Narrative Project: Research

The Age of Enlightenment or the Age of the Reason was a cultural movement of intellectuals in the 18th century which followed hard after the mysticism, religion, and superstition of the Middle Age.  

Figure 1: Weimar's Courtyard of the Muses
During the 17th and the 18th century many changes were made in Europe. The population increased, and changes in agriculture were made. New methods were being imposed.  The use of machines in agriculture had started. Money was gathered in the heads of Europe and many farmers were out of business.  These two factors led to the industrialization.

Figure 2: The Industrial Revolution in England
Social changes were made. The money and the wealth were gathered in the rich people hands. (Kings, monarchs, bankers)  During the Enlightenment the humans changed the way they were viewing religion and other beliefs they had from the Middle Age. Enlightenment was the time when the human ability to reason was glorified. Basic new ideas were born regarding human rights and democracy. During Enlightenment tremendous improvements in science and mathematics occurred. Many scientific breakthroughs occurred. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) and Rene Descartes (1596-1650) published books that inspired many generations of scientists. Many historians characterize them as the fathers of the Enlightenment.

Figure 3: Francis Bacon (1561-1626) and Rene Descartes (1596-1650)
Francis Bacon (1561-1626) supported that every scientific achievement had to be conducted with an experiment in order to be regarded while Rene Descartes (1596-1650) supported that continues doubt is the only way to the truth. Experiments were being conducted and through observations there were conclusions that approved the theories. Their ideas promoted proved to be extremely important because they led to the development of the “Scientific Method”. A series of simple rational steps that can be followed and solve even the most complicated scientific problems. Another great physicist who was born in England was Isaac Newton. Newton described universal gravitation and the three laws of motion, which dominated the scientific view of the physical universe for the next three centuries.

Figure 4: Isaac Newton
Newton published “PhilosophiƦ Naturalis Principia Mathematica”. His book radically changed people understanding of the universe. The movement of the Enlightenment was deeply political as the incoming social class of the middle class was a result from this movement.  The human rights, the freedom of the people and their equality against the law were changes that were made by this movement. John Locks establishment of the social contrast limited the power of the government.  Russo supported that the political authority had to be in the hands of people. The political ideas of the Enlightenment were about to be seen in the next two big revolutions in the 18th century, the American and the French revolution. Enlightnement was very important for the humanity. Enlightnement brought a new vision of the future, which forecast the end of the absolute monarchy.

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