Presentation on theme: "The Enlightenment and the Age of Reason"— Presentation transcript:
1The Enlightenment and the Age of Reason American LiteratureThe Enlightenment and theAge of Reason
2Let’s Party Like It’s 1699!18th century was a period of major change in American ideas and ideals…As with beliefs of Puritans, changes originated in England, but took on new spirit and meaning in colonies.What factors help explain the movement away from the severe faith of the Puritans?
3Newton and His Apple (not a fig) How did people like Locke and Newton change the way we understand the world?What are “physics” and “metaphysics”?To what does “reason” refer? What does it exclude?
4Say What?!?!Enlightenment thinkers de-emphasized “grace” and “pre-destination” in favor of “moral choice” and scientific inquiry.“virtue,” “order,” “reason,” “sympathy”How do you think religious figures felt about this changing view of the universe and how people should function within it?
5But What About Providence? Enlightenment brought a new, exciting way of seeing the universe…universe as an orderly systemWith application of reason, humanity would comprehend universe (think of Newton’s Laws).How might this change the way the common man felt about religion and God?Not necessarily a rejection…
6“Benjamin Franklin Drawing Down Electricity from the Sky” (listen to this link)“Benjamin Franklin DrawingDown Electricity from the Sky”(Benjamin West, ca. 1816)
7“I Just Believe in Science, Okay!” “Know then thyself, presume not God to scan/The proper study of mankind is man.” (Alexander Pope)What does that mean?
8DeismMany of these thinkers (including Jefferson and Franklin) called themselves “Deists.”Man can deduce the existence of a supreme being from the fact that the universe exists rather than because of what the Bible says.
9What about Fire and Brimstone? Deists also thought that a harmonious universe proves the beneficence of God.How might that be?
10Take Your Buckled Shoes and Shove ‘Em! Humankind is naturally good. (What was the Puritan stance on this, again?)“Tabula Rasa”The more we understand and sympathize with each other, the richer our social and spiritual lives will be.
11And Furthermore…“Our business here on Earth is not to know all things, but those which concern our conduct.” (Locke)So are these people entirely different from the Puritans? What’s similar?Founders and Faith?“Nature’s God,” “natural rights” and “public religion”
12Neo-ClassicismWhat would be the best way for writers in this era to articulate their views?What is the function of their writing, and how does it differ from the function of Puritan writing?Are there similarities?
13Rhetoric Reason Logic Socratic Method Today this term means “the art of speaking or writing effectively (especially persuasive speaking or writing).” In Franklin’s time the term meant the same thing, but more precisely it stood for “the study of principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient times.”ReasonIf one is “rational,” then he has the ability “to reason.” What does it mean to reason? Reasoning is a type of thinking used to seek a truth through cause and effect and through drawing conclusions.LogicA system of rules used to express reasoningSocratic MethodA technique in which a debater does not argue directly but instead asks a series of questions, with the result that the opponent comes either to the desired knowledge by answering the questions or to a deeper awareness of the limits of his knowledge.
14Those Greeks Had It Right… These writers saw the lit. of the ancient Greeks and Romans as the ideal to which all must aspire.Emulation of these “classical” styles and traditionsRestraint rather than emotionDignified, refined and decorous language
15Should We Be Wearing Togas? Writing, especially poetry, was seen as having a public function; it was not seen as a means for private, individual expression.A mode through which timeless truths could be imparted.“self-help”“Chicken Soup for the Rational Soul”?
16Artifacts of Different Eras Thou hast a house on high erect,Framed by that mighty Architect,With glory richly furnished,Stands permanent though this be fled.It’s purchased and paid for tooBy Him who hath enough to do.A price so vast as is unknownYet by His gift is made thine own;There’s wealth enough, I need no more,Farewell, my pelf, farewell my store.The world no longer let me love,My hope and treasure lies above.(Bradstreet, 1666)While virtue warms the generous breast,There heaven-born freedom shall reside,Nor shall the voice of war molest,Nor Europe’s all-aspiring pride –There Reason shall new laws devise,And order from confusion rise.Forsaking kings and regal state,With all their pomp and fancied bliss,The traveler [admits], convinced though late,No realm so free, so blessed as this –The east is half to slaves consigned,Where kings and priests enchain the mind.(“On the Religion of Nature,” Philip Freneau, 1785)
17Order and VirtueWe should organize our lives into an ordered sequence of reasoned and virtuous thoughts and behaviorsAim is “human perfection”How would the Puritans have felt about the concept of humans perfecting themselves for themselves and by themselves?