Darwin and Freud's Opposition to Enlightenment Thought

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Ch 24 Ty Underwood

Both Charles Darwin and Sigmund Freud were characterized for challenging previous Enlightenment thinking, through their theories of evolution, explanation of rationalization and new perspectives of scientific thought. Both men brought revolutionary and highly controversial new ideas to the forefront of Europe’s educated minds. Darwin and Freud became famous from then all the way up to modern day with their ideas that essentially exactly opposed the popular thought from Enlightenment assumptions about human behavior and the role of reason.

The ideas of the Enlightenment were simple and succinct. Enlightened thinkers had no capacity to understand the concept of evolution. This is so because of how they believed that divine power created the world and its species, humans included. They believed humans transcended animals and were infinitely more unique and different from animals in every way. They believed human thought was constant, unique, and special as opposed to animals, and reason was the path to truth in all possible ways. There are ideas opposed by Darwin, others opposed by Freud, and others still which are opposed by both.

Darwin countered almost everything that the Enlightenment had to say about humans and animals. Darwin introduced the idea of Evolution: that humans as well as all other animals were descendants of other species who changed over a very long period of time to become what they are today. This idea basically completely destroyed everything that the church wished the world to believe, because the church’s ideas of the origin of the world made the world only about 6,000 years old. Darwin’s ideas painted the world at over many millions of years old. Darwin also stated that animals are no less than humans because humans were just simply animals with a higher intellectual capacity. These along with natural selection which was the idea that the weak die off while the strong reproduce the...
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