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The term renaissance man refers to those great thinkers throughout history whose advancements in a multitude of areas have helped shape modern humanity. Their contributions in such disciplines as the arts, literature, engineering, mathematics, philosophy, theology, and other subjects that propelled the value of man are unrivaled and can be seen throughout modern society. In order to understand why the Renaissance period became linked to people of such distinction, we must first look at the world up to and then during that period, as well as the specific people of that time and their many contributions to our world.

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1. The World Before the Renaissance

Following the developments of history that allowed for the establishment of societies, mankind was able to pursue more academic ventures. No longer concerned with meeting basic needs, people could instead direct their energies to academics and arts. This spurred a period of creativity known as the Classical era, from which some of history’s foremost scholars emerged. Intellectuals during the Classical era, such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, touted the belief that man could reach his fullest potential by learning as much as he could about the world around him. The Classical era lasted until the fall of the Roman Empire in the 6th century A.D. At that time, the pursuits of the Classical era thinkers diminished and the period that followed was one of great turmoil, war, and political and societal shifts. That period was known as the Middle Ages and ended when the Renaissance began.

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