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Philosophers of the Renaissance Era

A few key philosophers of the renaissance era (1450 AD – 1600 AD) and their impact on society both then and now.

The Renaissance Era, ranging from 1450 A.D. to 1600 A.D., which followed the Medieval age, was a great milestone in the subject of philosophy and way of thinking, and brought many new ideas to the world that changed society forever. Philosophy, as said in the dictionary, is the “rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct” (Webster). Three very distinct philosophers that arose in this era included Rene Descartes, Martin Luther, and Galileo, all making a major impact in their society in the way people thought, analyzed, and perceived their reality, and what their meaning is in life. The invention of the telescope, the scientific method, and the Lutheran church, just to name a few, were major philosophical happenings in this era, and impacted our society as we know it today. The Renaissance was also an age in time for revolutionizing the way people think, and see life, as they know it. Humanism was on the rise, which, as said by Corliss Lamount from his Philosophy of Humanism, is “having ultimate faith in humankind, believing that human beings possess the power or potentiality of solving their own problems, through reliance primarily upon reason and the scientific method applied with courage and vision” (Lamount). New philosophies and ideas about life were born, conflicting with what they many churches preached, causing a lot of commotion, and eventually lead to the time of enlightenment.

Rene Descartes, born March 31, 1596 in France, is said by many to be the father of modern philosophy, more specifically, the father of modern rationalism. Rationalism, as said in the dictionary is, “The theory that the exercise of reason, rather than experience, authority, or spiritual revelation, provides the primary basis for knowledge” (Webster). Descartes was a French philosopher, scientist, and mathematician, who along with the help of Galileo and Francis Bacon, was able to create the scientific method. The scientific method is quite possibly one of the greatest achievements in the Renaissance Era, and is still used today by scientists to unlock the mysteries of nature and the universe around us, without bringing any religion or faith to the table to aid in the explanation. The scientific method consists of four steps; the first step is to observe some aspect of the universe. It can be anything ranging to a flower growing, to gravity, existence, ect. With this observation, form a hypothesis consistent with the observation, guessing what it is that makes the thing being observed exist, work, ect. With this hypothesis, make predictions of what will happen to the thing being observed under specific circumstances, and then actually test it to see what happens in a series of experiments or observations that must be repeated multiple times. After all these tests are done, a conclusion must be made reflecting your hypothesis, and whether or not it was correct. If the hypothesis is proven correct repeatedly without fail, it becomes a theory, and a law of science (Wudka). A theory can never be proved wrong. This is the process Descartes is responsible for helping make, and is still used today by every scientist.

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