Metaphysical Thoughts During the Enlightenment Period

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Metaphysical Thoughts During the Enlightenment Period The eighteenth century was fraught with change. Dryden, Pope and Johnson were dominating the literature. Fahrenheit was building his first mercury thermometer. The Boston Tea Party and the French Revolution occurred. However, some of the most drastic changes occurred in thought. Prior to the eighteenth century, thinkers such as Locke, Spinoza, Descartes, and Hobbes dominated Western thought to the extent that they changed the way people viewed the world. Consequently, much of the eighteenth century philosophy, as well as the general thought, was a product of these precursors. Either in replying to them, or as a direct consequence of their ideas, the eighteenth century responded to these great thinkers. The first philosophical movement responding to the thinkers of the 17th century that will be discussed is the rationalist movement. It is generally known to be started by Descartes in the 17th century, while the torch was carried by Spinoza and then Leibniz up until his death in 1716. Two things distinguished the rationalists from their empiricist counterparts. The rationalists believed that foundational concepts of reality were found in reason, not experience. These foundational concepts are called innate ideas, and from these innate ideas the rationalists believed that one could deduce truth, much in the way geometrical proofs are thought out. An easy illustration of how the rationalists use causality as a tool to derive metaphysical truths is by using it as a starting point. By using the principle that every event has a cause, it appears that certain metaphysical truths may be uncovered. For example, Descartes uses causality as a proof for God's existen... ... middle of paper ... ...too, do the characters in the play, believing that reality is the same as they perceive it. They also believe in Cartesian dualism, since they carry the classical theistic conception of God. If they are truly Christian in faith, they have to believe that the soul is separate from the body, or their beliefs become contradictory. Works Cited “Hume, David.” The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. 10th ed. 1995. Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. Werner S. Pluhar. Cambridge: Library of Congress, 1996. McGreal, Ian P. Great Thinkers of the Western World. New York, NY: Harper, 1992. Nolan, Lawrence, "Descartes' Ontological Argument", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 15 November 2003. (Summer 2001 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),URL=<http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2001/entries /descartes-ontological/>.
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