Fire and Light

Check out the review of

Fire and Light: How the Enlightenment Transformed Our World by James MacGregor Burns

The Avery Slom Philosophical Laboratory

FireLight1Fire and Light: How the Enlightenment Transformed Our World by James MacGregor Burns

Despite the undeniably beneficial and long-lasting effect the Enlightenment has had on…well, just about everything, I’m not entirely sure everyone appreciates how transformational this time was. This may be due, ironically, to how successful it was. Unfortunately, Burns doesn’t provide a chapter defining the Enlightenment in his book, so I’ll try to make up for that omission with a brief description.

Most references will tell you that the Enlightenment was a philosophical or intellectual movement of the 18th century (or the 17th-18th centuries). It was a new way of thinking that gave primary emphasis to reason and the individual over tradition and authority. Several Enlightenment philosophers voiced these ideas in their writings, and though they profoundly disagreed on a great many things, they established the notion that tradition and belief could and should be subjected to rational…

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