Top Renaissance Philosophy Quotes

The philosophical sentences that I present mainly refer to some great Renaissance philosophers (except for Kant). The new Humanistic-Renaissance civilization promoted freedom of research and the investigation of human nature. As the Church’s influence declined, the spirit of relativity free enquiry led to some starling discoveries in the sciences, first among which was the discovery by Copernicus that the Earth and the other planets orbited around the sun. This overturned the medieval religious view of the Cosmos based on the theory of Ptolemy that the earth, being the centrepiece of God’s creation, was the fixed centre of the universe. The Renaissance philosophers wrote primarily in Latin.

Bellum omnium contra omnes

[Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)]. What does this sentence means? It literally means: “the war with everyone against everyone”. It corresponds, according to Hobbes, to the original state of nature, when a single individual was at war with all the other men.

Cognoscere est esse

[Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639)]. This sentence literally mens “To know is to be”. It is the formula that dominates the whole gnosiology of Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639), according to whom we know what we have become through the sensation.

Idola tribus

This literally “The idols of the tribe” (Francis Bacon (1561-1626). According to Francis Bacon the idols of the tribe are the prejudices common to all men, because they thrust down their roots into human nature. For example, a common prejudice is the tendency to believe that we are superior above the animals.

This famous sentence of the French philosopher René Descartres (1596-1650) means “I think, therefore I am”. This is the original and fundamental formula of the Cartesian philosophy: I exist like pure thought and the doubt (as it is a thought) coincides with my existence.

Ordo et connexio idearum idem est ac ordo et connexion rerum

[= The order and connection of the thought is identical to with the order and connection of the things]. This sentence of Benedict Spinoza (1632-1677) is the formula according to which the order of our ideas coincides with the order of the bodies; in alter words, our thoughts correspond perfectly to the external things.

Nihil est in intellectu quod prius non fuerit in sensu nisi ipse intellectus

[=Nothing can be in our thoughts that does not come from our senses].This is the formula that summarizes the epistemology of William Leibniz (1646-1716): apparently our senses put us in contact with the outside world, but in reality each “monad” (and therefore also ourselves) carries a virtual state representation of the universe. According to Leibniz, the so-called “monads” are simple substances, which make both the spiritual and the material world.

Tabula rasa

[=Clean Slate]. This famous sentence of John Locke (1632-1704) means that our intellect, before the first experience with the outside world, is absolutely devoid of any idea. The intellect is like a wax tablet to write on which anything has not been written. Therefore, it is only a “tabula rasa” before the First experience with the outside world.

“Copernican Revolution”

The “Copernican Revolution” is the revolution carried out by Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) in the world of philosophy. As Copernicus removed the Earth from its position of geometrical pre-eminence, Kant promoted “his” revolution. In fact, Kant considered the subject (the man) as the “regulator” of the outside world, “overturning” the traditional philosophy, according to which the subject-man “reflected” passively (like a mirror) the outside world, without any possibility of change it.