Enlightenment Essay

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Ideas concerining religion, the value of a man, and reason were synthesized into a worldview that gained wide assent during the Enlightenment. It fueled revolutionary developments in art, politics, and philosophy. Reason was celebrated as a power by which man understood the universe and his own condition. The idea of a rational world boasted freedom, knowledge, and happiness. The Enlightenment, moved by government support, expressed renewed interest in , the power of government, reason, and the potential of equality.

The Enlightenment like many historic movements, didn't happen in a day. The potential of a movement is that it is ever changing. Catherine the Great was overall viewed as an enlighened monarch as she modernized Russia. Catherine the Great created reforms that increased Russia's wealth, used scientific method in agriculture, inoculated small pox, and territorial expansion.Yet she did nothing to abolish or even lessen serfdom in Russia. While she was an enlightened monarch she would not have her imperial administration challenged and strongly opposed the Pugachev Revolt of 1774, Catherine stated "...all persons who dare incite serfs and peasants to disobey their landworlds shall be arrested and taken to the nearest government office, there to be punished forthwith as disturbers of the public tranquility" (Document 3) For all intents and purposes, Catherine the Great believed that futilism was ingrained in society and was prominent until the Russian Revolution . Diderot, a French Philosopher and writer of Encyclopedia, had the support and patronage of Catherine the Great. In Encyclopedia, Diderot proprose that goverment be a reflection of the will of the people, "The good of the people is the great will of the government" yet also be limited by a constituion, or supreme governing document which reflect natural law and law of reason to protect liberty. This belief was reflected in both the American Revolution and the French Revolution. To deny someone liberty is to deny someone life and to deny someone life is to deny them liberty.

Reason became the way of the world. Pushed from it's pedastal fell fate and religion that had previously been the underlying cause for life, the universe, and everything. Yet a new empirilistic ideaology emerged with an army of followers. One of which, Baron d'Hollbach, an atheists, accredits a lack of advancement to the dependence on religion stating "How could the human mind make any considerable progress, while tormented with frightful phantoms," How could any improvement be made when everyone was ruled by fear. The fear of damnation was tyrannial and time consuming.Isaacc Newton found a balance between religion and reason and while he was greatly religious he never let that interfere with his scientific reasoning. With the wide assent of reason came understanding, for the first time other ideas were being accepted. A fond believer of logic believes in natural and divine in explaining phenomemna, Descartes stated "....those who held opinion contray to ours were neither barbarians nor savages, but that any of the, were at least reasonable as ourselves" When presented with new evidence any conclusion is possible. Another theory casting away the idea of predisposition is brought to the public by John Locke, a scottish philospher. John Locke hypothesizes that all men are born with a blank slate, meaning everyone is born with the same potential it is society and education who shape him. "...good or evil, useful or not, by their educationn. Tis' that which makes the great difference in mankind." Descartes,Newton,Locke, and Holbach brought forth new ideas that fueled advancements in society.

Last but not least, equality was a subject that was merely tiptoed around prior to the Enlightenment. Religious tolerance was discussed sparingly but subjects such as women's rights, slavery, and the rights of criminals were admantly avoided. Mary Wollstonecraft, a British philosopher and...
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