The Influence of Enlightenment Ideas on Human Progress and Well-Being


  • Jetmira Fekollı Dr., University of Tirana faculty of Social Sciences Department of Philosophy



human progress, enlightenment, critical thinking, well-being, knowledge of the world


The notion of progress has been part of a common understanding for several centuries, as a result of enlightenment culture and, in a broader sense, of modernity. History proves that the forms of society, its organization and dynamics have changed over the centuries. During the last two decades, transformations have been more radical and accelerated, generating restructuring in all aspects of life, related to the idea of progress. Evaluating progress requires determining what needs to be improved. On the other hand, the definition of progress depends on an "image of man" and the continuous processing of this image, which is a prerequisite for the identification of those values that allow the expression of a judgment of progress. The multidimensional analysis of the concept of progress is the aim of this scientific paper. On the other hand, the theme of progress is connected with that of enlightenment. The Enlightenment changed the way of thinking about education, religion, justice, brought respect for others, diversity as a value, while critical reason was valued as an instrument of analysis and knowledge of the world... What is left today of that revolution of thought? What are irreversible changes? What Enlightenment values are still common and relevant today? The meaning, essence and values of enlightenment are more current than ever in the journey of contemporary society towards progress. The paper aims to analyze this coexistence, in a critical and emancipatory approach, in a social and cultural context. The Enlightenment principle, according to which we can use reason and solidarity in the function of human development, may seem a common, mundane and outdated concept. But in fact, this paper will present the opinion that this is not the case. Today more than ever the principles and ideals of science, humanity and progress need to be vigorously defended. We take their gifts for granted; newborns who will live more than eight decades; grocery stores overflowing with food, potable water available at the snap of fingers, and garbage disappearing at the same rate; drugs that destroy a painful infection; boys who are no longer sent to war; girls who can walk the streets without fear of any danger, critics of powerful rulers who are not sent to prison or killed because of their criticism; in the pocket of a shirt you can find all the information about the world and culture. All these are human achievements and not rights born from the universe. From the experience of those who have the misfortune to live in some underdeveloped parts of the world, war, shortages of vital things, disease, ignorance and death threats are normal components of existence. We are aware that countries can slip back into these primitive conditions, and while this risk exists to our detriment, we seriously ignore the successful achievements of the Enlightenment. Enlightenment principles are related to humanism, open society or cosmopolitan or classical liberalism. The ideals of the Enlightenment are the product of human reason, but they are also in constant war with other components of human nature: loyalty to the herd, respect for authority, magical thinking, the tendency to represent evildoers for misfortunes. In the second decade of the 21st century, there has been a growing trend of some political movements describing their countries as being plunged into a diabolical pessimism due to some malicious factions that only a powerful leader can withstand. , who with his decisiveness can restore the country's glory and make it seriously great. These movements have been fueled by a rhetoric widespread among many fierce opponents, according to which modern institutions have failed and every aspect of life has been permeated by an ever-deepening crisis. Thus, both sides agree with the macabre thesis according to which the destruction of certain institutions will make the world a better place. It is difficult to find a positive point of view that sees from a progressive point of view the problems in the world, which need to be improved by solving those problems in turn. This paper personifies the efforts to reformulate the ideals of the Enlightenment related to the language and concepts of the 21st century. First, a scheme will be designed that aims to facilitate the understanding of the human condition through spirituality and modern science. Who we are, where we come from, what challenges we will face and how we can face them. Not neglecting to build a clear consensus, these ideals have been treated by today's intellectuals with indifference, skepticism, and sometimes even with contempt. According to the theory of this paper, when these ideals are properly evaluated, then we understand that the ideals of the enlightenment are actually noble and capable of evoking emotions and being a source of inspiration; become a motive for living. This paper follows the relative debate about scientific progress also inspired by philosophical progress, in terms of truth, problem solving, knowledge and the process of understanding. Equally important, the paper will describe philosophy and science in a common framework, to understand and appreciate science and human progress.


Received: 25 December 2023 / Accepted: 25 February 2024 / Published: 23 April 2024




How to Cite

Fekollı, J. (2024). The Influence of Enlightenment Ideas on Human Progress and Well-Being. Interdisciplinary Journal of Research and Development, 11(1 S1), 72.