Thursday, September 10, 2015

"The Beauty of the World! The Paragon of Animals!"

Just as the introduction to the printed word and the discovery and exploration of new worlds laid the foundation for the renaissance, the invention and development of the Internet laid the foundation for our digital renaissance. The two periods share so many social correlations, but one often discussed is individualism, or the stronger label, humanism. Within Mirandola’s text he described humans as being in the ideal place on the Great Chain of Being. At the very center they have the unique capability to move closer to or further from God, therefore giving them individual power over their fate. As the belief in the power of humanity developed, reverence for supernaturalism diminished (Kreis). Individuals were discovering their own abilities and exercising them.

I know that the topic of individualism and social media has been well discussed, but the correlation to the renaissance is too strong to pass over. The printing press gave society the ability to communicate and create a collective conscious. Being able to see the world gives you the ability to see yourself in context. The individualism that stemmed from this revelation has been expanded exponentially with the creation of social media.

Renaissance humanism asserted that “the ideal life was no longer a monastic escape from society, but a full participation in rich and varied human relationships.”  This makes sense that now the possibility for relationships was much greater with the existence of print. Digital platforms have opened the proverbial floodgates on relationships. All limitations of proximity are gone. Social media demands that you display yourself, which forces you to think critically about your identity. Renaissance print culture and modern digital culture “stimulate the cult of humanity, the worship of beauty”(Kreis). The meaning of this statement is abundantly clear if you spend five minutes on Instagram. We are interested in our own power and in our own beauty. I wonder how our modern humanism interacts with the Great Chain of Being. Is our individualism acknowledging God or are we worshiping something else entirely?

Kreis, Steven. "Renaissance Humanism." Lectures on Modern European Intellectual History. The History Guide, 2000. Web. 10 Sept. 2015. <>.

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