Friday, April 22, 2011

Our Renaissance and Enlightenment

I am a brain child of two major turns of history, mainly european history but
those turns had a major bearing on the world history: the Renaissance and the

The Renaissance is essentially an italian story,
starting in the XVth century (the quatrocento), soon developing in the
Netherlands and finally over most of Europe (France was late, when it started we
were just finishing the one hundred year war against England and later we were
busy fighting each other in a civil war between catholics and

The Enlightenment is essentially a french story,
starting in the XVIIIth century (le Siècle des Lumières) which developed over
most of Europe, initially in a peaceful and progressive way until the french
revolution (1789-1799) and Napoléon Bonaparte's rules (1799-1815) gave this
development a sudden and dramatic acceleration. 

In both cases, but more radically with the Enlightenment, the idea was to
question what as been proclaimed as THE truth by the king and the pope acting
jointly. Suddenly, the society decided that men (and women, after a while) were
able to think by themselves, to form judgments and draw conclusions.
Renaissance liberated the arts and still to this days, we are amazed at the
creativity and freedom the arts of the Renaissance produced in an unthinkable
renewal after centuries of only religious art (also called sacred art). It was
also the time Luther and others challenged the authority of the clerical
hierarchy on the church and the faithful. 
The Enlightenment went further in
depending entirely on the ability of human beings to think by themselves. Thus,
there was no need anymore for "TRUTH" to come from the top, whether the sky
(God) or any other higher authority. The king was renamed the first civil
servant of the kingdom. A monarchy could still be acceptable provided it is a
constitutional monarchy (the english monarchy was seen as the model of the type)
but republic was even more trendy after the establishment of the american

My good friend Jacques on two important periods of world history that shaped the Western World. Will we have our own renaissance and enlightenment? It seems, judging from the events in the Middle East, we are finally heading in the right direction. It is too early to say though.. if those events will lead to an enlightened society or further dark age.. will it get better or would it have to get worse before it gets better?!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's possible but unlikely that with the recent rapid changes anything that illuminating will result. The motives aren't the same, and boiling point was more with basic human needs than self actualization and fulfillment.

Nowadays, a revolutionary era realistically cannot be materialized. It takes a long time for things to develop into something as history changing as the Renaissance or enlightenment. I feel that time has shifted against our advantage, the present is the product of the past and the future will be the product of the present. When the globe has been conspired to be politically and economically controlled to keep people stuck in the living wheels, living from one pay check to next pay check, limiting their worries into basic needs and wants with no time for extra worries which has been shifted from required demands for advancement to a luxury that isn't necessary.

I hope I'm wrong, but the globe isn't scattered as dark ages, one village is literally too inextricable to be unshackled easily.

Nice post by the way, always pleasant to read.