The Ominous Parallels - Tranche X

Posted by mshupe 5 months, 3 weeks ago to Philosophy
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Chapter 5, Excerpt 1 of 2
The Nation of the Enlightenment

Thomas Aquinas’s reintroduction of Aristotelianism was the beginning of the end of the medieval period, the beginning of the era of reason. The Renaissance carried Aquinas’ achievement further . . . the fading power of religion; the revolt against the authority of the church; the breakup of the feudal caste system, the widespread assimilation of the thought of pagan antiquity, the brilliant outpouring of inventions, the man glorifying art; the first momentous steps of modern science.

It meant that men had rediscovered the reality and the promise of this earth, of man, of man’s mind. The 17th century carried the advance further: in science, the discoveries that culminated in the Newtonian triumph; in philosophy, the creation (by Descartes, Locke, and others) of the first modern systems. Puritanism is religion trying to make terms with life on earth. The universe is intelligible; nothing is outside man’s power to know, if he uses the proper method of knowledge; the method of reason.

In the Puritan settlements, the requirements of existence coincided with the spirit of the Renaissance: in a wilderness, it is the values of human thought and action – or barbarism and death. The American Enlightenment represents a profound reversal of the Puritan’s philosophic priorities. The key to the Enlightenment approach in every branch of philosophy: secularism without skepticism. A being who discovered “the glory of his nature” cannot regard himself as a chunk of depravity.

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