Central Theme of the Enlightenment

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The central theme of the Enlightenment and what made it potentially revolutionary was the idea of progress. Human society was not fixed by tradition or divine command but could be changed, and improved, by human action guided by reason. which can be found in the textbook known as Ways of the World: A Brief Global History with Sources, Western Kentucky University Edition, Volume Two.

The Atlantic Enlightenment was a time in history which was remembered for encouraging individuality, non-traditional religious practices, and reason. In the textbook Ways of the World: A Brief Global History with Sources, Western Kentucky University Edition, Volume Two, Robert W. Strayer and Eric W. Nelson described this revolutionary movement as setting into motion the corruption of established religion. This era evoked individualism by inspiring a want for freedom as well as a progression of logical thinking.

The individuality aspects of the Enlightenment period struck each person differently. For example, in the primary source Kartini, Letter to a Dutch Friend, the author, Raden Adjeng Kartini, tells about the experiences of a young, Indian girl growing up in the Islam culture. She describes the unfair traditions forced upon young Muslim girls, which she found to be morally demeaning. This uprising of individuality allowed her to contemplate leaving her religion for a chance to become a free-thinking individual.

However, in Francois Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture's, Letters to the Director of France (1797) the author is asking for the French government to not re-establish slavery, as L'Ouverture led a rebellion to end slavery just before hearing this practice might be re-instated. L'Ouverture rebelled against a long-practiced tradition to let individuals become free-living people. Raden Adjeng Kartini and Francois Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture would agree upon the push for change and rebelling against century-old practices. Sim??n de Bol?­var, the author of Message to the Congress of Angostura (1819) writes about the want for the American colonies to establish an independent government apart from the European law. In this document, they too felt the struggle of obtaining individual freedom.

The enlightened people shared a commitment to open-mindedness which is expressed in Ways of the World: A Brief Global History with Sources, Western Kentucky University Edition, Volume Two. During this time, people began to develop the mindset of looking outside of their traditional boundaries.

As found in Raden Adjeng Kartini's work, she expressed the feeling of being locked in a box and cut off from all communication with the outside world she believed that this was unfair to women and she longed to live a more equal lifestyle without judgment from the religiously traditional elders and relentless followers of the culture. Francois Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture, who wrote, Letters to the Directors of France also heavily promoted and made great strides towards a more equal society. Both these authors believed the enlightenment period fostered huge changes for equality within the once narrow-minded culture.

With a more open mind and a less strictly traditional culture came a greater need for self-educated knowledge of the world around them. In the textbook, Ways of the World: A Brief Global History with Sources, Western Kentucky University Edition, Volume Two, Robert W. Strayer and Eric W. Nelson proclaim, Enlightenment thinkers shared the belief in the power of knowledge to transform the human society. Francois Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture had the knowledge to know that slaves were more than just slaves, they were prisoners and hostages.

He was thinking outside of what the traditional views were at the time. Just like Francois, Sim??n de Bol?­var thought differently from the traditional people in his document known as, Message to the Congress of Angostura (1819). Bol?­var wanted to be separate from the country that had complete control over them while everyone was too afraid of speaking out against the Europeans, who gave them life.
In these three Enlightenment documents, Sim??n de Bol?­var's Message to the Congress of Angostura (1819), Francois Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture's Letters to the Directors of France, and Raden Adjeng Kartini's Letter to a Dutch Friend, they have similar general concepts but a wide range of examples and stories.

These three documents all show great evidence of promoting individuality, non-traditional religious practices, and reason. Raden Adjeng Kartini's work talks about constricting traditional cultural beliefs, she best exemplifies the aspect of straying away from traditional religious practices. Francois Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture's document best represents the phase of reason by developing a thought of equality within the society. In Sim??n de Bol?­var's writing, he displays an individualistic mindset by working towards a new self-sustaining government for the American colonies and not relying on European authority. Although these stories are different from each other they represent the overall general ideas and themes of the Enlightenment period.

Furthermore, it is said in Ways of the World: A Brief Global History with Sources, Western Kentucky University Edition, Volume Two, that enlightenment, a term that has come to define the eighteenth century in European history. The Enlightenment era affected much of the European population including Sim??n de Bol?­var, Francois Dominique Toussaint L'Ouverture, and Raden Adjeng Kartini. Robert W. Strayer and Eric W. Nelson said, Have the courage to use your own understanding' is, therefore, the motto of the enlightenment. This revolutionary period of time was the overall idea of the power of knowledge and breaking social norms.

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Central Theme Of The Enlightenment. (2019, Dec 11). Retrieved November 28, 2023 , from

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