There should be balance, in any essay which deals with events in history, between the dry, chronological facts, and the “soul” of the event (s) in question. If an essay on a subject of history relies too much on mere historical data and fails to personalize or — in a sense — humanize the concepts and facts which are the meat and bones of the essay, then the loss of emotion and empathy on behalf of the reader will preclude their maintaining an avid interest in the facts, no matter how skilfully presented.
Unfortunately, in the essay “The Significance of the Scientific Revolution,” absolutely no “human” detail is added to the generally overwhelming flow of dry data and historical fact. The ommission of details, even details regarding dates, persons, and events is less egregious than the ommission of any personal feeling or “human interest” detail which might have been included alongside the presentation of the key events of what is known, historically, as The Scientific Revolution.
In “The Significance of the Scientific Revolution,” the reader is shown a summation of what might be best thought of as the “key exterior” events of the Scientific Revolution. These key events are presented without any degree of ‘fleshing out” which makes it very difficult to imagine the real-life impact of the events and historical evolution which the essay attempts to describe. the lack of personalization extends to the essay’s thesis, or rather, to its lack of a thesis. The idea that the Scientific Revolution was a major historical watershed for human evolution is not a thesis, but rather a statement of what is obvious.
Due to its lack of any tangible thesis of humanizing element, the essay, as it stands, presents no verifiable argument and is, at best, a weak summation of chronological events. Age of Enlightenment Although it is tempting for some observers to sum up historical eras into neat and tidy packages, this temptation is a dangerous one because it often leads to over-generalization and the loss of important historical specificity, much of which may run as a counterpoint or counter-vision to the observer’s original, categorical understanding.
In the essay “The Age of Enlightenment” generalization is the rule, and the resultant loss of historical specifics (and therefore accuracy) is the most obvious criticism which may be leveled at the essay. To begin with, the essay offers the view in its opening paragraph that the Age of Enlightenment was uniformly a positivistic era in history: “peasants and nobles were no longer bound by their feudal obligations. The philosophers of the Enlightenment felt bound to their secular views based from human understanding and reason only.
These thinkers hoped that the period would bring positive changes to every aspect of thought and life” (Enlightenment, 1). While this summation may be generally true, it is a drastic oversimplification of the slow evolution of human rights which began before the “Age of Enlightenment” and continues right on through to modern times. The author goes on to make several unsubstantiated points: for example, “the age of Enlightenment was the light that shined on the corruption during the middle ages caused by the Catholic Church” as well as misleading or imprecise diction “The people behind the age of Enlightenment” (Enlightenment, 1).
Basically, the author of the essay has taken a very generalized view, overall, of what the historical Age of Enlightenment really was and in addition, the author has compounded the looseness of their overall argument by using imprecise terms and vague substantiation through secondary sources. Unfortunately, the essay, although logical and put together in a streamlined and linear fashion, offers very little substantive information and may, in fact, be misleading to someone who read the essay hoping to understand the Age of Enlightenment from a genuinely historical perspective.
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