The Significance Of The Enlightenment Philosophy Essay

2223 words (9 pages) Essay

1st Jan 1970 Philosophy Reference this


Disclaimer: This work has been submitted by a university student. This is not an example of the work produced by our Essay Writing Service. You can view samples of our professional work here.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of

The purpose of writing this essay is to understand and analyse the significance of the Enlightenment in the development of the scientific method.This paper has been divided into three parts. The first part explains the reason of the coming of Enlightenment. Next,assessing the differences between theological interpretation and scientific method,and the third part analyses the Enlightenment's spirit how to promote the development of scientific method.In addition,I will refer to a number of representative,for example,Newton,Rene Descartes, John Locke, David Hume,Rousseau, Kant and they rejected that theory was the only way leading to truth, condemning people's thoughts about Christianity,celebrating reason,equality,science and humans ability to perfect themselves and society(Herry,J.2004).Their theories and contributions play an active role in the development of the scientific method .The overall purpose is to enable people to learn about the Enlightenment, the coming of scientific method,and understand the significance of the Enlightenment in the development of the scientific method of inquiry.

At the beginning ,let's see the reason of the coming of the Enlightenment.Firstly,in the seventeen and eighteen century ,European societies underwent a transition from feudal society to a capitalist society.With the development of economic, the bourgeoisie hold a strong power. But the feudal autocratic system was a huge obstacle to their further development, in order to overthrow the feudal remnants and replace them, the bourgeoisie must create public opinion. This was the original prupose of English Enlightenment(Hamilton, P. 1992).

Secondly, the occurrence of the Enlightenment had a close relationship between the development of the natural sciences.In the 17,18 century, the natural sciences has been rapid development. The development of the natural sciences provide the basis for the Enlightenment, as the Enlightenment thinkers in many ways from the emerging natural sciences to find the theoretical underpinnings and ways of thinking.In the 18th century ,natural philosophers believed that scientific revolution could change all human activity.On this period, there have been many enlightened thinkers,who forcefully dispelled the shackles of people's mind of the medieval scholastic shackles,promote scientific experiments and celebrated reason,equality,science and humans ability to perfect themselves and society(Henry,J.2004).Enlightenment was generated in this request.

And then formed the basic spirit of the Enlightenment,which was against the divine right of kings and advocated natural rights, which based on the development of modern science and led to generate a new world view.

Enlightenment was an anti-feudal, anti-Christian ideology and culture of the revolutionary movement(Herry,J.2004).It was the furtherance of the Renaissance of the fifteenth century, took placed during the seventeenth and eighteenth century in Europe, was originally produced in the UK, and then developed into France, Germany and Russia, in addition, the Netherlands, Belgium and other countries were also affected.The thinkers of the Enlightenment,based on reason and materialism,denounced the Christian idea of people's inherent depravity,celebrating reason,equality,science and humans ability to perfect themselves and society (Outram,D).

An important aspect of the Enlightenment flourished the development of science. The thinkers of the Scientific Revolution generated the concepts of inductive and deductive reasoning, stimulating the formation of the scientific method(Kuhn, T. 1962).

The scientific method was the understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge or access to the procedure or process.Compared with theological interpretation,scientific method is practiced within using empirical evidence(empiricism), practicing logical reasonsing(rationalism),and had a skeptical about presumed knowledge (skepticism),that led to self-questioning, holding tentative conclusions, and was willing to change their religion(Steven, D 1994).The Empiricist Bacon's " New instrument " (1620) and the rational commentators of Descartes's "Scientific method " (1637) were represented the two wings of the scientific method - the experience and assumptions inductive and deductive method. They laid the scientific method of pattern or schema.(Perry,M.1993)

Enlightenment's spirit promote the development of scientific method(Kuhn, T. 1962).In many ways, the basic spirit of the Enlightenment was against the divine right of kings and advocated natural rights, which based on the development of modern science and led to generate a new world view.In addition,the Enlightenment grew directly out of the scientific revolution(Kuhn, T. 1962).The Enlightenment thinkers admired the discoveries of the scientific method revolution and valued the method that made them possible.In a world , the Enlightenment promote the development of the scientific method of inquiry.Through the three generations of enlightenment and their contribution to be find.

The Enlightenment was largely the work of three overlapping and closely linked generations of thinkers(Hamilton,1992:25).

The first generation of Enlightenment thinkers were the English scientist Isaac Newton(1642-1727),political philosopher John Locke(1632-1704),the French thinkers Voltaire(1694-1778 ).In the 17th century, the great achievements of modern science has changed human life and world view. Newton's natural philosophy deciphered nature's mysteries.In 1687,Newton published a famous book: "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy," in this book ,he provided a lot of mathematical evidence of the laws of gravity. He had uncovered universal laws that explained the physical phenomena,and provide clear and certain answers to the problem of the social world (Outram,D).Newton, considered one of the most influential scientists. He encouraged everyone to observe and realize the world. Equally important, Newton shows scientific ideas and methods can be applied to the development of science, not a moment - to pave the way for many generations the enlightenment thinkers.(Henry,J.2004). One of the leaders of the Enlightenment Voltaire, who introduced Newton's system of thought to the center of movement - France.A rational spirit of the Enlightenment was against the ignorance and mysticism, in fact,made a popularity of the spirit of science.

During the same period,another philosophies John Locke developed Bacon's idea that all ideas and derived all knowledge, opinions and behaviour had to based on sense expenses and attacked on metaphysics.According his thought,Locke established empiricism .And after that,Enlightenment thinkers held that people should not dwell on unanswered questions, especially should not spent time on the result of the theology, but should seek practical knowledge, inspired people and made them control their own environment(Outram,D).They thought that all of the theory must be analyzed to determine and the practical experience of mankind based on the confirmation.Locke's empiricism instead of chrity and verification and aspiried to useful knowledge.Thus, it helped to mold the utilitarian and reformist spirit of the Enlightenment.

The second generation included the Scottish philosopher David Hume(1711-1776) and French philosopher Rousseau(1712-1778).It was more explicitly "anticlerical"and continued and developed the interest in the application of scientific method to "moral"(or social) issues developed by members of the first generation.

The Scottish philosopher David Hume was influenced by John Locke,made a philosophical discovery that opened up to him 'a new senses of thought'(Hamilton, P. 1992).From then on,scientific method offered greater opportunities to question even basic assumption.In 1739 , David Hume published the" Treatise of Human Nature" argued that the problem of induction was unsolvable.Hume's skepticism was based on experience,and based on the argument, these arguments were divided into two aspects: one was with Locke and Berkeley as the representative of the implementation of the principles of empiricism and the development of this argument will be advanced to British empiricism its logical conclusion, explaining that it implied skepticism; the other was through experience and psychological analysis demonstrates that the human while the existence of an object with the outside world, the same self and causality, etc., "irresistible" natural beliefs, However, we did not have these beliefs was based on objective reality, we can describe their psychological processes occur, but not for their objective validity of the defence.The most important of Hume's approach was strong move against metaphysics as speculative and meaningless(Lindberg,1990).By 1750 the scientific method had already become inductive, historical, anthropological, comparative, and critical(Hamilton, P. 1992).

In the same period,another Enlightenment thinkers Jean-Jacques Rousseau pointed out the accumulation of knowledge,which can help people to improve understanding but destruct the human morality(Stephen,E.B.2008). Rousseau questioned advanced in knowledge and advocated getting back to nature.Rousseau's argument for educational purposes in order to cultivate a natural person, and attacked the nobility and the feudal education, and he believed that nature did not manufacture the nobility and gentry, and everyone should, according to nature and life. In this respect, Rousseau's theory was a progressive of the educational purposes, but his theory of human nature was good when he born that was not science, because nature was just the potential physical and mental development, education can not be one-sided response to people's instincts.In the new society,reason would be used to enhance man's innate goodness and to make him free.Rousseau's empnases on self-reliance and on learning by doing rather than by rote-the first book that Emile will read was Robinson Crusoe-make him a forerunner of the progressive education advocated. From then on ,scientific knowledge came to be seen as instrument for securing control over the human condition and make it better(Loflin,L).

Enlightenment was characterized by doing away with superstition and mysticism, advocate science (natural philosophy, or simply said in philosophy) and reason --- this period was known as the "Age of Reason"(Kuhn, T) --- The ideal of the Enlightenment inspired many subsequent thinkers-The third generation included the German philosopher Kant (1724â€"1804) who couraged people to use own intelligence to break with beliefs and institutions(Hamilton, P. 1992).

Kant attempted to steer a middle course between two position of Rationalism and Empiricism.Reason and observation work together(Perry,M.1993).In 1784,Kant entitled"what is Enlightenment?",in his essay,he expressed this central principle of the Enlightenment.He said Enlightenment was man's leaving his self-caused immaturity.Immaturity is the incapacity to use one's intelligence without the guidance of another. Have the courage to use your own intelligence,is therefore the motto of the enlightenment. Kant rejected the authority of tradition, the philosopher wanted people to have the courage to break with beliefs and institutions that did not meet the test of reason and common to seek new guideposts derived from reason.For Kant, the Enlightenment was a process of becoming enlightened(Perry,M.1993).

This assignment has explained the central importance of the Enlightenment in the development of scientific method.In early modern time,from Bacon cannot link the relationship between truth and reason,and Descartes simply described the reason and truth,human reason and scientific method and progress.In the Pre-Modernment time,Enlightenment reached peak amongest the French philosopher.Using the scientific methods based on the nature of science ,which was the objective forms of knowledge. However, Enlightenment itself was in a moral restraint to improve society. In other words, the moral dimension of enlightenment was built on a specific value(Stephen,E.B 2008). From this point, Enlightenment can be seen as a standard program. Scientific method, on the other hand, regarded itself as one of the biggest pursuit of justice that was interested in discovery of facts in the form of objective ‘laws’.

We have seen Enlightenment enabled the study of social life to break away from religious interpretations and established human beings as the active agency in constructing scientific knowledge.In addition, the Enlightenment marks the final break between pre-modern and modern knowledge,for it transformed the way in which the system of knowledge related to the social structure and social agency.It operated principles of modern knowledge.At the same time,the development of the natural sciences provide the basis for the Enlightenment, as the Enlightenment thinkers in many ways from the emerging natural sciences to find the theoretical underpinnings and ways of thinking and lead to promote the scientific and economic, social and political transformation of development.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on the website then please:

Related Lectures

Study for free with our range of university lectures!