How Did Enlightenment Affect Western Societies

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Starting in the 1600s, people in middle ages believed in one of superstitions, bad luck of number 13. They believed gathering 13 people would bring society was full of ignorance, superstition, and inequality but lacking human reason, and human rights. A common superstition that the number 13 It was not able to fulfill citizen’s happiness before the Enlightenment. Enlightenment, literally meaning awakening people with the clear reason of light that is from rational thought, took place in “long 18th century” (1685 – 1815) in western civilizations. Enlightenment surely had a positive major influence on science, democracy,

Firstly, Enlightenment had a major influence on scientific development in western societies through scientific Revolution in 1543- 1610. Due to the appearance of scientific method which Francis Bacon formulated in 17th century, Scientists used it to collect measurable, empirical evidence in an experiment related to a hypothesis. According to Britannica, Inventions of microscope, telescope, gave scholar ways to conduct experiments with accurate observations. Hence, scientific method promoted rational approach to science and shifted the focus of scientists to experimentation. In addition, Issac Newton who formulated laws of gravity/ motion, and Rene Descartes who invented Analytic geometric contributed as well. Therefore, through scientific revolution based on scientific method and math development, all the natural and artificial circumstances were abandoned and a tradition of systematic experimentation was accepted throughout the scientific community in Western civilizations

Secondly, Enlightenment had a huge impact on the government and democracy in western societies in terms of role of government. French Revolution, which began in 1789, is deeply inspired by Enlightenment ideas. For example, “The separation of church and state” supported by Voltaire, made government maintain the attitude of neutrality toward religion. It basically aimed to protect the public power from the influences of religious institutions. Thus, the idea of liberalism appeared by John Locke’s 3 natural rights (life, liberty, property) that can’t be taken away from the government. Specifically, to government itself, Montesquieu supported separation of powers (legislative, executive, judicial) to maintain balance of the government. This idea is applied in modern American constitution today. Furthermore, these ideas can clearly be seen in “Declaration of Independence”. Therefore, these ideas contributed to American and French Revolution which ultimately left a long-term impact on politics, society, religion, in many western countries.

Lastly, the period of Enlightenment had a profound effect on the economy. As people moved from rural areas to cities, economic shifted from agriculture to non-agriculture products. Also the merchants and traders in the middle class of the society flourished which this transformation led to economic globalization of Europe. Furthermore, the one of philosophers, Adam Smith affected a lot to the economy. His book “The Wealth of Nation” explains that individual greed and self-interest is helpful to be the best in competition of social market. He believed it creates wealth not just for the butcher, but the brewer, backer. Therefore his idea that the citizens working productively to better themselves and address their financial needs would change the economics.


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How Did Enlightenment Affect Western Societies. (2021, Jan 16). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/how-did-enlightenment-affect-western-societies/

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