The Enlightenment

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Information about The Enlightenment

Published on January 12, 2009

Author: grlucas



A short overview of some Enlightenment ideas.

The Enlightenment Dr. Gerald Lucas

Age of Reason Saw humans between passion and reason Emphasized the powers of the mind Aspired toward correctness and moderation Questioned humanity’s “fallen nature” Questioned class system, kings’ divine right Began social and religious revolutions

“I think, therefore I am.” —Descartes

Order of Natural law beyond the human mind — Newton

Deism Watchmaker God Depersonalized God Logical universe Separated religion and ethics Great chain of being Microcosm

“He that thinks reasonably, must think morally.” -Samuel Johnson

Reason Could illuminate humanity Leads humanity to eternal truths Suggests new solutions to old problems Can be conquered by passion

New Uncertainties God moved further away Religious difference translated to class Humans are passionate, too Gap between the ideal and the actual Political instability, revolution

The Debate Ancients v. Moderns Faith v. Reason Universality of Truth v. Exploration Male superiority v. Broad education for women Divine right of kings v. Individual autonomy Look to the past v. Shoulders of giants

Appearance v. Reality

Literature Already established, like manners Provides continuity between the past & present Suggests morality - how to live Did not pursue realism Artifice to emphasize & obscure

Art Makes Stability Classics provides models Aligns with tradition Satire lends moral weight to present Calls attention to the irrational

Modern Influence A stable, coherent, reasonable self Objective, reliable, and universal foundation of knowledge Reason used rightly produces True knowledge Reason, autonomy, freedom and interconnected Knowledge can be neutral & socially beneficial Science is a paradigm for true knowledge Language is in some sense transparent

I am a little world made cunningly Of elements, and an angelic sprite; But black sin hath betrayed to endless night My worlds both parts, and (oh!) both parts must die. You which beyond that heaven which was most high Have found new spheres, and of new lands can write, Pour new seas in mine eyes, that so I might Drown my world with my weeping earnestly, Or wash it if it must be drowned no more: But oh it must be burnt! alas the fire Of lust and envy have burnt it heretofore, And made it fouler: Let their flames retire, And burn me, O Lord, with a fiery zeal Of Thee and Thy house, which doth in eating heal. —John Donne, Holy Sonnet V (1635)

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