Humanity has always been evolving, accepting the variety of thoughts and beliefs and allowing for the development of people’s worldview and creative endeavors. What has been considered exemplary in previous historical periods, might be found redundant in the present. Still, people have always borrowed some features from the past: if not to use them, then at least to analyze their inconsistency at present.
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The present paper is aimed at comparing the features of the society during the Early Renaissance and in contemporary Europe. The development of public relations over time has led to the fact that the ideas relevant in the Middle Ages have changed to a certain extent. Therefore, their reflection is regarded as quite superficial in modern society. Alterations happened not only in culture but also in social life.
While Renaissance was characterized by being oriented to the person, the current system of conducting political and ideological courses in modern European countries is the confirmation. The norms of morality and cultural values that were glorified in the era of universal enlightenment have changed by today. In modern society, trade and market relations have come to the place of the ideas of humanism, and the status of a person as a supreme being has changed beyond recognition.
Forms of Worldview: Then and Now
The orientation toward the man primarily characterizes the Renaissance, the philosophical thinking of this period being the anthropocentric one. The major figure in this period is not God but the human being. According to Houston (2014), during the Renaissance, the idea that people learn more when speaking to God fades into the background. A typical feature of the world outlook of people in that period is its articulate humanistic character.
The man appears as a free being, the creator of himself and the world around him. The thinkers of the era, however, were not atheists or materialists. They believed in God, they recognized him as the pioneer of the world and the man. According to their views, God, having created the world and people, gave everybody freedom, and now they had to determine their destiny by themselves. While analyzing the Renaissance worldview, Celenza (2014) mentions that the prominent people of the period can be understood only through the prism of the most famous events, and misrepresentation of information related to historical events complicates studying the ideas of Renaissance.
Therefore, the author concludes that several dissimilar views of researchers make the presence of the primary philosophical idea of Renaissance less credible. Another significant aspect of understanding the Renaissance beliefs is the language used by the community in that period (Murray, 2014). According to research, there is a strong connection between philosophy and linguistics. For instance, Murray (2014) remarks that the language of the people living in Renaissance Italy outlines their understanding of the political life in the country. Since language is often used as a starting point for political changes, such opinion seems rather reasonable.
However different the Renaissance and contemporary worldviews are, Witoszek (2014) emphasizes that the former has given the latter the crucial foundations for development. According to the author, modern civilization’s tendency towards eco-humanism originated back in the Renaissance (Witoszek, 2014). Therefore, Witoszek (2014) concludes that the representations of Renaissance humanism need to be revalued for a better analysis of the “value platform” that asserts nature’s autonomy and person’s dignity (p. 122).
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Still, in spite of this dependence on the past, modern society is quite different in its attitudes towards the worldview. Nowadays, a rational thought occupies the major place, and the previous picture of the world does not fit in any way. The idea of humanism has been almost entirely removed by the technological progress and the change of technical resources. In contemporary Europe, the dominant position belongs to the pursuit of respect for human rights and belief in science. European countries’ democratic stability is not similar to the one that prevailed in the Renaissance. As Seigel (2015) remarks, people no longer believe that death is salvation and not destruction.
In present-day Europe, there is a crisis of the worldview that needs to be investigated about the preceding periods of history, including the Renaissance (Zhdanov, Romanovskaya, & Tsyganov, 2015). As a result of their analysis, Zhdanov et al. (2015) remark that modern Europeans have lost faith in the objectivity of the law. Such a state of things requires the people to encourage their personal “spiritual renaissance” (Zhdanov et al., 2015, p. 83). Therefore, although contemporary Europe differs greatly in its approaches to the worldview as compared to the Renaissance, it still employs some of the postulates of this historical period to explain people’s opinions.
Over the centuries, the norms of a worldview have changed in a rather significant way. The probable reason for such changes is not only in the shift of interests and preferences but also in the rapid development of scientific thought. For modern Europeans, it seems quite unreasonable to turn to the early ideas for help when practically unlimited opportunities are available for the people and give them the right to determine the lives independently.
Even though people living in contemporary Europe remember and appreciate the achievements made in the Renaissance, the path of contemporary development suggesting diverse options has left practically nothing of the past beliefs.
Comparison of Creative Activity
In the Renaissance, creative activity acquired a sacral nature. During that time, people not only satisfied their natural needs but also created a new world and worked on personal development. The art in the Renaissance reached an unprecedented heyday due to the economic upsurge, with a massive shift that occurred in the minds of people who turned to the cult of earthly life and beauty. As Goodey (2013) claims, Renaissance art in many ways represents a contrast to the medieval times, some of its ideas being relevant today. The Renaissance art marks the emergence of realism that determined the development of European artistic culture.
Thus, it is possible to assume that the impact of Renaissance on the contemporary European art has been much stronger than on the forms of worldview. Probably the most vivid aspect of contemporary European art is its indeterminacy. In the world of art, as well as in other spheres of human interaction, the effect of globalization is increasingly observed. According to Houston (2014), every form of art during the Renaissance was created because it presented some usefulness.
The spheres of art present in contemporary Europe reflect the economic and political peculiarities that presuppose some influence of the new ways of thinking. Unlike Renaissance art that was aimed at calling for admiration for the beauty, modern styles of painting, sculpture, and music increasingly convey the moods of masses and implore certain conclusions and thoughts, seek to impact people’s thinking, and stimulate particular actions.
Another way in which modern art differs from Renaissance art is the tendency to rationalization and project development (Jensen, Thuesen, & Geraldi, 2016). Although the idea of transforming art from a closed space to an open universe was borrowed from the Renaissance, modern people seem to be more focused on controlling space and time (Jensen et al., 2016). Thus, the communities in the developed European countries are called “project societies” (Jensen et al., 2016, p. 32).
Such definition is associated with the fact that rational thinking has taken the place of creative thinking. However, it is not possible to say that contemporary Europeans do not know how to value art. People still admire beauty, but their rational views make them consider some pieces previously considered the peak of popularity as irrelevant and unconventional.
The norms of morality and cultural values that were glorified in the era of the Renaissance have undergone many changes by today. The idea of praising the soul of a person is no longer relevant, having been replaced by more pressing issues. It is not possible to decide which of the two discussed periods’ postulates are more beneficial for the people, each of them having some important ideas. Most probably, it is the time and environment in which a person is right now that determines the views and beliefs. What was considered crucial during the Renaissance may have lost its significance in the contemporary worldview. Still, the impact of that epoch may be traced in various spheres of modern people’s lives.
Celenza, C. S. (2014). Ideas in context and the idea of Renaissance philosophy. Journal of the History of Ideas, 75(4), 653-666.
Goodey, C. F. (2011). A History of intelligence and “intellectual disability”: The shaping of psychology in Early Modern Europe. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate.
Houston, C. (2014). The Renaissance Utopia: Dialogue, travel and the ideal society. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate.
Jensen, A., Thuesen, C., & Geraldi, J. (2016). The projectification of everything: Projects as a human condition. Project Management Journal, 47(3), 21-34.
Murray, A. (2014). Politics and language in early Renaissance Italy. Revue de L’histoire des Religions, 231(2), 253-274.
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Seigel, J. E. (2015). Rhetoric and Philosophy in Renaissance Humanism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Witoszek, N. (2014). Leonardo da Vinci our contemporary? Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology, 18(2), 122-143.
Zhdanov, P. S., Romanovskaya, V. B., & Tsyganov, V. I. (2015). Legal reflection during the crisis of the new European worldview paradigm: Problem statement. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 6(3 S5), 79.