The Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an era or movement in the 17th and 18th centuries by European intellectuals. The movement emphasized on the need for reason instead of tradition. It should be noted that the movement did not seek to abolish traditions or the beliefs of the people during those times, but mainly advocated for reason as an approach to ideas. The main emphasis of the age of enlightenment was to create a reformation in society through reasoning. It proposed that the best way to challenge ideas was reason.
The Age of Enlightenment was more of a revolutionary approach to human thought and spread quickly across the United States and the entire Europe. It advocated for scientific thought and intellectual approach to ideas. According to those who were supportive of this movement, people were required to questing superstitions and even faith with reason in order to advance their knowledge. This new way of thinking suggested that rational thought should begin with principles that are clearly stated, and involve the use of logic in arriving at conclusions.
Enlightenment as others refer to this concept, also proposed that despite the ways through which conclusions are arrived at, they have to be tested against evidence before making a final point. In case evidence was available, the principles that had been earlier on put in place had to be revised. However, it should be noted that enlightenment was not a single school of thought. The philosophies were in most occasions contradictory and called for thorough reasoning. They were more of values as opposed to ideas.
The Age of Enlightenment mainly centered its arguments on the use of reason in understanding ourselves and the environment. During this time, man’s main goals in life were happiness, freedom and knowledge that many thought could best be achieved through rationally questioning almost everything. As a result of this, there are quite a number of developments that were achieved in politics, arts and philosophy.
The origin of the Age of Enlightenment can be traced back to late 17th century. There are quite a number of philosophers who have been linked to the movement including Francis Bacon, Baruch Spinoza, Pierre Bayle, John Locke, Rene Descartes, and Immanuel Kant among others. In trying to define enlightenment, one of the philosophers, Immanuel Kant proposed a motto for it in one of his essays titled, ‘’what is Enlightenment?’’ His motto was, ‘’Dare to Know! Have courage to use your own reason.’’
The Age of Enlightenment culminated into the renowned French Revolution of 1789. The main vision during that time was the remaking of the society through rational thinking. The revolution developed into a bloody war that saw the rise of Napoleon just a decade later. However, it did not kill the spirit of enlightenment since even to date, the ideas of enlightenment still have significant influence on our political ideologies, cultural practices and governments at large.
Some of the notable influences of political enlightenment ideals include the US Bill of Rights, American Declaration of Independence, and Declaration of the Rights of Man and the citizen in France among others.
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