Essay on RomanticismWhy did European culture reject rationalism in the 19th century in favor of Romanticism?
Culture exists inseparably from human life and reflects all the movements, reforms and changes that happen with people. The end of the eighteenth century witnessed many changes in life of European countries, particularly Industrial Revolution and French Revolution. Certainly, trends in European culture altered together with the changes in people’s outlook and way of life.
In the very beginning of the nineteenth century, people changed their perception of the reality. This transfer from Classicism to Romanticism was indisputably the continuation of the processes that dominated in the society of that time. People were tired of the inviolable order that reigned in their life. Almost all countries were monarchies. It meant that life of people was limited and subjected to the kings’ rule. People were oppressed and did not have their needs satisfied. These were the main causes of the French Revolution in 1789 and the Industrial Revolution in England. The aim of people to be free in their opportunities and to raise the living standard drove them in their struggle.
Thus, all these events show that people wanted to escape from the established order and, perhaps, to abstract from the daily routine and to pay more attention to their feelings and inner world. The Age of Enlightenment that ruled in the eighteenth century was also called the Age of Reason. The reason was considered the basis of all due to it science developed rapidly. However, despite the irrefutable benefit of this period in Europe’s history, the lack of attention to human soul was tangible and prevented the society from the spiritual development. Thus, we can say that Romanticism was a trend that reflected people’s need in the attention to their emotions.
With the help of Romanticism people revolted against the rationalism that was established during the Age of Enlightenment and especially against the approach to the nature that dominated at that time. The scientific explanation of all phenomena of life did not leave any freedom to people and aggravated the feeling of overall order. While during the Age of Enlightenment people relied on the deductive method, the Romantics emphasized the necessity to follow one’s intuition and imagination and to pay more attention to the inner world. “Romanticism was not a political movement or a reformist package offered by a group of dissidents; Romanticism was a time when mankind could restructure his outlook on life so that he was able to reach new heights of intellectual and political awareness” (Lockridge 175)
In conclusion, we can say that the rejection of rationalism in the favor of Romanticism in the nineteenth century was quite natural because the Age of Enlightenment, which established a strict order in all spheres of life, gave scientific grounds for all the phenomena in human life and considered reason the basis of human behavior, bereft people of freedom in their thinking and acting. The followers of rationalism rejected any possibility of being guided by intuition or some feelings. Such position fatigued people and they refused this point of view, addressing more to their inner world and feelings they experienced. In culture, the trends of rationalism were characteristic of Classicism, which established strict forms in architecture, sculpture and art. The transfer to the Romanticism reflected in these spheres as well, together with more attention to nature and human psychology.