What is the impact of the Renaissance on the modern age?

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The Renaissance, which began in fourteenth century Italy, can be defined as the rebirth of intense interest in the classical texts of the Greek and Roman period. It coincided with humanism or a renewed interested in human beings as a central focus of study. Whereas earlier, the primary intellectual focus...

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The Renaissance, which began in fourteenth century Italy, can be defined as the rebirth of intense interest in the classical texts of the Greek and Roman period. It coincided with humanism or a renewed interested in human beings as a central focus of study. Whereas earlier, the primary intellectual focus had been on the Christian God, along with the received authority of the Roman Catholic Church and the limitations of humans in the face of the divine, this emphasis began to shift.

Philosophers, such as Pico della Mirandola in his Oration on the Dignity of Man, affirmed the importance human beings in the universe, and especially, of human reason as a divine gift allowing humankind to flourish and offering it the possibility of moving up the chain of building. In his oration, he derived authority from both Christian and Classical sources.

In art, painters and sculptors moved away from solely depicting Christian themes and began to frequently depict themes from Greek and Roman history and mythology.

The Renaissance had an impact on the modern age because it placed an emphasis on human reason, leading ultimately to the Enlightenment and the privileging of the experiences and observations of the human mind (which developed into scientific empiricism) over the received authority of religion. Today, in most of society, we still privilege rationalism and the findings of science over the authority of religious tradition. For example, the majority of people in the Western world believe in the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe over the origin narrative in the book of Genesis—even if they are Christian.

Finally, the re-introduction of Classicism into writing, art, architecture, and other arts continues to this day: many towns, for example, still have pillared or domed Neo-classic courthouses, many people still have a rudimentary knowledge of Greek myths, and Greco-Roman ideas of balance and harmony still inform modern aesthetics.

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The Renaissance had an enormous impact on the modern age. The Renaissance's focus on humanism changed the way people view themselves. The printing press made books, newspapers, and magazines very popular, and without the written word, it is nearly impossible to imagine the Internet. The Renaissance was also remarkable in that it led to a rebirth in terms of scientific and mathematical thought. It was through the renewed emphasis on experimentation and through the renewed search for rational reasons for natural phenomena that allowed humanity to make the discoveries it did in the past five hundred years. The Renaissance also led to further educational strides. While medieval Europe had universities, they were more interested in training clerics than they in training what we would now call "scientists." The Renaissance also began a period of exploration; without this, Europe would not have conquered most of the known world. It is nearly impossible to imagine a world where the Renaissance never happened.

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