Rationalism in America: The Age That Shaped the World

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It can be said, but not denied, that the United States of America is one of the most powerful countries in the world today, and has been for arguably the last one hundred years. With its political agendas and military strength it shapes governments; with its social trends and values it shapes cultures. But what, exactly, shaped the United States? The various worldviews that have sprouted from Western philosophy is the most obvious answer, but, to be more specific, it is how those worldviews were adopted that were of the most significance. Whether it was the strict nature of the Puritans, who can be held responsible for the widely-held fear of sexuality, drug-use, and various other topics in America; or the revolutionary ideas of the Modernists, who are responsible for acknowledging the new complexity of the world, each played a key part in the shaping of modern America, due to their own unique characteristics and point-of-views . One worldview specifically—the Age of Reason—along with its many key concepts and characteristics—the most important being their independence, their self-reliance, and their belief in Rationalism—had an important and lasting impact on modern America.

First of all, the colonists valued their independence immensely and it was a key factor in all of their decisions. An example of this is The Declaration of Independence, in which Thomas Jefferson declares in his closing paragraph:

“We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ou...

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...learly seen in the three monumental pieces of writing addressed in this essay, yet they are just a small glimpse into the way it affected both America and the world. This Age brought about arguably the most important revolution in modern history, as well as an inquisitiveness and critical thinking ability that was almost wiped out by the strict nature of the Puritans. Without this Age—though it most certainly had its flaws—the world would be a radically different place.

Work Cited

Henry, Patrick. “ Speech to the Virginia Convention.” Elements of Literature. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2002. 102-104. Print.

Jefferson, Thomas. “The Declaration of Independence.”Elements of Literature. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2002. 117-123. Print.

Paine, Thomas. “The Crisis.” Elements of Literature. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2002. 108-111. Print..
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