Ethics of the Renaissance and Reformation 15 th and 16 th Century
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Ethics of the Renaissance and Reformation
Ethics of the Renaissance and Reformation15th and 16th Century
The RenaissanceThe revival of Classical learning and culture that began in 15th-century Italy and then slowly spread throughout Europe .
Renaissance HumanismFor the first time since the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity, man, not God, became the chief object of philosophical interest.
Machiavelli [1469-1527]Although the Renaissance did not produce any outstanding moral philosophers, there is one writer whose work is of importance in the history of ethics: Niccol Machiavelli.
The Prince His book The Prince offered advice to rulers as to what they must do to secure their power. Its significance for ethics lies precisely in the fact that Machiavellis advice ignores the usual ethical rules: It is necessary for a prince, who wishes to maintain himself, to learn how not to be good, and to use this knowledge and not use it, according to the necessities of the case. There had not been so frank a rejection of morality since the Greek Sophists.
The Prince In any case, The Prince gained instant notoriety, and Machiavellis name became synonymous with political cynicism and deviousness. Despite the chorus of condemnation, the work led to a sharper appreciation of the difference between the lofty ethical systems of philosophers and the practical realities of political life.
The Reformation: 16th CenturyReacting against the worldly immorality apparent in the Renaissance church, Martin Luther (14831546), John Calvin (150964), and the new Protestantism sought to return to the pure early Christianity of the Scriptures, especially as reflected in the teachings of Paul and of the Church Fathers, Augustine foremost among them.
Corruption of Late Medieval Catholic ChurchSale of IndulgencesAn indulgence, in Roman Catholic theology, is the full or partial remission of temporal punishment due for sins which have already been forgiven. The indulgence is granted by the church after the sinner has confessed and received absolution.
Martin Luther [1483-1546]Martin Luther initiated Protestantism, one of the major movements within Christianity. He was a German monk, theologian, university professor, priest, and church reformer whose ideas started the Protestant Reformation and changed the course of Western civilization.
LutheranismLuther taught that salvation is a free gift of God and received only through true faith in Jesus as redeemer from sin, not from good works. His theology challenged the authority of the pope of the Roman Catholic Church by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge Luther opposed sacerdotalism by considering all baptized Christians as priests before God (priesthood of all believers).
Luthers Christian EthicsLuthers standard of right and wrong was whatever God commands. Like William of Ockham, Luther insisted that the commands of God cannot be justified by any independent standard of goodness: good simply means what God commands.
Luthers View of Human NatureLuther did not believe that divine commands would be designed by God to satisfy human desires, because he was convinced that human desires are totally corrupt. In fact, he thought that human nature itself is totally corrupt.
Luther: Justification by FaithIn any case, Luther insisted that one does not earn salvation by good works; one is justified by faith in Christ and receives salvation through divine grace.It is apparent that if these premises are accepted, there is little scope for human reason in ethics.
John Calvin [1509-1564]John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism.
CalvinismPredestination is a religious concept, which involves the relationship between God and His creation. The religious character of predestination distinguishes it from other ideas about determinism and free will.
CalvinismThose who believe in predestination, such as John Calvin, believe that before the creation God determined the fate of the universe throughout all of time and space. Predestination is a decree by God that there are certain souls that were previously appointed to salvation.
The Weber ThesisThe Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of CapitalismWeber wrote that capitalism evolved when the Protestant (Calvinist) ethic influenced large numbers of people to engage in work in the secular world, developing their own enterprises and engaging in trade and the accumulation of wealth. In other words, the Protestant ethic was a force behind an unplanned and uncoordinated mass action that influenced the development of capitalism.
Puritan [Protestant] EthicHard WorkThriftHonestyAusterityWorldly prosperity is a sign of Gods favorPoverty and want are a result of personal moral failings
Reformation and Western IndividualismBecause Protestants emphasized the capacity of the individual to read and understand the Gospels without first receiving the authoritative interpretation of the church, the ultimate outcome of the Reformation was a greater freedom to read and write independently of the church hierarchy.