The Enlightenment Gives Birth to Revolution and Romanticism
Interdisciplinary Forum, during during Social Science lecture, 11:15-12:05, using the Soc Sci Zoom.
Over the course your first term at CGS, you have studied the origins of human language; the development of complex and diverse cultures across the globe; and the evolution of social systems in nations (and empires) wrestling with religion and monarchy as new ideas about knowledge emerged in the wake of of scientific discovery, philosophical inquiry, and novel forms of art and literature. Such advances in human awareness, a series of revolutions—political, social, and intellectual—contributed to new and seemingly radical definitions of individual rights. In what is now the United States, for instance, the Declaration of Independence offered as its major premise the Enlightenment idea that, from birth, humans enjoy “natural” or “inalienable” rights. Locke’s “life liberty and property” became Jefferson’s “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Yet you have also learned, as you studied a host of texts, that Enlightenment ideals of equality were tainted by the persistence of slave-owning in many nations; by the scientific racism embedded in the work of canonical western philosophers; and by undemocratic forms of government and the hierarchical forms of social organization those governments continued to sustain.
Now that your view of human history has been so complicated by your study in a general education program, how would you propose that world history be taught in the future? Drawing from the texts we have read and your own experience educationally in nations the world over, what improvements would you suggest be made?