Age of Reason or Enlightenment. Rise of Rationalism. Age of Reason: 1700-1800. Started in Europe and spread to America Rationalism – belief that human beings can arrive at truth by using reason, rather than by relying on the authority of the past, on religious faith, or on intuition.
Age of Reason or Enlightenment
Rise of Rationalism
Started in Europe and spread to America
Rationalism – belief that human beings can arrive at truth by using reason, rather than by relying on the authority of the past, on religious faith, or on intuition
Sir Isaac Newton compared God to a clockmaker. God created the perfect mechanism, the universe, and left it to run on its own – like a clock.
Rationalists believed God’s special gift to humanity is reason – the ability to think in an ordered, logical manner
It enables people to discover both scientific and spiritual truth.
In April 1721, a ship from the West Indies brought smallpox to “America”
Cotton Mather, a Puritan minister, advocated for inoculation
Inoculation was a method devised by a Turkish physician
Rationalists required a willingness to experiment, to try things out, no matter what the authorities might say.
These ideas began challenging the Puritan theology –threatened the faith system of the Puritans
Best form of worship is to do good for others
Faith in natural goodness - a human is born without taint or sin
Perfectibility of a human being - it is possible to improve situations of birth, economy, society, and religion.
The sovereignty of reason - echoes of Rene Descartes‘ I think, therefore, I am (as the first certitude in resolving universal doubt.)
Universal benevolence - the attitude of helping everyone.
A searching inquiry in all aspects of the world around
Interest in the classics as well as in the Bible
Interest in nature – the “absentee landlord” phenomenon
Interest in science and scientific experiments
Optimism –experiments in utopian communities
Sense of a person’s duty to succeed
Constant search of the self – emphasis on individualism