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The Enlightenment Essay, Research Paper

The Enlightenment is a name given by historiographers to an rational motion that was predominant in the Western universe during the eighteenth century. Strongly influenced by the rise of modern scientific discipline and by the wake of the long spiritual struggle that followed the Reformation, the minds of the Enlightenment ( called philosophes in France ) were committed to secular positions based on ground or homo understanding merely, which they hoped would supply a footing for good alterations impacting every country of life and idea.

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The more utmost and extremist philosophes-Denis Diderot, Claude Adrien Helvetius, Baron d & # 8217 ; Holbach, the Marquis de Condorcet, and Julien Offroy de La Mettrie ( 1709-51 ) & # 8211 ; advocated a philosophical rationalism deducing its methods from scientific discipline and natural doctrine that would replace faith as the agencies of cognizing nature and fate of humanity ; these work forces were materialists, pantheists, or atheists. Other enlightened minds, such as Pierre Bayle, Voltaire, David Hume, Jean Le Rond D & # 8217 ; alembert, and Immanuel Kant, opposed fanatism, but were either agnostic or left room for some sort of spiritual religion.

All of the philosophes saw themselves as go oning the work of the great seventeenth century pioneers-Francis Bacon, Galileo, Descartes, Leibnitz, Isaac Newton, and John Locke-who had developed fruitful methods of rational and empirical enquiry and had demonstrated the possibility of a universe remade by the application of cognition for human benefit. The philosophes believed that scientific discipline could uncover nature as it truly is and demo how it could be controlled and manipulated. This belief provided an inducement to widen scientific methods into every field of enquiry, therefore puting the basis for the development of the modern societal scientific disciplines.

The enlightened apprehension of human nature was one that emphasized the right to self-expression and human fulfilment, the right to believe freely and show one & # 8217 ; s positions publically without censoring or fright of repression. Voltaire admired the freedom he found in England and fostered the spread of English thoughts on the Continent. He and his followings opposed the intolerance of the established Christian churches of their twenty-four hours, every bit good as the European authoritiess that controlled and suppressed dissenting sentiments. For illustration, the societal disease which Pangloss caught from Paquette was traced to a & # 8220 ; really learned Franciscan & # 8221 ; and subsequently to a Jesuit. Besides, Candide reminisces that his passion for Cunegonde foremost developed at a Mass. More conservative enlightened minds, concerned chiefly with efficiency and administrative order, favored the & # 8220 ; enlightened absolutism & # 8221 ; of such sovereigns as Emperor Joseph II, Frederick II of Prussia, and Catherine II of Russia.

Enlightened political idea expressed demands for equality and justness and for the legal alterations needed to recognize these ends. Set Forth by Baron de Montesquieu, the alterations were more boldly ur

ged by the subscribers to the great Encyclopedie edited in Paris by Diderot between 1747 and 1772, by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Cesare Beccaria, and eventually by Jeremy Bentham, whose utilitarianism was the apogee of a long argument on felicity and the agencies of accomplishing it.

The political authors of the Enlightenment built on and extended the rationalistic, republican, and natural-law theories that had been evolved in the old century as the bases of jurisprudence, societal peace, and merely order. As they did so, they besides elaborated fresh philosophies of popular sovereignty that the nineteenth century would transform into a sort of patriotism that contradicted the individualistic mentality of the philosophes. Among those who were of import in this development were historiographers such as Voltaire, Hume, William Robertson, Edward Gibbon, and Giambattista Vico. Their work showed that although all peoples shared a common human nature, each state and every age besides had typical features that made it alone. These paradoxes were explored by early romantics such as Johann Georg Hamman and Johann Gottfried von Herder.

Everywhere the Enlightenment produced ungratified work forces impatient for alteration but frustrated by popular ignorance and official repression. This gave the enlightened literati an involvement in popular instruction. They promoted educational ventures and sought in witty, amusing, and even tickling ways to educate and rouse their coevalss. The narratives of Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle or Benjamin Franklin, the widely imitated essays of Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, and many lexicons, enchiridions, and encyclopedias produced by the enlightened were written to popularise, simplify, and advance a more sensible position of life among the people of their clip.

The Enlightenment came to an terminal in western Europe after the turbulences of the Gallic Revolution and the Napoleonic epoch ( 1789-1815 ) revealed the costs of its political plan and the deficiency of committedness in those whose rhetoric was frequently more broad than their actions. Nationalism undercut its cosmopolite values and premises about human nature, and the romantics attacked its belief that clear apprehensible replies could be found to every inquiry asked by people who sought to be free and happy. The incredulity of the philosophes was swept off in the spiritual resurgence of the 1790s and early 1800s, and the cultural leading of the landed nobility and professional work forces who had supported the Enlightenment was eroded by the growing of a new wealthy educated category of business communities, merchandises of the industrial revolution. Merely in North and South America, where industry came subsequently and revolution had non led to reaction, did the Enlightenment linger into the nineteenth century. Its permanent heritage has been its part to the literature of human freedom and some establishments in which its values have been embodied. Included in the latter are many aspects of modern authorities, instruction, and philanthropic gift.

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