What did the Romantics believe was the best response to the forces of change?
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The Romantic Period (1798-1870) was largely a response to the Enlightenment (1700-1800), which can also be called the Age of Reason. The Enlightenment, or Age of Reason, saw many scientific advances and emphasized rationalism and the scientific method. Every word written and every philosophy thought of was for the advancement of knowledge, reason, and humanity. In protest against the Enlightenment, Romanticism began placing greater value on emotions rather than on rational thought. They also placed greater emphasis on the needs of the individual rather than on society at large or humankind. Since Romanticism was a protest against knowledge and rational thought, by process of elimination, we know that the Romantics would not have responded to change through using either "reason" or "knowledge."
Due to the advances made during the Enlightenment, the Romantic movement also saw the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Their response, which also parallels their response to the Enlightenment by downplaying the merits of knowledge and reason, was to "yearn for an idealized, simpler past" (Rahn, "Romanticism"). English Romantic poets especially focused on the medieval period. Particularly, "The tales of King Arthur were especially resonant to their imaginations" (Rahn, "Romanticism"). In addition, Romantic poets promoted "altered states of consciousness" to enhance creativity. Hence, since the Romantics reacted against the changes seen in the Industrial Revolution due, in part, to their downplaying the importance of knowledge, advancement, and reason, but rather let their imaginations long for earlier, simpler times, it's very obvious that the Romantic's response to change would have been to rely on "imagination" to change their "states of conscious" as well as their emotional state.
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