Why is the Enlightenment a Significant Event?
The Enlightenment (or ‘Age of Reason’) is a term used to describe the philosophical, scientific, and rational attitudes, the freedom from superstition, and the belief in religious tolerance of much of 18th-century Europe. People believe the start of the Enlightenment period was between 16th and 19th century. However, cultural historians date the beginning of the enlightenment to the work of Newton, Pascal, Descartes and Locke. These thinkers however are drawing on predecessors that date well back to the 13th century. We can’t, then really date the enlightenment. Do we still not live in an enlightenment world? While philosophers and cultural historians have dubbed the late 20th century as, post Enlightenment , we still walk around with a worldview largely based on, Enlightenment thought. So in the spirit of not dating the Enlightenment, simply refer to the changes, in European thought in the seventeenth century as “Seventeenth Century Enlightenment Thought.” Although there were many philosopher and scientists engaged in the enlightenment period bringing new ways of thinking there are only a few that kick open the doors of this way of thinking. Decartes 1597-1650. He changed the way of thinking though the enlightenment period he replaced all other forms of knowledge with a single echoing Which may be the truth: Cogito, ergo sum, “I think there for I am”. From that point onwards in European culture, subjective truth would hold a higher and more important epistemological place then objective truth; skepticism would be built into every inquiry. The main figures of the enlightenment are well known: Descartes, Pascal, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau. Zinzendorf, Wesley, Vico, and Hume.
During the first half of the 18th century, the leaders of the Enlightenment waged an uphill struggle against considerable odds. Several were imprisoned for their writings, and government censorship and attacks by the Church hampered most. In many respects, however, the later decades of the century marked a triumph of the movement in Europe and America. French enlightenment philosophers visited England, which was more liberal then, their home country. They were intrigued and inspired by British philosophers such as Newton, Locke, Bacon, Hume and Smith. By the 1770s, second-generation philosophers were receiving government pensions and taking control of established intellectual academies. The enormous increase in the publication of newspapers and books ensured a wide diffusion of their ideas. Scientific experiments and philosophical writing became fashionable among wide groups in society, including members of the nobility and the clergy. A number of European monarchs also adopted certain of the ideas or at least the vocabulary of the Enlightenment. James the 1st 1603, William of orange 1688
Rationalism (Latin ratio, reason ), in philosophy, a system of thought that emphasizes the role of reason in obtaining knowledge, in contrast to empiricism, which emphasizes the role of experience, especially sense perception. Rationalism has appeared in some form in nearly every stage of Western philosophy, but it is primarily identified with the tradition stemming from the 17th-century French philosopher and scientist Ren Descartes. Descartes believed that geometry represented the ideal for all sciences and philosophy. He held that by means of reason alone, certain universal, self-evident truths could be discovered, from which the remaining content of philosophy and the sciences could be deductively derived. He assumed that these self-evident truths were innate, not derived from sense experience. This type of rationalism was developed by other European philosophers, such as the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza and the German philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. It was opposed, however, by British philosophers of the empiricist tradition, such as John Locke, who believed that all ideas are derived from the senses. Epistemological rationalism has been applied to other fields of philosophical inquiry. Rationalism in ethics is the claim that certain primary moral ideas are innate in humankind and that such first moral principles are self-evident to the rational faculty. Rationalism in the philosophy of religion is the claim that the fundamental principles of religion are innate or self-evident and that revelation is not necessary. Since the end of the 1800s, however, rationalism has played chiefly an antireligious role in theology.
Education had to be one of the most exciting undertaken of all, during the enlightenment period. For the philosopher at that time wanted to enlightenment the masses, or to educate were better to start was with children. The philosopher believed it was there duty to lay the foundation, for morals, religion, and ethics. This would be the start of a new era and a better society. By 1750, the reading public came into existence because of increasing literacy. Yet, the philosopher lived a precarious life. They never knew whether they would be imprisoned or courted. They assumed the air of an army on the march. Within this, period 1751–1772 the Encyclopedia was published and it contain an exciting information of knowledge in twenty-eight volumes
In this period of enlightenment philosopher believed that widespread reason and knowledge would pave the way for humanity would make great progress, and for a couple decade it was widely accepted in Western Europe. Not everybody believes that every development is good. Developments did not happen in just in education and progress, but in other setting as in Industrial revolution turned amongst other happening in the world to move society from a stagnant feudalism to a rapid change in to capitalism which was approximately in 1761 around the time the steam engine was developed which was encapsulated by the factory system of production. All human life, both social and individual, can be understood in the same way. As the natural world can be understood; once understood, Human life, both social and individual, can be manipulated or engineered in the same way. The natural world can be manipulated or engineered. Some philosophers believe in the Catchphrase backs to nature were other cultural were healthier and happier then European, because of being civilized.
Natural religion is the assumption that man is guided by the dictates of reason. Mind is the scene of the play of motive. The motives of man are quantitatively and qualitatively the same at all times and in all places. An empirical study of the nature of man, said Hume, reveals not an identical set of motives but a confusion of impulses, not an orderly cosmos but chaos. The basic passion, hopes and fears are the root of religious experience. Religions may be socially convenient but being rooted in sentiment, they lack the validity of scientific generalization. A rational religion is a contradiction in terms. Hume here comes close to demolishing the entire rationalist philosophy of the Enlightenment–its natural rights, its self-evident truths and its universal and immutable laws of morality. English deism, however, was more pervasive in the Enlightenment. It emphasized an impersonal deity, natural religion and the common morality of all human beings. Deism was a logical outgrowth of scientific inquiry, rational faith in humanity, and the study of comparative religion. All religions could be reduced to worship God and a commonsense moral code. The Enlightenment and the French revolution were about the rights of the common man.
The philosophers did not discover natural rights, but they made it the foundation of the ethical and social gospel. They introduced natural rights into practical politics. They gave natural rights the dynamic force which revealed its explosive energy in the French Revolution. Nevertheless, their argument moved steadily away from metaphysics toward empiricism–away from reason toward experience. The enlightenment in clear language sets the principles of equality and individual liberty. ‘Men are born and remain free and equal in rights, no body of men, no individual, can exercise authority which does not issue expressly from the will of the nation. This was fine if you were a man, but not if you were a woman or a slave. Civil and fiscal equality, freedom from arbitrary arrest, freedom of speech and the press, and the rights of private property were affirmed. Later the Revolution denied many of these rights, but the declaration ensured an initial welcome for the French Revolutionary armies in many European countries and was the charter of European liberals for the next half-century
Liberty of the person, security of property and freedom of discussion were less rooted in abstract reason than in common-sense views of fundamental human needs, impulses and inclinations. In spite of the utopianism of not insurrectionary or bloodthirsty. Only in society could man realise Rousseau, the rest had a sense of reality. Reason is still primary, but it is his full potential. They believed in the social function of knowledge. Except for Rousseau, none of the philosophers agitated for a radical transformation of society. All of them, like Voltaire, defended enlightened absolutism. Montesquieu published his Spirit of the Laws in 1748. He expressed here real hatred of despotism, clericalism and slavery. During this time rights were not for everybody as they are now but from this moment in time
The Age of Enlightenment is usually said to have ended with the French Revolution of 1789. Indeed, some see the social and political ferment of this period as being responsible for the Revolution. While embodying many of the ideals of the philosopher, the Revolution in its more violent stages (1792-94) served to discredit these ideals temporarily in the eyes of many European contemporaries. Yet, the Enlightenment left a lasting heritage for the 19th and 20th centuries. It marked an important stage in the decline of the church and the growth of modern secularism. It served as the model for political and economic liberalism and for humanitarian reform throughout the 19th-century Western world. It was the watershed for the pervasive belief. In the possibility and the necessity of progress, that survived, if only in attenuated form, into the 20th century.
It was an intellectual movement in thinking, which moved society’s thinking away from religious thinking, dominated by the church, to rational thought dominated by science.