The Renaissance Period and Effects
As a reaction, Italian humanists ignored the medieval view and revived the philosophy, art and architecture of the ancient world in 14th and 15th century. Scholastic philosophy had started a revival of some significant terms which was called ‘rebirth’ in the ancient Classical world. Moreover, there were two important characteristics in Greek thought: The preoccupation with the secular, not divine; secondly, the self-conscious awareness of the human and humans’ power.
In the Renaissance art, we should emphasize the painters and sculptors who were so essential for this revolution term: Giotto and Pisano, Pietro from Lorenzetti brothers, Ambrogio and Piero della Francesca in the early periods of Renaissance. Furthermore, Leonardo the Vinci should be said in the High Renaissance period.
As it can be understood from Cassirer’s phrase for Renaissance’s effect that ‘gaining or developing the self- conscious awareness of consciousness’, there were so vital effects by Renaissance. In early education, in church schools and the universities which were interested in ‘facts/ realities’, by new education under the effects of Renaissance, there would appear a new and more modern feature. It struggled to develop the personality and character of human beings. Therefore, in the Middle Ages, men tended to accept the doctrines and the idea which suggested the comparison the God’s power to limited power of human beings. But, by Renaissance, men began to believe his own capabilities and power to develop his personal abilities.
When it comes to an interesting component of Renaissance, a worshipping to everything in ancient would be appear. Also, as a significant point, Italian humanists wanted to emphasize that there was a contrary condition; in one hand, being willing to discover and ask, on the other hand, already existing doctrines and getting used to accept them. The philosophers criticized another problem; how could explain the interactions between mind, world and the ancient precedents. Then, they decided to find an answer to it and looked to the epistemology; it can be their problem- solution technique.
Vital changes appeared not only in art, of course, but also in philosophy, especially Scholastic philosophy. Because of that reason, Scholastic philosophers should be emphasized. One of these was William of Oacham. As a follower of Aristotle, he attempted to rid philosophy of the Neoplatonic flavour that had lingered on from the Middle Ages. According to him, knowledge must be gained by the human senses; not senses of Ideals or Forms. Moreover, Aristotle and his followers went towards Empiricism in Western philosophy. On the other hand, Marsilio Facino was familiar Platonic notion that objects in the sensory were mere imperfect copies of metaphysical Ideals. For earlier Christianized versions of Plotinus, firstly God gives the mind to the Ideals and then gives impressions, like human soul. When the Ideals were revived in all aspects, they were used as formulate or templates to interpret experiences in the sensory world.
Aristotelian tradition says that senses can be gained by the sources of the knowledge; on the other hand, Ficino’s Neoplatonicism says that senses are already gained by mind.
In the middle of the 15th century, there was a common problem in Greeks and artists in the High Renaissance; what they should copy in nature and how they should go about it? As a reference point, Panofsky’s explanation, the art in Renaissance had a vital difference from the Middle Ages; this period, the object which existed in the artists’ imagination removed to the outer world. Because of change, the art theorists and also philosophers began to look for the solution to this and they chose the Aristotelian and Platonic traditions.
The first theorists to address the new challenge, Leon Battista Alberti attempted to explain the source or artistic and architectural ideas within Aristotelian tradition in his books. Also, as an observation, he conceived of a painting as a window through which the painter saw the world and added that that the painter could nothing for not visible things, he could only representing what could be seen.
In the later periods of the Renaissance and the age of Mannerism, there occurred a new conception by the natural philosophers: Subsequent Western thinking. Actually, this concept managed to acquire some of the age’s underlying tensions.
There was an attractive similarity in Greeks’ and Renaissance humanists in terms of understanding the world. Both in two attitudes, a physical body, an animating soul and an organizing mind could be included. Also, as a detail, in the k-late of 16th century, faculties and passions could be considered as the causes of the natural processors.
The idea of Neoplatonists that argued the Aristotelian thinking in terms of natural growth could be thought as the revival of Platonism at the end of the 16th century. The idea was that the tendencies in natural growth did not explain anything, because only a cause had a natural tendency and if there was a cause, there would be an effect. By the time, Neoplatonists developed this idea, destroyed the organic analogy of Aristotelian thinking and develop the balance between mind and world, like in the ancient Greeks.
The first serious attack on the organic analogy was mounted by Nicholas Copernicus. According to him, the concept of organism has differentiated organs which have special qualities and functions in the whole system. In comparison to this, the Greeks and the Renaissance philosophers considered the universe as a center of concentric spheres and the existing of the several layers of different qualities like water, air and fire. But, according to Copernicus’s idea, everything was made from the same matter and responds to the same force of gravity. As a consequence, he removed the heterogeneous substances of the organic analogy and replaced it with the homogeneous substance. He encouraged the idea that everything in the universe was quantifiable.
As another attack, John Kepler elaborated an attack with his three laws of planetary motion at the beginning of the 17th century. Also, Kepler removed the concept of a vital energy producing qualitative changes and brought the new concept of mechanical energy producing purely quantitative changes. Therefore, he offered a new analogy of the universe as a clock which could be described with geometry and arithmetic.
Galileo Galilei, in comparison to Kepler, claimed that there were two kinds of entities in the universe: The objective primary qualities of size, shape, weight and position; also, the subjective secondary qualities of color, taste, smell. According to Galileo, the subjective secondary qualities were not no more than mere names, because his mind felt no compulsion to understand a necessary accompaniments.
With Galileo, the organic analogy was finally demolished and the universe had become regular, orderly clockwork which had been designed and deterministically governed by its own logic and structure.
In Greeks, there was a powerful attitude about humans’ power over the nature, but in the mechanical analogy, the human is only one more physical system in the whole system.
Sources of Architectural Form – Mark Gelernter
A History of Western Philosophy – Bertrand Russell