Over time, Enlightenment ideals have had an immense impact on contemporary and modern society. The Age of Enlightenment was a time during the 17th and 18th century in which scholars and philosophers began to question traditional ideas about society. Centuries of corruption and exploitation from numerous monarchies and the church, initiated intelligent people to speak out, and thus, the Enlightenment began. This Enlightenment changed the world by promoting new ideas concerning political, economic, and social values.
These changes include equality for women, elimination of cruel and unusual punishment, and enforcement of religious toleration. The Enlightenment sparked the idea of the promotion of legal and social rights for women equivalent to that of men, also known as equality for women. Many women believed that they were not inferior to men and that their accomplishments could match or surpass those of men. Mary Wollstonecraft was a prominent advocate for women’s suffrage. She believed that “there is not a shadow of justification for not admitting women under the [suffrage]… (Wollstonecraft) and ultimately wanted to, in the long term, help woman to gain a higher social status. Today’s world shows signs of the work and accomplishments women’s rights activists achieved throughout the enlightenment. In certain countries, women can vote and run for political offices, a right that was unavailable to women during The Enlightenment. “Women in Kuwait are now voting. That wasn’t available to them in 1995. Women in parts of Africa now can inherit property and own land, which wasn’t permitted. ” ( ).
Due to The Enlightenment, citizens were beginning to push for women’s equality and over time, the rights of women began to gradually increase, leading to a more just and righteous treatment of women. Before the Enlightenment, punishments for crimes could be rather cruel and inhumane in nature. The Enlightenment elaborated on the controversy of whether or not certain punishments were barbarous. One man, named Caesare Beccaria yearned to abolish malevolent punishments. “Is the death penalty really useful and necessary for the security and good order of society?
Are torture and torments just, and do they attain the end for which laws are instituted” (Beccaria). Beccaria essentially sought for just indictments of respective hes, as opposed to death and torture. In modern society in the US, the eighth amendment protects the citizens from undergoing cruel and unusual punishments as a way to indict someone for committing a crime. However, in certain places, cruel and unusual punishments still exist. Many terrorist groups will perform beheadings or lynch people, as a way of punishment.
In the Philippines, “… Malaysian kidnap victim was beheaded by Abu Sayyaf militants in the southern Philippines on Tuesday after a large ransom demand was not paid, two military officials said. ” ( ). Due to the failure of the Philippine government to make payment to the militants, they responded by punishing a man, which they kidnapped, by means of execution. The Enlightenment was able to essentially revoke the cruel and harsh punishments imparted upon people, however, only to a certain extent, as in certain parts of the world, hellish punishments still prevail.
Religious intolerance was a primary issue during The Enlightenment. The dominant religion during the time before The Enlightenment was Christianity, and people who practiced religions of other sorts were often persecuted, as their beliefs did not conform to those of the majority. Voltaire, a famous scholar during The Enlightenment, fought religious intolerance, as he believed that people are entitled to their own opinion, and thus, people have the right to practice their desired religious beliefs.
Voltaire believed that a persecutor was “he whose wounded pride and furious fanaticism arouse princes and magistrates against innocent men, whose only crime is that of being of a different opinion” (Voltaire). He believed that intolerance has covered the earth with carnage and wanted people to be able to practice their desired religion, without being aggrieved. Modern society has become more tolerant of the different religious beliefs people have, as many countries grant their citizens the right to their own opinions and beliefs (religious). However, numerous people are still persecuted today, due to their faith.
According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Centre “the number of countries where harassment or intimidation of specific religious groups took place rose from 147 as of mid-2009, to 160 as of mid-2010” ( ). Ending religious intolerance is a difficult task, as there will always be people who feel their religion is superior to their peers, friends, etc. Nonetheless, The Enlightenment was able to spark progress in the reform of religious intolerance, helping to limit the amount of religious persecution since the time before The Enlightenment.