The Renaissance is the period of European history marking the waning of the Middle Ages and the rise of the modern world: usually considered as beginning in Italy in the 14th century. This period progressed in all countries of the European continent and made its contribution into different spheres of the human activity including painting, literature, sculpture, music and other fields.
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Such aspects as the spirit, culture, art, science, and thought of this period are considered to have peculiar features. Characteristics of the Renaissance are usually considered to include intensified classical scholarship, scientific and geographical discovery, a sense of individual human potentialities, and the assertion of the active and secular over the religious and contemplative life. The period of development and prosperity of the Renaissance embraces the epoch from the 14th century and to the 17th century. It began its history in Italy and spread to other European countries.
The period of Renaissance is remarkable for the attempts to restore the previous magnificence of the Ancient epoch. Due to this various branches of human activities followed the principles of the ancient authors. Thus the works of Michel de Montaigne “Essays” and the “Novum Organum” written by Francis Bacon are vivid examples of the works inspired by the Renaissance epoch and the whole flow.
The “Novum Organum”, one of the most important works written by Lord Francis Bacon, it is oriented on the ways and methods of cognition, learning, acquiring knowledge about different aspects of the world. As the epoch of Renaissance was famous for the thirst for knowledge, Bacon was trying to still this thirst by way of improving the organization and methods of acquiring the knowledge about the nature, to simplify the knowledge and methods of acquiring it.
All the political and philosophical works of this author were the result of the emerging scientific spirit of the scholar. The “Novum Organum” is the source of methodological and scientific approaches towards the research, investigation, and discoveries conducted in order to acquire knowledge.
Meanwhile Michel Montaigne in his work the “Essays” which was originally translated as “Attempts” represents the new vision of the contemporary world, the society, social structure, the governing power, the fundamental issues considered from the point of view of Western thought; his works reveal the aspect of skeptical thinking. In his work, he made an attempt to differentiate between human beings and animals by way of assigning the domination of mankind over the world of animals. One of the aspects concerns the social and moral domination of European people over uneducated people of the neighboring continents.
The process of thinking was considered a labor-consuming one by Michel Montaigne but, consequently, a pleasing one. The process and results of thinking is one of the characteristic features of that period, Montaigne’s well-known expression “What do I know?” introduces the desire to know more, to acquire knowledge as well as the major work of Francis Bacon reveals the thirst for knowledge, the emerging scientific spirit. The main difference lies in that Bacon wanted to accumulate knowledge in the unique domain, whereas Montaigne expressed uncertainty about the possibility to attain the absolute truth.
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Thus both authors are the representatives of the Renaissance epoch and its brightest expressions which lie in the desire to acquire knowledge, the new methods of thinking and the representation of thoughts. Bacon is very radical in his decisions and Montaigne makes unsteady attempts to acquire knowledge.
Montaigne, Michel de. The Essays: A Selection. London: Penguin classics, 2004.
Bacon, Francis. Novum Organum. Chicago: Open Court, 2000.