Late 19th Cen. Western Mind Essay, Research Paper
The late 19thC brought about many changes to the world. Along with new indutries, new sources of energy, and new goods; came the Second Industrial Revolution. This in turn led many people to believe that material progress meant human progress, and that advances in science and technology would solve all of socities problems.
Most Westerners in the late 19thC continued to believe in the values and the ideas of the Scientific Enlightenment. Reason, science, and progress were still important ideas that were held on to, but a dramatic change in beliefs and culture challanged many of these assumptions. The new views of a physical universe, alternative views of human nature and behavior, and radical new forms of literature and artistic expression did away with the old beliefs and opened the door to modern conciousness.
Three major ideas of the late 19thC were political democracy, national unity, and social and economic justice.The growth of political democracy in the late 19thC brought about an increase of governmental involvement to more people, by extending the right to vote to all adult males.The next major idea was national unity.Many of Europe’s larger states focused on five themes to help spread national unity: the achievement of liberla practices(constitutions, parliments, and individual liberties); the growth of political democracy through universal male suffrage; organization of mass political parties as a result of a widened electorate; the rise of the socialist, working class party; and the enactment of social welfare measures to meet the demands of the working classes. Through these five themes, governments allowed the people to identify themselves with a nation which they were from,and make that nation stronger by bringing the people closer together. The final major idea of the late 19thC was social and economic justice. While striving to improve their working and living conditions many industrial workers formed socialist political parties and socialist labor unions. The beliefs of the socialists came from the ideas set forth by Karl Marx and his writings on forming a classless society.Although workers fought to gain equality in everyday life, they did not go to the extremes of Marx’s assupmtion, that revolution was the only way to get answers. Now that all men could vote , workers were able to achieve their aims through democratic means.Revolution by democratic means , rather than revolution, would achieve the desired goal of socialism.
Two new ideas of the time were, evolution and psychoanalysis,Evolution came out of the iseas of Charles Darwin. The application of Darwin’s principle of organic evolution to the social order , came to be known as social darwinism. The main themes of social darwinism stress inequality, dominance, struggle, force, and power.Darwin’s assumption that only the strong survive created great animosity between nations and led to a growth of rascism among people. Another important idea was psychoanalysis. Until this time people believed that humans responded to concious motives on a rational fashion.With psychoanalysis , human behavior was determined by the unconscious , by former experiences and inner drives of which people could neither see nor control.
All of these ideas, beliefs, and assumptions brought about many dramtic changes to the world. The increase in political freedom and national unity only made nations stronger by bringing the people closer together.The late 19thC is an important place in time because it marked a time in which traditional views of society were questioned and new views were brought about. The new views of society would have a great impact on the upcomming century and its events.