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The Age of Enlightenment was a period that took place after the Renaissance and is characterized by profound changes in mind and attitude of many Europeans. For centuries before, the Roman Catholic Church was a dominant force in society. People believed that by accepting the hardships there were in life, and devoting themselves to God, they could expect a better afterlife. However, at the start of the Renaissance, people began to question the ideas of Christianity. The church authority was gradually being undermined by people such as Copernicus and Galileo, who had new ideas about the universe and Rene Descartes, who said that everything should be doubted until it is proved. At the start of the seventeen hundreds, came the Age of Enlightenment.
During this time, there existed a strong desire for knowledge, willingness to exchange new ideas, and a belief that rational thought and action could help solve problems. German Philosopher, Immanuel Kent said The Enlightenment is mans emergence from his nonage, nonage meaning immaturity. Man had become mature enough to find his own way. The people became leaders, instead looking at antiquity, and following the ancient Greek traditions and ideas. There was a drive to understand nature and the natural world by methods of science. The enlightenment was a time was people began to question politics, religions and society.
Ideas were attacked with new ideas that governed logic and reason. During the enlightenment there existed a religious revolution, a scientific revolution, a technological Revolution and a revolution in the attitudes and minds of man altogether. The ideas and discoveries that took place during the Enlightenment gave birth to our modern world. The philosophers played a large role in bringing out the radical change during the Enlightenment.
They defied traditional boarders and dared to use their own mind to discover new things, and challenge the old. The philosophers changed many aspects of society, regarding religious, political, social and scientific views. Man had finally become mature enough to find his own way, and to understand his own nature and the natural world. From Scotland to Naples, an impressive clan of amazing intellectuals had become passionate and outspoken. The philosophers had a deep and lasting effect on Europe and the rest of the world. Their ideas influenced those who followed.
And the concepts and discoveries are still practiced today. For centuries, Christianity and the church played a significant role in European society. There were strict rules that went along with religion and the church that could not be defied by the people or they would be defying the greatest power; God. Martin Luther, was a prominent person in this revolution. He wrote the 95 Thesis, and, although it was banned, eventually gave freedom to religion. There was a total fundamental transformation due to Martin Luthers proposals.
His ideas constituted things such as fighting for everyday English to be used rather than Latin, and he stated that God could be reached anywhere, at anytime, as opposed to only in the church. People could go to God out of choice. Humanism was one of the greatest legacies of the Enlightenment. Intellectuals began expressing the power of humans versus the power of God.
They began to renounce the ideas of Christianity, and ridiculed the concept of miracles ever happening. They thought of God as the mechanic of the universe. He became only a watchmen, and instead of looking up to him, people began to take more responsibility in themselves. The idea that man controlled his own destiny by his own decisions and actions, rather than God whom decided a set fate for each individual.
Instead of the old age faith in religion, new ideas and attitudes changed peoples faith in the church and God, and they began to have more faith in themselves. In addition to a religious revolution that took place during the Enlightenment, there was also a scientific revolution. This revolution was significant in that it took away the old ideas of supernatural power and fate and replaced them with revolutionary discoveries that gave a start to the modern knowledge we have today. Many assumptions about the universe and the human body were changed when innovative discoveries by people such as Johanis Kepler and Issac Newton were made. More focus was put on logic and fact, using science and math to explain things, rather then to God and the supernatural and uncontrollable. Issac Newton made such significant discoveries as that the planets revolved around the sun, his gravitational laws and his laws of motion allowed a better understanding of the universe.
Human body discoveries such as the flow of blood through the heart were made and therefore allowed scientists to discover why and how the heart beats. These discoveries did not only reveal how the body functions, yet it gave people a better comprehension of death and diseases that were previously blamed on superstitious occurrences. There was also a technological revolution. The development of a more advanced plow, led to more beneficial agricultural changes that helped the production of crops. The discovery of crude oil led to the profound invention of kerosene, which in turn led to the invention of the lamp. The demand for kerosene focused an opening of an oil industry, thus, helping further the economy.
The development of gunpowder created military advancements. Explorers such as Christopher Columbus, with the compass found that the world, in actuality, was round, and not flat. Political changes also occurred in this period of time. The philosophers rebelled against the usual political procedures. They became hostile to organized Christianity, and they relinquished cruel legal procedures and arbitrary government. Freedom of speech and the press, and personal liberty were encouraged greatly.
Although the Enlightenment period was a time of great changes towards a more promising and knowledgeable future, a time when people saw the power of themselves and were interested in the fine things such as science, art and music, it was not this way for everyone. For the majority of people, life remained tough. Many had no land, and were laboring for the land owning classes. There were crowded cities, with extreme poverty. Improper sanitation, hunger and disease filled the streets. The Enlightenment was mainly for wealthy landowners, merchants and bankers who had the time and money to indulge their interests in history, science, philosophy, fine art, literature and music.
It is evident that the Enlightenment period was generally a time of extreme changes in many aspects including science, technology, religion and human attitude. Although it did not include many people, the discoveries and transformations effected everyone. These realizations gave people confidence in themselves. It was a time was all people could hope for a utopia in their after life, regardless of their sex or status in society.
These revolutionary changes were so remarkable, they gave birth to the modern world. Bibliography:
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