The Radical Thinkers Of The 18th And 19th Centuries

1602 WordsNov 21, 20147 Pages
Although the radical thinkers of the 18th and 19th centuries who captured the “zeitgeist” of their era contributed to shaping Western Civilization ideals, many of these radical thinkers were condemned during their lifetimes for their unorthodox views. Around the 17th century, Western European society began to adapt to a new method of thinking known as rationalism, which focused on proving beliefs with rational sources such as data and reasoning instead of faith and tradition. While William Paley was one of the first highly influential rationalist thinkers of his era, he also agreed with the orthodox views of his time. Paley was not significant for challenging his era’s views; rather for representing his era’s views while challenging society’s method of formulating these views. Contrary to Paley, David Hume actually challenged societal norms and traditions by opposing to all of Paley’s ideas with his reason, thus exposing his era to his radical skepticisms. Friedrich Nietzsche was able to criticize traditional principles of morality and culture which sparked conflict for the authoritative entities of his era. While Paley represented his era’s normative beliefs and encouraged rationalism, Hume was able to challenge his society’s religious and moral beliefs prior to Nietzsche’s critique on morality and culture during his era which ultimately influenced future political and artistic figures. In spite of the fact that William Paley differed from many of his contemporary
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