Humanism in Crisis
The Decline of the French Renaissance
The uniqueness and importance of Humanism in Crisis arises from the way in which a significant historical event—the end of the French Renaissance—is examined from several different perspectives in order to provide a thorough investigation of its causes and consequences. Although historians, philosophers, sociologists, and literary critics view the French Renaissance differently, they all seem to agree on the notion that something happened between 1580 and 1630—between Montaigne and Descartes—that transformed every aspect of society and that undermined the foundation of humanism in France, dividing the French Renaissance from the "Grand siècle" that followed it. The causes of this decline, however, are as obscure as a precise determination of when the French Renaissance "died."
In Humanism in Crisis, fourteen internationally known scholars examine such topics as education, philosophy, scientific method, historical relativism, cosmography, literary genres, everyday life, medicine, and mythology and detect a series of crises that acted to bring about the decline of humanism and the end of the French Renaissance. The diversity of approaches allows a comprehensive vision of society to be presented. Moreover, several essays provide answers to questions asked in others, thus creating a sense of unity by relating individual contributions to each other.
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