How did the discoveries of New Worlds affect the cultural outlook of Europeans?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the most significant element that comes out of the exploration of the New Worlds is the idea that interaction with these areas can lead to significant benefit for the European nation.  Exploration was not simply done for exploration's sake.  It was done with the motive of self- glory.  Whether this came in the form of "being the first" to discover a region, or being able to manipulate material profit from it, the discoveries of the Age of Exploration helped to enhance individual gain from these endeavors.  This helped to create a power imbalance in the relationship between the European nations and the nations they explored.  The latter had no say in this exchange, but the former held the power in this cultural outlook and relationship.  In terms of how this is significant is that it ends up setting the stage for colonialism and imperialism, control of the New Worlds at the hands of the European nations.  Consider the example of the Columbian Exchange, as representative of this.  The immense contact between European nations and the New World resulted in a massive favoring of power in the case of the former at the cost of the latter.  In this light, the most significant element of the discovery of the New Worlds is the idea of enhancing the power disparity with which the Europeans viewed the New Worlds.  It is here where the cultural outlook for the Europeans undergoes significant and massive change.


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