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Compare and contrast Enlightenment ideals with the ideals of Romanticism.

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meghan345123 | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted October 2, 2012 at 3:40 PM via web

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Compare and contrast Enlightenment ideals with the ideals of Romanticism.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 2, 2012 at 3:56 PM (Answer #1)

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The ideals of these two intellectual movements were very different from one another.

The Enlightenment thinkers believed very strongly in rationality and science.  They believed that the natural world and even human behavior could be explained scientifically.  They even felt that they could use the scientific method to improve human society.

By contrast, the Romantics rejected the whole idea of reason and science.  They felt that a scientific worldview was cold and sterile.  They felt that science and material progress would rob people of their humanity (this is, for example, one of the major themes of Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley).  In place of reason, the Romantics exalted feelings and emotions.  They felt that intuition and emotions were important sources of knowledge. 

Thus, the ideals of the Romantics and the thinkers of the Enlightenment were very much opposed to one another. 

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