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Birth of the Modern Age - Essay Example

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This paper is an attempt to answer the question as to whether "the period [in human history marked by the years] 1400 to 1600 represents the birth of the modern age" by looking at the writings of twenty people who lived during or shortly before or after the two hundred and one years under investigation.
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Birth of the Modern Age
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Download file to see previous pages Our reasoning is simple, a bit nave perhaps, but just and sensible: we need to establish continuity between the past and the present.
First, we assume that the so-called modern age in human history came sometime after the period we are investigating. This allows us to set aside, at least for the moment, the disagreements among historians and other experts as to the exact dates on when the modern age began and whether we are still in or beyond it.
Second, we also assume that the writers whose works we are to analyze to answer our question really existed, and that their accounts represent a true image of reality as they perceived it. Some may have used literary tools to paint a subtle imagery of the times in which they lived, but our knowing the trick allows us to look beyond the images and into the underlying reality of their 15th-16th century world.
Third, our knowledge and observations of what historians call the modern age allow us to identify distinguishing characteristics that mark a transition from the old or ancient world to the new or modern one: the way humans performed their activities of learning, earning, governing, and looking at the world around them.
These so-called modern ways - the scientific method of learning, the transition from feudalism to the rule of law, democratic government and free market economics, and a widening focus from the local and regional to the international and the universal world - are facets of the human character and culture that we witness in ourselves now and that we see as taking root in the hearts and souls of the writers whose written works we are to analyze.
If we can pin down these modern developments as having their definite origins only to the period 1400 to 1600, our task would have been easier. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, a study of written works before and after 1400 is beyond the scope of this paper.
Given these assumptions and limitations, how can this writer establish continuity between past chronicles and our observations of the modern world How can we conclude that the period 1400-1600 represents the birth of the modern age
This last intellectual stumbling block was overcome when the writer had to decide which of the several works in the collection to include in this paper, taking into account this writer's personal biases and assumptions. The solution was simple: choose on the basis of a positive, optimistic, and hopeful image of the world, both in the present and in the future. Having taken this crucial step, the writer became "one" with each of the twenty historical figures whose selections were chosen, observing the world through their eyes and with the same positive attitude.
This is how the writer established continuity between the present and the past, and the intellect having been duly satisfied dispatches itself vigorously to the task at hand.
Marks of the Modern Age
The modern age marked a revolution in human thought, a new outlook towards wealth, work, and money, the governance of peoples, and a more universal view of life and the world. As we assumed, this modern age happened sometime after the year 1600, the 17th century, so we question ourselves if it had its birth in the two centuries that preceded it.
Before we dive into the world as it was in the 15th and 16th centuries, let us summarize what we know of the 14th century (the years 1300-1399). It was a period that saw millions of people die from famine and the plague, and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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