Romantic versus enlightenment emotional/ Reasonable and Practical



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ROMANTIC versus ENLIGHTENMENT

Emotional/ Reasonable and Practical

Individualistic/ Public Responsibility

Revolutionary/ Conservative

Loves Solitude & Nature/ Loves Public, Urban Life

Fantasy/Introspection/ External Reality

The Particular/ The Universal

Subjective Perception/ Objective Science

Right Brain/ Left Brain

Satisfaction of Desire/ Desire Repressed

Organic/ Mechanical

Creative Energy-Power/ Form

Exotic/ Mundane

"Noble Savage"-Outcasts/ Bourgeois Family

Idealist Philosophy/ Materialist-Empirical Philosophy

 

ENLIGHTENMENT OR AGE OF REASON (1689-1780): ITS VALUES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS


1) TRIUMPH OF RATIONALITY AND SCIENTIFIC ATTITUDE TOWARD NATURE
--1687: Newton's Principia Mathematica explains laws of physics. Nature can be understood rationally and controlled.

--Leads to Deism: philosophy that sees nature as vast mechanism (world like super-complex clock). Design in nature means there is a creator. Understand God by looking at marvelously ordered cosmos--all is interconnected.

--Also leads to use value of nature being emphasized (remember Locke's "rationally and industriously").

--1717 Robinson Crusoe published : Lockian man, ingeniously transforms island. Does not see island life as picturesque.

--Drive to understand nature as system: thus knowledge accumulated and organized:

--Linnaeus in System of Nature (1735) catalogues plants: emphasis on order/classification

--scholars in France/ Encyclopediasts 1751-1766

--Encyclopedia Britannica first published in 1771

--Historical overall consequence: Science pragmatically applied = technological development = industrial revolution over the next century.
2) RATIONAL FREE-THINKING/SPECULATION ABOUT IMPROVING SOCIAL MECHANISM
--Laws of government, like Newtonian laws of nature, can be understood and rationally implemented. American Constitution adopted after rational discussion/public debate (Federalist/Anti-Federalist Papers).

--Human nature can be perfected if we are in right social environment.

--Locke's 1690 Essay Concerning Human Understanding: tabula rasa. Knowledge gained through sensory imput=hence environment/education important.

--Proto-anthropology via "discoveries" (Captain Cook in Polynesian islands, etc.) emphasizes "progress" of societies from "savage" to "barbarian" to "civilized".

--Eventually, leads to French Revolution/ envisioning utopias = Marx (part of Enlightenment tradition)
3) RISE OF MIDDLE-CLASS AND COMMERCIAL/MIDDLE-CLASS VALUES
--Locke emphasizes the centrality of property (and powers that secure property).

--Individual increasingly known in economic terms than spiritual terms

--Franklin: "a penny saved is a penny earned"--good ole Protestant work ethic

--Adam Smith The Wealth of Nations (1776) calls England an "island of shop-keepers"

ROMANTIC REBELLION (1780-1830, with Queen Victorian becoming queen in 1837, ushering in the Victorian era). The trajectory of Enlightenment continues into our era: only poets and writers and artists are really rebelling against some of the negative consequences of Englightenment. Romantics tend to be anti-establishment.
1) DETACHED RATIONALITY/SCIENTIFIC ATTITUDE SEPARATES US FROM NATURE (AND MAY LEAD TO DANGEROUS ASSUMPTION OF PROGRESS--SCIENCE CANNOT FIX EVERYTHING!)

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--Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), German "Idealist" philosopher: Basic philosophical premise is that we cannot absolutely know external "reality" because it is always shaped, a priori, by the mind's faculties.



--nature not just an extrinsic mechanism to be rationally understood/manipulated:

--nature evokes emotion/ our emotion may shape landscape

--landscape valued over land per se

--what is beauty? does it exist in subject or object--reality is in fusion not in inside/outside, or subject/object dichtomy

--natural/organic process valued over the technology or mechanical artifice

--Mary Shelly's Frankenstein (1818) demonstrates failure of mechanical to imitate nature

--John Keats: "poetry should come as naturally as leaves to a tree"
2) INDIVIDUAL (ENERGY/PERCEPTION/FREEDOM) MORE IMPORTANT THAN SOCIAL SELF OR SOCIAL STABILITY OR SOCIAL ENGINEERING
--subjective, unique experience celebrated over public or objective values.

--"noble savage"/ rural or "primitive" cultures valued for simplicity and naturalness

--urban life deadens perception: walk in a field, not in a street (hang out by a pond like Thoreau, an American Romantic)

--society corrupts: children and childlike innocence celebrated

--Jean-Jacques Rousseau: "We are born free, but everywhere are in chains"
3) ROMANTIC ARTIST TYPICALLY ALIENATED FROM MIDDLE-CLASS AND MIDDLE-CLASS VALUES
--Romantic artist alienated because poetry doesn't sell very well (no longer a patronage system: Locke had a patron)

--Romantic artist tends to be fascinated by

--his/her own psyche

--the exotic (the Orient, altered states of consciousness) or forbidden

--the heroic (Napoleon)

--with visionary thinking/ with subconscious processes/dreams

--Romantic artist celebrates spontaneity over convention, the routine

--Romantic artist likely to value spiritual intuitions over dogmas of established religion



--Romantic artist likely to be radically egalitarian

--keep in mind that all of society is not engaged in what could be called the “Romantic Rebellion”. It is mostly an aesthetic/philosophical counter-culture, with much variation in whether the writers/artists were accepted/appreciated in their own age or not and the extent of revolt in their personal lives (Shelley and Byron pushed beyond the edge; Wordsworth became the consummate Victorian gentleman in his later years, quite stodgy).


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