Mathew Taylor, the Royal Society for the encouragement of Art’s Chief Executive, in the video “21st century enlightenment”, explores the meaning of enlightenment. He highlights ideas on how a change on the perspective of social life can change the world. He calls for the human beings to see and reason past inadequate and basic ideas of progress, freedom and justice. In his exploration of the meaning of 21st century enlightenment, he gives ideas which might help people to face the challenges that they meet.
Mathew Taylor starts by questioning whether the ideas and values that transformed the world in the past could offer solutions to the challenges that the world is facing now. Considering that the challenges are different because no two days are the similar in the same garden, the ideas that transformed the world two centuries ago can not work now. For example, two centuries ago, issues of global warming were not as critical as they are today. The ideas, therefore, need to be improved to suit the situation. Taylor further emphasizes that the results of an opinion poll are totally different from the idea that a group of people develops after a discussion. Although the last century’s ideas may not be helpful in solving the current problems, a group of people may discuss and improve the existing ideas to solve the current problems.
It is true that deliberation yields brilliant ideas that contribute a sizeable deal in social change. The social challenges that citizens face can be solved by holding discussions to generate progressive ideas as opposed to listening and following the ideas of a single person. Two heads are better than one. The social challenges that make the world to decline are tribalism, ethnicity, gender discrimination and racism. For example, policy makers develop policies that make integration of immigrants difficult yet if the policy makers were in the shoes of the immigrants they would like to be handled in kid’s gloves. If dedicated policy makers develop friendly policies, the world would change. As much as people listen to politicians, the views of those politicians may not change because they are not deliberated on, and, presumably, they are personal ideas. In light of this, social challenges can only be solved in a political- free environment.
The three principles that Taylor picks, and which he believes form an integral part of enlightenment legacy are the autonomy, universalism and the revolution of the mind. He argues that all people deserve human rights and dignity. He also believes that people should organize the world in accordance with what is best for human beings. As much as we need to live differently, Taylor observes we need to think differently. In light of this, human beings need a paradigmatic shift in their consciousness as well as a revolution of the mind. A consideration of human beings as important would lead to social change, community organizing as well as progressive organizing. For example, Companies would develop mechanisms of dealing with an oil leak before drilling two miles for oil. On the same vein, before releasing industrial waste, policy makers should consider the effect of global warming on the life of human beings.
In a quiet optimism, Taylor believes that change is possible, though not easy. One source of optimism lies squarely on the findings of the emerging neuroscience research that show how deeply social the brains of human beings are. The perception of human beings as sovereign and with the ability to make independent and rational decisions is nothing but a delusion. Obviously, human beings influence other human beings who are around them and respond to emotions that they do not thoroughly understand. Iron sharpens iron. He believes that social order can change. He also believes that science can prompt shifts in awareness, understanding of human behavior so that people can replace individualism with solidarity.
Taylor also questions whether the human beings can expand the capacity for empathy from human species to biosphere. This would avert the destruction of natural resources on which we depend. He believes that empathy is crucial to negotiations on sharing out resources and coexistent on the planet. Taylor observes that the people who campaign for the developing world share a faith in empathy. This contributes to progressive organizing. He also questions what kind of human beings that people want to be. Also among his questions is what society or community that people want. He argues that people need ethical principles that challenge the dominating logistics of bureaucracy, market, technological and scientific advancement.
According to the analysis of this video, I realize that becoming involved in social change aligns significantly with my values. In the first place, believing in social change involves sharing the ideology that every human being is important. I believe in campaigning for the rights of the marginalized people such as the hunger-stricken communities. I also believe in extending the core values to protecting the environment from damage. This is in line with social change because socializing with other people requires equality. The world can only realize this equality if people take care and try to uplift the poor and the less privileged. Social change also includes deliberation to prevent the natural resources from the adverse effects of industrialization (Taylor, 2010).
In conclusion, Mathew Taylor combines an intriguing set of ideas to sketch out what the institutions should be doing. The institutions should change their approach to social and environmental challenges to create a better world. While this is hard, Taylor observes it is possible. The video develops insight and enriches the stock of human understanding. It also forms a layout for future change.
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