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Analysis of Primary Sources Essay

Primary sources, in writing texts about history, are utilized to support the authority or authenticity of thoughts or ideas. Primary sources constitute first-hand information and unswerving and genuine evidence to prove the factuality of situations or events that took place in the past. 1 The content of primary sources that will be used in written texts is critical to producing valid outputs as it will determine how accurate and valid written works will be.

With this in mind, writers or authors of historical texts should acquire knowledge and skills in analyzing primary sources in order to determine which sources to use and which sources to discard by evaluating the authenticity, objectivity, and context of particular sources. To excavate the concepts of primary source analysis, two sources about the period of Enlightenment will be discussed in the remainder of this text. The first article was written by Immanuel Kant.

Kant displayed his agreement with the concepts of Enlightenment as a means to liberate man as a thinking or rational human being, “free from outside direction” and impositions of external elements that swerve his judgment into crookedness and partiality. 2 I believe that the message of Kant is intended for all men, as the purpose of Enlightenment is open the minds and hearts of man to a liberal state of mind. This 1 “What are Primary Sources. ” Primary Sources Tutorial, UCI Libraries. 30 October 2008. <http://www. lib. uci. edu/tutorial/? page=what_are_primary_sources%3F>.

2 Immanuel Kant, “What is Enlightenment? ,” Internet Modern History Sourcebook. August 1997, 30 October 2008. <http://www. fordham. edu/halsall/mod/kant-whatis. html>. however, presents the biased side of Kant’s message as he is trying to influence man into following a concept born from his ideas and way of thinking. When I think about it, it becomes a point of inquiry or argument in terms of considering his work as a valid primary source. It seems like the biased or personal judgments Kant presented are clearly one-sided that makes me question if it should be considered a legitimate primary source.

However, looking at the matter closely, I think its validity is justified by the period in time from which it was written, where people were oppressed by authority figures that imposed their ideals and preponderance to the people. 3 I believe that the philosophical views of Kant deserves an appraisal, although it is quite subjective to his views, but justified by his experiences that support the constancy and trustworthiness of the points he is communicating to his audience.

Therefore, Kant’s work is to be used in relating how individuals were restrained during his time, giving birth to the radical views of Enlightenment. 4 The second article was written by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. His work covers the importance being imposed on the education of the human race following the theoretical perspective of enlightenment. Lessing pointed out that education benefits man because it “gives him that which he might educe out of himself. ” 5 Lessing’s, like that of Kant’s written work speaks to all human beings.

However, I think it will appeal most to individuals who may want to 3 Heinrich Kanz. “Immanuel Kant,” UNESCO International Bureau of Education, 1999. 30 October 2008 <http://www. ibe. unesco. org/fileadmin/user_upload/archive/publications/ThinkersPdf/kante. PDF> 4 Isaac Kramnick, “Thematic Essay: Political and Social Thought of Enlightenment,” Microsoft Encarta, 30 October 2008. <http://encarta. msn. com/encyclopedia_461511152_2/Thematic_Essay_Political_and_Social_Thought_of_the_Enlightenment. html> 5 Gotthold Ephraim Lessing.

“The Education of the Human Race,” Internet Modern History Sourcebook. August 1998, 30 October 2008. < http://www. fordham. edu/halsall/mod/1778lessing-education. html>. discover the importance or significance of education in their lives. There are individuals, at some in their lives, who contemplate on the importance of education, as I have. Moreover, Lessing presented his views through the context of religion and theology which determines objectivity on his part as the author as ideas were related to a field that frames its independent points and issues.

Enlightenment under the scope of theology has revolutionized the views of truth in reality through studying the word of God. 6 This personally well-examined point builds upon the trustworthiness of the article if an author is interested in reporting about the history of theology or religion considering the influence of the concepts underlying Enlightenment. I believe that Lessing’s work is most instrumental in backing up the concept of Enlightenment through religious and moral claims. Overall, I believe that the works of Kant and Lessing passes the conditions determinant of valid primary sources.

However, the written works of Kant and Lessing should be utilized judiciously, such that written works about history should coincide with the period and the context of each written work. For instance, the work of Kant should only be used in describing the state of Germany prior to the age of Enlightenment, seeking to elucidate why theorists, philosophers, and great thinkers introduced the need for man to liberate himself from ideals and impositions. On the other hand, Lessing’s work should only be used in written works which seek to present the history of theological and religious concepts with the influence of the concepts of Enlightenment.

The diversity of the contents of primary sources supports the relevance being weighed on primary source analysis. With this in mind, it is again important to reiterate that 6 “The Enlightenment,” Christian Chronicler, 30 October 2008. < http://www. christianchronicler. com/history1/enlightenment. html> writers or authors who wish to present texts discussing history should analyze primary sources in order to determine their relevance as valid and reliable sources in terms of authenticity, objectivity, and context.


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