The first reading provides insight into an incredibly early form of vaccination and its introduction into the Western world by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. While the process may seem primitive now, what is interesting about it is how functional and widely accepted it was within communities that gained immunity. The attribution of this method to Lady Montagu may be a little problematic, as she was only a witness and a participant in the vaccination and not its actual creator. However, it is a vital insight into the experimentation and progression medical science would see in the Enlightenment.
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The second reading directly connects with the French Revolution as it is the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen 1789. The declaration recites a number of ideals that are now commonly seen within modern societies, such as the protection of free speech, property, and equality. However, even at its birth, the declaration holds language that allows for loopholes, such as freedom of speech or opinion only being viable if it does not contradict established law.
The third reading introduces the ideas of Mary Wollenscraft, an incredibly progressive feminist of her time. While she supported women’s equality in treatment, opportunity, and education she was also not entirely free of harmful preconceptions. For instance, she makes reference to ‘masculine women’, women that partake in men’s activities, and presents them in a negative light. Despite this, slowly progressive gender equality was a vital component of Enlightenment in a social sense.
The fourth reading relates a letter written by Emperor Qianlong to the Mandate to King George III. While it discusses a number of political and economic topics, the question of religion is the most interesting. This is due to the fact that Western societies were resistant to any forms of non-Christian religions for a prolonged period of time. Despite this, the separation of religion, especially with acts such as religious conquests, and society or government is vital to the progression of the Enlightenment.