Posted by Tom Kershaw in Bentley, Civil Rights, Constitution, Einstein, Hume, Locke, Mill, Pasteur, progress, Rousseau, society, The Enlightenment, Universal Suffrage, Voltaire on -
As I do not want even a basic understanding of history to be a prerequisite to reading this blog, I’ll recap, in a nutshell, why that is the case.
In this brilliant flash of intellectual awakening, the philosophical, spiritual, psychological, and ethical foundations for so many of the West’s greatest achievements were laid.
Democracy, equality, basic human and civil rights, and justifications for rule and governance beyond the abstractions that are God and divine right were made possible by the contributions and ideas of those such as Voltaire, Hume, Locke, Mill, Bentley, Rousseau, and many others.
Suddenly, there were new ways to discover truth and gather knowledge. Science became accepted and, eventually, overthrew revelation and theology as the paradigm to new knowledge.
We would have had no George Washington, no Einstein, no Pasteur, no constitution, no civil rights movement or universal suffrage if it weren’t for the courage and ingenuity of these men.
As impressive and important as they were, something is often overlooked amidst the rain of accolades--their society. As intelligent as the harbingers of the Enlightenment were, they were not a new step in human evolution; they weren’t any more intelligent or forward-thinking than the intelligent and forward-thinking men of a generation before them. They only emerged at this time because psychosocial conditions aligned in such a way that these ideas were heard and felt and wanted and accepted.
It would seem that our current reality stands somewhere parallel to theirs. The old paradigms are not working--and it’s quite clear to anyone who is paying attention. But what could possibly be next?
The Enlightenment was about reason and rationality and science. These have become entrenched in Western society and will never be completely discarded--and they shouldn’t be.
Rather, they should become a few of the many approaches of a New Enlightenment. You see, ideas are real--even if they are not themselves physical or material. They come from will and travel to action which, in turn, becomes a new reality.
We’ve come so far as a species in so many ways. We’ve learned so much. But science is not the only way to new ideas.
Our next Enlightenment will be one of awareness, where any particular psychosocial reality is approached appropriately--be it emotionally, spiritually, scientifically, or otherwise.
THEE is not meant for making predictions, it is a map of what it is to be human. But many of the discoveries within it point towards a natural evolution of things. Each person evolves, each family, each community, organization, government, and even the entire species are dynamic and they move in a general direction.
These problems we face as individuals, as families, communities, societies and as a species are not necessarily tragic or unjust, but only the result of unproductive, immature, or misinformed choices we make as we take our natural course through history and, personally, our lives.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be taking a look at what psychosocial reality is and our freedoms and limitations within it as well as some implications for the future.
- Tom Kershaw
- Hi! I'm Tom and I am a full-time writer, musician, and father to a firecracker of a four year-old. My wife and I lease our house and cars from her in hopes that her considerable talents of mess-making, princess-impersonation, and stuffed animal-whispering will pay off and fund our eventual retirement in the south of France.
- ► 2013 (45)
- ▼ February (4)