Tag Archives: Enlightenment

Origins of Individualism

Blogging from class.  ;o)

In World Religions, we’re discussing Knitter’s “Mutuality Model” (pluralism, more or less), and to do so, we’re reviewing the Enlightenment’s role in thinking about religion.

Something interesting the professor said that I’ve never heard before is that the Enlightenment wasn’t so much about the use of reason, but rather the use of independent reason.

I also wondered why the Englightenment led to these uber-individualistic Western cultures–I mean, reason itself doesn’t seem to be inherently individualistic, right?  This still doesn’t explain why, specifically, all these things happened, but it does help things make more sense.

We post-Enlightenment Westerners value reason that doesn’t bow down to authority, community, or any other voice.  We value intellectual freedom and questioning what we’ve been told.  And that can be a good thing.  But that’s really what we care about–more than reason itself, we value independent reason unbridled.

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