The Enlightenment refers to that time in history that was influenced by western ideas and culture. It was an idealistic movement of the 18th century that laid emphasis on the use of rational thinking instead of prior norms and traditions. The Enlightenment brought about humanitarian transformation. The period of Enlightenment was exemplified by remarkable upheavals in beliefs, science, society, and politics. This revolution brushed aside the middle Ages period where the world was viewed from a medieval point of view. It laid the foundation of our modern western world. Sanity was the main thing that underlined the Enlightenment. The main precondition for the Enlightenment was the desire to explain the natural world and explore the way humans are conversant with the universe. Enlightenment compelled men to think rationally, and the main objectives of rationality were comprehension, happiness, and liberty. It was believed that human rationale could be used to fight against lack of knowledge, false notions, and dictatorship to build a better world. The Enlightenment targeted mainly religion and the supremacy of the upper class. The French thinkers of the eighteenth century were the main driving force of the Enlightenment. These French Thinkers were known as the “philosophes” (Gomez 98).
Enlightenment was a positive movement as it brought out all the concepts that make men worthy beings. Life is about making choices. The choices we make influence our actions. The idea of Enlightenment was to influence the way we think, the way we co-exist with others in the society and respect for one another. Enlightenment was all about closing the gap between the poor and the prominent in the society. This is because it advocated for equality and freedom for all. It fought for the poor. The age of Enlightenment was marked by people who believed that everyone would flourish if given the same opportunities that have been given to those in the upper class (Zafirovsk 90).
The Enlightenment in the Modern World
The age of Enlightenment may seem extinct in our modern world. This is because there are no such thinkers who challenged the nobility of the upper class. The other reason is that there is a new world order. There are rich and influential countries that influence poor countries. This violates the ideas of Enlightenment. These are the ideas of equality and freedom for all. Enlightenment is however, not extinct as it may seem. This is because there are organizations, groups, and people who fight for the rights of the less privileged using the same ideas of Enlightenment. Many countries in the world have incorporated human rights in their constitutions. Leaders are expected to be rational thinkers and people who guard and respect the rights of others. The less privileged are also protected by the law. The goals of most societies in our modern world are to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor and to provide equal opportunities to all. Citizens in the various countries in the world have their own rights. These rights promote happiness and freedom. All these things I have mentioned were ideas brought about by Enlightenment (Gomez 99).
Although the ideas presented by the Enlightenment thinkers seem diminished in our era, humans still think and reason like the representatives of this era. The notion of rationality is still appealing to all regardless of class. The ideals of the Enlightenment are also used internationally to judge modern societies. Human rationale has been used to fight against ignorance and arrogances. It has also been used to fight against dictatorship and governments that oppress the rights of its citizens. (Gomez 89).
Enlightenment is hence not extinct in our modern society. Its ideas are still used in our modern era to promote knowledge, happiness, and freedom. The great thinkers who brought about these ideas may not exist anymore but, their beliefs and ideas live with us. Their ideas also live with those people who may not have an idea what Enlightenment was all about, but they believe in human rationale and equality to all (Gomez 91).
Contrast between the Enlightenment and Other Works
The Enlightenment can be compared and contrasted with other works read e.g. To His Coy Mistress, The Tyger, and Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard. In the poem The Tyger, the author raises the question why this animal would look beautiful and attractive yet it is a devouring beast. It represents the picture of an evil society that is masked by the beauty in the world. It questions divinity. The poem indicates the ideals of the Enlightenment as it questions on responsibility and will. The mention of a lamb in the poem provides a contrast between good and evil, yet they were both created by the same God (Blake 20).
The poem Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard also represents the cultural notion of the Enlightenment. The poem argues that many of the poor who lie in graves would have prospered if they had been given such an opportunity like other prosperous people had. To His Coy Mistress is a poem that talks about making use of the short time that people have to live in this world (Zafirovsk 77).
The three poems talk about human existence and their place in the society. They contribute to the culture of the Enlightenment and its deals. The writings give a holistic view of the rationality of our actions and equality that should prevail in the society (Zafirovsk 65).
The Enlightenment, however ancient it is, still presents the world with ideals and thoughts to deliberate on. It enhances human reasoning and equality for all. It still influences much of our thoughts and actions (Zafirovsk 76).