Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Response to Reading Thirteen

I have long been interested in European history, especially the Age of Enlightenment. The Rhetorical Tradition provides an outstanding description of this revolutionary time in history. Therefore, I will describe what I believe to be the most extraordinary and pivotal results of the Enlightenment.

"The period in European history from the seventeenth through the eighteenth centuries -- the period known as the Enlightenment -- is marked by revolution in science, philosophy, and politics" (Bizzell and Herzberg 791).

The Age of Enlightenment is one of those token periods in history; I would not doubt that every student has studied this era at least twice during their academic careers, if not more. Of course, there is a reason for this excessive exploration of a period in history. The Enlightenment fundamentally changed the ways in which society viewed the world. And not for just a brief period; rather, the Enlightenment altered life in ways that would have forever, undeniable influence.

There were changes to science, philosophy and politics. In terms of science, scientists shifted experiments to meet requirements of the scientific (experimental) method and sought new discoveries that would better explain questions within our physical world. Science became investigative as never better. Philosophy changed in that philosophers began to look for the great connection between humans; what, they asked, was universal amongst all human populations. Additionally, they sought answer to questions of psychological, which worked alongside advancements in science. Finally, politics evolved to reflect increasing demand for democracies. Old orders lost credence, giving way to a standardized and seemingly natural order of democracy. "These vast social and intellectual changes inevitably affected the ways that language, communication, and rhetoric were understood during this crucial period" (Bizzell and Herzberg 791).

Logic was one of the most identifiable changes during the Enlightenment. As experimental science took root, logic became an infinitely important component of rhetoric; arguments now required scientific, fact-based evidence. Additionally, as the study of psychology offered reasoning and imagination as natural human capacities, poetry and art became intertwined with rhetoric. Creativity was considered equally important as pure argumentation. This was one of the first times in history that storytelling was deemed acceptable formats of rhetoric. I consider this quite interesting, as the Enlightenment is often synonymous with science and art generally represents the opposite of this.

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