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Deism: The Child of the Renaissance Essay

Deism (Lat. Deus – God) is a philosophical standpoint that provides a specific attitude to religious beliefs. The deists accepted that the world was created by some supreme being (God), but the world’s further development was without His involvement. The time period when this philosophical study occurred is not strictly defined, but there were many philosophers who accepted this point of view.

Among them are Locke, Jefferson and Paine. In this essay, we are going to discuss and explain the deism of the period of Enlightenment and show the relations between ides of deism and Enlightenment philosophy through the analysis of teaching such great people as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson.

In order to understand why deism was so popular during the period of enlightenment, we should briefly examine the main philosophical ideas of this époque.

The main idea of this period was the glorification of a human being. The philosophers provided the idea that man was a creator of his life and of all things around him. They proclaimed the power of knowledge and the ability to control nature with the help of it. Thus, people were not dependent on the God’s will and were masters of their fates. These ideas were basically central on the theory of deism.

The common feature of deism and philosophy of enlightenment was the attitude to God and religion. Thus, deism, as well as enlightenment, identified the creative power of God through “nature and reason, not revelation” (“Deism – Enlightened Emptiness” n. p.). The deists did not identify only one God for one religion, on the contrary, they considered that one power or a “divine being” created the world and this power is common for all religions.

Furthermore, deism presupposed that God does not rule over one’s life and nature, as opposed to this idea, they proclaimed that human beings are in charge of the world. Thus, enlightenment and deism were common in one thing: “God became no more than the supreme intelligence” (Kramnick 12).

The ideas of deism were supported by such philosophers as Franklin, Paine and Jefferson. In the book The Age of Reason, Thomas Paine claims that he believes in: “equality of man, and that religious duty consists in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavor to make our fellow-creatures happy” (Paine 18).

Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More He believed in religion “cleaned” from superstitions and dogmas. He also assumed that it was not necessary to go to Church to prove one’s fate. The same ideas of deism, but more traditional ones, were provided by Benjamin Franklin. As opposed to Paine, Franklin approved that God “governs by his providence.

That he ought to be worshiped” (Franklin and Bigelow 79). Franklin also believed in immortal soul and afterlife. President Thomas Jefferson’s religious views were also inspired by English Deists. He supported the teaching of Jesus and considered it to be the supreme morality. This president supported the religious freedom. Though this man had never identified himself with particular deism movement, he shared their ideas, but in his personal interpretation.

Thus, we can come to a conclusion that many philosophers, politicians, writers and other famous people shared the ideas if deism, especially the ones that lived and worked during the period of enlightenment. Furthermore, it would be fair to suggest that deism and the age of enlightenment had the same philosophical milestone and attitude to God and human. The deists accepted that world was created by God, however, at the same time they gave people right to be masters of their lives.

Works Cited Kramnick, Issac. The Portable Enlightenment Reader. New York: Penguin Books, 1995.

Paine, Thomas. The Age of Reason. Forgotten Books, 1923.

Franklin, Benjamin, and John Bigelo. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Forgotten Books, 1945.

“Deism – Enlightened Emptiness”. All about Philosophy – The Big Questions. Web.

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Industrialism, Progress or Decline Essay

Nursing Assignment Help The Industrial Revolution during the Victorian Age was perhaps one of the most interesting periods in England. The fact that man could invent machines to replace manual work was received with enthusiasm and dismay. Spinning and weaving machines such as the spinning jenny marked the beginning of an era where machines would make human labour obsolete (NAEL, 1).

The coming of the steam engine in the late eighteenth century accelerated man’s belief in the capacity to create entire industries and manufacture goods using technology. Technological inventions also proved that man was capable of utilizing resources in a manner never seen before.

While there were those that were mesmerized by the changes, very many were against the direction that human economy was taking. First, there was the logical concern about workers losing their jobs thus causing endless poverty and thus activists for these workers came out against these machines.

The other class of persons is that which believed that ideologically, the path of technology was uncertain. There was a feeling that man’s creations would eventually lead him to destruction. Nothing captures this view than the book Frankenstein written by Mary Shelley in 1818 (Baldick, 3).

The book was written at a period when the Industrial Revolution had just picked up steam. The steam engine had just been around for a decade or so and new machines were replacing hundreds of people. Scientists and engineers were engrossed in designing inventions that would make work easier and altogether render human labour obsolete. At the time, Mary Shelley was just 19 years old and at that age, she could already witness the agony of the workers being laid off as well as the speculation about where this revolution was taking England.

The book is in narrative form and the main character is Victor Frankenstein, a man consumed by an inventive idea. He believes that he can make a creation that would much be like man and he sets about doing so. Eventually he is successful but when the creature gains life, Frankenstein has to deal with issues of controlling it.

Eventually, the creature which is referred to as the monster kills those close to him and he is devastated. He dedicates his life to destroying the monster in a fight to the death. In the end, he prevails but is devastated at the consequences of his obsession to create (Baldick, 156).

Get your 100% original paper on any topic done in as little as 3 hours Learn More The book was clearly written by Mary Shelley being part of the “Enlightment” school of thought as an attack against the uncertainties of industrialism. The monster tells Frankenstein that it acknowledges that he is its creator but he must obey (Chapter 20). This statement is perhaps the most telling on the author’s thoughts on the ramifications of industrialism. Mary Shelley in writing the book was expressing fears that were already in the public domain (Baldick, 14).

There was fear from the religious quarters that once man began these mesmerizing creations, he might forget that he is merely mortal and purport to be God himself. The people holding this belief seemed to be convinced that once this happened, man would be punished and reminded of his mortality (Baldick, 23).

This is well captured in Chapter 22 when Victor Frankenstein regrets creating the monster and states that the monster had ‘blinded’ him as to its real intentions and when he thought that his life was at stake, the monster took that of his dear Elizabeth. The comparison here is that while industrialism and technological innovation may seem to be taking man in a particular direction, there was is a hidden consequence with far sinister results.

Indeed industrialism did come with various negative effects such as the migration of poor workers into towns to live in squalor as they hoped to get jobs in the newly created factories. Due to the low wages being paid since man had to compete with machine, life was miserable for the poor and workers worked in deplorable conditions.

In a way Mary Shelley’s prediction that man would regret the Industrial Revolution came true when the economic depression in the early 1840’s hit England hard. Families went hungry and many workers were laid off causing untold suffering. Various writers such as Charles Dickens and Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote on the plight of workers at this time of misery (NAEL, 1).

Judging from the contribution that the Industrial Revolution played in ushering in modern day economies, it can be said that eventually, the revolution did turn out as a force for good.

Technology today has made great changes to man’s lifestyle most of them positive. Frankenstein’s remarks on Chapter 4 that his creation would ‘bring light to a mysterious world’ came to pass has indeed Industrialism did bring a light in a world that would have been dark. However, this came at a cost. The debate today is reflected in the objections from many quarters against stem cell research and invention of intuitive robots.

We will write a custom Essay on Industrialism, Progress or Decline specifically for you! Get your first paper with 15% OFF Learn More Works Cited Baldick, Chris. In Frankenstein’s Shadow. Myth, Monstrosity, and Nineteenth-Century Writing. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987. Print

Norton Anthology of English Literature (NAEL). Industrialism, Progress or Decline: An Overview. 2011. (25th March, 2011) Retrieved from

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein; or ‘The Modern Prometheus. London: Pocket Books, 1818. Print

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