The European Renaissance was a period of transition from what was known as the medieval world to what could be called the modern world. Many significant advances in knowledge and thought that greatly affected the framework of society and culture of the modern world marked this time period. Our current cultural, social, and political institutions here in the United States also have ties to the influences of this time period.
Areas of Social ChangeHumanism and EducationThe Renaissance is known for the development and proliferation of the philosophy of humanism. Humanism is essentially based on placing emphasis on the dignity and worth of the individual. It is a shift in emphasis from the divine to the human. This new philosophy started with the study of classical culture, and a group of subjects called the humanities. The humanities involved studying speaking, grammar, poetry, history, and ethics. The ideal was to study them as far as possible in their original texts (original Latin or Greek) and to make one's own interpretation.
Humanistic thought included the idea that the more scholastic point of view did not help lead individuals to responsibility in citizenship, public service, and leadership (Smith).
At the time the educational philosophies were focused on using logic and natural science. This was known as scholasticism. Traditional education in this way equipped students to be doctors, lawyers, and theologians. Humanism and the humanities entailed the belief of a broader education that could lead to more professions. It was a more balanced and rounded education that placed emphasis on the total person: intellectual, physical, and moral growth (Smith).
Economics and BusinessIt is generally accepted that the Renaissance began in Italy as a result of the fact that it was in an ideal location between Western Europe and the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea.