The Enlightenment and its opposite in America today How polarized America in looks remarkably similar to a new nation just beginning to take root in the 18th century. October 22, A Philosopher giving a Lecture on the Orrery by Joseph Wright of Derby Variations on the idea that America is deeply and evenly divided have been the dominant interpretations of politics since the s. Before that, it was understood that Americans were divided, but not deeply, in many ways — by race, region, religion, class, ancestry, gender and party. Describing the country as fundamentally split along one particular axis would have seemed simplistic and overheated.
References and Further Reading 1. Enlightenment Age Thinking The pre- and post-revolutionary era in American history generated propitious conditions for Enlightenment thought to thrive on an order comparable to that witnessed in the European Enlightenments.
In the post-revolutionary years, a whole generation of American thinkers would found a new system of government on liberal and republican principles, articulating their enduring ideas in documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers and the United States Constitution.
Although distinctive features arose in the eighteenth-century American context, much of the American Enlightenment was continuous with parallel experiences in British and French society. Four themes recur in both European and American Enlightenment texts: Many Enlightenment thinkers—especially the French philosophes, such as Voltaire, Rousseau and Diderot—subscribed to some form of skepticism, doubting appeals to miraculous, transcendent and supernatural forces that potentially limit the scope of individual choice and reason.
Moderate and Radical Besides identifying dominant themes running throughout the Enlightenment period, some historians, such as Henry May and Jonathan Israel, understand Enlightenment thought as divisible into two broad categories, each reflecting the content and intensity of ideas prevalent at the time.
The moderate Enlightenment signifies commitments to economic liberalism, religious toleration and constitutional politics. In contrast to its moderate incarnation, the radical Enlightenment conceives enlightened thought through the prism of revolutionary rhetoric and classical Republicanism.
Influenced as it was by the British and French, American Enlightenment thought integrates both moderate and radical elements. Chronology American Enlightenment thought can also be appreciated chronologically, or in terms of three temporal stages in the development of Enlightenment Age thinking.
The middle stage extends from to just a few years after the start of the American Revolution in It is characterized by an exploding fascination with science, religious revivalism and experimental forms of government, especially in the United States. However, American Enlightenment thinkers were not always of a single mind with their European counterparts.
For instance, several American Enlightenment thinkers—particularly James Madison and John Adams, though not Benjamin Franklin—judged the French philosophes to be morally degenerate intellectuals of the era.
John Adams and James Madison perpetuated the elitist and anti-democratic idea that to invest too much political power in the hands of uneducated and property-less people was to put society at constant risk of social and political upheaval.
In the Two Treatises on Government andLocke argued against the divine right of kings and in favor of government grounded on the consent of the governed; so long as people would have agreed to hand over some of their liberties enjoyed in a pre-political society or state of nature in exchange for the protection of basic rights to life, liberty and property.
However, if the state reneged on the social contract by failing to protect those natural rights, then the people had a right to revolt and form a new government.
Perhaps more of a democrat than Locke, Rousseau insisted in The Social Contract that citizens have a right of self-government, choosing the rules by which they live and the judges who shall enforce those rules.
Many of these were shared with European Enlightenment thinkers, but in some instances took a uniquely American form. Deism European Enlightenment thinkers conceived tradition, custom and prejudice Vorurteil as barriers to gaining true knowledge of the universal laws of nature.
Deists appreciated God as a reasonable Deity.
A reasonable God endowed humans with rationality in order that they might discover the moral instructions of the universe in the natural law.The American Enlightenment was a time of great changes in literature in the American colonies. It was a period of rejecting many Puritanical ideals that limited social commentary, and instead caninariojana.com Newton’s calculus and optical theories provided the powerful Enlightenment metaphors for precisely measured change and illumination.
There was no single, unified Enlightenment. Instead, it is possible to speak of the French Enlightenment, the Scottish Enlightenment and the English, German, Swiss or American Enlightenment. · The Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Enlightenment or the Age of Reason) was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century, the "Century of Philosophy".Significant people and publications · Philosophy · Science · Politics · Religioncaninariojana.com Enlightenment: Enlightenment, a European intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries in which ideas concerning God, reason, nature, and humanity were synthesized into a worldview that gained wide assent in the West and that instigated revolutionary developments in art, philosophy, and caninariojana.com://caninariojana.com · In America, intellectuals were reading these ideas as well.
On their side of the Atlantic, Enlightened ideas of liberty and progress had a chance to flourish without the shackles of Old caninariojana.com The Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, was an intellectual and cultural movement in the eighteenth century that emphasized reason over superstition and science over blind caninariojana.com://caninariojana.com