The Ages. Although many of these cultural changes, particularly
The reawakening of scientific thought was brought about during the Renaissance Period (1400-1600) and carried into the period of the scientific revolution. The Renaissance began in Italy sometime around the mid-fourteenth century and heralded a number of cultural shifts in Europe. Primarily, the Renaissance, or “rebirth,” was a rebirth of Classical Greco-Roman culture. The Italian commercial and aristocratic elite saw this Classical culture as a source not just for scientific knowledge and rules of logical discourse – as it had been for the Scholastic thinkers of the Late Middle Ages – but also for the deepening and enrichment of the human spirit. Humanist scholars and artists flourished in this new cultural climate, and during the Renaissance there was a reaction against Aristotle and a revival of Platonism, in part due to Plato’s superior literary style. Forsaking the ideal of monastic poverty, the Renaissance embraced the enrichment of human life as it could be afforded by personal wealth. All in all, the Renaissance thinkers had a much more positive view of humanity and its capacities than the view embraced by the predominant thinkers of the Middle Ages. Although many of these cultural changes, particularly the shift toward a curious, self-confident style of individualism, would eventually lead to renewed interest in the universe, this was not the case initially. Humanist thinkers favored human-centered subjects such as politics and history over the study of natural philosophy or applied mathematics. Later, however, scholarly interest did swing toward the restoration of the ancient knowledge of the universe. Some historians refer to this period as the Scientific Renaissance, which in turn led to the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century. The emphasis of the Scientific Renaissance was on the recovery of scientific knowledge, whereas the focus of the Scientific Revolution was on scientific discovery.