Early and Mid 19th Century Thought

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Early and Mid 19th Century Thought Throughout history, there have been many isms that had come and gone. Many things have come out of these so-called "isms." Romanticism began in the closing decades of the eighteenth century. It practically dominated European cultural life in most of the first half of the nineteenth century. Poets such as Shelley, Wordsworth, Keats, and Byron were all exponents of romanticism. This was expressed in many different ways such as Writing, art and music. Victor Hugo, A.W., Friedrich Schlegel, Schiller and Schelling all expressed their thoughts of romanticism through writing. Caspar David Friedrich and John Constable expressed their thoughts on romanticism on canvas through art. Later on, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin and Wagner expressed it through music. The central message of the romantics was that the imagination of the individual should determine the form and content of an artistic creation. This outlook ran counter to the rationalism of the Enlightenment, which itself had been a reaction against the otherworldly Christian orientation of the Middle Ages. According to Philisophes, the romantics had turned flesh-and-blood human beings into soulless thinking machines. The Romantics' stress on the inner person also found expression in the school of German philosophy called idealism. Idealists held that the world is not something objective that exists independently of individual consciousness. The decade after 1815 saw a spectacular rise of the bourgeoisie. Bankers, merchants, manufacturers, professionals, and officeholders wanted to break the stranglehold of the landed nobility. Liberalism is an extension of the democratic practices and rational outlook that orig... ... middle of paper ... ...p between human character and the social environment. Positivists viewed science as the highest achievement of the mind and sought to apply a strict empirical approach to the study of society. Auguste Comte, the father of positivism, called for a purely scientific approach to history and society: only through a proper understanding of the laws governing human affairs could society, which was in a state of intellectual anarchy, be rationally reorganized. Like others of his generation, he believed that scientific laws underlay human affairs and could be discovered through the methods of the empirical scientist. There were many isms during this time period, all of which accomplished different things. Bibliography: Perry, Marvin: Western Civilization: A Brief History, Volume II from the 1400's. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.
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