Since the end of the world wars, human beings have tried to trace the origins of the much propagated scientific revolution of the fourteenth and the seventeenth centuries. These periods have a very significant role in modern human life from the Renaissance era. Renaissance, also known as rebirth era is an age of transformation between the middle age and modern age. The period witnessed major changes in science and technology and had significant impacts on the contemporary world. This research paper will focus on how the Renaissance era influenced our modern society. Thus, the work will identify the changes caused in politics, philosophy, literature, art, science, printing and the religion.
Scientific advancements that followed the Middle Ages introduced an entirely new world rich in complex discoveries and ideologies. The adoption of modern knowledge and innovations are associated with the Renaissance period efforts. The new age prepared a way for necessary changes, improved human lifestyles, solved current problems and provided solutions for future challenges. The lifestyle experienced today started with the rebirth of politics, philosophy, literature, art, science, and, most importantly, religion. During this period, philosophers began to criticize the church service and its management, introducing their new thoughts and ideologies of nature and God. The Renaissance pioneers transformed the ancient means of communication, mining, mechanics, education, religion, and contributed to other scientific advancements. Indeed, the modern society is a product of all the scientific inventions.
Renaissance led to the rise of Humanism. Humanism is the conception that all human beings have the ability to reason. Humanists viewed the classics literature, philosophy, and art. Renaissance humanism was interpreted by one philosopher Paul Oskar Kristeller sixty years ago. His aim was to distinguish between studia humanitatis and contemporary humanism. Studia humanitatis is the study of human things while the latter led to the beginning of people’s discovery of truth. He described humanism as a movement and a stage of literary historiography in rhetoric and a combination of other disciplines, such as poetry, moral philosophy, and history. The efforts to understand humanism have led to the development of modern day history and study of human beings. In particular, the writers have shaped the modern world history and schools of thought. Philosophers such as Francis Bacon and Da Vinci have taught the modern society how to combine arts, science, value of knowledge, and other means of inquiry in human life. Thus, humanism stands between medieval supernatural ideologies and the modern scientific perception. According to ancient historians, humanism is the final product of Middle Age while the modern historians view it as the genesis of modernism era.
Renaissance humanism influenced modern politics and business ethics. The Italian humanists advocated the two concepts. They insisted that politicians should embrace integrity and become more of statesmen that fight for individual satisfaction alone. The businesspeople were to become more generous with their riches and embrace morality. The Italian humanists also advocated for harmony and urged the educated people to assume their responsibilities. Besides this, they discouraged the meanness of the nobles and spoke for the moral worth of nobility wealth. The northern humanists were also against the evils in the religious, economic, and social aspects of the society. As a result, the works of the scholars of the Renaissance era have shaped the morality of the human race in the modern society.
Renaissance humanism introduced new individualism. People discovered that they could perform things on their own without relying on the others. Renaissance influenced individualistic humanism through new forms of arts that have spread to the modern society. Artists started focusing on humanism and discovered their potential to develop self-portraits. They began by drawing and carving sculptures out of marble. As the drawing evolved, they were able to exhibit people’s emotions and activities. The works of the artist drew interest from people like Leonard who started studying how individual human was structured and the functioning of his body. Besides, Renaissance influenced the creativity of the artists in a way that they did not require any paintings from the Middle Ages but had developed and presented individuals as they were in their real world. In our modern society, art has evolved and extended to three-dimensional figures and hundreds of decorating colors.
Renaissance in Religion
It was an influential era in understanding religion, its management, church services, and ancient biblical writings. The Renaissance humanists were activists and criticized the ancient authorities. They challenged the Middle Age dogmatism that existed in the Roman Catholic and the philosophy that was fed into people’s minds. According to them, the arguments educated to the society were not practical and did not benefit the community welfare but only existed theoretically. Besides, philosophers such as Ficino Marsilio, Pico Mirandola, Nicolaus Cusanus, and Francesco Patrizi led to a new perception of religion in the contemporary society. During this era, the philosophers drew their ideas from Cicero’s assumption that theological knowledge from the elites had nothing to do with religion, which became famous and very influential in shaping the modern perceptions. Education and enlightenment of the society have caused critical evaluation of all the religious teachings and belief in our current world.
Inter-religions peace and reconciliation was a significant impact that came from the Renaissance period. The works of famous Cusanus tried to relate Christianity, Islam, Jewish, and Hinduism. For instance, he used the Christianity conceptions such as Trinity, Redemption, and the Incarnation. The belief in the Trinity by Christians was associated with Muslims’ perception of unitas, aequalitas, and connexio. Cusanus stated that Muslims and Christians have believed in similar doctrines and that a person who has read the Quran and the teachings of Mohammed has comprehended a concept of the divine education in the Bible. The modern day religions of the world have spread globally and have remained united through the rebirth era philosophies. Religious art from the Western Europe was evident in the Bible, Prayer books, and the Churches. Illustrations of Christ, saints, and Madonna holding a baby have been used for centuries for devotion reasons. The carvings have also eased the modern theological teaching in the Bible and deepened the faith of the religious believers.
Protestant Reformation would not have existed if not for the works of Renaissances in the 1520s. When the Renaissance humanism spread across Europe, it merged with Christianity and created the Christianity humanism. Led by Martin Luther King, Christian humanists sought to question the running of the Roman Catholic Church. First, Luther began by criticizing the sale of indulgences by the Catholic Church. Second, he had a different view on the leadership of the Church and salvation through the sacrament, as well as he believed that every Christian was capable of praying directly to God. Luther’s ideas influenced John Calvin who believed that God’s people were chosen even before they were born (Taylor, 1968). They also believed that human salvation was only possible in the afterlife. The Catholic leaders feared that the church would split into many groups if everyone was allowed to interpret the Bible in their ways, and, later, this division became real when the Protestant churches were formed. The effects of the protest against the church have included the major reforms that govern the church to date. The indulgence was no longer on sale, just was freely given to the Christians, the Bible and the Church were the principal authorities, and the corruption that had tarnished the name of the Roman Catholic for long was ended.
The success of the Reformation allowed Protestant leaders to achieve freedom from the church and acquire its possessions. The church was prohibited to use the censorship in the non-catholic regions, and this barrier enabled scientific inventions. For instance, before the reforms, scientists such as Galileo had their works inhibited out of the Papal monopoly in Europe (Taylor, 1968). Newton was able to make scientific advancement after the scientists ignored the control of the Church in the Protestant region. The governments of the countries were accorded the power to monitor and regulate the competence of the church. Moreover, the governments provided licenses and evaluated churches before allowing them to operate. The governments also took the role of supporting all the citizens and encouraged innovations in Eastern Europe and Germany. In modern society, the government is the chief authority in a state or country.
According to Prof. Crombie (1953), the additional factors, such as economics and social factors, could have facilitated the disintegration of Christendom. Modern historians of reformation have denied the fact that Protestant Reformation led to a new shape of the world with no oppression and monopoly from the Medieval Roman Catholic Church. It also had great influence on American politics through the reformers movement known as Lutheranism and the ideas of Calvin. It was important in shaping the history of the United States and history of the world religions.
Renaissance Influence on Nature
Renaissance changed the human perception of nature and its origin. The argument between creation and natural forces began during the age of rebirth when philosophers tried to explain the source of nature. For example, Herbert Butterfield brings out the argument that Reformation and discovery of modern science have a connection (Taylor, 1968). Nature can be defined using the classical understanding and the medieval Roman Catholic explanation. According to the traditional school of thought, human understanding of nature depends on the belief or the cause and origin of nature (Taylor, 1968). It can be originated from Almighty God or natural forces as perceived by an individual. This argument is associated with paganism and has caused the scholars’ critics of religious explanation of the origins of nature. It has also resulted in the conflict between the existence of God and gods, and the presence of natural forces.
The Medieval Roman Catholic understanding forms the basis for Christians’ conception of nature. Thomas Aquinas was one of the greatest advocates of the Biblical origin of life through creation. The understanding presents the argument that supernatural being designed and created the world. He also agreed with the Greek’s view of sin and redemption through Jesus Christ (Taylor, 1968). The ideas from the Roman Catholic’s explanation have founded the basis of protection of God’s creation and respect for nature today.
Renaissance in Information
One of the most revolutionary aspects of the Renaissance era was the invention of printing which is widely used in today’s society. Since printing was discovered, politics, science, and society have changed in the world. The study of history, religion, literature, science and all other disciplines became easy and spread to the entire world. The printing was invented in Europe in the 1450s and by the 1500s, printing presses had spread in more than two hundred and fifty towns with more than 13 million books being published. The first type of mobile printing press was invented in 1450 in Germany by Johann Guttenberg, who used movable light metals and glass to print words on pieces of papers. However, in China, wooden characters printing on paper had begun earlier on a small scale but were time consuming and expensive processes. The published articles were done in their respective national languages discovered earlier, which were French, German, English, and Spanish. Since the discovery of printing, the preservation of valuable information was invented, and books became popular in the world.
Printing during the Renaissance era has influenced modern religion through the Bible. The Bible was the first book to be printed in 1452 by Guttenberg, and later other religious books followed. The printing of modern Bible made it possible for millions of copies to be produced, and every Christian owned at least one. The Bible had the Old and the New Testaments, which made people more Godly and separated from the Catholic Church. Besides, the translation was invented with the discovery of a printed scripture. The other books that were printed were the scientific and practical techniques of engineering. The materials led to the rise of modern education in colleges and universities. Scholars embraced research and publishing of their works in journals and other necessary reference materials. It also led to the spread of printed artistic works. These types of drawings maintained the designs and character of the European arts. Finally, the discovery of printing has influenced modern globalization of businesses, communication, culture, and morality. The ancient printing press has evolved to contemporary publishing systems and also online publishers who have been aided by the internet.
Renaissance in Science and Technology
The Renaissance era defined the modern society’s advancements in science and technology. It contained the problems and solutions to the old and new human activities. The period saw the rise of great authors such as Aristotle, Ptolemy, and Galen. The thinkers introduced many concepts in the mechanical arts also called technology in the modern world. Aristotle distinguished mechanical arts from liberal arts whereby he defined mechanical skills as the development of any useful things; unlike the perception that it only meant mechanics. According to Arnăutu (2011), the universities role was to train both the mechanical artists and the liberal artists. He has added that “the interaction of artisans and scholars in the Renaissance is the kick off point for today’s science and for the discovery of technology,” (143). Students were taught logic and Aristotle’s philosophy for approximately six years of their academic time in the colleges and schools of arts. In liberal arts, the artists were taught grammar, astronomy, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic and theory of music.
The skills acquired from the schools were passed to other people and generations of the modern society. The artisans in modern philosophy and science developed their works in mining, water works, and military science. Their inventions formed the basis of modern innovations in military, mining, and engineering. For instance, the advancement of warfare and discovery of guns led to the spread of metal works and fortification of towns and cities. It also resulted in the new concept of urban planning that has been preserved and used in out today’s society. The discovery of astronomy and geometry can be associated with the 20th-century advancement and space explorations. Geometry and arithmetic disciplines led to the development of physics and modern engineering. Some of the discoveries made during the era include the invention of the mechanical clock in 1300, discovery of weighing scales in 1366, and the construction of the first parachute in 1485 by Leonardo Da Vinci. Besides, Galileo Galilei discovered the first water thermometer in 1593, and in 1620, Cornelis Drebbel invented the first submarine that changed the shape of sea warfare. Today there are advanced technological devices that have been developed from the inventions of the Renaissance scientists. These innovations have helped to meet human needs, counter challenges and even predict future events.
Alchemy is another important field in technology that was influenced by the Renaissance era and led to advancement today. It is an experimental area that has resulted in the development of modern day chemistry. Alchemy is an experiment based art that develops chemicals that treat metals and heal bodies and souls. Discovery of the art resulted in the development of glass and panels. Metals and glass are products of mercury and sulfur made by using an Arabic theory and combination of Aristotle’s ‘Minima Naturalia’. The alchemists could develop metal from different combinations of minerals. As the metals demand increased, counterfeit gold products were produced, and this caught the attention of the church. These practices were risky to the Roman gold-based economy and Pope John XXII warned alchemists against the practices for fear of economic destabilization. The alchemists began to use cover-names to describe precious minerals, such as gold, to prevent other people from manufacturing low-quality products. The art is still evident today in the Roman Catholic Church, where most of the items used in the church service are pure golden or gold and silver plated. Modern chemistry of metals and minerals has its roots from alchemy and its Renaissance period artists.
The philosophy of natural magic during the Renaissance era has influenced the development of modern day technology. According to some philosophers, technology was referred to as a ‘natural magic’. The primary objective of natural magic is to use the human industry to utilize the natural forces and develop essential elements. For instance, Giambattista Della Porta used the concept of natural magic to develop new procedures for grafting, crossbreeding, meat preservation and eliminating wrinkles in human bodies. From Porta’s Magia Naturalis modern scientist adopted the technology of developing new plant species, animal breeds, and human body therapy. The studies have further evolved through genetics and other biological studies that have introduced superior plants, animals, and body parts.
In conclusion, indeed, the Renaissance era had significant influences on today’s society and human lifestyle. The period was a breakthrough in all aspects of the world discoveries. The time changed a modern perception of humanism, science and technology, religion, nature and spread of information. In Christianity, the era influenced the number of churches that have sprouted as a result of Reformation and Christianity humanism. Modern art, history, and studies in different fields, such as engineering, chemistry, and natural sciences, are rooted in the rebirth era. Today, research continues to discover new ways and techniques to deal with current and future challenges in the society through science and technology.