Support Aeon Donate now The ideals of the Enlightenment are the basis of our democracies and universities in the 21st century: In fact, no other era compares with the Age of Enlightenment. Classical Antiquity is inspiring, but a world away from our modern societies. The Middle Ages was more reasonable than its reputation, but still medieval.
References and Further Reading 1. From the "Mayflower Compact," penned in as the early English settlers arrived in the New World, basic socio-political positions were made explicit and fundamental to newly established communities.
Speaking of forming a covenant to "combine ourselves into a civil Body Politic," those arriving on the Mayflower immediately identified a close and ineliminable connection between individuals and their community.
This sentiment was echoed in founding documents of other colonies, such as the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut and the Massachusetts Body of Liberties Likewise, the writings of prominent early colonial leaders, such as John Winthrop emphasized "the care of the public must oversway all private respects…for it is a true rule that particular estates cannot subsist in the ruin of the public.
From the earliest concerns, then, even prior to the establishment of the United States, the social and political issues of the relation of individuals to their communities as well as the nature of the communities themselves that is, as secular or religious were paramount.
Far and away the most significant thinker of the first half of the 18th century for American Philosophy was Jonathan Edwards Frequently characterized as trying to synthesize a Christian Platonism, with an emphasis on the reality of a spiritual world, with an empiricist epistemology, an emphasis on Lockean sensation and Newtonian corpuscular physics, Edwards drew directly from the thought of Bishop George Berkeley, who stressed the necessity of mind or non-material reality to make sense of human experience.
This non-material mind, for Edwards, consists of understanding and will, both of which are passive at root. It is understanding that, along lines of the successes of Newtonian physics, leads to the fundamental metaphysical category of Resistance, which Edwards characterizes as "the primary quality of objects.
This power of resistance is "the actual exertion of God's power" and is demonstrated by Newton's basic laws of motion, in which objects at rest or in motion will remain undeterred until and unless acted on by some other force that is, resisted.
Understanding, though, is different than will. Edwards is perhaps best known for his rejection of free will. As he remarked, "we can do as we please, but we cannot please as we please. Every act of will is connected to understanding, and thus determined.
Echoing the views of John Calvin, Edwards saw not good works, but the grace of God as the determiner of human fortune. While couched primarily in a religious context for Edwards but less so for others, the acceptance and adaptation of a Newtonian worldview was something shared by most American philosophers in the latter half of the 18th century.
These later thinkers, however, abandoned to a great extent the religious context and focused rather on social-political issues.
Sharing many commitments of European philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment such as a reliance on reason and science, a broad faith in scientific and social progress along with a belief in the perfectibility of humans, a strong advocacy of political democracy and laissez-faire economicsmany of the famous names of American history identified themselves with this enlightenment thought.
While they attended very little to basic issues of metaphysics or epistemology, the Founding Fathers, such as Thomas JeffersonBenjamin Franklinand James Madisonwrote voluminously on social and political philosophy.
The American Declaration of Independence as well as the United States Constitution, with its initial amendments, better known as the Bill of Rights, was drafted at this time, with their emphasis on religious toleration.
Though including explicit references to God, these thinkers tended to commit themselves in their writings less to Christianity per se and more to deism, the view of God as creator of a world governed by natural laws which they believed were explicated for the most part by Newton but not directly involved with human action.
For example, as early as and as late as Franklin spoke of God as world-creator and Jesus as providing a system of morality but with no direct commitment to the divinity of Jesus or to any organized church.
Instead, a major focus of concern was the appropriate nature of the State and its relation to individuals. While the thought of Thomas Jefferson, exemplified in the language of the Declaration of Independence, emphasized natural, inalienable rights of individuals against the tyranny of the State - with the legitimacy of the State only in securing the rights of individuals - federalists such as James Madison highlighted dangers of factional democracy, with his view of protecting both individual rights and the public good.
Transcendentalism, or American Romanticism, was the first of several major traditions to characterize philosophical thought in America's first full century as a nation, with Transcendentalism succeeded by the impact of Darwinian evolutionary thought and finally developing into America's most renowned school of thought, Pragmatism.
A Hegelian movement, centered in St. Louis and identified largely with its chief proponent, George Holmes Howisonoccurred in the second half of the nineteenth century, but was overshadowed by the rise of Pragmatism.
Even the journal founded in by the St. Louis Hegelians, The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, became best known later on because of its publication of essays by the pragmatist Charles Peirce Where the thinkers of the American enlightenment stressed social and political concerns, based on a Newtonian mechanistic view of the world, the thinkers of American Transcendentalism took the emphasis on individuals and their relation to the community in a different direction.
This direction was based not on a mechanistic view of the world, but on an organic metaphor that stressed the subjective nature of human experience and existence. Highlighting personal experience and often even a fairly mystical holism, writers such as Ralph Waldo EmersonHenry David Thoreauand Walt Whitman argued for the priority of personal non-cognitive, emotional connections to nature and to the world as a whole.
Human are agents in the world more fundamentally than they are knowers of the world. Because of this, those things that constrain or restrict free personal thought, such as conventional morality and political institutions, need to be transcended as well. Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!
I speak the past-word primeval, I give the sign of democracy…. In his paper, "Nature," Emerson states, "In the woods, we return to reason and faith…I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God…In the wilderness I find something more dear and connate than in streets and villages.
As thinkers, mankind have ever been divided into two sects, Materialists and Idealists; the first class founding on experience, the second on consciousness; the first class beginning to think from the data of the senses, the second class perceive that the senses are not final, and say, The senses give us representations of things, but what are the things themselves, they cannot tell…Society is good when it does not violate me, but best when it is likest to solitude.
Everything real is self-existent. Everything divine shares the self-existence of Deity…[Kant showed] there was a very important class of ideas or imperative forms, which did not come by way of experience, but through which experience was acquired; that these were intuitions of the mind itself; and he denominated them Transcendental forms.
Just as much of American philosophical thought was influenced by the success of Newton's scientific worldview throughout the eighteenth century, the publication of Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory in had a great impact on subsequent American philosophy.
Though not known widely outside of academic circles, two thinkers in particular wrote passionately for re-conceiving philosophical concerns and positions along Darwinian lines, John Fiske and Chauncey Wright Tennessee Law Review; A Critical Guide to the Second Amendment, by Glenn Harlan Reynolds.
Dartmouth Writing Program support materials - including development of argument. Fundamentals of Critical Reading and Effective Writing. Mind Mirror Projects: A Tool for Integrating Critical Thinking into the English Language Classroom (), by Tully, in English Teaching Forum, State Department, Number 1 Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum Project, Metropolitan Community College.
Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally, understanding the logical connection between ideas. Critical thinking has been the subject of much debate and thought since the time of early Greek philosophers such as Plato and Socrates and has continued to be a subject of.
John Locke (—) John Locke was among the most famous philosophers and political theorists of the 17 th century. He is often regarded as the founder of a school of thought known as British Empiricism, and he made foundational contributions to modern theories of limited, liberal government.
Essay on Methods for Critical Thinking Words | 8 Pages. Critical thinking is not a new concept just emerging from the think-tanks and universities that bring us innovative educational concepts.
Critical thinking has existed since the days of Plato, Socrates, and other great ancient philosophers. These critical thinking essay topics on consumer behavior will help you choose or compose one on your own. Check them, there is also a sample essay attached. Thinking critically about consumer behavior and producing a strong essay on the subject is a tough challenge.