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Thursday, March 25, 2021

The Enlightenment Age (A short essay)

TLDR : there was window of time in the past that changed everything, if you can't spare 8 minutes to read this prose, I highly recommend reading the wikipedia article [1] linked at the bottom.

If there’s anything I wanted anyone from taking with them after reading this, It would be the tldr, since its really the inspiration and sort of my summary over the topic of enlightenment, so that said, let me write about what inspired my interest in Enlightened Sapiens , a social enterprise that aims to grow a community around your passions and hobbies and inspires you to discover your passion.

Enlightenment Age Or the age of reason was sometime between 17th century to 19th century, I’d even argue we are still in it today. Let’s just go with it being concluded for now to make my summary short and interesting.
It started with Newton, and a wonderful idea, an idea that shines a light on the human ability to reason and use scientific thinking and experimentation to get to an insight that changed the way we see the world and made an immeasurable boost to the understanding of physics and math and science, not just scientists but artists, poets, philosophers , writers ! They changed the way a lot of stuff was done, the challenged the order . The monarchs, the feudal lords, the elitists, the priests, the gods even. Sometime after physics advanced to the smallest of things we can measure, we hit a lull, but there’s promise of a future discovery and age of pushing boundaries opens up, or we are living through and age of reason and can collaborate to come up with next step that would count as sufficient progress, I think with the extent to which we are able to bring the computing power of socially connected and intelligent sapiens work towards the same goal, we might be on the precipice of a great age. 

When Karan (founder of Enlightened Sapiens) spoke to me about Enlightened Sapiens, this is what my thinking was, I was thinking about it as historical period where reason overcame dogmatic beliefs,where discovery won over our stubborn superstitions,where love won over our pride, where we as a species made an evolutionary jump in our understanding of space and time, of understanding ourselves, establish foundations to a scientific framework of ideas, ideas like giants we can stand on the shoulders of and see into the universe.

We have spoken about various ways in which we can build a community around discovering ideas, ideas perhaps lost in this fast moving age, simple ideas, ideas like discovering your soul, understanding the nature of the world, opening your minds, and to remind ourselves of the enlightenment era, and how it revolutionized everything. The impact of the enlightenment age or the age of reason is seriously difficult to cover in a single blog post or even a short series of posts, but I will try and take my time and spend the words to try and drive home the point I want to make, If I fail and this article doesn't inspires your interest you should go learn more I can drop some material at the end of the post when I conclude it.

I feel a lot of history is scandalous and some tales survive in memes across the internet today, but most of history is ignored and that is why it tends to repeat itself, but positive periods like Enlightenment Age broke the cycle of perpetual doom, eventual collapse of human civilization before the age of enlightenment can inspire us that we have to give this age some more importance and seek to learn more about them and they should not just be a chapter in your school history textbooks and then forgotten, Enlightened Sapiens for me will always be a place I can talk about interesting ideas, talk about our hobbies, our passions, and discover what excites us, how we can get more out of life. Its also a guide to how to lead a full life, a way to give back to society, a way to see the light, beyond tradition. "Tradition" they say is just peer pressure from dead people. I couldn't find who do I owe to attribute this wonderful quote, it captures for me the ethos of breaking free of tradition and opening our kind to new worlds. These are not just some superlatives slapped together to make a pretty prose, they are my attempt to impress upon the reader the magnitude of the impact that the age of reason has had on our progress as a species. We are a conscious , social mammalian species equipped with a brain made of meat that can create a mental model of the world and come up with original thought, construct a shared framework of ideas, an ability to discover the mysteries of the world.So yes I ask the reader to explore this part of our history if they are not already familiar with it, I assure you it's exciting and interesting not just for the progress, but also the story aspect of a lot of the individual steps in this long ladder of enlightenment, also I keep mentioning this word a lot without attempting a description of what it is that Enlightenment really is, I choose to borrow Kant's famous words here, I quote

"Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed nonage. Nonage is the inability to use one's own understanding without another's guidance. This nonage is self-imposed if its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in indecision and lack of courage to use one's own mind without another's guidance. Dare to know! (Sapere aude.) "Have the courage to use your own understanding," is therefore the motto of the enlightenment."  - Immanuel Kant [2]

In the interest of keep this short and attention spans these days are not much, so I will conclude on this note, that we as a species are at the verge of another age of exponential enlightenment, something difficult to put succinctly in words, but an attempt shall and will be made. A lot of time has been spent talking about such things and very little of it has been captured, some conversations are lost to the winds of time, but some are always stuck within the confines of our minds. ES is an effort to pen down some of that learning, some of that knowledge, try to connect the dots, to promote discovery, to question the traditional order, to live free, to challenge ourselves, to live life to the fullest and be empathetic, be humble, be united. Its about building community, we should talk more, listen even more, read a hell lot. We should never forget the top lessons of our ancestors and the bravery and ingenuity of our heroes who pushed the boundary of science to enable us to live in the future today. 

references and further reading:

more here:

Enlightened Sapiens website:
More to follow... watch this space

Gokul Menon