THE AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT

The Age of Enlightenment was a scientific and intellectual revolution which mainly occurred during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Immanuel Kent, a German philosopher, was the man who coined the popular phrase.

Kent, along with John Locke, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton and Voltaire are considered to be the founding fathers of a movement which sought democracy, individual liberty, freedom of expression while looking to end social oppression, superstition and absolute authority by monarchs and priests.

Europe was tired after years of plague, famine and war.

The Thirty Years War in central Europe from 1618 to 1648 was quickly followed by a civil war in England and colonial wars which would be fought out in the Americas Africa and Asia.

Colonialism had brought great wealth to the European masterpowers but a greater prospertiy in life had not transferred to the people.  Society was painfully divided between the aristrocracy and the peasants in a feudal system which needed social reform as trade and commerce in expanding towns and cities replaced traditional agriculture.

This was the age when things were based on reason, not doctrine and natural law could have a chance to prevail in a new civil order which heralded revolutions in America in 1776 and in France three years later.

Art, science, philosophy (free thinking) and mathematics would have a key role to play and be given a chance to flourish.

Francis Bacon was an English scientist and intelectual who laid the foundations for the revolution in the early seventeenth century when he stated the six stages of science based on experimentation and observation.

Rationalism was after all the belief that humanity can arrive at truth by using reason and logic rather than place reliance on the authority of the past, pure intuition or the religious indoctrination of archaic commandment.

The French took it to a particular extreme in their own revolution by aiming to remove all religious and royalist influence and introducing the metric system of a ten month calendar with everything to do with time entirely metricated.

Britain, France, Austria, Russia and Prussia were at the helm of the revolution nnd Paris was the epicentre.

At the heart of the idealology was the optimistic vision that humanity could change the world and rectify mistakes of the past.

Yet France returned to imperialist-romanesque rule after only a few years under Corsican militant Napoleon Bonaporte and the worldwide slave trade continued unabated.

In reality, the Age of Enlightenment never ended.  It overlapped with and transcended into the Industrial Revolution which was even greater in its world importance and saw the transition from hand production methods to machines.

Know-how from science, philosophy and a basic education made use of steam, iron, textiles. And other raw materials. Production factories and new types of transportation encouraged trade and commerce and the world was suddenly a different place.

If the Age of Enlightenment did ever end, the closure of the Spanish Inquisition in 1834 is certainly a pointer after four centuries of attempts to suppress settlers to a nation of their own true faith.

What it categorically tells humanity is that there is a place for legitimate conversion but not for indoctrination.

In Spain at least, the Age of Enlightenment was a winner for its multi-ethnic population of muslims and jews and not even attempts by General Franco during the Spanish Civil War 1936-39 to re-introduce it could change that.

There are still countries today who deny their citizens the things which were at the core of the movement for Enlightenment and who seek to compel those citizens to follow a specific religious faith or a certain political philosophy.

The people of Cuba, North Korea, China,  Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, the Soviet republics which fragmented and the countries of the eastern-bloc, surely all have some affinity with the Age of Enlightenment either past present or future.

If not only the democratic nations who identify them today in the beneficial interests of their citizens.

It is not about political correctness because there can never be political correctness for everyone or anyone.  Political correctness, whether democrat, capitalist, socialist or communist,  is a matter of conscience.

 

 

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