Renaissance

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Rebirth, revival. The term R. refers to the spiritual and moral renewal observed in Europe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, which came about through the restoration of the humanist cultural tradition of the ancient world, especially of the Hellenic and Roman cultures, and through affirming the decisive role of living national languages (Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, etc.). The invention of the printing press allowed the wide dissemination of this cultural legacy and the achievements of these young national litterateurs, while the spread of engraving made works of art accessible to the people. This movement undertook the struggle against medieval Scholasticism, and contributed to the affirmation of experimental science, the development and spread of secular morality and education, monetary economies with trade and commerce, and humanist art and literature. In that epoch, humanism appeared as a comprehensive conception of the world which affirmed the supreme value of the human being, of human life. The inspiration of humanist ethical criteria were clearly indicated in the increased concern for personal and social well-being and the defense of liberty and human rights. During the R. there was an extraordinary outpouring of inspired works by scientists, artists, poets, philosophers and political thinkers. Celebrated Italian artist, scientist, engineer, architect and writer Leonardo Da Vinci stands as a symbol of the R. On the basis of astronomical experiments and observations, Polish scientist Nicolaus Copernicus and Italian mathematician and physicist Galileo Galilei created the heliocentric model of the solar system, for which they suffered persecution by the Church. German astronomer Johannes Kepler formulated the fundamental laws of planetary motion. English philosopher and political figure Francis Bacon was one of the creators of the experimental method in science, which contributed decisively to the break with Scholasticism. French philosopher and moralist Michel de Montaigne denounced the vanity of dogmatism. Celebrated Dutch jurist and diplomat Hugo Grotius published his treatise On the Law of War and Peace. Italian historian, writer and politician Niccolò Machiavelli laid the foundation for the idea of the nation state, and contributed to the study of the procedures of political life. In literature and art, the principal focus was on human beings and their inner world, and on the role of the personality (*Personalism) in social life. We should also mention Italian poet Petrarch, English dramatist William Shakespeare, Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, and French writer François Rabelais. R. civic humanism became the pillar of all subsequent Western conceptions of humanism. By generalizing the traditions of classical Greek philosophy and ethics and joining them with advances in the natural sciences and practical experience in life, R. humanism formulated a series of fundamental ethical criteria, defined human liberty as a primary value, revealed the beauty and grandeur of the human person and, for the first time, established the priority of the personality and its interests, demonstrating the bond between personal and social needs.