I think reason and emotion are both important, but between Enlightenment and Romanticism, I prefer the idea of Enlightenment. I think the ideas and methods of Enlightenment are much more feasible than that of the Romanticism. Because many ideas of Romanticism are based on personal and ideas. Then, there are questions arise that different people would inevitably have different views. Taking aesthetics as an example, no one will argue against that though have several general principles, aesthetics is still a subjective idea. Hence, Romanticism’s idea and method would still cause divergence.
Learning the ideas of Enlightenment gives a new perspective of considering the constitution of modern western society because most of western society have built their constitution based on the idea that people have certain inalienable natural rights and the duty of government is to protect these rights. What is more, Enlightenment’s ideas also give me a better understanding of the balance between personal freedom and the effectiveness of government.
I think the most interesting thing I take from this class is the idea of Romanticism because I think Romanticism depicted a way of life I sometimes want to live. This is something I have never thought about because most time I consider myself as living according to reason. However, when I find I have ideas the same as Romanticism, I have changed my view a lot.
I was recently reading an article from National Geographic about the emotions and behaviors of animals, which says that many animals, like elephants, dolphins, and dogs have empathy just like humans do. A report said that there once was an old woman who cannot see well and got lost and found out the next day an elephant guarding her. This remains me thinking of a study of animal behavior saying that elephants are emotional animals that have a strong sense of empathy. Humans, in their eyes, are just like little babies that can arouse their willingness of protection. Many animals, just like human beings, are born with this emotion as I mentioned in Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (1754), pg 64 that “pity is a natural sentiment, which, by moderating in each individual the activity of the love of oneself, contributes to the mutual preservation of the entire species. Pity is what carries us without reflection to the aid of those we see suffering”. This shows us that we all share a lot of similarities in the state of nature and those human beings who are considered as barbarians are actually just more well-protected by nature than us.