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Hist 125 Essay

By altdeep Jul 31, 2013 963 Words
HIST 125 – Assignment #1 – Renaissance.

“The world was governed throughout by the omnipotent will and omniscient mind of God, whose sole interests were centered in man, his trial, his fall, his suffering and his glory. Worm of the dust as he was, man was yet the central object in the whole universe…. And when his destiny was completed, the heavens would be rolled up as a scroll and he would dwell with the Lord forever. Only those who rejected God’s freely offered grace and with hardened hearts refused repentance would be cut off from this eternal life” – J.H. Randall, Jr. on the Middle Ages (Perry pp.281)

The middle ages were considered by many historians to be a time of ignorance and superstition. With the church at the center of attention, little advancement took place. Secular philosophies were overridden by superstitious beliefs while the Catholic Church closely monitored science and innovation (Perry 281). The modern idea of individualism was overshadowed by the idea that preparation for heaven was the ultimate aim of life. However, the medieval ages were followed closely by a rebirth of education and advancement. The Renaissance was coined to describe a time of awakening from the intellectual darkness of the feudal order and the emergence of many modern concepts that would form the basis of civilization as it is known today. This transition into a modern age saw a birth of new attitudes concerning the role of man in his relationship with God and the world. Inspiration from ancient Greeks and Romans led to humanism, and encouraged many to be multi-talented. The Renaissance man, a man whom excels in many areas, became prominent. Considered as the rebirth of art, literature, and learning, the Renaissance was a distinct period of modernization where the current ideals of the individual were put into effect (Perry, pp.289).

Arguably the most important change of the Renaissance was the ideals and the beliefs. Humanism, the crucible of Renaissance change, advocated secular ideas, beliefs, and the importance of individual values (Perry, pp.196). The belief of innate dignity and worth of a man as individuals, separate from animals by reason, grew. Out of this intellectual drive, the sciences grew, as personages such as Da Vinci and Michelangelo were prominent in making contributions to areas of art, science, and mathematics. These areas were infused with one another as prominent Renaissance men arose, men who held strong humanist views and were highly educated in areas of art, philosophy, science, and math. Although papal authority and the church were important to their lives, it did not dominate. These men were a new breed whom evolved from a medieval population that was solely concerned with the immortal aspects of heaven and religion.

This change of beliefs allowed a scientific revolution that has deeply affected modern science, art, and literature today. Osmond describes in The Renaissance Mind Mirrored in Art: “Geometric relations, mathematical proportion, and the mysticism of numbers played an important part in how painters designed their pictures and architects their buildings. They made the underlying structure itself embody central ideas or themes” (Osmond pp.2). By infusing scientific and mathematic theory to worldly application, the Renaissance allowed theory to be proven as facts. Artwork became more accurate, with techniques such as sfumato allowing a three-dimensional perspective to be drawn. Other techniques such as realism, individualism, and classicalism were defined and perfected. Literature took a defining step when playwrights such as Shakespeare and Machiavelli began to create writings that were not neutered by the church. This allowed them to share their true beliefs, permitting them to create historic staples such as The Prince, which in turn heavily influenced modern materialistic philosophers such as Bodin, Francis Bacon, John Milton, and Adam Smith. In truth, one can say that modern economic and political philosophies were only allowed to be established by the evolution of thought during the Renaissance era. Science and math were advanced by the likes of Copernicus, Galileo, and da Vinci, enabling the technological discoveries that paved way for the industrial revolution. General education for the population rose as well, since education was no longer a monopoly of papal authority, and instead available to the general public through apprenticeships (Perry pp.295).

The Renaissance was the rebirth of art, science, literature, and learning. It promoted a new culture of learning and advancement. New ideals were put into effect, with humanism in focus. The monopoly of knowledge by the Church was broken, and instead the focus was shifted to classical Roman and Greek learning. The medieval man evolved into the Renaissance man, one who used reasoning and questions many aspects of his life. These men spawned new inventions and ideas, such in the case of Machiavelli who is credited to being the father of political science. Education rose to the forefront of concern, and the increase in the educated led through the advancement of math, science, art, and literature. These cultural changes led to the transition into the age of reason (partially predicted by Erasmus), where science became as important as religion and social tradition (Setton pp.230). The effects of the renaissance can be traced to the roots of many of the cultural, economic, and scientific phenomenon we see in the present day, playing a key role in the formation of modern society.

Works Cited

Perry, Marvin, Myrna Chase, James R. Jacob, Margaret C. Jacob, and Laue Theodore H. Von. Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics and Society. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007. Print.

Osmond, Susan Fegley. "The Renaissance Mind Mirrored in Art. Page: 2." The Renaissance Mind Mirrored in Art. Page: 2. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2013.

Setton, Kenneth M., and Henry R. Winkler. Great Problems in European Civilization. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1954. Print.

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