What did the Enlightenment period lead to?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Of the many realities to which the Enlightenment period led, one of them was the growth of the Romantic movement in Europe.

The Enlightenment period emphasized reason and science.  It praised rational thought and methodical analysis.  Enlightenment thinkers believed that human beings could answer all questions with certainty.  Such propositions led to the Romantic movement.  This response sought to create a position diametrically opposed to the Enlightenment's ideas.

Romantic thinkers wanted to embrace a life dedicated to subjective experience, not objective truth. They assigned primacy to beauty and art, seeking to move away from a scientific condition that defined being in the world. They loved the natural world.  They saw it as pure because it existed outside of the control of human beings.  Romantic thinkers emphasized that emotional truth was more valid than a scientific one. Romantic thinkers saw beauty and revelation in all parts of the world.  They reveled in that which could not be explained. The certainty and absolutism of the Enlightenment period led to the Romantic thinkers embracing a condition called "negative capability:"

...at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in Literature & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously – I mean Negative Capability, that is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason – Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half knowledge. 

When Romantic poet John Keats praises "uncertainties, mysteries, and doubts" as an essential part of human identity, it is direct challenge to Enlightenment principles.  It shows that Enlightenment ideas led to Romantic thought.

mkanderson21 | Student

The Enlightenment led to the American Revolution because the colonists had more freedoms and independence through the Enlightenment.