The Enlightenment Summary.
The enlightenment was not a physical thing but instead a movement of philosophers who rejected ideas of religion and instead promoted science and intellect. When studying the enlightenment one needs to be careful about which sources to use. In the example of Ibn Khaldun (a Muslim philosopher 1332-1406) despite pointing out that ‘man is a child of the customs the things he has become used to. He is not a product of his natural dispositions and temperament’. Khaldun’s religion is to be considered when analyzing his work as it is likely to be heavily influenced by his Islamic beliefs and therefore criticisms of human nature. Despite this, however, Khaldun’s dismissal of the freedom of humans, his ideas reoccurred three centuries later through Jean Jaques Rousseau. Rousseau would be likely to agree with the argument that man is heavily influenced by his surroundings, as illustrated by ‘Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains’. The greatest significance of the enlightenment is the change from the emphasis on ruling governments to move in the cycle of ‘vigorous invention, followed by maturity, degeneration, decline, death and renewal’. One of the key themes is the shift of style from what was coined as ‘Historia magistra vitae’ (history the teacher of life) by Cicero. The effect of this style of governance being that society was unable to move forwards, the phenomenon was best summed up by Jean Bodin when he said ‘while empires age, history remains eternally the same’. The greatest impact of the enlightenment was the breaking of this assumption by ‘formulating the new idea of a new age which no longer seeks to derive its legitimacy from principles derived from the past, but rather offers its own self-justification’. This change in perspective thus allowed governments and countries to move into the future instead of dwelling on the past and how they could emulate what had already happened. The work of physicists such as Galileo,...
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