Ideological Lineages from the Renaissance


 Ideational Lineages from the Heterodoxy of the Renaissance

            The ideological incoherency of our times begins in the Renaissance, if not earlier. To illuminate this we begin our inquiry here with an introductory examination of Renaissance belief systems and world views. Our approach combines the perspectives of philosophical anthropology with information ecology and the technology of imagining.



                 Figure RI.   Four Renaissance Contributions to the Ideology of the Anthropocene



Four Renaissance Contributions to the Ideology of the Anthropocene

Text Outline

I.  Marsilio Ficino                                                                                                                                         

II.  Leonardo da Vinci                                                                                                                                 

III. Martin Luther                                                                                                                                        

IV. Giordano Bruno                                                                                                                                    


Renaissance Heterodoxy. The European Renaissance from the 14th to the 17th Century was an age of ideological  discovery in the sense of a revival of art, scholarship, and intellectual exploration under the influence of a recovery of Greek philosophy, theology, and technical knowledge from classical and late antiquity. It was heterodox in the diversity of resulting syncretisms and reformations of public culture and private life. It ultimately contributes to the Anthropocene in its emphasis on the self-serving powers of human spiritual and material purpose. Still largely medieval in conceptual method, traditional medieval politico-religious means of maintaining conformities and harmonies of world view proved unsustainable. It is the beginning, for example, of the modern lack of consensus and competition in definitions of what is Christianity (e.g., what remains if its pagan elements are removed?), what it means to be a Christian in terms of ethical or moral obligations, and what, if anything, is a true path to salvation.

            To suggest the contribution of the Renaissance to the heterodoxy of our world view in the Anthropocene we briefly sketch some of the contributions of four of its iconic figures: Marsilio Ficino (neo-Platonism), Leonardo da Vinci (the machine), Martin Luther (German Christian reformation), and Giordano Bruno (iconoclasm). They ground us in both our desire to control and to ignore the human nature of the modern global ecosystem. Since Ficino's work is less well known to the public-at-large, it is presented in more detail than the others.

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