Premodernity  

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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli
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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli

In a historical context, Premodernity is the period in Western civilization that came after Ancient history and before Modernity, which is usually recognized to have begun in the mid-1400s, marked by the invention of the printing press and the introduction of movable type in Europe. Premodernity is thought to have begun about 500; thus it spans almost 1000 years. As such it runs parallel to the Middle Ages.

Premodern worldview

In the premodern era, truth was derived from authority (usually a god or gods), and was received through spiritual intermediaries in the form of religious officials. The common person did not have access to the divine except through the intermediaries, who often held positions of power. Tradition was seen as unshakable and sacred. The state of things was generally seen as unchanging, and the social order was strictly enforced. People had very little means to make sense of the world around them, and so they explained the world they lived in largely through myth; thus the unknown became known, in a sense.

The end of premodernity

Western civilization made a gradual transition from premodernity to modernity when scientific methods were developed which led many to believe that the use of science would lead to all knowledge, thus throwing back the shroud of myth under which premoderns lived. Truth was seen as discoverable by empirical observation, and it was believed that eventually all the world's problems would be solved by applying the appropriate tools to the issues.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Premodernity" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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