Barzuns View of Early Modern Culture and Science

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Highly renowned worldwide for his works concerning culture and history, Jacques Barzun has gathered his conclusions about the last 500 years in Western culture and published them in From Dawn To Decadence. The mixing of religion, intellect and cultural traditions during periods of revolution culminate in the idea of a Western civilization while simultaneously conjecturing about the decline of the same, seems to be Barzun’s paradoxical stance. Ultimately, all of the cultural advances, scientific discoveries and religious setbacks come together to create a fabric of the Western civilization ( known as the Modern Era ) after its changes during the crucible of revolution. To begin with, Barzun sees revolution as “the violent transfer of power and property in the name of an idea” and states that there have been only four major shifts of thought worthy of that title within the last 500 years (3). Namely, those are the Protestant Revolution, the French Revolution, the era of Romanticism and Modernism, and the revolution we are in currently. Each is noteworthy for the unique focus of ideas represented during each timeframe. The Protestant Revolution ( 1500 - 1660 ) can be described as most centered around the exploration of religion and what to believe within that sector of life (xxi). Luther’s Ninety-Five Thesis plays an incidental role, urging the masses that “one must fight for the truth” as opposed to the then-common practice of purchasing a token of the Lord’s forgiveness (14). He suggested that salvation was only an attainable goal through certain means which did not need to be mediated by the church. But while moving the general population toward a more internal sense of piety, it also removed “a set of burdens that had become intolerable duties”, such as the donation of money, time or effort (21). The time of the French Revolution, 1661 through 1789,
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