The Enlightenment and the Emergence of Free Thinkers

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The Enlightenment brought a wave of new thought and information into a society dominated by one controlling force: The Church. This final authority over the people in these dark times controlled them with religious dogma and powerful “suggestive” power over their state leaders. Being the largest and richest organization in the world for centuries gave The Church the ability to squash any free thinkers. Before the printing press, the majority of the educated and literate were the christian monks who controlled the information, mostly religious texts, and delivered this selected information to the ignorant masses. After the printing press, information could be massed produced and eventually new ideas of logic and free thinking started to creep into the minds of the masses. These new free thinkers like Kant and Voltaire started a revolution because people finally were educated enough to see that some of the “superstitious” aspects of religion didn't hold much water compared to the logic of the enlightenment. It made sense because the principles driving the movement obviously gave more control to the people and they responded positively enough to start new states separated from the church. These new “enlightened” nations started including ideals like freedom of speech, press, and association. The people were now deciding what was best for the people and the enlightenment became a legitimate progressive movement. I contend that a series of Church hypocrisies, an information boom, and consistent humanitarian victories from the sciences of logic led an Enlightenment revolution to be successful in their goals of an enlightened society.

The Catholic Church was the dictator of the people whether it was through manipulating a k...

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...ovements, our abolition of slavery, our medicine, our balance of power in the government, our freedom of speech, association, and press, and our freedom of the pursuit of happiness. Our freedoms define our successes. In Kant's What is Enlightenment?, he defines enlightenment as “man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.” We have indeed moved to a point where we control our own futures with our minds, opinions, and votes. Yet we must not forget the people who still live under regimes like that of the old church. Regimes like China and North Korea who heavily censor information their people receive from the outside world. Not everyone has reached a free society, but I believe that an information boom like the internet will have an exponentially greater effect on the world than the printing press, and if that is the case, there is hope for a better future.
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