Age of Enlightenment - Overview: The Enlightenment is a...

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Overview:· The Enlightenment is a movement of people and ideas that fostered the expansion of literate sectors of European society and that economicimprovement and political reform were both possible and desirable.· Contemporary western political and economic thought is a product of Enlightenment thinking; therefore, some historians believe the process ofEnlightenment continues today.· Inspired by the scientific revolution and prepared to challenge traditional intellectual and theological authority, Enlightenment writers believedthat human beings can comprehend the operation of physical nature and mold it to achieve material and moral improvement, economic growth, andadministrative reform.· Enlightenment intellectuals advocated agricultural improvement, commercial society, expanding consumption, and the application of innovativerational methods to traditional social and economic practices.· The spirit of innovation and improvement came to characterize modern Europe and Western society.· Politically, the Enlightenment had a direct impact on some rulers--in eastern and central Europe—whose policies came to be known asenlightened absolutism.Section One: Formative Influences of the Enlightenment·Section OverviewoChief factors that fostered the ideas of the Enlightenment§ The Newtonian worldview§ the political stability and commercial prosperity in Great Britain after 1688§ the need for administrative and economic reform after the wars of Louis XIV§ the consolidation of what is known as aprint culture·Ideas of Newton and LockeoIsaac Newton§ The achievements in science from Copernicus to Newton convinced European thinkers that both the ancient and medievalChristian worlds were incorrect and confused about the natural world.§ Newtonian physics characterizes the natural world as a pattern of mathematical and mechanical rationality.· This inspired thinkers to believe if nature was rational, so too should society be organized rationally.§ Newton insisted on the use of empirical experience to check rational speculation.oJohn Locke§ Newton’s thinking inspired Locke to explain human psychology in terms of experience, or through empiricism.·Essay Concerning Human Understanding(1690)oLocke explained that all human beings enter the world with atabula rasa, or blank page and thusexperience—and only experience—shapes character.§ This behavioralists theory implied that human nature is changeable and can be modified bychanging the surrounding environment.oLocke’s psychology rejected the Christian doctrine that sin permanently flawed human beings andhumans need not wait for God or other divine aid to better their lives because they can take charge of theirown destiny.

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Term
Spring
Professor
Keith
Tags
World History, Candide, Essay, CSN, HIS 208, The Wealth of Nations, Age of Enlightenment, human beings, Section Overview, Print Culture

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