- The literal meaning of enlightenment is awakening. Enlightenment in world history refers to the awakening in the field of science and technology in the 17th century.
- Thoughts based on scientific inquiry and rationalism of the 17th century destroyed the ideas related to God, human creation, and the world.
- As a result, a new world emerged which was rationalistic, mechanistic, and impersonal but humane and tolerant.
- The Enlightenment was the next phase of the Renaissance.
- Represented the expression of the same middle class that suggested an alternative to the medieval way of life due to the weakness in the early stages of commercialism but was not refuted.
- The second half of the 18th century was an era of revolution in the Western world.
- The American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the military campaigns of Napoleon Bonaparte were influenced by the revolutionaries.
- The source of inspiration for these revolutionary events was the intellectual revolution of the 17th-18th centuries.
- Due to revolutionary changes in 18th-century Europe, the era of Enlightenment or Viveka started, that is, ideology based on contemplation and experiment became prevalent.
- Enlightenment thinkers combined their knowledge with the natural sciences. The causes of events began to be discovered as a means of increasing man’s control over the natural and social environment.
- The thinkers of the Enlightenment era emphasized the happiness and well-being of human beings. The thinkers of the Enlightenment were supporters of freedom and independence.
- Enlightenment propounded the importance of nature. Enlightenment believed in the intellectual consciousness of man and believed that he should get his natural rights, but for the attainment of natural rights, it often suggested the option of gradual improvement instead of revolution.
- According to the philosophers, the common man is intelligent but the problem is that He often rejects the decision of the intellect because he feels a sense of security in following the tradition and is afraid of the possible dangers in the event of change.
- The wisdom provided the basis of an alternative policy to the individual in place of ethics guided by discussion, in which the relationship between man and God began to be formulated in a new way, and in this new interrelationship, new patterns of production, wealth accumulation, and consumption were established.
- This amazing system called creation or the world cannot be the result of any coincidence. Some infinite Devi Shakti must have created and expanded it.
- Man’s limited mind cannot know the infinite, that is, God is beyond knowledge, impersonal after operating his ideal mechanical laws.
Spread of Enlightenment
- By the 18th century, the Enlightenment had spread to other countries in Europe as well as to the Americas and Asian continents.
- The development of enlightened thinking in America received special contributions from education, journalism, and thought.
- The expression of the Enlightenment in America was slightly different from Europe because here some ideas gained more importance than others.
- Enlightened thinkers of America got immense support from James Logan and Benjamin Franklin. Logan was the secretary of the colonies and a great bibliophile.
- He had prepared a library with his own resources. Franklin formed a club named Jonto for intellectual development. The American Philosophical Society was later born from this Junto Club.
- Samuel Adams, Henry Patrick, and Thomas Paine also played an important role in the development of intellectual consciousness in America in the 18th century.
- Raja Ram Mohan Roy 1772-1835 AD was the chief pioneer of the renaissance in modern India. The rational scientific approach was the first person to make social reforms based on the principles of human dignity and social equality, hence he is called the father of modern India, pioneer of enlightenment, etc.
- The spread of the Enlightenment in Japan can be traced to the restoration of the Meiji Empire in 1874 AD. In the Meiji period, 33 intellectuals together established an organization called Mero Kusha.
- The purpose of establishing this organization was to promote Japanese civilization and sovereignty.
- Due to the spread of women’s education, the awakening of women in Japan and their social status began to change. From the beginning of the 20th century, women started working on their own and became financially independent.
- The Enlightenment developed gradually in China.
- Yug Wing was the first Chinese to go to America to study in the 19th century. Here the influence of Enlightenment appeared in the form of a self-reinforcement movement.
- The objective of this movement was the economic development and modernization of China so that it could successfully face the western powers.
Effect of Enlightenment
- As a result, the king had to support public welfare kingship. Progressivism began to be communicated in society and the participation of common citizens in economic activities started.
- Advancement of education of the common man, upliftment of peasant slaves, development of literature, improvement in harsh penal legislation, eradication of poverty, construction of hospitals, clarification of laws, improvement, and compilation, etc. important changes started taking place.
- Due to the influence of Enlightenment, the state came to be understood as the main tool of progress, whether it was a limited monarchy based on the principles of Montesquieu or an enlightened autocracy based on the principles of Voltaire, or a republican state based on the principles of Rousseau.
- These three concepts of the state were considered as the main guarantee of social welfare. Now people became dependent on the enlightened state for their protection and every hope of progress depended on the creation of political reform, education, management, etc.