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HIS109Y1 Lecture notes - Academic year 2010-11 (Feb.22/26))

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Kenneth Bartlett

HIS109 Feb. 28 , 2011 Reactions to Rationalism Elements that began to criticize and challenge the aspects of European society Rationalist model became institutionalized in schools, etc Forms the basis of our thought, human reason supreme Many people tried to break out of the structure of the Enlightenment mode, looked for other kinds of inspiration, Cartesian model Middle class didn’t accept that all of the problems of the world would simply go away through the application of science Belief that there was a challenge driven by individuals with terrible experiences that drove them to question the belief of progress Frenchmen felt this in particular, especially in the Franco-Prussian War, left them wondering how rational people could do this After having subscribed to the idea of progress, many thoughtful Frenchmen began to feel betrayed by rationalism Anti-rationalists called Les Deracines Bad solutions manifested in social and political movements of extreme nationalism, anti-Semitism, authoritarianism solutions to a world that no longer made much sense Role of the rational middle weakened, either went with them or not Belief in rationalism & Napoleon as a Utopian leader began to decline Growing interest in the irrational Explanation of irrational side of the basic element of human nature undertaken by writers, artists, & philosophers looked for a vocabulary to explain, that which was not linear Spielvogel p. 732-34: Before 1914 most Europeans continued to believe in the values & ideals that had become generated by Scientific Revolution & the Enlightenment Ability of humans to improve themselves & achieve a better society seemed to be demonstrated by rising standard of living, urban improvements, & mass education th Near end of the 19 century dramatic transformation in realm of ideas & culture challenged many of these assumptions new view of the physical universe, appeal to the irrational, alternative views of human nature, radically innovative forms of literary & artistic expression shattered old beliefs & opened the way to a modern consciousness Science one of the chief pillars supporting the optimistic & rationalistic view of the world that many Westerners shared in the 19 century many believed application of already known scientific laws would give humanity a complete understanding of the physical world & an accurate picture of reality, new physics dramatically altered this picture Sigmund Freud Constructor in the unconscious, architect of the unconscious self, interpretation of dreams illustrated that the human mind contained an irrational element Follow instinctual behaviour, we have in us an animal personality Didn’t accept Pavlov’s theories, saw human behaviour as produced by the unconscious mind more powerful than the conscious mind, humans motivated by the most basic urges (power, self-preservation, & sex – the need to reproduce) Human beings inner life was a battleground of 3 contending forces: the id (lustful drives & desires, crude appetites & impulses), ego (seat of reason, the coordinator of inner life), & superego (locus of conscience, represents the inhibitions & moral values that society in general & parents in particular imposed on people) Abhorrent behaviour subconscious at work Built on the irrational aspects of the human condition Freud & Pavlov continuators of Darwin, sought a rational explanation to irrational behaviour Ivan Pavlov Animals could be programmed in a particular way, & we too can be trained in such a way You can program a person to respond physiologically through psychological means Physiological psychological: human behaviour a series of physical responses Marcel Proust Motive for action resided beyond the reach of the intellect, ultimately what matters is what you feel Appearances were one thing, but reality was another Appearances skewed reality because perception was insufficient Strindberg Debussy Schoenberg Stravinsky Nietzsche Kafka Values of 19 century bourgeois drove these thinkers into a minority, giving them more prominence th Dominant culture of 19 century romantics Those who believed the bourgeois sounds reached its development Spielvogel, p. 735-6: Impact of Darwinism Social Darwinism application of Darwin’s principle of organic evolution to the social order; led to the belief that progress comes from the struggle for survival as the fittest advance & the weak decline Darwin’s ideas applied to human society in an even more radical way by nationalists & racists Extreme nationalists argued that nations engaged in a struggle for existence in which only the fittest survived Racism example Volkish thought: belief that German culture is superior & that the German people have a universal mission to save Western civilization from “inferior” races Attack on Christianity, p. 736: Growth of scientific thinking as well as the forces of modernization presented new challenges to the Christian churches, industrialization & urbanization had adverse effects Mass migration of people from the countryside to the city meant a change from the close-knit, traditional ties of the village in which the church had been a key force to new urban patterns of social life from which churches were often excluded th Political movements of the late 19 century were also hostile Culture of Modernity: Literature, p. 737 Revolution in physics & psychology paralleled by a revolution in literature & the arts Before 1914, writers & artists were rebelling against the traditional literary & artistic styles that had dominated European cultural life since the Renaissance Changes that they produced called modernism artistic & literary styles that emerged in the decades before 1914 as artists rebelled against traditional efforts to portray reality as accurately as possible (leading to Impressionism & Cubism) & writers explored new forms. Naturalism dominated literature throughout much of the 19 century, accepted the material world as real & felt that literature should be realistic Addresses social problems through writing, allowing writers to contribute to an objective understanding of the world Symbolism writers that reacted against Realism, interested primarily in writing poetry, they believed that an objective knowledge of the world was impossible External world not real but only a collection of symbols that reflected the true reality of the individual human mind Believed art should function for its own sake instead of serving, criticizing, or seeking to understand society Modernism in the Arts, p. 737: Impressionism movement originated in France in the 1870s when a group of artists reje
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