The Age of Enlightenment

The 18th century: Age of Enlightenment had a chilling effect on spiritual movements, but this was countered by the Methodist revival of John WesleyCharles Wesley and George Whitefield in England …

Note: The Methodist revival was a societal response to ideas from the Age of Enlightenment. The quote from the Wikipedia article below offers an introduction to this period of social change.

The Age of Enlightenment (or simply the Enlightenment or Age of Reason) was a cultural movement of intellectuals beginning in late 17th-century Europe emphasizing reason and individualism rather than tradition.[1] Its purpose was to reform society using reason, to challenge ideas grounded in tradition and faith, and to advance knowledge through the scientific method. It promoted scientific thought, skepticism, and intellectual interchange.[2] The Enlightenment was a revolution in human thought. This new way of thinking was that rational thought begins with clearly stated principles, uses correct logic to arrive at conclusions, tests the conclusions against evidence, and then revises the principles in the light of the evidence.

Enlightenment thinkers opposed superstition and intolerance. Some Enlightenment thinkers collaborated with Enlightened despots, absolutist rulers who attempted to forcibly put some of the new ideas about government into practice. The ideas of the Enlightenment continue to exert significant influence on the culture, politics, and governments of the Western world.

Originating in the 17th century, it was sparked by philosophers Francis Bacon (1562-1626), Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677), John Locke(1632–1704), Pierre Bayle (1647–1706), Voltaire (1694–1778) and physicist Isaac Newton (1643–1727).[3] Ruling princes often endorsed and fostered these figures and even attempted to apply their ideas of government in what was known as enlightened absolutism. TheScientific Revolution is closely tied to the Enlightenment, as its discoveries overturned many traditional concepts and introduced new perspectives on nature and man’s place within it. The Enlightenment flourished until about 1790–1800, at which point the Enlightenment, with its emphasis on reason, gave way to Romanticism, which placed a new emphasis on emotion; a Counter-Enlightenment began to increase in prominence. The Romantics argued that the Enlightenment was reductionistic insofar as it had largely ignored the forces of imagination, mystery, and sentiment…[4]

Russell argues that the enlightenment was ultimately born out of the Protestant reaction against the Catholic counter-reformation, when the philosophical views of the past two centuries crystallized into a coherent world view. He argues that many of the philosophical views, such as affinity for democracy against monarchy, originated among Protestants in the early 16th century to justify their desire to break away from the Pope and the Catholic Church. Though many of these philosophical ideals were picked up by Catholics, Russell argues, by the 18th century the Enlightenment was the principal manifestation of the schism that began with Martin Luther.[8]

Resources:

This post is provides material from Wikipedia with links to articles and information on English History which forms the background for the development of Methodism. While it is lightly edited, the source is Wikipedia unless noted below. Links above are recognized by blue underlined text and lead to other articles. The major article(s) quoted here are:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_Enlightenment

 

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