Enlightenment in 10 weeks

Throughout the course, I have been more aligned to the Enlightenment side of the rationality it upholds. I am someone who believes in hard facts and numbers because of the truth it holds. The rationality and mechanical view of humans through the scientific method or even learning about Hobbes social contract was more applicable to me personally. Despite this, I have also enjoyed learning about the Romanticism ideals of focusing on the individual and sentiment over reason. It focused more on the organic feature of humans like emotions rather than the mechanical aspect where we are just cogs in a machine.

I believe that this has a large impact on contemporary western society because of the vast amount of information we have. It is very easy to fabricate and control how arguments are directed with manipulated data or biased persuasion. The Enlightenment teaches us to progress based on reason and the scientific method which makes it consistent when making an argument of any sort. For example, Locke was more focused on people’s natural rights and how it relates to their freedom under a government. It was very clear of what was required in his Second Treatise with his use of rationality and reason.

The most important takeaway from this class for me was the balance between Enlightenment and Romantic ideals. Both are polar opposites in terms of what they focus on but the authors we read had conflicting views that forced us to consider both sides and the middle road. For example, Goethe’s focus on following our emotions in contrast with Kant’s focus on duty and rational thinking made me concerned with the middle road and the tension between those two contrasting ideals. It is a unique style of thinking that would help in arguments that I thought was the most important takeaway from HUM 4.

I thought this image was a good representation of what Enlightenment thinkers were striving for when focusing on rationality and reason. It made us less organic and more mechanical.

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