The Enlightenment and the Great Awakening
The Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason introduced a new spirit of thought and inventive analysis in 17th and 18th century Europe. Theories and ideas that had previously been accepted were now being challenged to be looked upon with an eye of reason rather than tradition. Key leaders in this movement of new thinking included Copernicus, Galileo, Locke, Franklin and Newton. Englishman, John Locke, was one of whose political works had the greatest direct impact on the revolutionary spirit in the colonies during the Enlightenment. In his essay An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke explained that humans learn only from experience. We as humans experience things with our senses and through reflection. His revolutionary view was that we are born knowing nothing at all. At birth, our minds are completely blank, a tabula rasa. Which is why being completely empty can be filled with what we know to be true through experience (History in the Making).
The Enlightenment focused on the role of religion and divine right. This helped colonial America see that it was okay to challenge the King and divine rights. The role of God was challenged in this movement and allowed people to see that they were important. Also allowing people to realize they had the ability to shape their own lives. The movement resulted in new interests in literature, schooling and science. Newspapers and book publications increased and schools became synonymous with new towns and villages due to the enlightenment. Something interesting about the Enlightenment is that it was centered on the scientific method. It was also an absolute development in the knowledge and application of power that changed nature and the natural world to what it is known today (Russell J. Stevens). Back to Contents
New colleges were established as a consequence. In my opinion, the building of new colleges is what brought these two movements together. The...
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