Promise of Enlightenment Essay

An rational motion which began in England in the 17th century. but so spread to hold eventual influence over all subdivisions of the universe. The term “Enlightenment. ” rooted in an rational incredulity to traditional beliefs and tenet. denotes an “illumined” contrast to the supposed dark and superstitious character of the Middle Ages. From its origin. the Enlightenment focused on the power and goodness of human reason.

Some of the more characteristic philosophies of the Enlightenment are: 1 ) Reason is the most important and positive capacity of the human ; 2 ) ground enables one to interrupt free from crude. dogmatic. and superstitious beliefs keeping one in the bonds of unreason and ignorance ; 3 ) in recognizing the emancipating potency of ground. one non merely learns to believe right. but to move right every bit good ; 4 ) through philosophical and scientific advancement. ground can take humanity as a whole to a province of earthly flawlessness ; 5 ) ground makes all worlds equal and. hence. deserving of equal autonomy and intervention before the jurisprudence ; 6 ) beliefs of any kind should be accepted merely on the footing of ground. and non on traditional or priestly authorization ; and 7 ) all human enterprises should seek to leave and develop cognition. non feelings or character. The spread of thoughts of the philosophers of the early Enlightenment through Europe was really slow: their airing went in Michigans and starts. and the procedure was fragmented/ Furthermore. non all 7 European states adopted these thoughts at the same clip and to the same extent.

The slow response of the thoughts of the early Enlightenment in the states of Europe serves to supply a figure of lessons for all modern vindicators for Western idea. The first is that thoughts need clip to be accepted. They besides need the support of people who are willing to do an attempt for them. that is. scientists. authors. people in power and political governments. In add-on. the societal fortunes must be favourable. It took 100s of old ages before thoughts about democratic authorities became crystallised and generalized in Europe. The 2nd lesson is that even when the bulk of people accept an thought. this does non intend that everyone does. Ideas are ne’er self- evident.

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Because even good thoughts can be controversial. they will always— and this is the 3rd lesson— come under the onslaught from their oppositions. who in bend are convinced that they have better thoughts. The 4th lesson is that if we want our thoughts to predominate. we must go on to contend for them— merely as people in the seventeenth century had to contend for their thoughts. In the 18th and 19th centuries. persons like Thomas Jefferson. George Bancroft. and Frederick Douglass. and groups of persons like the Gallic National Assembly offered their visions of the ideal authorities. Even though these persons ( or group of persons ) came from different societal categories. businesss. cultural backgrounds. and nationalities. they all advocate for one specific type of authorities.

That is. authoritiess built on the foundation of the rules of the Enlightenment. peculiarly the rules of equality. freedom. and popular sovereignty. Their strong support for the Enlightenment rules is illuminated throughout their Hagiographas and/or addresss. In the Declaration of Independence ( 1776 ) . Jefferson claimed that everyone is equal and are entitled to certain rights. including the right to “life. autonomy. and the chase of happiness” . Furthermore. if the authorities should of all time neglect to protect these rights. Jefferson believed that the people should be able to alter or snuff out the authorities. for the power of the authorities rests in the people. 7

Throughout the papers. Jefferson utilizes the three major Enlightenment ideals to back up his statements. For one. Jefferson’s claim that everyone is equal clearly resonates upon the Enlightenment ideal of equality. which stresses that people should be treated reasonably irrespective of who they are. In add-on. in depicting that people have certain rights which the authorities must protect. Jefferson is reflecting and spread outing upon Locke’s thought of “inalienable rights” . With the exclusion of Locke’s mention to belongings. Jefferson’s allusion to the right to “life. autonomy. and the chase of happiness” ( 1776 ) is really similar to John Locke’s reference of the right to “life. autonomy. and property” ( Bentley & A ; Ziegler 783 ) .

However. Jefferson adopted Locke’s thought of “inalienable rights” and somewhat altered them. by taking the right to” property” and replacing it with “the chase of happiness” in order to better reflect American values. Furthermore. Jefferson besides reflected on Locke’s thoughts of popular sovereignty and freedom in the Declaration of Independence by saying that the authorities derives its power from the people and if the people’s rights are non being protected by the authorities. the people have the right to replace or alter that authorities. Like Thomas Jefferson. George Bancroft adopted the Enlightenment ideals of equality. freedom. and popular sovereignty in his vision of the ideal authorities.

In his address “The Office of the People in Art. Government. and Religion ( 1857 ) ” he recognized the inequality between the nobility. who were frequently the policy-makers at the clip. and the remainder of society. who by big. did non hold a voice in authorities. In making so. he advocated for equality for the general populace in the decision-making procedures of the authorities every bit good as the overall freedom of look for the general populace. At the same clip. he besides adopted the Enlightenment ideal of popular sovereignty. by reasoning that the felicity of the general populace is the primary intent of authorities. instead than the felicity of the nobility or the selected few.

Alternatively of reasoning for the equality for the general populace like Jefferson and Bancroft did. Frederick Douglass concentrated on equality for one specific population – the inkinesss. particularly those 7 who were slaves. In his address “What to the Slave is the 4th of July ( 1852 ) ” Douglass recognized the mistreatment that inkinesss have endured as slaves. along with the fact that inkinesss are merely every bit human as Whites are. and therefore. should be treated every bit. He farther commented on how American Independence Day may be a joyous twenty-four hours for Whites to observe their freedom from Britain. but for inkinesss. it is a twenty-four hours that reminds them of the cruel interventions and deficiency of freedom that they have endured. In this address. non merely does Douglass name for equality for inkinesss. but besides for their freedom from bondage.

However. compared to Jefferson and Bancroft who mentioned the Enlightenment ideal of popular sovereignty. Douglass did non specifically address the issue of popular sovereignty nor argue for political rights for inkinesss ; alternatively. he merely concentrated on the cardinal rights of equality and freedom from bondage. In the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen ( National Assembly 177-179 ) . the Gallic National Assembly comprehensively described the ideal relationship between the people and the authorities every bit good as the rights to which all of the people of France should be entitled. In composing this papers. the Gallic Assembly to a great extent adopted and relied upon the Enlightenment ideals of equality. freedom. and popular sovereignty.

First of all. the papers started off by saying that everyone has certain natural rights that the authorities are obligated to protect. including the right to “liberty. belongings. security. and opposition to subjugation ( National Assembly 177 ) ” . These rights clearly resemble Locke’s thought of “inalienable rights” which included “life. autonomy. and belongings ( Bentley & A ; Ziegler 783 ) ” . Furthermore. these rights are intertwined with the rules of equality. freedom. and popular sovereignty. These three rules are non merely mentioned in the first few lines of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen ( National Assembly ) . but are besides alluded to throughout the remainder of the papers.

For illustration. the rule of equality was utilized in slug six. which sets Forth that all citizens are equal before the jurisprudence and therefore. have equal chance in obtaining employment. Furthermore. several types of freedoms are mentioned in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen ; among them are freedom of faith ( see bullet ten ) . look ( see bullet eleven ) . 7 and belongings ownership ( see bullet 17 ) . The Enlightenment ideal of popular sovereignty was specifically alluded to in slug six. in the lines. “Law is the look of the general will. Every citizen has a right to take part personally. or through his representative. in its foundation ( National Assembly 178 ) ” .

Even though the Enlightenment chiefly occurred in Europe in the eighteenth century. its thoughts spread throughout the universe. act uponing the thought of many people. Thomas Jefferson. George Bancroft. Frederick Douglass. and the Gallic National Assembly are several parties. among many. who took advantage of the thoughts that originated during the Enlightenment and used them to advance and act upon alterations in the societies that they lived in. chiefly the authoritiess and inequalities that existed at the clip. These parties utilized the Enlightenment rules of equality. freedom. and popular sovereignty in their authorship or addresss. in order to raise consciousness about the inequalities in society.

By analyzing the statements of these parties. one will acknowledge that each of these parties have contributed to the dramatic betterments in their societies that will happen in the ulterior hereafter. Enlightenment and the twenty-first century Although all the universe faiths have fundamentalist motions. and all such motions can be really violent. it is above all the threat of fundamentalist Islam which is feared by the people of the West since 11 September 2001. though it has likely been feared even more by the people of the in-between East. Asia and Africa. It is undeniable that within the Islam there is a fundamentalist motion which rejects the values of Spinoza’s Enlightenment. In fact. this is in no manner new. Khomeni’s Iran. Osama Bin Laden. Al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan are recent illustrations of this.

However. Professor Bernard says in his book The Crisis in Islam. most Moslems are non fundamentalists and most fundamentalists are non terrorists. although presents most terrorists are Muslim. The attractive force of the thoughts of our modern. 7 political civilization is tremendous autonomic nervous systems is surely non our sole belongings. Hundreds of 1000000s of people all over the world— including liberal-minded Muslims— support the Enlightenment thoughts. These thoughts derive their attractive force from the promise of freedom to populate one’s life harmonizing to one’s ain beliefs. and more specifically from what Michael Ignatieff called “the right to take. and specifically. the right to go forth when pick is denied. ” However. in this regard there are a figure of things which detract from the attractive force of the values and thoughts of the Enlightenment:

? the danger that the West. the values which symbolize it and the solutions it provides. represent merely a paper world ; in other words. that the West does non present what it promises and does non supply solutions to mundane demands and political jobs. ? -The fright of the loss of that feeling of security. togetherness and societal ties ( the atomic household. the drawn-out household. faith ) in societies and communities in which the balance between the person and the community is different from those in the individualised West. ? The perceptual experience of the wide disdain of Westerners for Islam in societies and communities where Islam permeates every facet of day-to-day life. All these affairs seem so self evident to us that we tend to bury that they originally developed as wholly fresh thoughts.

Many of them were articulated for the first clip in the seventeenth century by work forces such as Descartes. Spinoza. Pierre Bayle and John Locke. Their coevalss. nevertheless. did non see these thoughts as being self- evident at all ; alternatively they saw them as highly extremist and unsafe. Many people regarded these work forces as highly extremist and unsafe. Many people regarded these work forces to be enemies of faith and of the very foundations of civil society. As such. they and their thoughts were forcefully opposed throughout Europe. 7


Bancroft. George. Literary and Historical Miscellanies. New York: Harper & A ; Brothers. 1857. Bentley. Jerry H. . and Herb F. Ziegler. Traditions and Brushs: A Global Perspective on the Past. Vol. 2. 3rd erectile dysfunction.

Boston: McGraw-Hill. 2006. 782-784. 408-435. Douglass. Frederick. “What to the Slave is Fourth of July? ” In Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. David Blight. erectile dysfunction. . 1852. 141-145. Hazard. Paul. The European Mind. Pelican Books. 1964. pp 125-141. Ignatieff. Michael. Whose Universal Values? The Crisis in Human Rights. Praemium Erasminanum Essay. 1999. Jefferson. Thomas. Declaration of Independence. 1776. Lewis. Bernard. The Crisis of Islam. Weidenfeld & A ; Nicholson. 2003 National Assembly. Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen. In Brushs in World History: Beginnings and Subjects from the Global Past. Vol. 2. Boston: McGraw-Hill. 2006. 177-179.


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