Enlightenment: The Root of Western Intellectual Tradition

Essay by cdorfnerCollege, UndergraduateA+, December 2008

download word file, 4 pages 5.0

To appoint one, lone person or ideology as the most significant to the western intellectual tradition is not an easy undertaking. When tracing the roots of western intellectual tradition, one person or the ideas of a particular group seems to, indiscernibly, overlap the preceding markers of history then blend into the next generation of persons and/or thoughts.

To divide the ideas that are on opposite ends of the spectrum is a major undertaking because the one on this end is fueled by the one on that other end. The debate of what or who is the most significant to the western intellectual tradition is one that scholars with far more knowledge of history than I have cannot seem to settle on unanimously. I will, however, in this paper offer my vote within a limited range of candidates. Again, though, I must emphasize the difficulty of this task. Einstein theorized that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction; history is no exception to this.

With some trepidation, I have settled on the Enlightenment ideology which was due to the philosophies, of an "energetic group of European thinkers" to quote Mr. John Hicks, a history teacher at Alderson-Broaddus College. The enlightenment period was when Europe was becoming industrialized in its economy which altered the future forever.

As stated before, many people and a spectrum of ideas had passed through Europe. The scientific revolution which was a culmination of ideas and events cannot be ignored when considering the elements that are significant in the western intellectual tradition. This revolution, like the Enlightenment, serves as only a marker to the cumulative ideas and progresses over a period of time.

Even Thomas Hobbes must be given his due. This was a man whose ideas were greatly departed from those of his...