Enlightenment spread throughout western Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries and represented an immense deviation from the middle ages of Europe. In this enlightenment, ideas concerning God, nature, and humanity were integrated into a worldview.
During the enlightenment, it was believed that human reasoning can easily help in discovering truths about the world and religion. This idea was incorporated to improve the lives of humankind. The enlightenment ideas additionally included spiritual understanding and a belief that every individual should be free from worries in their personal lives. Where everything was still constrained to experimentation and interpretation, this enlightenment was considered and believed to deliver some significant impact on the thinking of every individual.
Overall a sum of six enlightenment ideas came into the highlight. Most of these ideas were discussed and shared with both European and American enlightenment thinkers. Let us discuss them in brief.
Culture, tradition, and racism were considered as the formidable barriers to gain knowledge of the universal laws of nature. To this, the only solution under the roof of enlightenment was deism. In the 17th century, Orthodox Christianity was rejected and the word Deism was coined. Deism is the belief in God based on reason and not a revelation. It became one of the dominant religions in the 18th century and was adopted by many. Deism remains a natural religion and the idea was to stop making any specific claim about God that relies on supernatural occurrences.
Liberalism was another idea of American Enlightenment thinking. It is the belief in human rights and freedom. Liberalism was rooted in practical unity and embraced by dealers in Northern Europe. They were completely public to the free exchange of ideas and therefore causing them anti-authoritarian. They have consistently supported a part of the government that allowed them freedom of expression and movement.
During the enlightenment age, liberalism became a distinct movement which made it popular among western scholars. The main idea of this concept was to completely vanish absolute kingship, traditional conservatism, representative democracy, and hereditary privilege norms.
The earlier belief was that the nation would rule by the government which will be selected by hereditary right. To remove this concept from the nation, Republicanism came into existence. It stuck to its motto that the nation will support a democratic rule and the determination of the states’ highest official will be done by a general election only. This political ideology became a general topic of research during the mid-twentieth century.
Conservatism obtains the most prominent political conceptions of the post-Enlightenment era. They focussed more on personal experiences rather than reason. Most critics view conservatism as a modern administrative theory. It adopts the attitude of jurisdiction, rather than democracy. It thoroughly represented a political outlook that was the center of discussion in the past.
Conservatism was also subjected to philosophical neglect and was not accepted as ideology and political philosophy.
Toleration was also the center of attraction amongst the American Enlightenment thought. It broadly refers to the tentative agreement of interference that one thinks to be illegal but still tolerable. To this, there are many contexts to which it can be categorized as tolerant. For instance, we as human beings do tolerate each other at some point. Thus for better analysis, we need to take relevant contexts into account.
6. Scientific Progress
To no doubt, the scientific discoveries were co-related with deism and scepticism, but many people often get confused about the scientific revolution with the Enlightenment. Now you might argue here they are the same as they overlap in many respects, but technically they are not the same. The beginning of the scientific revolution arose to a point where people started distinguishing scientific revolution from philosophy or theology. Science bloomed in the late 17th and 18th centuries and it carries out a minor role in Enlightenment as many writers and thinkers had a science background.
The enlightenment period signifies occupying a leading role in promoting ideals during the period of human history commonly referred to as modernity. This philosophical movement of enlightenment advocated ideals like freedom, growth, humanity, and brotherhood.
All the ideas of the enlightenment highlighted science and speculation over religion and notion and impacted the American colonies in the eighteenth century. The American Enlightenment project made Americans play a leading role in promoting Enlightenment ideals.
In this period, the ideas mentioned above became very popular and the center of discussion. There was growth in scepticism toward autocrats, and huge support was given to individual liberties. These ideas helped push the French Revolution too in the period from 1789-1793. All this collectively praised the idea of religious freedom, and people started an open discussion about it.
People subsequently started expressing their interest in understanding and adapting science in their day to day life rather than merely relying on old beliefs and religion. Enlightenment thinkers Voltaire and Isaac Newton got into motion and started spreading their ideas and concepts throughout Europe and the Americas. Enlightenment was therefore considered as a key turning point. As a result idea like Deism, Liberalism, Republicanism, Conservatism, Toleration, Scientific Progress got dominated.
The Enlightenment also is known as the ‘Age of Reason’ was a dogmatic period that characterized European society during the 18th century.
The outcomes of the Enlightenment were revolutionary and remain with us even today. What has changed represents just the perception of every individual about Enlightenment.