Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Russian Enlightenment

The Russian Enlightenment
Starting during the 18th century, Russia experienced a time of enlightenment in which the government began to actively encourage the proliferation of the arts and sciences. Scholars refer to this period as the Russian Age of Enlightenment. Catherine the Great who was the ruler of Russia in this period advocated for several "enlightened" reforms, especially in regards to the gentry of Russia. Educational reforms were perhaps some of the largest reforms introduced by Catherine creating several state-run schools and institutes encouraging a moral and intelligent society. Some large amounts of reforms came in restructuring the political organization and establishing a new set of laws.
Honestly, this era was a reflection of Catherine's desire to make Russia equal politically, culturally, and intellectually to its European counterparts. Many intellectuals of this era saw these reforms as efforts toward Westernization and rejected much of the liberal traditions of the West. By the end of the era, all of Catherine's efforts still did not achieve in matching Russia on an intellectual or cultural scale with the European Nations, but it did make it a significant military and political power of the age. Additionally, the reforms would provide the foundation of Russian intellectual development for the next century. So even though Catherine's reforms were partly unsuccessful in bringing Russia into the light of Western thought, it provided the key for subsequent Russian thinkers to open the door to a new age of cultural progress.

-Anthony McRae

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