The German philosopher Immanuel Kant summed up the early Enlightenment era in the following terms: “Dare to know! Have the courage to use your own reason!” This is the motto directed at anyone not willing to -at least- discuss currently occurring events. This is now.
This was then …. Bacon, Hobbes, and Descartes, Rousseau, philosophers and significant precursors of the Enlightenment period as are Galileo, Kepler, and Leibniz, the natural philosophers of the Scientific Revolution, had all different approaches as to how to move onward and open minds towards different ways of thought and life. In 1686, Newton published his “Principia Mathematica” and in 1689 Locke, with his "Essay Concerning Human Understanding," made major strides toward the Enlightenment. Locke’s argument that nature was mutable and that knowledge was acquired through experience rather than theoretical mumbo-jumbo.
There was never a single and unified Enlightenment. Hobbes opposed Locke, Rousseau had different ideas than Voltaire, and so on. Their greatest disagreements and differences came forth from the usual philosophical arguments, reasoned and sensible queries and progress through dialogue. It was an age of "enlightened despots" and "would-be revolutionaries." [Frederick the Great and Payne and Jefferson …. ]
It was also a time of religious and anti-religious innovation with Christians, moving their faith back among rational lines, while deists, agnostics, freethinkers, and doubters argued that the universe determined its course without any divine intervention.
Sounds familiar? For those who are wondering why I am talking about Enlightenment, the answer is clear: just look at and listen to our leader(s) today. I merely wanted to pinpoint the differences: no new modes of fellowship (although extreme right movements are sprouting out of the earth at an alarming pace), there are no esoteric rituals, nor is there any mutual assistance. On the contrary, we are moving at lightning speed towards separatism and alienation … We have grown to be meek followers. The few of us talking are not heard.
And let’s be real, Enlightenment’s goal of egalitarianism, racial inclusivism, dialogue, and discourse has yet to be met.
The time is now. Enlighten!