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The Rise of Man Kind: Societal Progression through Enlightenment Essay

History is what we learn from; it shows the mistakes and tribulations of man. History demonstrates progression of the human mind and capabilities. It is my belief that we would not be where we are today without the advances of science and its inherent development of modern society. The day our minds started thinking that there is a better way, or more than one way, to go about things is the day humans started striving for a richer, more intellectual state of being. Without the modern advances over the many years man has populated the earth there would not be the democratic system that we call a society.

Without the conveniences of modern luxuries we would have an entirely different stature of limitations than we perceive there to be. Kant claims in his second thesis that nature intended us to achieve great things; that man becomes powerful because nature pushed us to apply all of our capacity to rise above instinct and nature and begin to learn how to provide for ourselves. Rousseau does not see it that way; he feels that the rise of modern science only lead to conflict and false optimism in believing the power of the human race.

I will be dissecting these two points of views using quoted material and my own personal logic and reflections. When reading Kant’s Perpetual Peace I found myself agreeing with a lot of his theories. He articulates that the notion of progress is more important than progress itself, meaning, being able to see the pattern or growth in the species develop creates the prominent suggestion that modernization and adaptation is within our capabilities. Kant also claims that nature wants us to do everything on our own, and take credit for our successes.

Nature seems to have taken delight in the greatest frugality and to have calculated her animal endowments so closely-so precisely to the most pressing needs of a primitive existence-that she seems to have willed that if man should ever work himself up from the grossest barbarity to the highest level of sophistication, to inner perfection in his way of thinking and thereby to happiness ( as far as it is possible on earth), he alone would have the entire credit for it and would have only himself to thank; it is as if she aimed more at his rational self-esteem than at his well-being.

Kant reflects nature’s intent of rational self-esteem rather than well-being; individuals are important and valued as well as have much worth and dignity and that has to be embodied in how we live. We have to appreciate the importance of our minds and capacity; self-worth plays a significant role in understanding where we stand. In his fourth thesis, Kant explains unsocial sociability, living with others and always wanting to be alone.

We don’t like being told what to do or how to live but we also have strong urges to be a part of something therefore we would rather stay in the population, but it makes us difficult to live with. We have an innate interest in staying alive, we realize that the best way to do this is to live and let live, Kant is relaying to Hobbs Social Contract, avoiding a war of all against all. In his fifth thesis, Kant describes a universal civil society.

He proclaims the future involving nations rise to liberal-Democratic functionality, embedding a society where every individual is taken seriously, has a say and opinion and has their chance to say that opinion, “whose solution nature compels it to seek, is to achieve a universal civil society administered in accord with the right. ” Kant foresees the introduction of a form of a league of nations that protects rights and liberties of each person and uses state power to do so. There would be the greatest freedom that allows room for protection and cooperation with others.

Rousseau has a different point of view entirely. Unlike Kant, he conveys the opinion of negativity towards science and the enlightenment. “ It is a grand and beautiful sight to see man emerge somehow from nothing by his own efforts; dissipate, by the light of his reason, the shadows in which nature had enveloped him; rise above himself; soar by means of his mind into the heavenly regions; traverse, like the sun, the vast expanse of the universe with giant steps; and, what is even grander and more difficult, return to himself in order to study man and know his nature, his duties, and his end. Science is great, but it doesn’t change who you are and what society is free.

His economic point entails the society is built for the protection of property and gives power and advantages to those who have it, but property can only benefit few. I disagree, I think that science did change who we are; it gave purpose, convenience, progression and many other attributes that made America a world power. Rousseau also discusses the point that our country was founded on slavery and genocide. Throughout his essay he uses history to demonstrate how science negatively impacts our society.

The fall of the throne of Constantinople brought into Italy the debris of ancient Greece. France in turn was enriched by these precious spoils. Soon the sciences followed letter. To the art of writing was joined the art of thinking a sequence of events that may seem strange, but which perhaps is only too natural. And the chief advantage of commerce with the Muses began to be felt, namely, that of making men more sociable by inspiring in them the desire to please one another with works worthy of their mutual approval.

This means the installation of competition, the downfall of society, creating conflict and war over who had the upper-hand. Rousseau thinks how humans began is how they ought to live—which is quite opposite of Kant’s view of natures will of rationality, which leads to evolving scientifically, so that we should be grateful. Both men agree that conflict is the backbone of history, but the systematic problems that occurred to cause the conflict are not the same. Rousseau claims that science allows us to reach beyond our means, creating false hope about our capabilities and natures will for human success.

He says we need to get back to nature, quit striving and live as God intends. Kant believes that nature intends for us to fulfill and reach for further achievement, science betters society and brings full use of our capacity as we were went to do. These intelligent minds argue similar characteristics but lack related opinions. I feel that Kant’s point of view is what I personally relate to. Yes, God made intentions for us, but nature wills us to better existence. You only reach as far as you stretch, so why not make all society and man extremely flexible?


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