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Write about the prediction of what will happen to the future of enlightenment and how it will progress

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What is the future of Enlightenment?

Enlightenment is an intellectual movement that traces its origin in the seventeenth century. It started in Europe before quickly spreading to other parts of the world. During Enlightenment, intellectuals started expressing skepticism towards dark superstitions and traditional beliefs that characterized the Middle Ages. Instead, these intellectuals emphasized the power of rationality.

A number of features that characterize Enlightenment may be stipulated. To begin with, it is assumed that reason is a pivotal element in every human being. It enables individuals to break away from ignorance. Secondly, reason enables a person to think and act in the right way, hence bringing about liberation. Thirdly, through Enlightenment, one is able to attain scientific and philosophical achievements, thereby contributing to a world of perfection. Fourthly, through reason, all people are assumed to be equal, such that that they all deserve to be treated equally before the law as well as to be given equal access to liberty. The fifth feature is that beliefs should be promoted to the extent that they are the basis of rationality and not on authority from traditional or religious quarters. Lastly, Enlightenment is based on the view that every human endeavor should be geared towards developing knowledge as opposed to feelings. The aim of this paper is to provide a prediction of what will happen to the future of Enlightenment and how it will progress.

The age of Enlightenment started during the mid-seventeenth century and continued to spread to different parts of the world throughout the eighteenth century. During this time, dramatic changes unfolded in the areas of philosophy, politics, science, and society. These changes were so drastic that they took the form of revolutions. For this reason, Enlightenment was responsible for ushering in the modern western world.

The French Revolution was a culmination of the effects of Enlightenment. During this time, the traditional socio-political order that was founded on traditional hierarchy was dismantled. It was replaced by a new order in which the ideals of Enlightenment were entrenched. The concept of equality for all as provided for in Enlightenment played a crucial role in the formation of the new order. Principles of reason were introduced to replace the authority of the Catholic Church as well as the traditional dogmatism that characterized the Middle Ages.

To understand the future of Enlightenment, one must first appreciate the extent to which modern social, political, and scientific structures are an outcome of the activities undertaken during the Age of Enlightenment. It is also imperative to understand the extent to which the modern way of doing things is based on the philosophical foundations laid down during this time. To begin with, the scientific revolution of the 16th and the 17th century marked as the foundation of Enlightenment. For instance, prior to these inventions, the conception of the cosmos was based on an ancient geocentric perspective. With the rise of new ways of thinking that continually challenged the ancient geocentric perspective, a new set of assumptions for guiding subsequent scientific and philosophical enquiry was established.

The new science achieved dramatic success. The world as we know it today is founded on this success. Therefore, on the overall, the future of Enlightenment is bright. Enlightenment will continue to triumph over traditional dogmatism, beliefs, and practices that develop character and feelings as opposed to human reason. Human reason will continue to triumph over beliefs that are based on feelings and unsubstantiated claims. Today, matters relating to politics, society, science, education, and technology are being addressed first and foremost from the perspective of human reason. Mainstream contemporary education systems the world over emphasize the need to develop curricular based on the tenets of empirical evidence, reason, and experimentation.

Today, the world has already entered into the information age. This age would not have materialized if computer and software engineers had not come up with the personal computer and the internet. The computer industry continues to thrive in response to growing demand for these crucial technological tools. For such advancements in information and communication technology to be achieved, educationists had to adopt a systematic method of imparting knowledge to the post-Enlightenment generation. This systematic method was based on the use of human reason just like in the case of the Enlightenment period. Therefore, the information age may be said to be a direct consequence of the age of Enlightenment. The future of Enlightenment is intertwined with that of the information age.

As new inventions continue to emerge today, the modern world continues to contribute to the process of ensuring that the foundations of Enlightenment remain unshaken in future. The bright future of Enlightenment seems safe and secure whenever one looks at the wide range of modern phenomena being explained by a small number of elaborate mathematical formulae. It is also very promising that the philosophical discussions that emerged during the Age of Enlightenment continue to be used in the contemporary world as a basis of political organization.

Today, scientists, philosophers, and other professionals continue to pursue an unrelenting attitude towards efforts aimed at challenging “the old” and constructing “the new”. This explains why the dawn of information age has finally come. It also explains why revolutionary changes continue to occur in fields such as medicine, astronomy, computer science, robotics, and engineering. The tremendous intellectual progress realized during Enlightenment was remarkable by the standards of 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Similarly, the revolutionary intellectual excellence being achieved today is also remarkable by today’s standards. Nevertheless, without the introduction of new science during the Enlightenment age, the onset of the information age may have been delayed. Perhaps the present generation would not have lived long enough to enjoy the benefits of today’s digital age.

Going into the future of Enlightenment, one of the biggest challenges is the wide-ranging diversity of the overall Enlightenment thought. First and foremost, the conventional view is one in which Enlightenment was assumed to be the brainchild of French thinkers. These thinkers formed a loosely defined informal society that undertook projects relating to Enlightenment especially the Encyclopedia Project. However, Enlightenment encompasses broader temporary and geographical boundaries. It covers areas that fall outside the scope that was originally defined by the French thinkers. For instance, the concept of Scottish Enlightenment has been in existence for a while now. Similarly, the term “German Enlightenment” is often used to refer to the concurrent revolutions that took place in Germany during the Enlightenment age. Nevertheless, all these Enlightenments merely acted as elements of the larger picture that was unfolding during the 17th and 18th centuries in the form of wide-ranging intellectual developments.

Difficulties tend to arise because of disagreements among scholars of these elements regarding the future of Enlightenment in specific contexts. By narrowing down their perspectives, scholars find it difficult to discern a general trend in terms of the future of Enlightenment in the contemporary age of globalization.

According to Porter, it many helpful to think about the future of Enlightenment from three perspectives: the true”, “the good”, and “the beautiful” (48). “The true” encompasses issues of science, metaphysics, and epistemology. “The good” encompasses aspects of political theory, religion, and ethical theory. “The Beautiful” comprises of issues relating to aesthetics.

Regarding science, metaphysics, and epistemology, a lot of progress has been made and the future looks very promising. Efforts to promote rationalism have yielded numerous benefits because human reason has become the basis of scientific enquiry. Tremendous human progress has been achieved. More progress will continue to be made in the field of science mainly because a strong foundation for rational thinking has been established. Natural sciences will continue to be recognized as important elements in the pursuit of wellbeing for humankind.

The rationalist system that was proposed by René Descartes continues to provide inspiration to many scientists who are keen to challenge old truths and to come up with new inventions (Labio 106). For an intellectual to rise to a position of dominance today, he must learn to undertake experiments based on fundamental scientific research, which puts a lot of emphasis on the importance of one’s own conviction in coming up with scientific findings. Such researchers must be aware that their results will continue being subjected to skeptical questioning for generations to come. If the ideas are firmly founded on reason and scientific evidence, it will just be a matter of time before they are finally dismissed and ignored by subsequent generations of scientists.

In political theory, emphasis is on “the good”. Enlightenment has brought about numerous accomplishments in the political realm. This is evident through the outcomes of the French Revolution, the American Revolution, and the English Revolution. These revolutions form the basis of the contemporary conception of democracy that acknowledges the primacy of individual freedoms, liberty, and equality for all citizens. The end of the Cold War symbolized a major triumph for the western society and its continued support for democratic institutions.

Moreover, French, American, and English political institutions continue to safeguard the strong political heritage that emerged as the main outcome of the revolution. One may assume that these democratic institutions will continue to dominate the modern world in the foreseeable future. In this respect, the future of Enlightenment may be said to be bright. One may foresee a situation where the entire world will eventually become one huge liberal democracy created along the lines defined by John Locke in Second Treatise of Government (Collins 630).

The liberal conception of the modern government continues to affect not just politics but also economic freedoms of citizens. When the Cold War ended, capitalism triumphed over communism. Today, the institution of private property is being embraced even in those countries that used to oppose capitalism such as China. China is on its way to becoming the world’s largest economic power ahead of the United States. This is a major indication that the world may be headed towards a future where liberalism will be universally accepted. Nevertheless, globalization is characterized by very frequent changes in political, economic and social trends. It may be too early to predict whether countries such as China will stick to capitalism once they get to the top or whether they will use their power to reintroduce communism by disguising it as state capitalism.

In the case of aesthetics, the future may not be as bright compared to trends in rationalism and political theory. This is because trends in changes in philosophical thinking in regards to aesthetics have not been clearly defined in the post-Enlightenment era. After all, a strong tradition of artistic and literary criticism used to exist prior to the onset of Enlightenment. Enlightenment only influenced the introduction of a systematic approach to artistic and literary criticism. It is not clear whether the traditional richness and elaborateness in literary criticism is going to be maintained in today’s information age. The advent of the internet has greatly affected the reading culture in the contemporary world. People are exposed to a lot of content via the internet but few take time to critique it. This indicates that future generations may not succeed in inculcating a rich heritage where people theorize about beauty as a way of identifying crucial elements of human sensibility and natural order.

In conclusion, this paper has examined the future of Enlightenment from three core perspectives. The first one is rationalism. The second one is political theory. The third one is aesthetics. The future is bright in regards to rationalism and political theory. The information age has been created because scientists have been unrelenting in their use of the rational approach to challenge old practices and to come up with new ideas on technology and communication. Similarly, liberal conceptions of government that originated in western societies continue to be adopted in the rest of the world as part of the globalization process. However, many challenges must be contended with as the present generation endeavors to promote a systematic approach to philosophical aesthetics. The information age bombards intellectuals with too much artistic and literary content, making it very difficult for them to adopt a systematic approach to analysis and criticism.

 

Works Cited

Collins, Jeffrey. “Redeeming the Enlightenment: New Histories of Religious Toleration.” The Journal of Modern History, 81.3 (2009): 607-636.

Labio, Catherine. Origins and the Enlightenment: Aesthetic Epistemology from Descartes to Kant, New York: Cornell University Press, 2004. Print.

Porter, Roy. Enlightenment: Britain and the creation of the modern world. London: Penguin, 2001. Print.

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