Enlightenment can be described as a philosophical movement or even a political movement. It is believed to have begun several centuries ago. It lasted for almost one century, from 1700 to 1810. According to John Adams, (625), enlightenment started in the 18th century. It was a great time for the change among the Americans. I believe this is the same time that the American colonies went through a series of changes. It is through this movement that American society began to go against the teachings in most puritan writings.
They had however accepted the puritans` teachings before and based their culture on it. According to the readings from Sarah Kemble’s writings on the page (Sarah, 463), it is quite clear that there were disagreements as the movement took its course. Sarah states, “They, therefore, deferred their answer till the day that was following; when their speaker began by expressing a deep sense of the kindness of the Virginia government, in making them that offer.
” She further continues and states that we are convinced that you mean to do us good with your proposal. Here, Sarah refers to the proposal of a movement, the American Enlightenment movement. From the talk, it seems there was a group that was not interested in the idea of staging the American Enlightenment movement. In American history, it is defined as a period of “intellectual ferment.” It can also be defined as an intellectual movement. In this midterm essay paper, I will focus on enlightenment as a philosophical movement that was started to question old ideas and also beliefs.
This mid-term essay will also explore the various principles of enlightenment and how they worked.
Kemble Knight is a great writer of the American literature on enlightenment and other political moves. On page 388 of The Enlightenment, the author defines the social nature of Christians. Some writers indeed favored their culture in writing just like John Adams did. However, puritanism was a movement that could not be the monarchystopped by differences in terms of cultural beliefs. This is because puritanism mainly targeted the religions and political affiliations of Americans. This steps away from Puritan influences, as no mention of faith or anything of high theory stems. She simply misses him for obvious reasons and knows that she ‘longs impatiently to have you upon the stage of action. The first of September or the month of September perhaps may be of as much importance to Great Britain as the Ides of March were to Caesar’ (627). They both acknowledge that there’s a purpose for their separation but also a reason for their bond. It’s a much more ‘realist’ take on the modes of life, one that highlights the age of Enlightenment.
Enlightenment played a great role in cultural society. It had its principles and rules that guided it. Pioneers of the movement had ideas that were not aimed at diminishing religion in the first place. American enlightenment was all about freedom for the Americans and it did not talk much about the religion in America. The Age of Enlightenment allowed new ideas and values regarding philosophical views as well as economic and political debate (Sarah, 645). There was an increased chance of tide in the way people viewed the absolute authority of both the monarchy and church which created an opportunity for revolution(s) focusing on individualism, freedom, and self-focus. Gone were the days of aristocrats holding reign and in came the era of personal rights!
The author of the Enlightenment, Sarah Kemble Knight was, in my humble opinion a great example of the freedom of speech and self-focuses in the transition from Puritanism to The Age of Enlightenment. Her journal writings were both descriptive and heavily opinionated as she documented her travels through Connecticut from Boston on her way to New York. Enlightenment, also referred to as The Age of Reason influenced people thinking about religion. It portrayed religion as just but a human belief where events are controlled by divinity. It furthered its reveal on religion by stating that truth could only be acquired through the process of divine revelation. Sarah Kemble`s life speaks more about enlightenment. It is a good example of what it meant to be enlightened in America and several other parts of Europe and the western world (Sarah, 654). For instance, in her writings, she is described as a woman of many talents according to the author. She was actively involved in several events and thus included teaching, making copies of court records, and also writing letters for people who used to have business with courts at the time (Sarah, 610). These events typically describe her as a hard-working woman. Her achievements and ability to accomplish all her tasks were a way of showing that she was among the few enlightened Americans. She was therefore able to occasion the events of enlightenment.
It is also true to state that, enlightenment has being evident in the way Sarah describes the City of New York. She says, “New York is a pleasant, well-compacted place, situated on a commodious river which is a fine harbor for shipping. The building’s brick is generally, very stately and high, though not altogether like ours in Boston. The bricks in some of the houses are of divers’ colors and laid in checkers, being grazed look very agreeable.” The inside of them is neat to admiration, the wooden work, for only the walls, is plastered and the summers and the gist are planned and kept very white scowered as so is all the partitions if made of boards.” This description shows what the city of New York looked like according to Sarah Kemble. The look symbolized enlightenment. It showed that there is enlightenment in its beautiful nature and look (Sarah, 678).
I previously stated that the age of enlightenment is also referred to as the age of reason. The age of reason/ enlightenment altered people`s beliefs and their religious lives. The term, age of reason was used in several parts of the world and not only in America. For instance, it was also used in the European enlightenment (John, 678). In the European enlightenment, the enlightenment period was used to refer to the exact period when humanity was carefully examined to come up with a perfect human society. It can therefore be described as the application of full man`s intellect in the effort to rescue human society and bring some light to the citizens. There are many ways in which we can describe enlightenment and also base it on several life dimensions.
Certain principles were associated with enlightenment. The principles according to Sarah Kemble and several other writers of enlightenment included a range of ideas centered on reason as the primary source of authority. Enlightenment principles also talk about the separation of the church and the state. The separation of church and the state can also be linked to the era of enlightenment (John, 687). Before enlightenment was started, Americans were not serious with the church teachings that were being taught then. However, with enlightenment, Americans became more educated and started understanding events. The first principle that came about was the principle of natural rights. This principle of enlightenment stressed natural facts. It stressed the idea that people are naturally born with certain rights and it is usually not easy to take these rights away (Adams, 246). John Adams was a philosopher and he strongly believed in the law of natural rights. He had a strong belief that believing in natural laws could easily lead to a productive society. Enlightenment principles were the same as the beliefs of enlightenment.
The age of reason was accompanied by several other principles according to enlightenment philosopher John, therefore, Adams. The other core principle of enlightenment was the belief in reason and also the ability to explain to people how they should be ruled or governed. John Adams stated clearly that, people ought to be enlightened on the way they should be ruled. This, therefore, became a basis for the enlightenment (John, 688). It was one of the movement`s core agendas, helping citizens to understand how they should be ruled. Scientific discoveries that took place during this time also contributed immensely to the enlightenment era. Again, Americans felt there was a the, therefore, need for a change in their way of leadership. Most Americans were not happy with the way kings ruled under theMonarchy system. This idea, therefore, made the intolerant Americans start enlightenment to inspire people to question the way they were being ruled.
There are several ways, based on writings of different authors from our readings, that we can define enlightenment. Again, several enlightenment principles have also been bee discussed above. There is a strong relationship between the enlightenment and its principles. Principles of enlightenment acted as the reasons that motivated philosophers like John Adams to start the movement and speak for it. Poor governance is one of the key reasons that led to enlightenment. The ideas of the enlightenment were manifested to common citizens mainly through writing. Several multi-volume works on enlightenment are also available. Enlightenment trickled down into the lives of Americans. For instance, proper governance made Americoaks live more democratically, and hence, citizens understood their ways and what was expected of them.