Revolutionary foundations of the modern world

Enlightenment is an important revolutionary period from about 1750 to twentieth century. In this period, many basic assumptions were arranged and new ideas were generated in western culture. Effects of this period in politics were seen in Europe like an overthrow of monarchy, establishment of republican and democratic ideas. This period realized that the dualities in renaissance/baroque philosophy could not solve assumptions about nature, mind and relationship between these two. World and mind were separated from each other. Positivism also is seen in this period and also neoclassicism is seen that claims objectives and timeless principles of art are independent of human sensibilities.

Positivism and the new deterministic sciences of man

Enlightenment philosophers of France aimed to change empiricist concepts into new areas. Firstly they took the baroque ideas that can be comprehended by human mind completely. Their works about these ideas led them to control the future without superstitions and mystical explanations. These explanations were not enough to make human being comprehend the true structure of reality. And also French philosophers tried to study on empirical science of human. To control the future, natural sciences use the knowledge of nature. Then scientists can control the knowledge of human behavior. They claimed that if a man is a part of the nature, then man’s behaviors must be cause of mechanical effect which control the natural world.

In this period positivistic movement was appeared in architecture. Nature of materials became the most important part of architecture. 

Positivism also influenced the educational process in this period. The new conception of education was appeared as a result of renewed thoughts. Many innovations brought European universities back into the mainstream of European intellectual activities.


The romantic rebellion

At first, enlightenment and positivism continued on the ideas of baroque.  On the other hand romantic view was opposed to these ideas. It wanted to recombine man with the nature and protect him from renaissance dualities. Lastly romantics tried to explain what man’s natural state must be; the state where he must have happily existed before succumbing to the humanists’ schisms.

A new conception of the individual

Jean-Jacques Rousseau charged renaissance and baroque philosophers with making a wrong description of nature of man. According to him, emotions and feelings, inside man’s natural state, provide great knowledge about the world that reason itself. So he proposed a new conception about individuals’ personality that it grows as to its internal form, opposite to positivism. He did not agree with ideas of Plato and rationalism about individuals. He claimed that individuals who are least corrupted by the society and stand closer to the nature are also the closest to the virtue. These people can do everything with society only if they come together willingly for their advantages. He argued that individuals grow naturally and they are tended to approach to virtue if they are allowed to pursue their own ways. He saw education as a social institution that corrupts people’s natural development. This view was conceptualized in educational sphere as progressive theory. He claimed teachers do not need to struggle to teach the students anything but rather should only protect them from spirit error so they can be in their own ways of discovery.

Romantic theory

Romantic aestheticians and artists explained the emotional response to object. Edmund Burke thought that the element in nature is more important than beauty, the sublime. The sublime in objects excites in the viewer feelings of danger or of pain. However this quality was often found in object which many in the renaissance and baroque considered that it was ugly and seemed more significant in romantics.

The movement called the storm and stress emphasized on emotional reactions. Many young poets and artists discovered intuitive side of human nature and used emotional style of writing.

Because of the viewers’ emotional response to objects, romantics moved the centre of attention away from properties of the objects themselves. In fact this did not imply the artistic relativity because it was possible to believe that everyone would experience the same emotional response to the same objects.

Romantics believed that inner emotions are important that they cause artist to create artistic works. Although baroque offered the analogy of finely turned machine, the romantics offered the analogy of living part.  Contrary to classical concept, the romantics conceived of art as a matter of organic creation. This idea changed the views of artistic works. Classical preferences were regular finite and complete however romantics’ were irregular and incomplete.

The concept of genius:

First of all, romantics have opposite ideas with classicists about producing artistic skill. Classicists claim that person who studies well obtain the skill on the other hand romantics believe that source of idea comes from inside of artist soul.  According to them skill is not something that can be obtained with studying hard, it is an innate quality.  They also argue that the outer rules damage the functioning of genius. Having the genius gives artists responsibility to use it without thinking its results.

A new concept of history

A new conception of history was developed parallel with the others. It transformed the subsequent theories of art and knowledge. It was believed that antiquity and individual events in history follow a rational overall pattern. Attributed to individual patterns not much controlled than pattern’s general direction. Writers of histories were concerned themselves more with the grand logic and major events and personalities in each age than they did with the local and ordinary events of everyday life. This new conception was not agreed by the spirit of enlightenment secularizing and humanizing.

Historical view was different in all periods. View of history was different from renaissance when middle age was examined. In enlightenment, history became series of separate components, the ancient world the renaissance, the middle age ant the modern world. Each has its own character.

Renewed interest in the medieval

In the half of the eighteenth century, there was a revival of mysticism which had dominated middle ages before. This obviously helped remove the humanist objections to the religious basis of the middle ages. In addition, middle ages offered a romantic mind which was free from renaissance and baroque. Romantics saw craftsmen as a willingly submitter of the projects. They became the branch of an organic social order. There was no predominance between individual and each was able to leave effect in all parts of projects.

With the help of the interest in medievalism, there was a revival in gothic forms and motifs especially in England. Many architects like Vanbrugh, William Kent and Batty Langley began to exploit gothic styles, often taking considerable liberties with the original forms and decorative motifs.