Gregor Pobežin

University of Primorska, Koper; Institute of Cultural History, Research Centre of Slovenian Academy, Ljubljana

Gregor Pobežin obtained his PhD in 2009 with his thesis on narrative focus in Sallust’s Conspiracy of Catiline and War of Jugurtha. Since 2008 he has been employed by the University of Primorska, where he holds the position of Associate Professor, and by the Institute of Cultural History of the Research Centre of SAZU in Ljubljana, where he holds the position of the head of department. He concentrates mostly on the research of Greek and Roman historiography and the question of sources employed by Greek and Roman historians.

Magna enim est spes de pace: Pierpaolo Vergerio And His Thoughts on the Council of Trent

The Actiones duae secretarii pontificii written in 1556 by the bishop of Iustinopolis (Koper) and later the protestant author Pierpaolo Vergerio raise questions related to the Council of Trent. The treatise in two volumes (Quarum altera disputat, an Paulus Papa IIII debeat cogitare de instaurando Concillio Tridentino; Altera vero, an vi et armis possit deinde imperare Protestantibus ipsius Concilii decreta) is a rare and, so far, mostly overlooked document, which sheds light on the exceptionally interesting aspect of Vergerio’s life after his excommunication, particularly during his years in Tübingen when he acted as the advisor to Duke Christopher of Württemberg and an emissary to Poland (1556 and 1559). The younger of the two Vergerii, both from Iustinopolis, Pierpaolo found himself on the junction of two worlds – namely Humanism and Reformation; even though he is interesting as a man of letters, his treatises are of crucial importance to the context of the Reformation, including the two volumes (joined later by the third one – Accessit tertia, qua utrunque caput complectitur, ac definit, Concilium non posse instaurari, 1559) proposed to be addressed in the paper.

Marco Russo

Universita degli Studi di Salerno

Marco Russo is Assistant Professor of Theoretical Philosophy at University of Salerno (Italy). He studied in Naples (MA), Catania (Phd), Humboldt Universität zu Berlin (Phd), Technische Universität Darmstadt (Post-graduate Fellowship), and Freie Universität Berlin (Post-doc). His works join the theoretical analysis with historical expertise. His areas of competence are Philosophical Anthropology, Epistemology of Human Science, and Metaphysics. Since 2011 he is Vice Prasident of Helmuth Plessner Gesellschaft, an international network for the promotion of the Philosophical Anthropology.

What Is It Like to Be a Humanist?

There are many humanist associations in Europe, in America and around the world. They carry out various social, political, cultural activities on the basis of a specific philosophical view outlined in various programmatic writings. In my contribution, I analyze this vision to try to understand if there is a humanistic way of living, therefore if it is possible to practice and not just theorize humanism – or even less, to understand it as a mere literary phenomenon. This approach enables us to evaluate the complicated and sometimes contradictory relationship that links humanism with religion, ethics, and science. And it also allows us to go beyond the ideological rage that characterized the debate on humanism in the twentieth century, in order to assess the long-lasting relevance of this central term of western civilization.

Brane Senegačnik

Department of Classical Philology, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts

Brane Senegačnik is a classical philologist, poet, essayist, translator and editor. He has PhD from Universtiy of Ljubljana and is currently assistant professor at the Department of Classical Philology. His main research interest is Greek tragedy. He published translations of several Greek and Roman tragedies, works of late Stoic and Renessaince philosophers and complete extant poems of Pindar. In addition to six collections of poems he authored and co-authored several monographs on Slovenian culture.

Humanist Understanding of Human: Humanist Readings of Antigone

(Early) humanist reception of Greek tragedy is characterized by Aristotelizing intepretations of tragedy according to contemporary understanding of Poetics (Lurie, Mola); in this frame Sophocles’ Antigone was more or less flattened into a moral object lesson about the punishment of a tyrant abusing his power; humanist commentators and translators showed little interest in the play’s literary and philosophical complexity that made it one of the admired and influential texts of the Western culture over the past three centuries. However, one should not overlook the excessive tendency towards intellectualisation of tragedy, characteristic of many major modern readings (M. Heath), on the one hand, and the expectations of the original audience on the other. In both its literary and political context, tragedy was supposed to teach (N. Croally). Admitting that there is a moral to Antigone does not inovolve using simple moralistic terms like those used by Camerarius, for instance; one could rather see it as a hint at indispensability of individual human being, both for the correct understanding of human nature and for ethical being in the world.

György E. Szönyi

Central European University, Budapest; University of Szeged

György E. Szönyi is professor of English and cultural/intellectual history. His interests include cultural theory, the Renaissance, the Western esoteric traditions, and conventions of symbolization – early modern and (post)modern. Among his recent monographs are Pictura & Scriptura: 20th-Century Theories of Cultural Representations (Szeged, 2004); Gli angeli di John Dee (Rome, 2004); John Dee’s Occultism (Albany, 2004, paperback 2010). He is on the editorial board of Aries and Aries Monograph Series (E. J. Brill) and several other national and international journals.

Broadening Horizons of Humanism

It is a commonplace about the Renaissance that it broadened the horizon of the Medieval Europeans in more than one direction. Loking backward they rediscovered the cultural and intellectual heritage of the classical Antiquity; looking upward they discovered the true structure of the skies and the place of the Sun and the planets; looking forward they found new geographical horizons and discovered new lands, new races; and even looking around themselves they opened their eyes to nature – the lower strata of the Great Chain of Being, from the minerals through plants to the animal kingdom, thus forging the birth of the natural sciences. There was a special intellectual group in the hub of all these changes: the humanists. Some of them were primarily scientists, others educators, or artists, but common in them was that their enthusiasm toward the classical heritage often connected with an interest in the new, the unknown, the futuristic. I am going to reflect on the long debate concernning the definition of humanism and the humanists. Then I shall revisit a few case studies in which we can observe the combination of philology, historical interest, and the proposition of new ideas – often inspired by a widening horizon resulting from travel.

Alen Širca

Department of Comparative Literature, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts

Alen Širca, PhD, is the assistant professor of comparative literature and literary theory at the Faculty of Arts at University of Ljubljana. His research focuses on premodern Western literary history and methodology of literary studies. He is the author of two scholarly monographs on mystical poetry.

Dante’s Transhumanism” And Its Implications for Contemporary Poetry

Trasumanar, one of the key words in Dante’s Divine Comedy, is difficult to translate, yet it indelibly points to transcending of what is merely human. Dante’s vison of human person is clearly directed upwards; for him, human person as viator is always already located in the coordinates of mystical ascent. Yet could not such a reinterpretation of ancient epics pertain solely to the Middle Ages, to that irrevocably dislocated darkness of some past era? Could Commedia, as one of the undisputed central texts of the Western canon (irrespective of the problematic notion of canonicity” in contemporary literary studies) still speak to us in its inherent alterity? Alterity that means radical openness for the Other, not on horizontal, cultorological, historistic, or materialistic level, but on vertical level, as openness for transhuman communication with the Absolute. By transhumanistic” interpretation of Dante’s epic poetry, the paper will seek to demonstrate various endeavours in contemporary poetry which are open for deification, for the possibility of fusion between human and transhuman.

Igor Škamperle

Department of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts

Igor Škamperle is an assistant professor in Sociology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. His research fields are Renaissance culture, sociology of knowledge and science, epistemology, and theory of symbolic fomations. Apart from his studies on various authors in the field of philosophy (Cusanus, Pico della Mirandola, Eugenio Garin, Corpus hermeticum, Hans Blumenberg, Augustine, Jeleazar M. Meletinski, Gaston Bachelard) he published several novels and screenplays.

Pico della Mirandola and Human Formation of Their Own Image: The Lure of the Border and the Renaissance

The paper will outline the innovative idea developed by the humanist and philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. His allegory claims that the greatest gift of God to humans was the fact that Adam and his descendants were not given a final shape, nor a specific purpose and objective, characteristic of all other beings in the universe; rather, God has given us an indeterminate nature and the possibility to choose and create. One can come close to the angelic and divine nature; but this option can be also be wasted and your life can drop to a level of lower creatures. This freedom of choice, says Pico, was the greatest gift of God that was received at the creation. How can one understand this idea of​radical freedom today? In an era when criteria of human existence is becoming less clear and when we are witnessing a predominance of interventions in genetics, while openly talking about a post-humanist future, marked by widespread use of artificial intelligence?

Andrej Tomažin

Independent researcher

Andrej Tomažin graduated in Comparative Literature and Slovenian Language and Literature from the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana. He is a writer and a comparativist as well as coeditor of Idiot, a literary magazine, and Šum, a magazine for contemporary art. To date he published two books. His research focuses on the sociology of literature, especially as it concerns questions of the twentieth-century Slovenian novel and contemporary world literatures in relation to the philosophy of technology.

Literature after Finitude: Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia and the Genre of Theory-fiction

There has been a surge of emphasis on deep time, where human beings hold little value – from the emphasis on nonhuman temporalities by speculative realists attempting to formulate a non-correlationist philosophy to the post-apocalyptic scenarios of climate change debates. One of the works of fiction which thematizes this is Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia (2008), a postmodern novel and a detailed philosophical study in the Deleuze-Guattarian vein of continental philosophy. Cyclonopedia is the paradigmatic text of the newly emerging genre and it presents its engagement with deep time, geology, war, the Middle East, oil, and a variety of other nonhuman entities in explicitly literary terms, in terms of poetics and narrative, which emerge from a specific philosophical milieu, where, as Negarestani puts it, in order to think narration in a world that is devoid of any narrative necessity […] first we must redeploy the hierarchy of thought in nature as the view point or locus of speculation and narration.” How – if at all – do poetics and narratives of fiction engage with the reality of contemporary world, where traditional notions of human consciousness and morality are being rewired drastically?

Bojana Tomc

St. Stanislav’s Institution, Diocesan Classical Gymnasium, Ljubljana

Bojana Tomc teaches Spanish and Latin language at the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium in Ljubljana. She is co-author of the Latin-Slovenian dictionary and of the handbook El cuento hispanoamericano en el examen de matura (Carlos Fuentes y Gabriel García Márquez). Her research focuses on reading strategies in teaching literature as well as on reception of Antiquity in later periods, and particularly on ancient motifs in the Spanish drama of the Golden age, which was also the topic of her PhD thesis, defended in 2016.

The Motif of Freedom, Human Dignity, and Awareness of a Common Human Destiny in Antiquity, the Renaissance, and in Cervantes

Ancient legacy is a constituent part of Cervantes’ opus. The vicinity of the classical imaginarium, with which Cervantes became acquainted at school and while living in Italy, is shown in the use of ancient elements, topics and motifs. The humanistic note in the work of Cervantes however is most noticeable in his constant defence of freedom and human dignity. Freedom, according to Rey Hazas, becomes a key element and cornerstone of Cervantes’ poetics, linking to the Renaissance tradition, extending from Fernán Pérez de Oliva (before 1531) to the essence of the Renaissance Italian thought on human dignity and freedom – Giannozzo Manetti (1452) and Pico della Mirandola (1486). Cervantes expresses the premise of human freedom and its fundamental value in Don Quixote: Freedom, Sancho, is one of the most precious gifts that heaven has bestowed upon men; no treasures that the earth holds buried or the sea conceals can compare with it.” Pronounced orientation of Cervantes towards freedom may also be related to his difficult captivity in Algeria which essentially marked his character; many would argue that it was this captivity which contributed to his realisation that literature shall change his fate. He started to write in order to survive and to maintain the clarity of mind and spirit.

Tomaž Toporišič

Academy for Theatre, Radio, Film and Television, University of Ljubljana

Tomaž Toporišič is a dramaturge and theatre theoretician, as well as professor in Drama and Performance Studies at Academy for Theatre and Faculty of Arts at University of Ljubljana. He is author of four books. His latest essays include: The new Slovenian theatre and italian futurism: Delak, Černigoj and the historical avant-garde in Venezia Giulia (2014); (Re)staging the rhetorics of space (Neohelicon, 2014); and Deconstructive readings of the avant-garde tradition in post-socialist retro-avant-garde theatre (Aesthetics of Matter, 2013).

Whatever Happened to Humanism in Today’s Performance Art?

Using the terminology of a seminal Hans-Thies Lehmann’s book Postdramatisches Theater we will reconsider his thesis that the theatrical form of drama is no longer in tune with the modern mediatised world. If the humanist subject invented by the Enlightenment with its distinction between the body and soul has been replaced by a concept of the posthumanist subject, this very concept is now in danger of replacing the body with a technological substitution. Does the post-dramatic theatre share with post-humanism a more chaotic and emergent structure than is known either in drama or in humanism? Should we celebrate the emergence of the posthuman(ism) and of a cyber world, or insist on the order and integrity of meaning constituted in humanism and teleological drama? Can we say that contemporary technological performances offer a posthumanist way of being that surrenders hegemonic control, and proposes, in its place, a mutual and interdependent intelligent action between beings and objects? Or can we claim that human being in today’s post-democratic and post-dramatic society is not replaced by a mechanic, or global self, but is seen to be both inscribed and interrupted as an entity that is at the same time singular and a being-in-common in the sense of Jean-Luc Nancy?

Marko Uršič

Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana

Marko Uršič (1951), PhD., is professor of logic, philosophy of nature and the Renaissance studies in the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. He wrote on Matrices of Logos (1987), Pilgrimage to Anima (1988), and Gnostic Essays (1994). His recent work is the tetralogy Four Seasons, series of philosophical dialogues and monologues between theoretic discourse and literature, published between 2002 and 2015 by Cankarjeva založba. He is co-author of Mind in Nature, from Science to Philosophy (New York, 2012).

Pico della Mirandola on the Dignity of Man

In his Oration of the Dignity of Man (1486), Pico della Mirandola, a humanist, philosopher and polymath, raises the Renaissance claim that the highest dignity of human person, the real excellency of human nature”, is not present in any specific human quality or ability, nor in the role of the human soul as the tie of the world” (copula mundi), as Marsilio Ficino has taught, since even higher of this eminent human role is the freedom of humans to choose their role and task for themselves. Pico believes that humans were created in the image of God, not determined in advance: human free will reflects God’s free will. From the point of the mainstream modern dualism, this is a paradox, even a contradiction. I argue just the opposite: human free will is nowadays, as it was in the Renaissance, compatible with the belief in God – however, only if God does not command humans, and does not demand anything of us – anything except love. By this only commandment”, violence and killing are eo ipso prohibited, especially in the name of faith. So it seems that freedom and faith are perfectly compatible, even more, that modern humans are fatally unfree either in the secular radicalization” of faith or in the atheistic secularization of the world – unfree on the ground of their existence (Dasein), enslaved by the Angst of mere nothing.”

Sonja Weiss

Department of Classical Philology, University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts

Sonja Weiss is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Classics, University of Ljubljana. Her research focuses on ancient philosophy, particularly on the Pythagorean, Platonic and Neoplatonic philosophical traditions, and on their reception in medieval and humanistic literature. She wrote a monograph on the role of Myth in Plotinus, and is currently working on the first integral Slovenian translation of the Enneads.

Le fiere d’Orfeo: Side Paths in the Myth of the Humanization of Mankind

The presentation takes up the figure of Orpheus in sample texts, ranging from Antiquity to the Enlightenment, in which the interpreters of the myth focused on two of its most widespread themes (Orpheus’ and Eurydice’s love story and the singer’s influence over Nature) in the context of human cultural history and spiritual development. In all these interpretations, the singer-poet is undoubtedly regarded as bearer or even founder of culture and civilization. Moreover, his association with Christ had given him distinct messianic characteristics. However, the relation of the Orpheus Myth to Dionysian rites, as well as to the cult of Apollo, have given an ambivalent character to the mythical hero, which had already puzzled ancient mythographers and interpreters. The conflict concerning his role of the bearer of civilization continues to reappear in later authors, particularly in the interpretations regarding the Orpheus-Eurydice relationship, the allegorical meaning of both figures and the dubious success of the poet’s descent into the underworld.

Blaž Zabel

Department of Classics and Ancient History, Durham University

Blaž Zabel is a graduate student at the Durham University, Faculty of Classics. Previously, he was a researcher at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Education. His research interests include Homeric scholarship, world literature, and philosophy of education. His current research projects focus on Homeric Epic and World Literature: A Comparative Study of Method, and Values,” as well as social cohesion in education.

The Future of Classical Studies in Globalised World

During the last fifty years, literary studies have been greatly challenged by postcolonialism. Scholars such as Edward Said or Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak criticised traditional literary studies for their explicit and implicit colonialist and Eurocentric convictions. More recently, world literature studies have attempted to conceptualise literature in a global perspective. Scholars such as Franco Moretti, David Damrosch and others have been attempting to grasp literature in its global presentness. Since it is impossible to read and discuss all that has ever been written, our decisions of what we read (as well as how we read it) necessarily influence what constitutes world literature. World literature is thus not a particular body of texts, but rather a set of problems. This, I believe, applies equally to classical studies, since classical literature is a part of world literature as well. I will thus argue that classical studies should embrace a more global perspective. To this end, I will discuss recent and past trends in reception studies, the comparative approach to oral literatures, and studies of literary influences between Greek and Near Eastern literatures.

Neža Zajc

Institute of Cultural History, Scientific-Research Centre of Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts

Neža Zajc got her PhD in Cultural History at University of Nova Gorica and is Research Fellow at the Institute of Cultural History at Scientific-Research Centre of Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts. She wrote five books on old Slavic history, culture, and language: The Hagiography of the Protopope Avvakum (2009); The Worldviews of Slavic Word in 16th Century (2011); The Image of Slavic Word in Christian Texts of 16th Century (2012); The Introduction to the Poetics of Anna A. Akhmatova (2015); The Etudes, Variations and Rhymes of A. V. Issatchenko (2015).

The Concept of Humanistic Individuum in the View of St. Maxim the Greek and Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini

The paper will examine the view of the individual being, one entitled to share a perception of the divine light which is presented in the secular world, and at the same time accessible from the Kingdom of Heaven – as it was formed in theological opus of St. Maxim the Greek and in the works of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini. The concept of humanist man, in the views of both authors, was characterized with a special understanding of language, as it was established in the early Renaissance period, at the junction point between the heritage of the Eastern and Western Christian traditions in northern Italy. The correlation between these thinkers is partly attested to by the fact that St. Maxim the Greek, around 1524 when in Moscow, was translating the text of a letter written less than half a century prior, in which Pope Pius II wrote, in 1461, to the Turkish Sultan, Mehmed II. Therefore, it is highly expressive of the theological views of both St. Maxim the Greek, as well as Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, considering the free will of the individual who, based on a secular life experience, willingly opts for faith in a Christian God in the Holy Trinity.

Rafał Zawisza

University of Warsaw, Faculty of Artes Liberales”, former fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna

Rafał Zawisza is a doctoral student at the University of Warsaw (Faculty of Artes Liberales”) and a former junior fellow in the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen in Vienna. He is currently working on the thesis entitled Cryptotheological defence of the secular: Hannah Arendt’s anthropology and the secularisation thesis”.

On the Unrestrained Spirit of Humanism

Humanism, if it aspires to universality, cannot be restricted to revivals of antiquity and the renaissance, although both epitomise the most fundamental sources of the humanist tradition. In the classical narrative humanism opposes religious heritage, Christianity and Catholicism in particular. This historiographical frame is responsible for the emotional polarity of political liberalism: humanist pride (to have replaced religion) and fear (that religious prejudice could return). Understanding of humanism could demand a more modest and audacious perspective. Humanism did not replace religion nor was it purely secular; still, it has a limitless potential to absorb and pervade every human tradition. After Denis de Rougemont, Jacob Taubes, Giorgio Agamben, and Julia Kristeva, I will discuss the birth of the secular spirit from the heterodox religious movements, often dispersed and clandestine. Examples of Renaissance paintings help explain how, through provocatively discreet smiles and charm of unstrained gestures, artists launched innovative topics of personal liberty, free love, gender equality and human uniqueness that will inspire and consolidate Western modernity around freedom, pleasure and happiness as the promises of the secular age.