Enlightenment and Romantic Age Essay

Enlightenment Age

Enlightenment age refers to European culture of the 18th century. The period was characterized by human knowledge where people tried to interpret the world around them. People questioned why some things were happening. The past carefully explained during enlightenment age. Furthermore, rationality and reason prevailed over traditional believes.

This implied that problems were explained systematically using some scientific techniques and principles. In other words, human beings were expected to use their knowledge practically in defining phenomena. It means that human beings devised some methods and techniques that controlled nature (Fiero, 2011). There was continuous exploration to generate new knowledge.

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John Locke’s philosophy is one example of rationalism that characterized enlightenment age. The philosopher wrote extensively about government. He argued that the state was to be delinked from the church and leaders had to share powers equally among the three arms of government. Locke suggested that leadership had to be based on knowledge not tradition.

Therefore, empiricism was viewed as one of the tenets of good leadership. This changed people’s political culture because the monarch was no longer respected. The executive branch of government had to be watched closely by the legislature. The society had to be guided by the rule of law. Enlightenment age led to the emergence of the philosophy of checks and balances.

Jean Jacques Rousseau was one of the scholars who opposed rationalism because he believed that enlightenment was a blind loyalty in the almightiness of human motivation. He believed that rationalism and reason were tyrannical. He therefore advocated for nature that is, human beings had to revisit nature. This meant that people had to revive their inner feelings. According to Rousseau, natural rights had to be granted without negotiation. Such rights included liberty, equality and fraternity. Nature was pure, naïve and less corrupt.


Romantic period emphasized on individuality, originality, imagination and the value of art. It can be compared to enlightenment, which emphasized on rationalism and empiricism. It can be traced to the works of Emmanuel Kant and Rousseau. It actually represents a shift from analyzing phenomena objectively to evaluating problems subjectively.

The scholars in this era believed that each person had a different viewpoint, which could radically differ from those of others. Scholars in romantic era observed that self-realization and nature are some of the factors that influence individuals to act in particular ways (Bossi, & Poggi, 1994). For instance, salvation was believed to be related to an individual but not society or political movements.

An example of romantic philosophy is the nature of human beings as observed by Kant. He examined that people view things differently implying that some factors are considered when analyzing an event. Each society has its own way of viewing things. Perspectives vary from one individual to another.

Understanding world problems depends on individual orientation to the world. Human creations lead to variations, which can further cause differences in society. This was referred to as idealism. Idealism means that human beings are free to reason individually. According to romanticism, some universal laws and regulations do not control ideas.

Schelling came up with another philosophy that strengthened the reasoning of Kant. According to Schelling, the outside world is viewed as an adjunct to what is most authentic, which is the mind. The only thing that people can claim to know is their consciousness. The scholar postulated that the works of art would enable individuals to develop full consciousness.


Bossi, M., & Poggi, S. (1994). Romanticism in Science: Science in Europe, 1790-1840. Boston: Kluwer.

Fiero, G. K. (2011). The Humanistic Tradition (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

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