Identify how the Romantic worldview differs from the Enlightenment worldview.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The primary difference in the world view of each philosophical set of ideas exists in how each understands consciousness.  For the Enlightenment thinker, the way in which reality is understood is through the intellect.  The mind and its ability to rationally process challenges is what makes it supreme.  For the Enlightenment view of the world, individuals are rational, reasonable, and in possession of the ability to perceive reality through a scientific frame of focus:

The political liberty of the subject is a tranquillity of mind, arising from the opinion each person has of his safety. In order to have this liberty, it is requisite the government be so constituted as one man need not be afraid of another.

Montesquieu's words help to bring out some of the basic tenets of the Enlightenment world view.  There is an idea that each individual possesses their own clinical sphere of reference.  There is no fear, as every possible challenge can be overcome by that which is understood.  Part of this world view is one that embraces scientific progress and rational thought.

At the same time, I think that this might highlight a difference between the Enlightenment view of reality and the Romantic one.  For the Romantic understanding, the worldview is not through an intellectual frame of reference.  It is an emotional one.  It is one in which there is an embrace of the emotional understanding and construction.  Being is not something where challenges need to be overcome, as much as embraced through an emotional sensibility.  For the Romantic world view, the reveling in beauty and emotional frames of reference is what defines being in the world.  When this can be embraced, there is a greater appreciation for what consciousness is.  This is where I think that the largest difference in both worldviews exist.


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