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Analysis of The Ages of Enlightement and Modernity

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The advancement of society throughout time has occurred in stages of advancement in societal change. The way of life of human beings has developed throughout history in their mode of thought concerning major parts of daily life in. For many years, the lower socioeconomic groups struggled through poverty, control, and isolation from possible resources that offered an escape to their life of torment and toil. A government based centralized religion, absolute monarchies, limited or no access to effective education, and societal controls on certain sexes or groups of people, produced a society where people lived in a perceived permanent underclass. The historical eras of Enlightenment and Modernity produced advancement and change in the areas of politics, religion, education, and social life, which opened the door to an improved lifestyle for the lower socioeconomic groups of people in society.

The Enlightenment time period, known as the “Age of Reason”, sought to introduce rational and scientific thought and advance personal liberty in life. Born from the European movement of humanism, the Enlightenment developed ideas based on reason and evidenced by one’s senses. It strove to advance ideas of personal liberty, religious tolerance, constitutionally based government, and the belief in separation of church and state. The societies of Europe sought to escape the absolute control and rule of both the monarchies politically and the Catholic church in spiritual life. Rational thought and scientific knowledge led to the growth in machine-based production in the industrial revolution and improvements in daily life. The concentration on the rights of all individuals led to an equal pursuit of happiness, a longer life expectancy, and improved living conditions for many involved. The Age of Enlightenment changed the lives of the common working individual forever.

The Age of Enlightenment invoked a time of change in the social, political, educational, and scientific thought through the roles of important figures who became agents of change. Socially, this time period developed the idea of personal equality. Revolutionary figures such as Mary Wollstonecraft opened new doors for women in the operation of society. Mary believed the way to create new life opportunities came from growth through education. Growing up in a dysfunctional home setting with an alcoholic father, Mary saw the problems that resulted and took on a key role with her younger siblings. As she reached adult age, Mary took the opportunity to enter the professional workplace in jobs that were permitted for women at that time, such as teaching. She did not discount the importance of raising children, but only wanted all opportunities to be open to women in present society. In addition, political thought evolved during the Age of Enlightenment through revolutionary men such as Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson supported a new ideal of democracy, which centered on the rights of the individual. He believed in being tolerant of religion and not being controlled by a state supported mode of faith and worship. Educationally, Jefferson supported attending a traditional school. Following his political views on equality, Jefferson believed that education should not be based on socioeconomic status. All children deserved access to new discoveries which he believed could change them as a person and open new doors for their future lives and achievements. Scientifically, Jefferson supported the idea of rationality, which supported religious beliefs with science instead of placing them in conflict with one another. Unfortunately, Jefferson did not support an improved status in opportunities for women. Another revolutionary in the field of education and equality driving change in this time period was Johann Pestalozzi. Pestalozzi fostered the need for those living in low socioeconomic conditions to learn trades which might provide an escape from the travesties of the life of poverty. He saw education as the doorway to achieve this escape. In agreement with Jefferson, Pestalozzi believed that children all deserved to be educated, regardless of social or economic status. Pestalozzi saw the need to change school structure from a rote memorization in religious studies, to a concentration on reading, literature, and the study of mathematics. . These revolutionary figures ignited the flame of change during the Age of Enlightenment which changed the face of society forever.

The rise of Modernity developed the role of the individual in an increasingly industrialized society which moved towards growing cities and urban areas. Society developed a more secular point of view as the role of religion greatly decreased. Values of the citizens during Modernity became more individualized and materialistic. Society during Modernity politically gave birth to the idea of a nation-state. The capitalist economy grew in prevalence, with great concentration placed on private property and the marketing of everything for profit. Educationally, society during Modernity sought to decide what was necessary to learn to grow in the economy and growing industrialization. A concentration on literature and mathematics in the classroom strived to produce critically thinking individuals. Furthermore, the rational thought fostered during Modernity created manufacturing processes which created better jobs for higher wages which produced capital to spend in the new economy. Finally, the concentration on scientific methods during Modernity created technological advances such as the telegraph, new types of microscopes, and eventually a horrific method of destroying large cities with one bomb.

The influence of key figures in the time period of Modernity created change in the fields of education, religion, social conditions, and political thought. Robert Owen sought change for the social plight of common workers in this time period. He saw the opportunity for the betterment of these citizens through the field of education. Owen believed education for the upper class and those in poverty would produce the growth of morality and need to show kindness to one another. Furthermore, Owen was an advocate for the improvement of the role of women in society. He fought for a return to the arts in education in addition to literary and mathematical learning. Politically, Owen believed in property that was publicly owned and socialistically driven for the good of the whole. He possessed his own business which employed many workers. The negative behaviors and living conditions of these workers led Owen to believe that improving their situation in life would improve society as a whole. John Stuart Mill agreed with Owen in some areas and disagreed in others. Mill was a believer in the rights of the individual in ultimate contrast with the socialist ideas described earlier of Owen. He championed the rights of the common man, while feeling distaste towards the treatment of commoners by the upper class aristocracy. Mill believed education was the ultimate power of change in their societies. He was a champion of women’s rights and sought to include the arts back into educational life. Another advocate for education of the time was Horace Mann, known as the father of public education. Mann supported the civic minded education of individuals to create productive citizens. In addition, he supported training for teachers to lead the classrooms of the day. These revolutionary thinkers led to dynamic developments during the era of Modernity.

The progression of time through the eras of Enlightenment and Modernity saw an increased concentration on the life and mobility of the common working man. First of all, both eras valued the rights of individuals, while departing from the old system of absolute monarchy. Jefferson’s revolutionary ideals of democracy and the capitalist free market of Modernity produced a more level playing field for the lower socioeconomic worker. Educationally, both eras developed the system of learning to provide upward mobility for common class workers and women. Both time periods saw education as a manner of societal change and provider of opportunities. Rousseau developed an education philosophy that was student centered which now is policy and procedure in the schools of today. Also, both movements created new and better working situations for the common worker, while allowing for opportunities seen in the era of Modernity for better paying jobs with predictable hours that improved one’s way of life. The two eras held different beliefs in the idea of the role of religion in society. The Enlightenment sought a separation between church and state to prevent an overbearing church such as the Catholic Church. Thomas Jefferson sought to rationalize scientific thought and nature with faith. However, in Modernity the role of the church in society was greatly reduced. Modernity sought more of the pleasures of life and less concentration on seeking redemption for flaws in one’s life. During the Enlightenment and Modernity, the life and fate of the common worker improved due to philosophical thought and practice.

The Age of Enlightenment evidences some characteristics which follow parts of the Biblical worldview, while the Modernity strays mostly far from biblical thought. First of all, the Enlightenment led the charge for the improvement of life and liberty for each human being, regardless of their socioeconomic status. Stonestreet points out in his world view video that humans are valuable in the image of God. In addition, the Enlightenment sought to rationalize science with God and not place it in contrast. William Edgar stated in his worldview video, “science is neutral”. The Enlightenment sought to provide for tolerance of religion, following the advice of Edgar as he stated, “get to ground of the unbeliever, and walk with them”. The era of Modernity severely reduced the importance of society in daily life. Individualism and the importance of one’s self took precedent over the following of faith. A Biblical worldview calls one to either love God or love yourself. This concentration on personal gain and self-gratification falls in contrast to the understanding that true happiness in life comes only from the presence of Christ, not the acquiring of material pleasure. As pointed out by Stonestreet in his video, there is something wrong in the world and the answer is found in the human heart. Sin created the pain and heartache in life and concentration on self will not provide true happiness. Self-concentration follows the flawed belief system found in new age believers that they themselves are God.

Life changed for society in many ways during the eras of Enlightenment and Modernity. The importance of religion, education, individual liberties, daily life, and political systems evolved to a new way of thinking, believing, and living. Advancements occurred in the lives of common people from lower socioeconomic groups. Philosophers and relevant thinkers during these time periods carried society from an absolute monarchy towards the system of government enjoyed today in many parts of the world. Education changed forever in the innovations and changes of thought found by those such as Mann, Rousseau, Mills, and Owen. Every student was seen as worthy of life changing education that offered mobility in their daily lives. The eras of Enlightenment and Modernity pulled the world out of the darkness of an underclass of human beings and provided answers and opportunities to thrive in their daily lives and futures.

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Analysis of the Ages of Enlightement and Modernity. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-the-ages-of-enlightement-and-modernity/
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