What did the Renaissance focus on?

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larrygates's profile pic

larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The term "renaissance" means rebirth. The focus was on the rebirth of classical ideas and artistic works. The works of art of the period often reflect classical themes, including depictions of Greek deities. Renaissance scholars preferred to read classical works in the original languages rather than translations which might be erroneous.

Humanism, as noted above, was a portion of the Renaissance, as it emphasized that human beings, as God's greatest creation, had some basic worth. Previously, it had been believed that human beings were basically corrupted creatures toiling through a vale of tears. A portion of the Renaissance was profoundly religious, although it often incorporated classical elements. Examples of this are Michaelangelo's statue of David, Leonardo's Madonna of the Rocks, and Donatello's Journey to Jerusalem.

So the true focus of the Renaissance was the return to classical learning and artistic expression.

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Although we have to be careful not to overdo this characterization, the Renaissance generally focused on human beings and their secular needs more than on religious ideas and values.

The Renaissance was a time when Europe was recovering from the horrible 14th century.  Parts of Europe were becoming more urbanized and wealthier.  This led to a new outlook on life in which it was more possible to focus on trying to enjoy worldly things.  

Along with this emphasis came an emphasis on human beings.  This emphasis was seen in art with more realistic art works that celebrated the human body.  It was seen in societal thought with a renewed emphasis on human beings' potential and ability.  It was also seen in science with an emphasis on using human rationality to solve scientific problems.

It would be wrong to think that society in the Renaissance was not religious.  However, it was changing and coming to focus less on religion and more on human beings and their abilities and their reason.  

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