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A study of the western political thoughts and the drastic changes throughout the centuries

The Renaissance — why it changed the world Sponsored by Enjoy exclusive experiences and attractions in the capital with MasterCard Save Save Hot off the press: Gutenberg introduced the printing press to the world in 1440 Credit: From its origins in 14th-century Florence, the Renaissance spread across Europe — the fluidity of its ideas changing and evolving to match local cultural thinking and conditions, although always remaining true to its ideals. It coincided with a boom in exploration, trade, marriage and diplomatic excursions.

  • The use of rational argument to support or oppose a political view, according to Foucault, is merely another attempt to exercise arbitrary power over others;
  • Gramsci insisted that the old culture should be destroyed and that education should be wrenched from the grip of the ruling classes and the church;
  • From its origins in 14th-century Florence, the Renaissance spread across Europe — the fluidity of its ideas changing and evolving to match local cultural thinking and conditions, although always remaining true to its ideals;
  • There is the luck of being in the right place at the right time and of benefiting from unpredictable shifts in supply and demand , but there is also the luck of being born with greater or lesser intelligence and other desirable traits, along with the luck of growing up in a nurturing environment;
  • Foucault viewed modern bureaucratic institutions as exuding a spirit of rationality, scientific expertise, and humane concern but as really amounting to an arbitrary exercise of power by one group over another;
  • All other claims, including the evaluative assertions made by traditional political and ethical philosophers, are literally meaningless, hence not worth discussing.

As with the Ancient Greeks and Romans from whom the Renaissance took so much inspirationa conquering army could bring not only a regime change but also a cultural overhaul. The Renaissance changed the world in just about every way one could think of. It had a kind of snowball effect: Italy in the 14th century was fertile ground for a cultural revolution.

  • Foucault and postmodernism The work of the French philosopher and historian Michel Foucault 1926—84 has implications for political philosophy even though it does not directly address the traditional issues of the field;
  • But he was skeptical of any attempt to argue that one political regime or set of practices is morally superior to another;
  • In A Theory of Justice , Rawls observed that a necessary condition of justice in any society is that each individual should be the equal bearer of certain rights that cannot be disregarded under any circumstances, even if doing so would advance the general welfare or satisfy the demands of a majority;
  • According to Rawls, a just society is one whose major political, social, and economic institutions, taken together, satisfy the following two principles;
  • Some liberal theorists have proposed that this posture should be extended to all disputed questions concerning what constitutes a good life.

The Black Death had wiped out millions of people in Europe — by some estimates killing as many as one in three between 1346 and 1353. By the simplest laws of economics, it meant that those who survived were left with proportionally greater wealth: At the top of Italian society was a new breed of rulers, keen to demonstrate their wealth in a way that set them apart. Families such as the Medici of Florence looked to the Ancient Roman and Greek civilisations for inspiration — and so did those artists who relied on their patronage.

Renaissance art did not limit itself to simply looking pretty, however.

Demetra Kasimis

Behind it was a new intellectual discipline: If the Renaissance was about rediscovering the intellectual ambition of the Classical civilisations, it was also about pushing the boundaries of what we know — and what we could achieve. Even as the artists were creating a bold new realism, scientists were engaged in a revolution of their own.

Never before or since had there been such a coming together of art, science and philosophy Advances in chemistry led to the rise of gunpowder, while a new model of mathematics stimulated new financial trading systems and made it easier than ever to navigate across the world.

And navigate the Renaissance men did. Columbus discovered America, Ferdinand Magellan led an expedition to circumnavigate the globe. Even as our world shrank in size and significance when placed in the context of our new understanding of the universe, so it grew in physical terms, as new continents were found, new lands colonised, new cultures discovered whose own beliefs and understandings were added to the great intellectual firestorm raging across Europe.

Radical thinkers such as the Protestant Luther and the humanist Erasmus expounded a new way of looking at the world that owed less to blind subservience to the Catholic Church and more to the possibilities inherent in the human mind.

Never before or since had there been such a coming together of art, science and philosophy. And never before had there been such an opportunity for it to be so widely disseminated. The very same scientific advances that the Renaissance was developing also contributed to one of its great legacies: In 1440, Gutenberg introduced the printing press to the world — meaning that for the first time, books could be mass-produced.

The Renaissance – why it changed the world

A single press could churn out 3,600 pages a day, resulting in an explosion of literature and ideas unprecedented in history. By 1500, printing presses in Western Europe had produced more than 20 million volumes. And by 1600, that had risen to 200 million. Luther and Erasmus became bestsellers — and later so did poets, dramatists and novelists. The new ideas of free-thinkers, mathematicians and scientists all became accessible to the masses, and art and science became, for the first time in human history, truly democratic.

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The seeds of the modern world were sown and grown in the Renaissance. The Renaissance changed the world. You might even say it created all of what we now know as modern life. Find out more Visit priceless. Priceless Cities is a programme offering unique and exciting experiences exclusively for MasterCard cardholders in more than 43 cities.