What is Anthropocentrism:
Anthropocentrism is a philosophical doctrine that places the figure of the human being as the “center of the world” , highlighting the importance of humanity compared to the other things that make up the universe.
From the point of view of anthropocentrism, considered a “science of man”, human beings are responsible for all their actions, be they cultural, social, philosophical or historical, for example.
Thus the anthropocentric view holds that the world, like all things in it, is of greater benefit to human beings. This doctrine creates a human independence from the divine figure, which for many centuries has been prevalent almost everywhere in the world.
Anthropocentrism emerged in Europe, with Copernicus Heliocentrism and Humanism two of its main landmarks. According to Nicholas Copernicus (1473 – 1543), the earth revolved around the sun and not the other way around, as was thought at that time.
Copernicus’s theory was totally opposed to the geocentric model that characterized Theocentrism, which was defended by the Catholic Church at that time.
Etymologically, the word anthropocentrism originated from the Greek anthropos , which means “human,” and kentron , which means “center.”
Learn more about Humanism .
Anthropocentrism and Theocentrism
Both are antagonistic concepts. Unlike anthropocentrism, theocentrism is the idea that “God is the center of the world . “ This was a very common concept during the Middle Ages, when religion exerted a massive influence on society.
The transition process between theocentrism and anthropocentrism began between the 15th and 16th centuries, with the emergence of Renaissance humanism and other movements led by philosophers, scholars and artists.
The shift from theocentrism to anthropocentrism still represented several social changes, such as the replacement of the feudalist model for mercantile capitalism, the beginning of the great navigations, and the passage from the Middle Ages to the Modern Ages.
What is Theocentrism:
Theocentrism is the doctrine that considers God the center of the entire universe and responsible for the creation of all that is in it. This philosophy was widely held in the Middle Ages and based on the precepts of the Bible.
To the Theocentrists, the so-called “divine desire” was considered superior to any human will or rationality. Thus, any kind of thought that was not considered sacred was sinful, such as human pleasure.
Medieval theocentrism regarded the Christian Bible and God as the only truths in the entire universe. Any kind of empiricist or scientific idea was strongly repressed by the church at the time, making the theocentric mentality remain strong in the population for centuries.
Etymologically, theocentrism is formed from the Greek theos , which means “God,” and kentron , which means “center.”
In opposition to theocentrism arose the anthropocentrist doctrine, concept that emphasizes the importance and value of the human being in the world, as a being endowed with intelligence and ability to change the environment around him.
Characteristics of theocentrism
- Religion exercised absolute power;
- God was considered the center of the universe and all that is in it;
- Empirical and scientific thoughts were repressed and regarded as heresies;
- Geocentric Model – Earth as the center of the solar system;
- Proper of monotheistic religions – Christianity, for example.
Theocentrism and Anthropocentrism
As said, during the Middle Ages theocentrism was the doctrine that dominated the world. Religion and the idea that God was the center of the universe had a great influence on the lives of the people of the time.
But with the rise of Renaissance humanism and other social, philosophical, and historical transformations that Europe witnessed from the sixteenth century, the idea of anthropocentrism ( anthropos “human” and kentron “center”) was born.
One of the major milestones for the development of anthropocentrism was Copernicus’s Heliocentrism , which considered the theory that the earth revolved around the sun, the latter being the center of the solar system.
Copernicus’ theory (1473 – 1543) was totally opposed to the geocentric model advocated by the Church at that time, which regarded the earth as the center of the solar system.
The heliocentrism, allied to the crisis of the Middle Ages, the Church and the beginning of the great maritime navigations was very important to change the mentality of the European population. Gradually, as a result, people began to question themselves more about human subjects, developing and strengthening philosophical, cultural and artistic aspects.