The Age Of The Enlightment Analysis

1278 words - 5 pages

The age of the Enlightenment was a cultural movement of scholars beginning in late 17th and 18th century, Europe highlighting reason and individualism rather than tradition. The two essential characteristics of the philosophy of the Enlightenment are, “faith in the European reason and human rationality to reject the tradition and the pre-established institutions and thoughts and search for the practical, useful knowledge as the power to control nature” (The Philosophies of the Enlightenment). While the ideas of the Enlightenment spread, “throughout Europe and North America, France was the true heart of the movement” (Sherman and Salisbury 465). In France, the chief social setting for this intellectual culture was salon meetings hosted by women of upper class Parisian families. In these meetings debates upon rightful authority, absolute and constitutional government, Deism versus Deists, the test of truth, and the nature and fundamental rights of humanity along with other ideas were discussed.
Although enlightened, not all shared the same view on every debate. Rightful authority, for example, can either be explained as reason or divinity. When defending reason, Deism comes into play which is the belief that the existence of God can only be, “proved based on the application of reason and the world can be discovered through observation, experience and reasoning” (Deism).The idea of Deism was influenced by Isaac Newton’s description of the universe as “ordered, mechanical, material, and set into motion by God” which concluded that “reason and nature were compatible... therefore, what was natural was also reasonable” (Sherman and Salisbury 463). Deism was also influenced by John Locke’s belief that that reason should be the ultimate judge of all truth. On the other hand, revealed religions such as Buddhism, Catholicism, Trinitarian Christianity, and Judaism believe in supernatural intervention of God in the world and support the idea of divinity as the rightful authority. However, during the 18th century, “geological discoveries suggested that life on Earth had actually begun earlier than biblical accounts claimed” further adding to the idea of reason as the rightful authority (Sherman and Salisbury 464).
Another idea heavily debated upon was absolute government versus constitutional government. An absolute monarchy means that the “monarch holds the supreme or absolute powers,” while a constitutional monarchy is where the “head of state is hereditary or elected monarch” (Difference Between Absolute Monarchy and Constitutional Monarchy). In an absolute monarchy, the king or queen rules without the interference of any type of government other than their own. The kings or queens of an absolute monarchy can also be known as a dictator, which has never truly worked out before. The idea of constitutional monarchy began to spread and was initiated when monarchs began abusing their power as rulers. This happened because monarchs believed they were God...

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