I have a hard time imagining the mind of someone pre-renaissance. Pre-renaissance, pre-xploration, your view of the world was limited to your society. Without anything to hold yourself up against, your sense of identity is limited. The birth of individual identity had to have been key to the renaissance. All of the growth in art and literature and science ties back to an exploration of the self and a desire to understand yourself in context of the greater environment. Understanding yourself in context is very difficult if all you see are the people living immediately to your right and to your left. This is why I think that the discovery of new worlds had the greatest influence in developing individual identity.
The excerpts from Utopia were such excellent examples of the beginnings of this. Utopia isn’t exactly a manifesto for individual thought, but it shows the start of social critique. In a very interesting essay on sexuality in the renaissance it is pointed out that with the introduction of social perspective, or the awareness of more than just your society, your worldview changes.
“There was no shortage of paradigms to overturn as the philosophes were trying to understand the world in human rather than divine terms”(Walker).
Those excerpts show how the discovery of new worlds opens a world of possibilities. There is more than one way to worship, marry, eat, and entertain. When there is something to compare yourself to, you learn so much about yourself. This is a very disturbing experience and the subsequent writing, painting, and scientific study in order to understand exactly 'who you are' makes total sense to me.
Walker, Hamza. "Pimps up | Publishing: Essay | The Renaissance Society." Pimps up | Publishing: Essay | The Renaissance Society. University of Chicago, 2009. Web. 09 Sept. 2015. <http://www.renaissancesociety.org/publishing/28/pimps-up/>.