The history of the notion of 'Humanism' reflects various intellectual trends in European and universal culture since the early modern period up to the post-modern era. Their common and basic element was the classical idea of humanity (the Greek paideia and the Latin humanitas) with its origins reaching back to Mediterranean antiquity and its 'media', the so-called 'bonae artes' or 'bonae litterae'. The paper deals with a fundamental question: How is the idea of humanism with its ancient and early modern (i.e. Renaissance and post-Renaissance) background and its modern formula present in the contemporary paradigm of the human sciences? Other questions seem to be equally important: What were the main characteristics of reflection on humanism in the 19th century and how were they continued in the 20th century and in contemporary Renaissance studies, particularly in Polish? How did the notion of humanism function as a philosophical and political metaphor of the outlook in life? How did humanism influence the development of national and European identities in its political and cultural sense? What was its impact on the religious ideas of Christianity? All of these problems seem to be pivotal questions of contemporary culture.
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