Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Age of Empire

In chapters 10 and 11 in the novel The Age of Empire Hobsbawm explores the theories of science and reason. During the decades leading up to the World War I a transformation in the sciences started to occur. Although transforming, not everyone saw or could understand the direction science was heading. Only a few countries saw the tranformation of science and within those countries only a few citizens could comprehend the changes. The transformation also changed the intellectual view in which the world was previously seen. Up until this point the world was seen in terms of a building which eventually would be completed and all knowledge would be known about. During this time knowledge was now seen as continually changing and evolving, meaning no one person could comprhend everything science had to offer. With the rise of intellectualism and reason emotion no longer had a role in society, as well as the supernatural. The masses at this time were becoming more widely educated. In countries such as Great Britain the number of teachers increased by thirteen times the previous amount. In Europe traditional religion started to have a diminshing role while in nonwhite countries religion was still a large part in communicating about science and politics. In large urban areas church attendence decreased while in politics there were fights against the church. In a time where science and reason were on the rise the church rejected reason and progress and therefore lost members. Through the rise of reason and intuition came the science of sociology. Sociology attempted to understand a society in ways that economics and politics could not.
What I find interesting about the growth of science is how the church was impacted. When science started to play a larger role in society the role of the church, at least in western societies, started to diminish. Although I can understand how reason and the church may be seen as opposites, because church is based on faith not facts, I dont see how so many people turned their back on the church. Although this transformation took place over decades the decrease in church importance seems to be a little out there. Although maybe not explained in the book when did church once again gain importance? Because we live in a world today where reason and science are pretty prevolent, yet church is still important. When did the change come back around?


  1. I too am interested in how the church was just left in the dust by those who started following science instead. I feel that people follow science with the same kind of faith that they did the church, and I'm sure that was the same in the era we are reading about. I am shocked that the church did not find a way to reconcile with the scientific world, it seems that they would get more followers if they supported it. I believe that there were always church supporters, and that today there are probably as many church supporters as there were at the time of the scientific revolution (percentage wise). I think that church is tradition, and people pass it onto their kids. It's just a belief that either sticks around or gets changed into science-worship.

    --Arielle Parris

  2. In some religions, Judaism, for example, have been able skew their views and allowances to give people the right to believe in and support science. Also, although the church is prevalent in the US, Europe is generally, a less religious society (not to say there is no relgion..) Think about how much more liberal many European countries are, compared to the US.