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rhetoric and philosophy, humanism, Early Renaissance


The early Renaissance, like the Hellenic Age and the Golden Age of Roman literature, was epistemologically oriented to the discursory practices of rhetoric rather than to the rational methods of philosophy. This preference resulted from the widespread adoption of linguistic presuppositions upon which humanist rhetoric is based. By the end of the seventeenth century, however, the underlying principles of humanism had been replaced. The discursory competence that humanism had sought to develop had become devalued, and in its place other epistemological systems had arisen. Francis Bacon, the Royal Society, René Descartes, Isaac Newton, and John Locke all offered epistemological principles that had a more philosophical appearance and that explicitly or implicitly renounced humanism and rhetoric. In this environment the linguistic presuppositions of humanism were challenged and the way prepared for planned languages.