The Second Enlightenment as an Aesthetic Enlightenment and its Relevance

Balkan Journal of Philosophy 7 (2):159-168 (2015)
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Abstract

The Second Enlightenment is a deep reflection and an immanent transcendence of the first Enlightenment (17th and 18th centuries). Although the great achievements of the first Enlightenment cannot be denied, its limits are increasingly being exposed. Among the many limitations of the Enlightenment, the suppression of beauty in general and natural beauty in particular is one of its main drawbacks, caused by its blind worship of reason and the domination of a modern mechanistic worldview. The suppression of beauty and natural beauty has produced destructive consequences which are responsible for the ecological, social, and spiritual crisis facing us today. In order to prevent ecological catastrophes and create an ecological civilization, a second Enlightenment whose core concept is beauty is needed. The Second Enlightenment challenges us to rethink the value and importance of beauty and natural beauty, and regards beauty as the aim of the universe, as well as of ecological civilization. In this sense, the Second Enlightenment can be seen as an aesthetic Enlightenment which not only helps us to resist consumerism, guard spiritual dignity, nurture our souls, find a sense of belonging, and lead a poetic life, but also helps Chinese society to overcome a defiant attitude toward rural civilization and farmers, and eventually to remove the Great Wall between city and country.

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