The Age of Reason

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Chris Bell
Professor Butynskyi
Age of Reason
12-12-12
The Goal of the Enlightenment: Reason as the official source of authority.

The Age of Reason (Enlightenment) was an era when reform of the way people thought happen, it was a time when simply relying on religion or superstition for answers stopped. All across Europe, Philosophers during this time put forth effort into finding out the nature of man and the world around him through logic and science, instead of traditional values that the church taught. The Enlightenment of the 18th century was man’s coming to age; it was when man finally began to think and to remove oneself from ignorance and an unintelligent state. Man was no longer content with royalty and the church telling them what to think and how to think. The philosophers of the day, although very different from each other all wanted to find out for themselves the purpose of man and why things were the way they are. Questions and skepticism of everything gave birth to modern and creative thinking, modern science, and philosophy over theology. Man was finally removing his self from the middle Ages where superstition and the fear of the un known ran wild. Also during the middle ages, the church greatly abused its power and the results of its religious intolerance had caused the lives of many thousands of people. This abuse of life made the philosophers of the Enlightenment age criticize the church and the powers of the day, also, it made them look down upon the general great masses that did nothing to educate themselves and who were contend to live without knowledge. If an idea could not stand up to reason then it was not an intelligent idea and therefore could not be legitimate. Religion began to take a back seat for the first time in history because the church was viewed as having caused many of the problems that the philosophers were attempting to solve. The philosophers (mainly in France) attacked the church and all of its traditions. Most of them believed that organized religion put fear into the masses in order to control them and to gain money. The Philosophers throughout the Enlightenment looked down on the common people who they referred to as the masses. They looked down on the masses because of the growing laziness that the masses displayed. There was no desire for knowledge like the philosophers had and there was also no questioning from the masses to those that were in power. Having questions is what started the Enlightenment; the intellectuals in the salons and bars were questioning the church and those who were in power. They felt that change was needed in order to begin to discover the answers for the many questions they had. The masses were too busy killing each other over religion which, to the philosophers this is man’s right. Elitism and the rise of the bourgeoisie was the philosopher’s greatest fear. The growing middle class represented everything that the philosophers wanted to end. The middle class and the elite were only concern with being comfortable and having the easiest life possible. Living life in complete ignorance was becoming the normal thing to do; it was clear that the majority of people would rather be rich yet ignorant than be poor and filled with knowledge about the world and man. What mattered to them was what people could see, material things took the place of what was important, knowledge. This is where taste can vary between groups of people. To the Philosophers, one can only have good taste if they are intelligent, to the social middle class and elite, good taste was what you bought, listen to, and what kind of clothes you wear. Taste became the basis that the elite and middle class people judged each other with. The rejection or acceptance of one’s taste became very important because the majority of people are judged because of what taste they have. The judging of taste has become or translated to people being judged for what they like and why they like it....
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