History Optional Paper- 2 Solution – 2002: Q.5 (a)

Q.5 (a) “The Renaissance was the discovery of the world and of man.” Comment.


The great achievements of the Renaissance were the discovery of the world and the discovery of man. Under these two formulas may be classified all the phenomena which properly belong to this period.

The Renaissance was the discovery of the world

The discovery of the world can be divided into two parts:

(1) The exploration of the globe

It was an appropriation by civilized humanity of all corners of the habitable world. For example: Columbus diacovered America in 1492; the Portuguese rounded the Cape in 1497.

(2) Systematic exploration of the universe which is what we call science

This meant the conquest by science of all that we now know about the nature of the universe.
For example:  Copernicus explained the solar system in 1507.

The Renaissance was the discovery of man

The historical conditions led to the emancipation of the individual. Man was no longer estimated from the mere viewpoint of his relationship to the Church or to his guild. He now became subject of specialised interest and study. Man found a distinct culture outside the Church with law and ideals of its own. The discovery of ancient literature and art contributed to this end. A practical and theoretical interests in things which is purely human started to develop. Glorification of man was done by Renaissance humanists lionizing the human intellect, arguing that man, as God’s creation, was not debased and degraded, but capable of wonderful things. They began to conceive that the human body is noble in itself and worthy of patient study.