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What Were Europeans Thinking About in the Late Nineteenth Century?

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Presentation on theme: "What Were Europeans Thinking About in the Late Nineteenth Century?"— Presentation transcript:

1 What Were Europeans Thinking About in the Late Nineteenth Century?

2 Changing Daily Life in Europe The same liberal ideas that sparked so much change in the Western world during the second half of the nineteenth century also helped bring about new ways of thinking about national economies.

3 Changing Daily Life in Europe These ideas, along with a variety of new technological and managerial innovations brought about an end of unprecedented prosperity in Europe Although the benefits of this new-found affluence went primarily to the upper and middle-classes, the working classes began to achieve a higher level of material wealth This prosperity came with costs, such as miserable and hazardous working conditions in factories, overcrowding in many cities, and harsh exploitation of colonial peoples in order to satisfy an almost insatiable need for raw materials

4 Second Industrial Revolution After 1850, a wave of related economic changes that became known as the “second industrial revolution” swept over much of Western Europe.

5 Second Industrial Revolution The primary features of this revolution were: –New materials (particularly such things as mass-production steel for building and synthetic dyes for clothes) –An increased speed of production –A reduction in the prices of many everyday goods

6 Second Industrial Revolution New techniques for manufacturing items and increased capital to finance businesses helped spur this industrial expansion. So did new technologies in transportation and communications

7 Second Industrial Revolution By 1850, railroads were just becoming a major form of transportation in Europe –Thirty years later there were over 102,000 miles of track laid primarily through the industrial heartlands of the continent

8 Second Industrial Revolution Before the telegraph, communications went only as fast as a person could travel –But with its advent, people could send messages across Europe and around much of the world in a matter of minutes –The invention of the telephone in 1875 allowed people to talk directly with one another over great distances

9 Impact on Daily Life These industrial and technological developments changed the way many people lived, particularly those residents of the industrial cities in the west Middle and working-class people were greatly affected by such developments –Both groups increased as new professions and occupations emerged to accommodate the needs of the expanded industrial world –The middle class learned a new set of values as leisure time and “conspicuous consumption” made their way into their lives

10 Impact on Daily Life Workers found that, in general, they too enjoyed some of the benefits of industrialization as they gained: –More leisure time –Better food and housing –And increased forms of entertainment

11 Impact on Daily Life The increased in prosperity during this age was spread unevenly among different groups Life for many workers remained one of poverty, disease, and economic hardships

12 Urban Life Life in the cities also improved during the second half of the nineteenth century –The old, haphazard methods of governing cities shifted to a new professionalized system that brought with it better planning and better services to urban residents

13 Urban Life New services to urban dwellers –Running water –Sewer systems –Police and fire protection became common features of most cities –Government health departments did much to alleviate one of the worst aspects of urban life – the spread of contagious diseases

14 Optimism In general, the lifestyles of many western Europeans changed for the better during the latter part of the nineteenth century Major problems still existed, but many people felt optimistic, believing that they had created a much better world than the one in which their grandparents, or even their parents, had lived. A major question facing many Europeans of this era was what would they do with this world they had created.

15 What seemed unquestionably true The cornerstones of most Europeans’ thinking were the beliefs of Christianity and the understandings of science that followed after the ideas of Sir Isaac Newton. A. Christianity provided the meaning to life for most Europeans

16 What seemed unquestionably true B. Science told Europeans that they lived in a world made harmonious by the operation of natural laws One spin-off of the work of Newton was Deism – the idea that God as the great watchmaker whose world, once created, did not need further involvement from God Harmony was the result of the operation of natural laws that were believed to affect all parts of the world –One’s pay and the price of food and other necessities were determined by the laws of supply and demand.

17 What seemed unquestionably true C. While people may not always like the operation of these laws, the assumption was that in the long-run, everyone was better off if these laws prevailed over sentiment of voters and politicians who might want to create human laws to offset the hardships that resulted from the workings of these laws

18 What seemed unquestionably true This attitude made employers “helpless” and not responsible for the conditions their employees suffered – In industrialization, trade-offs were part of the natural order of things. The net result of these trade-offs was believed to be progress, achieved through applying human reason to gain a better understanding of the underlying harmony of nature. People who lived in harmony with nature were also assured of a better life than those who tried to go against laws of nature. Francis Galton

19 What seemed unquestionably true D. Utilitarianism (Jeremy Bentham) The belief in a world governed by natural laws was extended to each individual mind through the philosophy of utilitarianism which held that people calmly and rationally weighed any and all action according to the pleasure and pain involved In theory, given any situation, people “weighed” the costs (or pains) associated with any action in relation to the benefits (or pleasures) that would come from an action.

20 What seemed unquestionably true E. Overall, these views were very comforting and contributed to the sense of many Europeans that their culture was the best. If they felt fearful about the world, that fear could be overcome by attempts to understand the operations of nature because fear was caused by ignorance or superstition.

21 What seemed unquestionably true The burgeoning flow of material goods and rising standard of living could be seen as the “pay-off” for living according to these laws People who lived by these laws experienced more “progress” than those who did not

22 What if these Ideas Weren’t True - Harmony Disturbed A. By the late nineteenth century, science had regained its position as the central way of knowing about the world. Romanticism had been replaced by the desire to represent the world "as it actually was". Novelists added numerous "realistic" details to their stories, including the condition of the paint on the interior walls of houses, while historians sought to represent the past with photographic faithfulness.

23 What if these Ideas Weren’t True - Harmony Disturbed However, new scientific understandings challenged European notions of harmonious nature and rational people. Scientific understanding marched on but at the expense of the sense of "comfort" that it had provided in the Enlightenment era.

24 What if these Ideas Weren’t True - Harmony Disturbed The characteristics of the Enlightenment heritage centered on the idea of a universe and nature that were "knowable" to rational beings who used the scientific method to uncover the underlying laws governing creation and ensuring a harmonious world. In this view, conflict and disharmony were the products of people failing to act reasonably and rationally or acting contrary to the laws of nature that laid out how the world and its people should interact


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