Michael Flynn recently posted about the Myth of the Renaissance. He links to James Franklin, whom I have also quoted on this subject before. In Europe, essentially nothing of note occurred in any field outside of art during the Renaissance. As Flynn and Franklin point out, this was the period of the Black Death. Franklin also points out that there was a peculiar death of mind related to a recrudescence of alchemical thinking that focused on signs. Everyone thought about what things were like instead of thinking about things in themselves.
In the philosophical world, part of this can be traced to the influence of nominalism on philosophy, which regarded words precisely as signs, and moved away from the realism of Aquinas. Who says philosophy never affected anyone?