chapter 10 -17
The Civilization of the Renaissance (1350-1550)
1) The Renaissance Marks a Rebirth of Learning:
Renaissance is a French term, which means rebirth or revival. In European history, it is
roughly a 200-year period, during which time there was a strong revival of learning, spurred on by
the activities of the newly wealthy classes and their interest in educational pursuits.
More specifically, the Renaissance
marked a rediscovery of ancient Greek and Roman ideas,
art, culture and philosophy
2) The Birth of Humanism and Individualism in Learning:
Renaissance scholars engaged in a new philosophy of learning, that of Humanism, which
emphasized the "humane" literature of the ancient classical writers who had regarded man as a
living person interacting in a vital, dynamic world. These "Humanist" scholars initially studied
rhetoric, or literary prose composition and exposition. They soon began to delve into other areas
such as history, astronomy, physics, mathematics, chemistry, medicine, poetry, philosophy,
politics, and the fine arts.
The entire focus of scholarship thus by extension,
the focus was away from God and
religion, to man and society
. Individualism became the byword of the Humanists. Whatever
study contributed to the better understanding of the individual in his life in the here-and-now was
fodder for the Humanists.
3) The Ideal of the "Renaissance Man:"
The ideal Renaissance man was one who had an insatiable curiosity, broad interests and
many talents. He should be the master of all he undertook or studied, and he should be engaged in
studying many things. He should work toward developing a sharp, critical, questioning mind, which
did not rely on unquestioning faith; and, he should work toward maximizing his potential throughout
The most famous Renaissance men during the time were Lorenzo de Medici "The
Magnificent" of Florence--capitalist, banker, politician, and patron of the arts; Leonardo da VINCI--
painter, sculptor, architect and inventor; Michaelangelo--painter and sculptor; Galileo--physics
(discovered the law of falling objects), mathematics (dynamics and motion), astronomy (developed
the telescope and produced evidence to support Copernicus' theory that the Earth revolves around
Revival of antiquity (Greece and Rome) in philosophy, literature and art (Sought to
reconcile pagan writings with Christian thought)
Strong belief in individualism and the great potential of human beings (in contrast to the
Middle Ages where humans were seen as small, wicked and inconsequential and should focus
solely on earning salvation)
a. Virtú: “the quality of being a man”; idea of excelling in all of one’s pursuits
B.Believed the key to a good life was Reason and Nature
Focused first on studying ancient languages:
Initially, Latin of ancient Rome was the main focus.