The ideologies that sprang forth from the Enlightenment and Romanticism are essentially the most drastically important ideologies that have been created in modern history. From them has developed just about every political, social, economic, industrial, and cultural movement that exists today. The results from them are every struggle we view today as commonplace. Capitalism vs. Socialism, bourgeoisie vs. middle class, white collar vs. Blue collar, city life vs. Country life, etc. Both of these movements have and will continue to impact the way we perceive society, nature, and God for the rest of time.
Once the renaissance era, which produced a plethora of marvelous (and often religiously motivated) structures, paintings, and contraptions, had ended, the next movement to spring up in Western civilization was the Enlightenment or the Age of Reason. The leaders of the Enlightenment, which consisted of intellectuals and artists, sought to use logic and rationality to solve human problems. They viewed religion and its representatives as nothing more than snake oil salesman who were attempting to seize wealth and power by spreading ignorance and superstition throughout the world, and they made an effort to combat these so-called forces of ignorance with the mind and with reason. It was highly critical of monarchies and empire, and it helped develop the founding ideas of democracy. The enlightenment and its workers would plant the seeds of political revolution throughout the world, particularly in colonial America. The enlightenment planted the ideas of independence, order, and accountability in the minds of many civilians.
One of the fathers of the Enlightenment, Francis Bacon, developed the idea of implementing rationality in science. He practically invented the modern scientific method. From his teachings and ideas would come Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, and many other brilliant scientists and thinkers. The Enlightenment would ring in the founding principles of secularism and suggested the very new and controversial idea the man didn’t need God, that God was not interventional, or even that there was no God. The Enlightenment sought to bring about order, which had become a foreign concept in the reigns of monarchs. Philosophers and political thinkers like John Locke attacked monarchy and suggested that a government should be ruled by its people.
Romanticism started up around the mid-1700s and “ended” around 100 years later. Romanticism was a focus on the hearts and minds of humans, and appealed to their human nature, their passions, love, and other emotional areas. It did not believe in a God, nor did it believe that God believed in man, but it sought to bring unity to people and nature. Romanticism changed the way the things such as love, nature, children, innocence, sex, and government are viewed. It attempted to bring about an independence from government, and separate people from the love of money and rather focus on matters of the heart. It encouraged people to go on adventures, to fall in love, and to pursue dreams and goals.
Romanticism and Enlightenment have brought about many movements, some good, others bad. But the important thing to realize is that the concepts, perspectives, and ideologies brought forth in these eras have defined society and structure as we view them today.