The world’s existence is established on philosophical foundations that influence world trends and actions. These trends determine the common outlook and interpretation of social and scientific phenomena. Societies take positions under the influence of prevailing philosophical ideals. These philosophical ideals imply that a society ascribes its values and standards on the standing informed by thinkers and opinion.
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Different philosophical dispensations have come to life in world history. One of the major philosophical eras in world history is the age of enlightenment. This era brought to life a change in worldview whose impact is still evident. In essence, before this age, absolutism was the world’s core philosophical foundation. The motivation behind absolutism was to address a rise in tragic events brought about by religious and civil wars. In order to counter this movement, enlightenment thinkers started questioning fundamental issues such as human liberties, the place of freedom and science.
The enlightenment age
World history positions this age as fundamental in its progress and growth in all spheres. Rosebrough states that, “enlightenment was a philosophical movement of the 18th century that was characterized by rationalistic methods and skepticism about established dogma and beliefs” (35). The main thrust of this age was questioning belief systems and putting to test existing world standards. The world experienced an awakening to knowledge through intellectual exchange, scientific approaches, intensified and rigorous reasoning (Outram 22). Eradication and displacement of various absolutistic standards took place as a result. Major changes associated with the enlightenment era included governance, science, principles of knowledge, and faith. The precise dates when this era began are not clear. However, some scholars believe that it might have come to the fore in the 17th century. It is during this time that Descartes and Isaac Newton came up with the famous Discourse on Method and Principa Mathematica respectively (Outram 238). The works of these philosophers and scientists around the 17th and early 18th century sparked a serious conflict in the way the world operated, thus, introducing a new world order. People began to question the order of things, the existence of God, systems of governance, and the right to life.
Impact of the enlightenment era on science
Upon questioning of these basic beliefs; new theories and perceptions gained prominence. The world stopped looking at things based on what others said or believed. Rather, people started to evaluate the world’s standards based on ideas and reasons that seemed logical enough to make reasonable and mathematical sense (Love 144). On nature, scientists such as Copernicus and Galileo questioned the state of the planet and its positioning in the universe. Darwin, on the other hand, delved into the concept of evolution. While Darwin worked on his theory of evolution, Gregor Mendel was busy discovering and using science to explain the principles and rules of inheritance. The field of science started to gain rapid momentum that challenged the place of faith. Rapid permeation of scientific inquiry led to massive transformation in scientific fields such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology. Eventually, people were able to use these discoveries as a basis of treating disease and promoting health.
An analysis: Ingenious Pain
Ingenious Pain is a classical novel whose author Andrew Miller presents a story staged in the era of enlightenment. This novel is about an extraordinary surgeon who had a gift that was both a blessing and a curse. The author introduces James Dyer, a surgeon whose existence started in a hostile manner. Despite his background, Dyer grew up to become a renowned surgeon. Dyer’s existence captures a century that had a strong propensity towards people with certain peculiarities. The author brings to light patterns that portray the nature of life during this time. As the story unravels, you get a feel of conditions such as casual cruelty coupled with a general kind of sluggish and uncertain life. This story gives insight on how these people were gullible and easily swayed by mysterious superstitions. Dyer’s introduction presents the face of enlightenment in an era rooted in mystery and superstition. A scientist by the name of Canning curiously observed Dyer’s extraordinary ability. Upon realizing that Dyer possessed a peculiar character, he whisked him away for further study and analysis. This aspect of the story captures the inquisitive aspect of this era. The sublime operations carried out by Canning and Dyer represents growth in medicine and research.
The reader gets to understand the level of inquisitiveness and its impact in science. Heightened scientific awareness captured in this story provides grounds to treat conditions that had superstitious inclinations. In a society where people viewed death from a superstitious standing, Dyer’s character presents a solution that comes with enlightenment.
The society starts to witness how science can intervene in the face of various medical challenges. This story shows the growth of man’s intellectual aspects and its impact on the general perception of life. The world slowly starts to appreciate the role of science and medicine in the society. Furthermore, the reader gets to understand how enlightenment intervened in areas that perceived to be mysterious and superstitious. Even though this era faced skepticism, it provided solutions to a variety of perplexing circumstances facing the society.
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Positioned at the apex of explosion of knowledge, people of this age were facing a dilemma on where to place this newfound knowledge. The question that lingered was how to grapple with the old system of belief in light of presenting changes. This subtle challenge is what Miller captures in this story.
One cannot fail to notice the place of reason, emotion and action. From the beginning, the author presents the positive role that lack of emotion plays in the story. Dyer’s lack of pain enables him to perform complex surgeries with much ease. However, lack of these emotions depicts a society that is merciless and brutal in nature. This tussle becomes clear in light of a question seeking to find out whether the world needs outstanding personalities steeped in reason or ordinary people who operate on basic understanding of life. Eventually, Dyer’s condition is remedied using a scientific approach where his ability to feel is restored through a surgical procedure. Though this surgery enables him to be more appreciative of life, it ends his extraordinary ability (Miller 262). Conclusion
Arguments whether the society can fully embrace science and ignore belief and faith have come to the fore. However, Andrew Miller’s story gives us the ability to appreciate the role of these two aspects in human society. The age of enlightenment transformed a certain important aspect of humanity through science and increased intellectualism. Nevertheless, it cannot entirely ignore the place of belief and faith in matters of humanness and dignity because they are coexist. Miller captures the role of science and its impact in the society. The way to establish a meaningful society is finding out how to bring a balance between perspectives brought by the age of reason and indispensable attributes that existed before this time.
Love, Ronald. The Enlightenment, California: Greenwood Press, 2008. Print.
Miller, Andrew. Ingenious Pain, London.
Hodder & Stoughton, 2006. Print.
Outram, Dorinda. Panorama of the Enlightenment, Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2006. Print.
Rosebrough, Raymond. Graphic Christianity, Indiana: Xlibris Corporation, 2009. Print.