The Age Of Reason

2032 Words9 Pages
The eighteenth century European Enlightenment is often referred to as the Age of Reason, however, this claim warrants critical evaluation. While the Enlightenment was undoubtedly a reasonable period, we should not determine that it was the Age of Reason. I refute this claim using two premises, one philosophical and the other historical. I propose that although the Enlightenment was a highly reasonable period, it is one of many reasonable periods, and is thus, more an Age of Reason. Firstly, the use of rationality is not limited to the Enlightenment, and we cannot, without question, call it the singular Age of Reason. Secondly, the Enlightenment was sometimes irrational, for example, the problems with reason itself, and the ignorance of other…show more content…
John Locke in his Letter Concerning Toleration argues for a complete separation between church and state (2 - 5). Locke proposes that the human understanding of truth requires a passive relationship between an individual mind and reality, which in turn requires political freedom. Political leaders are not in any superior position to understanding the truth than any other individual is, and therefore have no right to even attempt to force their opinions on others. For Immanuel Kant, Enlightenment is the capacity and courage to think for ourselves, and to resist tradition, convention or authority as sources of wisdom and knowledge (Kant 1 - 2). This idea indicated a new understanding of the significance of the individual, who could now be seen as equipped to decide matters of both moral value for themselves and empirical fact. There was a shift away from ideologies grounded in religious tradition which allowed philosophers to consider a more rational insight regarding morality, ethics, and science. Reason, was integral to the shifts in the Eighteenth Century, since the emancipation of mankind required a rational justification, thus reason became a means of emancipation (Manning and France). Reason was promoted to a higher status than it previously had, and for some it came to…show more content…
I proclaim that reason is a fluid concept and what is considered reasonable will forever be on humanities horizon. By examining periods of time such as the Greek Classical era, and the Renaissance, we can see, how they too exhibit characteristics of reason. The Greek Classical era saw immense progress in various spheres, such as philosophy, and how reasonable thought is imperative to achieve a good life. These ideas were eventually rediscovered in the Twelfth Century, which invited speculative thought and allowed new pathways for other ideas to be considered. As a result of the prevalence of reason in the Enlightenment, other critical human faculties were ignored, such as emotion and passion. This highlights the unreasonable aspects of the Enlightenment and why we cannot categorically name it the singular Age of Reason. However, as reason was heavily employed in the Enlightenment we can see how it deserves the title ‘an Age of
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