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The Enlightenment and Adam Smith.pdf

2 Pages

Political Science
Course Code
Sascha Maicher

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The classic enlightenment metaphor: bringing light to darkness Inspired by Plato and the allegory of the cave We can consider the enlightenment to have started in the 17th C. What was being challenged, undermined by the new ideas of the enlightenment?  Traditional authority o Scripture and religion was being challenged. Primary source of knowledge up to that point was the Church. Religious leaders were the main source of information  The idea that divine purpose explained everything existed. o The classics  The renaissance was the revival of the classics (literature, etc). Renaissance emphasized that people were going away from a wise age.  How did these ideas get eroded? How did we move from the renaissance to the enlightenment? o Reality --> increased optimism. o New idea of the nature of man: new sense of what it means to be a human  The move to a heliocentric notion of the universe (astronomy, etc). IE, the human being is no longer the center of the universe and that maybe the world wasn't just created by god for human beings to enjoy  Geology is advancing- fossils add a new chapter to the history of human existence.  Travel is allowing us to come into contact with far-flung civilizations. Encounter w/ other countries throws certainties in countries. Ie, Chinese calendar that went farther back than the European calendar. o Once you learn how to interpret scripture, the scripture itself loses it authoritative force.  Consequences of this most evident in Hobbes and his political theory.  Uses the very non spiritual urge of self-preservation. o What do we need as a citizen of this new world?  Where do we go for authority and absolute fact seeking? We need a new idea of how we can test for truth/  Descartes- how can we find out if something is certain? Start by doubting everything, and then see what is left standing.  We're talking about the average citizen-those who are shaping the world would be the ones who are reading Descartes.  Development of the scientific method  Francis Bacon (1551) comes up with this  A system of verifying facts.  The importance of the scientific method is that anyone can do it on their own, because doing your own test proves what you need to be proven. o Central part of enlightenment thinking: focus on the individual  We're not simply pawn in God's grand plan-if we can come to reason on our own, then we must not be entirely reliabl
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