The Age Of Enlightenment

The Age Of Enlightenment (A.K.A The Age Of Reason) was a period in the 18th century where being of faith and belief stopped being the ‘cool’ thing to do, and science and ‘reason’ started to become the main driving force behind all major social change, ultimately leading us the society we live in today. At this late hour on the evening of the 260MC had-in, I figure it is time to at least acknowledge this post that I have been so acutely avoiding posting for so long now.

The age is based around philosophical approaches to life and society – that is, the ideals of a culture. The age aimed to promote argument (founded upon ‘reason’), and start getting people to challenge systems already set up. The way our lecturer put it, most thought came from the pubs before this philosophical revolution, and the way I see it, most of the time period before this act were very religiously orientated. This was to be a turning point in the development of the human race, for better or for worse.

It of course relates to media in the sense that through challenging and arguing over people’s points of view and debating, we have ben given certain freedoms that dominate the media industry as an institution. Media in general is all about representing opinions, be it through film or television or radio. Had the Age Of Enlightenment not happened, perhaps the media industry would never have been born (perhaps, due the lack of scientific perspective, we may still have been in the industrial revolution at this point in time). The fact that the age focused primarily on vocal and written arguments (a perspective held strong in academia) solidifies this theory.

So what of it? Is it not just another chapter in the history books? Well, yes and no. It is perhaps the official birthplace of the media industry (a question I’ve wanted answering since Term 1 last year – go find it in one of my posts!). It was subject to much criticism due to the arguments it proposed, much like the ever-changing media industry today (*cough* Wikileaks *cough*). I wouldn’t say we were still in an age of reason – more, this one singular philosophical advance has become a part of our everyday lives. So it is part of history, but a part of history that we live each day and take for granted.

It is also perhaps a movement that gave hope to revolutionaries wanting to challenge the authorities. This philosophical change – although started mostly be the educated and the academic – would no doubt affect the young troublemakers who later grow up to become radical leaders of change. This movement does in some way lend a hand to the formation of things such as freedom of speech – again, something we take for granted, and again, something very important in the media industry.

But how can knowing this help us humble students in our future careers? Is it not just archaic mumbo, held only to be used in fancy restaurant conversations? Possibly – the age happened a long time ago, and it wont be until a new Age Of Enlightenment occurs that our generation will really engage with what this movement tried to do. You may think it wont happen, but I myself am not so sure. Some say humanity is reaching the pinnacle of evolution, yet I think that there are always improvements to be made (not making a swan song for world peace, but as long as there’s war, there’s room for improvement). Given the technological advances, perhaps there will be a philosophical movement one day that will be broadcast all over the world that will unite all religions, genders and races, and create a true Age Of Enlightenment. One can hope – but what would that do to the media industry? That is a point to be debated on a future / science fiction related programme – an intriguing thought, but lacking gravitas.


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