Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Renaissance Myth

An interesting (but old) article about how the idea that the Renaissance was a "great intellectual leap" is bunk. It's from an old (1980s) literary journal article so there are numerous transcribing errors. (many of them look like OCR problems.) It's a very interesting read.

3 comments:

Chen-song said...

In addition, there's this other list of myths that are commonly believed about the Middle Ages:

SpaceAdmiral said...

I haven't read the bulk of your link yet, but it seems worth mentioning that I remember being kind of shocked while reading one of Stephen Jay Gould's books (I forget which one) and seeing him describe the Renaissance as an anti-science movement. Until then, I had always pictured the Renaissance as a a sort of necessary prequel to the Enlightenment.

Chen-song said...

It's actually kind of obvious in hindsight: The things that supposedly characterized the Renaissance, the recovery of ancient Greek teachings, etc. were actually done during the Middle Ages. The origins of modern natural science (Roger Bacon, William of Ockham, etc.) started in the Middle Ages. The Renaissance was the age of witch persecutions, the wars of religion, (to which the Enlightenment was a reaction) etc. Certainly the Middle Ages were not all niceness and the Renaissance was not a dark age, but the popular idea of a revolutionary change in thinking occurring between the two just does not seem plausible.