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Criticism of the methods and conclusions of the Enlightenment was initiated almost as soon as the movement itself had begun. It is for this reason that this chapter follows immediately after the one on the Enlightenment, rather than after the later chapters on nationalism, liberalism, industrialism, evolutionary biology, and the social sciences. These movements made their appearance during the latter part of the eighteenth century, but often served only to broaden and strengthen the earlier criticisms of the Enlightenment and the demands for a more adequate way of thinking than it offered. The movements of thought with which we are concerned in this chapter — evangelism, utilitarianism, romanticism, and idealism — started in the eighteenth century and became characteristic elements of Western culture during the first part of the nineteenth century. After about 1848 other currents of thought, mainly social and scientific, tended to supplant them. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section XII: The Post-Enlightenment Period. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.