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UE: HUM 110: Giants of the Arts: Module 1

Giants of the Arts will examine a select group of artists who, through the test of time, have been recognized as true masters; whose works advanced their art form(s), who became a significant influence within their field(s), and who continue to influence

Module 1

The Arts and the Infinite Person: Leonardo da Vinci

Aim of this Module

To make the case that the humanities are not only worth studying, but are absolutely essential to the survival and continued development of the noblest aspects of human beings.

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Chapter 1: The Humanities: A Shining Beacon

Leonardo da Vinci

Pico della Mirandola

 You, with no limit or no bound, may choose for yourself the limits and bounds of your nature. We have placed you at the world's center so that you may survey everything else in the world. We have made you neither of heavenly nor of earthly stuff, neither mortal nor immortal, so that with free choice and dignity, you may fashion yourself into whatever form you choose. To you is granted the power of degrading yourself into the lower forms of life, the beasts, and to you is granted the power, contained in your intellect and judgment, to be reborn into the higher forms, the divine.


-Pico della Mirandola, para. 3, Oration on the Dignity of Man  (1486)

The Humanities

1.    During the artistic and political revolution in Europe known as the Renaissance, which began in the fifteenth century, educated people became interested in learning about the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, believing that only through study of classical art, literature, and philosophy could a person become fully human. These subjects, or disciplines, became known as the humanities.

2.    Eventually, the culture of Western Europe was included in humanities studies. Western Europe’s cultural achievements were seen as an outgrowth of the legacy of classical Greece and Rome.

3.    Today, the humanistic tradition is no longer considered limited to a certain time, culture, or gender. This book considers the creative and intellectual expressions of each individual as a valid part of the study of the humanities. In its broadest sense, the humanities offer a safe haven in our turbulent modern times, an inspiring opportunity to study who we are, collectively, as human beings.

4.    The study of the humanities combines critical thinking and aesthetic appreciation.

Characteristics of an Infinite Person

According to The Art of Being Human by Richard Paul Janaro and Thelma c. Altshuler, there are three advantages of becoming an infinite person:


1. An infinite person commits no crimes against humanity and is unselfish in his/her thinking.

2. An infinite person is free from rigid prejudices and does not limit others freedom to express themselves.

3. An infinite person is a critical thinker. He/she looks at all sides of an issue before making judgments and is always willing to reconsider decisions when new information comes to light.

The Renaissance

Vitruvian Man