Chapter 13 cultural context renaissance reformation and the rise of modern science
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Chapter 13: Cultural Context: Renaissance, Reformation, and the Rise of Modern Science. Renaissance humanism (1350-1650).

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Chapter 13: Cultural Context: Renaissance, Reformation, and the Rise of Modern Science

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Chapter 13 cultural context renaissance reformation and the rise of modern science

Chapter 13: Cultural Context: Renaissance, Reformation, and the Rise of Modern Science


Renaissance humanism 1350 1650

Renaissance humanism (1350-1650)

  • Renaissance humanism is predominantly Christian. It marks a turn from a general societal asceticism to a general societal sense of celebration over the richness of the human spirit, the fruits of culture, the beauty of creation

    • Human nature is created in the image of God: human beings are spiritual creatures in a physical world, and the goal of life is re-unification with the divine/God in the spiritual realm

    • Life is God-centered: we can be both in the world and of the world—as long as the of defers to God and does not betray either God or our nature as a being created in His image

    • Science is inspired by God and carried out in the service of God: science reads the book that God wrote


Renaissance humanism 1350 16501

Renaissance humanism (1350-1650)

  • Modern humanism: The cultural and intellectual viewpoint that affirms the dignity and worth of human beings, in respect of the power of reason, to know the truths of nature and to determine, express, and achieve what is good for human beings

    • Human beings, as rational animals, are created in the image of God—but reason is emphasized

    • Reason may be given by God, but it is in our hands to use wisely for extra-religious purposes

    • Life is largely human-centered: Life in the public realm is increasingly governed by reason; life in the private realm is increasingly governed faith.

    • A strong repudiation of the prevailing Christian asceticism and the themes of lowliness of man and the ultimate smallness and worthlessness of reason

    • Science is inspired by God (for some) and continues to read the book that God wrote, but increasingly the physical laws of nature are seen to exist on their own without the metaphysical support of God


Renaissance humanism 1350 16502

Renaissance humanism (1350-1650)

  • Modern Secular humanism: Humanism in its post Bacon, Hobbes, Copernican, Galilean, Cartesian, Newtonian, Darwinian form: entirely Human centered universe

    • Man’s nature is a rational animal, and both our rationality and animality can be accounted for by natural-scientific reasons. The thesis of man’s nature being created by and in the image of God is superfluous.

    • The universe and everything in it is a mechanistic-materialistic phenomenon

    • A thoroughly human-centered world

    • A total repudiation of God in science: God is superfluous to scientific explanation—nothing but romanticism and nostalgia

    • A strong separation of Church and State in the political-public realm


Renaissance humanism 1350 16503

Renaissance humanism (1350-1650)

  • Postmodern humanism

    • Human being is constituted by and is a function of the structures/schemas within which it exists: society language, society, norms, history: The social construction of reality

      • Structuralism: there is a deep structure underlying reality, meaning, language, society, history that can be known with respect to systems of relationships that constitute an object (human subject):

      • Anthropology: Humans exist per se, and “I” am a function of my relation in a social-political-economic family, community, society (history-language), cosmos (material process) etc


Renaissance humanism 1350 16504

Renaissance humanism (1350-1650)

  • Post-structuralism: there is no deep structure (only difference) to reality, meaning, language, society, history (Heidegger-Derrida-Foucault-Lyotard etc): endless contingency

    • Material Systems-theory: human beings do not exist per se; they are knots in a biospherical web of cosmic-planetary-subatomic-atomic-chemical-molecular-biologic-ecological relations of material formations and forces

    • Cultural Systems-theory: human beings do not exist per se; they are functionaries of cultural functions: cultural conventions (power-relations) determine entities-meanings (Foucault): humans are power-knowledge complexes that are “written” by a power-knowledge culture complex (individuality is an ideological formation imposed and composed by the social-historical-linguistic-institutional power grid of which it is a political-economic functionary)

    • Ontological “systems” theory: human being is grounded in the relational-event of Being (Heidegger)


Renaissance humanism 1350 16505

Renaissance humanism (1350-1650)

  • Characteristics of Renaissance humanism:

    • Rebirth in Greek and Roman literature, due to the fall of Constantinople in 1453 by the Turks and the diaspora of Greek culture to Western Europe

      • Learning was no longer confined to the clergy, monastic orders, and religiously controlled universities

      • The birth of the first European universities: Padua, Bologna, Leuven, and Paris

      • The birth of an intellectual class that is no longer dominated by theology and theologians

      • The revaluation of the vernacular

    • The rise of technology and technological innovation

      • Printing Press (1447): printing in the vernacular

      • Gun powder and guns

      • Navigational equipment, such as the compass

      • Astronomical and scientific equipment: telescopes and microscopes


Renaissance humanism 1350 16506

Renaissance humanism (1350-1650)

  • The Age of Discovery:

    • Columbus (1492) & all-water routes to the India around Cape of Good Hope

      • The rise of art, artistry, and literature: Michelangelo, Raphael

      • The birth of a new “ideal” individual: the Renaissance man: a person that is worldly, intellectual, well-educated, scientifically minded, innovative, yet creative, autonomous (self-creative), daring, defiant: the birth of individualism—a swash buckler! Leonardo De Vinci


The protestant reformation

The Protestant Reformation

  • Martin Luther (1483-1546): Augustinian monk; Ninety-Five Theses (1517); excommunicated (1520)

  • Protestant Reformation: 1520

    • The shift in viewpoint: the “Priesthood of Believers”: each individual has direct access to God and does not need the medium of the Roman Catholic Church and its mediaries (priests) to mediate one’s relationship to God.

    • This undermined Roman Catholic Church tradition and authority: it takes salvation out of the hands of the Church and puts it in the hands of each person: The Church is seen as an unnecessary meddling middle-man (distribution link) who needs to be cut out of the spiritual economic process.

    • This contributed to the rise and cultivation of individualism: Be self-directed! Auto-nomy: self-governed: not spiritually governed (mediated) by a third party: Hobbes-Locke-Hegel-Marx

    • Political significance: Life as a political individual requires a neutral third party to mediate personal-political difference; but the spiritual life of the individual does not: Spiritual life is a face to face encounter with God: Kierkegaard; spiritual libertarianism (the spiritual life of the individual is higher than the political life of the individual)


Social and political and economic changes

Social and Political (and Economic) Changes

  • The beginnings of the separation of Church and State

  • The fall of Feudalism with the expansion of mercantile economies

  • The birth and rise of mercantilism & the shift from barter economies to monetary exchange: the rise of modern capital, capitalism, and capitalists:

    • The rise of free (non-state controlled) ownership of the means of production, of Banks, Banking, and Bankers

    • The rise of modern social-economic classes (primarily the middle class with its many strata & functions)

  • The rise of a separation between the economic and the religious: the public and the private: religion is an individualistic and private affair—but the private should pervade the public/economic realm via a religious “work ethic”


The rise of modern science

The Rise of Modern Science

  • The Ptolemaic view of the universe

  • The Copernican revolution (1543) The Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies

  • The rift between the two world views: religions vs. science

  • Galileo (1632) Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief

  • Systems of the World

    • The Church’s response


The rise of modern science1

The Rise of Modern Science

  • The implications of the new science

    • Galileo’s distinction between primary and secondary qualities

      • Primary qualities are objective to reason, can be quantified mathematically, and can be scientifically studied in terms of extension, size, shape, motion, mass, number and so on: the breakfast muffin is

      • Secondary qualities are subjective, and are experientially perceivable in terms of color, texture, odor, sound: the breakfast muffin is delicately scrumptious on the bottom, crisply munchuous on top.

      • Tertiary qualities are subjective evaluative judgments (assessment of value) of both primary and secondary qualities: a size and taste of the scrumptious-munchuous breakfast muffin is good

    • The over throw of teleological explanations

      • The scientific focus of study is placed on material and efficient causes for what and how things are the way they are in both nature and human affairs—and teleological questions of why they are such and such are either indefinitely postponed or even discarded as unanswerable


Philosophy in a new key

Philosophy in a New Key

  • The birth of Modern philosophy is largely premised on two motivations

    • A break from the past: from Platonism, Aristotelianism, Medieval theology, the dominance of the Church tradition and authority: none of these offered certainty, and all could be proven to be deeply mistaken

    • The need to explain philosophically how the new science worked, and to understand and to substantiate its findings


Philosophy in a new key1

Philosophy in a New Key

  • The search for a perfect philosophical and scientific method of knowing

    • This marks the birth of modern epistemology

      • Rationalism: knowledge is possible a priori (prior to and independent of experience), and itcan be gained and securedthrough reason

      • Empiricism: knowledge is possible only a posteriori (derived from experience), and it can only be gained and secured through empirical research


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