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History of enlightenment Essay

(1) Newtonian theory vs. Einstein and Heisenberg

The Newtonian theory refers to the work of one of the earliest scientists known as Isaac Newton who stated that, the laws of nature (gravity) controlled the stable movements of objects and also maintained the delicate balance that holds things firmly to the ground. However, since then this theory has been subjected to many conflicting philosophical views and opinions that have either challenged or supported it. The emergence of Albert Einstein and his genius in physics, for instance, gave way for heated debates about the credibility of the Newtonian theory of natural law and gravity.

Albert Einstein in his proposed theory of relativism helped to extend Newtonian dynamics to include motion at speeds of approaching than that of light. This new additional clause on the initial theories of gravity saw the revolutionary perception of the effect of motion on gravity. The new findings led to the disputation of the absoluteness of Newtonian theory in that, Einstein discovered some faults that made the Newtonian theory incomplete and questionable. Einstein was able to learn that some elements such as time, mass, energy, space, and even matter are not necessarily absolute in themselves, they can therefore be measured or altered by a person depending on the nature of his/her study variables. [Nick Strobel, 2001]

Warner Heisenberg later emerged to add his findings on what he called “quantum” mechanics that described motion on a subatomic scale. In his findings Heisenberg, asserted that the universe was full of uncertainties that made it not an obvious phenomenon to ever understand. “The more precisely the position is determined the, the less precisely the momentum is known at this instant, and vice versa” The work of these two scientists heralded the genesis of new studies that sought to provide insights on initially abstract theories, the Newtonian one included. [Mr. Edmondson, 2000]

(2) Social Darwinism and Hitler

The theories of social Darwinism, provided for a healthy competition among individuals, groups, nations, and the global world as a whole for purposes of achieving social evolution amongst human societies. Social Darwinism is a derivative from the Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Natural selection according to Darwin is the process of speciation in populace that is brought about by competition between individual mortals for limited resources a phenomenon called, “survival for the fittest”.  [Johnson, D. Paul, 2008]

In his book, “Main Krampf” Hitler expresses acknowledgement of both the principals of social Darwinism and natural selection, this he exhibits by asserting that the world should be classified to people’s ancestry, a classification that will involve with some people being placed on higher classes than others, he quoted the example of Germany Aryans as more superior than the blacks, Jews, and gypsies as belonging to a lesser class. Again, Hitler is seen as acting beyond the dictates of social Darwinism or even the principal of natural selection with his racial attitude towards the Jews whom he accuse of abetting racial dilution tactics in order to bring about equality. His perception of social Darwinism and natural law was about the political, social, and economic struggle between the mainstream Aryans and the minority Jews. His racialism attitudes led him to the gassing and brutal murdering of millions of Jews as a way of satisfying his own “social Darwinist” theory. [Mein Kampf, 1939]

(3) Sigmund Freud vs. John Locke

According to john Locke, “self” is the conscious thinking thing which is in itself reasonable or conscious of pleasure and pain and proficient of cheerfulness or melancholy, and so is concerned for itself, as far as that awareness extends. In other words to him self is a character awareness and self thoughtful awareness that is fixed in the body.  [Locke, Essay, 1997] In his work “some thoughts concerning Education” he indicates it is education that fills the rather “empty human mind”, by asserting that out of the ten men he meets with nine of them are what they are, morally upright or morally rotten, useful or not, good or evil, chiefly due to their education. [Locke, Some Thoughts, 1996] Further he argued that little and almost insensible impressions we make when we are young having lasting impacts to ourselves simply due to the fact that they were the foundations of the self. [Locke, Some Thoughts, 1996]

On the other hand Sigmund Freud differed vehemently with Lockean theory in that he argued that human beings behavior is controlled largely by their unconscious minds. He argued that the understanding of conscious thoughts and behavior is determined by revisiting the unconscious mind. He developed “repression” as key factor that determined unconscious, out of belief that far many people repress painful memories into their unconscious minds. He further clarified that the very process of repression took place within an individual’s conscious mind but rather in the unconscious one, and therefore many people are unaware that is happening on them. [Barlow DW, Durand VM, 2005]

Finally Freud stubborn stance on the unimportance of both education and treatment to the alleviation of violence or suffering can be attributed to his changing of the system of unconsciousness and modeling it into the concept of Ego, super-ego, and id.  Super ego is ability to psyche ones morals and not taking in to account circumstantial morals situations, while Id was derived from William James early works. It is in light of this that Freud vehemently disputed the notion that the success of the population relied on education.  [Barlow DW, Durand VM, 2005] Freud model of mind has been a great challenge to the enlightenment model of rational agency which then was a core element in modern philosophy.


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