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Paper Topic:

How did the Enlightenment change basic Western attitudes toward reform, faith and reason? What were the major formative influences on the philosophes? How important was the Encyclopedia in the success of the Enlightenment?


With the arrival of the Age of Enlightenment , the Western basic attitude towards reforms , faith and reason change

The reforms prior to the age of Enlightenment were more revolutionary demanded by discontented subjects against their rulers . They used to have civil wars and uprisings in fighting against injustice and abuses But in the Age of Enlightenment , western attitudes towards reforms change , for now they hoped to apply the scientific method and reason in improving human society . They now consider wars and persecutions in the name of religion to be unreasonable

. They could find no rational justification for religious fanaticism or intolerance . They now call for freedom of speech and thought to express their ideas regarding the need for change (Perry , 1988 , 409

Western attitude towards faith also change . Whereas before they readily accepted Church teachings and traditions without question , now they realized that they do not have to believed immediately but study the teachings in the light of the Biblical texts and reason . In matters of religion , they now disregard any ideas that conflicts with reasoning . In other words , they no longer leap blindly in faith but use their reasoning to evaluate and oppose the teachings of the clergy (Perry 1988 , 409

The philosohpes of the Enlightenment , in seeking reforms were primarily influenced by the scientific scholars who made scientific study of the physical world . They were impressed with how these scholars used the scientific method in search for in the universe especially they admired Newton because he had successfully used reason to explain the laws governing the universe . The philosophes adopted the scholar 's method in improving human society . To spread their ideas they published encyclopedias . This multi-volume work aimed to collect information on many s , with emphasis on science and technology in to educate the people . The encyclopedia was one way in which the philosophes attacked injustices they saw in eighteenth-century society . Articles in the Encyclopedia often presented ' opinions as well as factual information . For instance , one article described war as a violent sickness ' a madness unworthy of civilized people . If humans would act according to reason , it said , they would never , surrender themselves to the fury of war ' Article condemned slavery , insisting that no one has the right to deprive people of their freedom : Men and their liberty are no objects of commerce they can be neither sold nor brought nor paid for at any price . There is not , therefore , a single one of these unfortunate people regarded only as slaves , who does no have the right to be declared free (Perry , 1988 , 409-410 Reference

Perry , Marvin . A History of the World . New York : Houghton-Mifflin Company , Inc , 1988


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