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What Was the Enlightenment and Why Is It Important for Modern Universities

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The rest of the essay will foray into the wider implications of the Enlightenment and try to capture its significance to the academia of today. The Enlightenment has had a profound impact on the cultural evolution of Western Europe in particular and the whole of the continent in general. A landmark piece of scholarship that turned the tables in favor of scientific reasoning is Newton’s analysis and description of natural physical phenomena. The immediate impact was discernible in the written literature of the day, due to the scope of this medium of art (Brians, Paul, 1998). On the other hand, it took longer for ideas of the Enlightenment to penetrate into art forms such as music and painting due to the emphasis on traditionally acquired techniques in these art forms. While it is difficult to categorize the newly evolving artistic manifestations of the time, a few broad trends could be noted. For example, At the opening of the century, baroque forms were still popular, as they would be at the end. They were partially supplanted, however, by a general lightening in the rococo motifs of the early 1700s. This was followed, after the middle of the century, by the formalism and balance of neoclassicism, with its resurrection of Greek and Roman models. Although the end of the century saw a slight romantic turn, the eras characteristic accent on reason found its best expression in neoclassicism. (Hackett, 1992) As mentioned before, this rise of neoclassical artistic expression found its highest glory in the Literature of the day. All forms of literature, ranging from prose, narrative verse, poetry, plays, etc were infused with newly discovered scientific truths and newly evolving systems of natural philosophy. Such luminaries as Alexander Pope, Phyllis Wheatley, Voltaire, and Jonathan Swift among others were at theforefront of this paradigm change in socio-cultural expression.