ReasonThe deep belief in reason alone as capable of understanding the works of the universe began in the works of Christian theologians in the middle ages. Primarily the work of Scholastic philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas, who claimed there could be no conflict between reason and revealed religion, this power of reason was perhaps first developed in the philosophical writings of Plato and Aristotle. But in Aquinas philosophical and theological arguments converged with the idea that an omnipotent God had used reason to design the universe and had given man the power of reason to understand the universe. In principle then, using reason alone, man can logically deduce all the facts about the natural world. This gave rise to the thinker sitting in an ivory tower explaining the entire world. This idea was opposed by another Scholastic, John Duns Scotus. Scotus insisted that God's creation of the universe was not bound or determined by laws. Scotus's God had the freedom to create anything he wanted. This means that to understand the universe, one must go out and observe God's work.
The Enlightenment (Age of Reason)The Age of Enlightenment was approximately the eighteenth century in Europe. It was preceded by the Renaissance, approximately the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, in which many ideas of ancient classical philosophy were recovered and many religious superstitions were rejected as unsupportable handed-down traditions. The and by the Reformation, in which protestant Christianity rebelled against the Roman Catholic church. Many protestant sects (Lutherism, Calvinism) rejected the Catholic idea that free will is a gift of God that is tenable despite the presumed foreknowledge of an omniscient (and omnipotent) God who knows the future actions of all persons. Reformation thinking led many philosophers to become determinists or at minimum compatibilists on the question of man's freedom, which are the dominant beliefs of most professional philosophers today. In the physical sciences, Isaac Newton's classical laws of motion epitomized the enlightenment idea of a clockwork universe, set in motion by its creator and left to evolve deterministically under the absolute control of the laws of nature. The reaction to the rationalism and classicism of the deterministic Enlightenment was the early nineteenth-century development of Romanticism, led by the German Idealists of the late eighteenth century, Fichte, Schiller, and the Schlegels, Arthur and Friedrich. For the romantics, the moral absolutes and universal values of the Enlightenment were too confining and ignore the emotions and feelings of great artists. For classicists, the romantic notions of creative freedom and progress were simply irrational ideas used to break traditional norms of the perfect world and conservative thought. The romantic era is sometimes seen as the beginnings of modernity and even the post-modern. But the rationalism of the Enlightenment was itself breaking with many previous traditional norms. So we can see the post-modern as denying the claims of the modernism of the Enlightenment. Normal | Teacher | Scholar