Skip to content

From the Enlightenment to Business Models. Episode 2. What is Enlightenment?

Have a beautiful weekend. This episode is long, but created with caring and devotion for all of you. So let´s begin.

“Osita Leyendo”. An exercise watercolor painted on Baohong Cold Pressed Medium 300GSM paper. Size: 5.9 inches x 7 inches

Additionally, as usual, we have prepared the set of slides for today. Special attention is slide number 5. Read it twice, please.

Approximation to the enlightenment definition. Our views.
When trying to define this concept of what seems to be our past, which is flowing omnipresent in all our business models of today; I bumped into a very difficult mega exercise of our strategic mind. As usual, human beings can´t have one single definition of what seems to be. Moreover, when the enlightenment has been critically misunderstood by many, boldly manipulated before the French Revolution, and wrongly misused to cause damage to some; but it is overflowing in all our management theories for the business trading of our days; then we ask ourselves, what is going on?. What do we know, now, from the Enlightenment today, that we are not linking to our current ways of doing business? In addition, when we don´t comprehend a dynamic historical phenomenon like the enlightenment, we grow up with a myth, and if the enlightenment phenomena and enlightenment books were hidden in secrecy, then, of course, we are facing and holding a big prejudice of behemoth proportions.

Scholars took the time and got the academic funds to write about the Enlightenment properly, just recently. Even though I have found several books about the subject, the sources of proper analytical knowledge of it are scarce. Why? Because the most appropriate and suitable scholars on this subject are scarce. The ones that have spent more than 60 years doing research, started to publish about it during the last two decades. Their honorable research achieved the possibility to produce books or papers with some sort of objectivity and merited impartiality. In addition, since the enlightenment is usually connected to the figures or the philosophers who wrote about their own hypotheses and theories, then whatever we know about what happened between the 1600s to 1789, according to the historians, was cut abruptly with the French Revolution (1789). Scary or brutally terrifying for the records of history. But then, if we observe carefully, the Enlightenment continued through the values of American society, which did not suffer two world wars during the last century. Indeed, the passion that triggered the terror of revenge against the existing European monarchies and aristocracy of the Enlightenment times, was a symptom (or a consequence) of an accumulative or aggregated continuum of rage provoked by the same ancient regime. Sadly, the whole picture of the enlightenment was miserably manipulated and ended below 6 feet down the ground. Succumbing to barbarism and the use of force to seize political power. The early radical atheist enlighten-authors as Spinoza, Bayle, or D´Alembert and Helvetius; the moderate enlightenment lecturers such as Kant, Locke, Voltaire, and Hume; or the counter-enlightenment traditionalists as Rousseau (initially); were different responses of the Enlightenment, which we perceive as a concert, an antiphony of discussions, a flow of a back and forth messaging of letters, and a podium of at least three extreme flow pendulum of positions. Intellectuality at its best, the enlightenment couldn´t have yielded directly, or at least with premeditation, all the terror that triumphed to detriment of what the enlightenment wanted to enlighten.  For those thoughtful reflectors, who belong to my generation (born between 1965 to 1975), I am convinced that they can perceive, in a scheming sense,  that the French Revolution methods of change (followed by the next two world wars during the 20th century) were the unequivocal symbol of the misutilization of a mental radicality from the early season of the Enlightenment, that instigated the ending of an “ancient regime” not employing the true values of the democratic moderate enlightenment, but exploiting the scheme of a “revolution”. I truly doubt that the philosophes of the mind from the Enlightenment wished to be remembered in history as the terror revolutionaries, or as the causatives for revenge passions against the “terrible abuse and disorder by ecclesiastical sway, the monarchies excesses of authority and the oppressive aristocratic privileges” (1). So, it is my aim to try to expose that one thing was the philosophers of the ideas (which we will explore during this saga), and another thing was the population manipulated by those who used the enlighten-philosophers ideas to ignite cruel revenge using the same methods of dreadfulness that the Enlightenment representatives criticized continually against the monarchical rulers. All the enlightened authors were urgently prophesizing to the monarchs and aristocrats to change their ways. Sometimes in exile. Sometimes “in silence”. Sometimes from prison. Sometimes using anonym letters. Sometimes from poverty. The enlighten-producers of ideas procured their knowledge in a context of turmoil and danger, even more than 200 years previously to the French Revolution. Nonetheless, the triumph of the latter with the methods of terror, destruction, and crime, was the cruel plot that took place in action from the majorities, using the same repressive tools that the enlighten-representatives evangelized against.

Illustrative and non-commercial image. Used for educational use. Utilized only informatively for the public good.

The monarchies and aristocracies regime system before the Enlightenment was based on certain old principles, old values, and old theories to see and explain reality. With the advent of science, all those premises were broken at their core, but the majority of the population was not educated still to read, discern, or understand the level of philosophy of those enlighten-authors. Education was not reigning in the majorities either, many of them illiterate. Meanwhile, the enlightenment representatives were debating about how to enlighten society with a structure of new principles, new values, and new theories; the plot of revenge toward the old authority was being implemented at the bottom line. The most moderate democratic enlighten-representatives were devoted to creating a better society through their different branches of thought but still were immersed in the dust of the old beliefs regarding racial differences, slavery, and traditional women’s roles in the same society. Topics that we still have not finished addressing yet, in 2023.

Today, without any judgmental value, we will start our journey with the definition of the term enlightenment.

What is the enlightenment?
For Eleonora Escalante Strategy, the definition of the Enlightenment holds a multidimensional explanation. And in consequence, we will contextualize each of these areas of conceptualization, so you can grasp an idea of how hard it is to define it. Let´s begin.  

1. The Enlightenment defined by historiography.
Any excellent historiographer is always busy trying to make sense of the timing and the analysis of multiple sources, keeping a truthful storyline of our past, with precedents, contexts, patterns, and subsequent relationships. For historians who exercise historiography, the enlightenment usually goes back to a merely objective description of what happened, by whom, where, when, how, and why. All the whereabouts are described with the obsession to keep the truth intact as it occurred. That doesn´t mean they are successful. Historiographers directly land at the Enlightenment as a season, as a phase of history with a beginning and an end. As a period of diverse people who had the opportunity to study and discover new frameworks to explain things, people who were born with the courage to introduce these new conceptualizations of how humans and society should be organized. People who dedicated years to think, debate (often in secrecy, using letters as a medium or being published under pseudonyms), escape from persecution/death, and share what they thought was crucial to acknowledge. For any historian, the enlightenment only occurred because, in essence, the roots of modern science arose then. No enlightenment authorship would have accrued without Descartes or Newton. But at the same time without Galileo, Copernicus, and other Renaissance scientists.

2. The Enlightenment defined as a collection of philosophers´ premises.
In this category, the season of the enlightenment is explained by grouping the philosophers´ premises which are common or at least share the same type of main thoughtful points. An illustrious scholar of the Enlightenment, Jonathan Israel (1), has grouped them by geography: the Dutch, the British, the Germans, and the Italians; without forgetting the counterparts in the colonies of the recently discovered world. Also, Israel has classified the philosophers per collection: the radical enlightenment, the democratic moderate enlightenment, and the counter/enlightenment. Other experts of this season utilize a different variable to group the philosopher’s premises: for example, religion. That is how we land into those philosophers who were deists, those who were fi-deists, and those who were atheists. Finally, other enlightenment studious experts, define the Enlightenment as theory systems and/or schools of thought such as rationalism, empiricism, skepticism, subjectivism, etc.

3. The Enlightenment defined as a flow of intellectual ideas.
Defining a phase of our past as a flow of intellectual ideas gives birth to a notion of categorizing the main representatives called philosophes as producers of dynamic positions, viewpoints, opinions, and beliefs; in a back-and-forth spontaneous impromptu. Between the 1600s and 1789, these enlightenment philosophes have been baptized as “an informal society of men of letters”(2). All these thinkers were so diverse in their intellectual production, that they never considered themselves as a historical occasion, but a development of the understanding of humankind on different levels scientific, social, psychological, even political, and cultural. The flow of ideas transpired because the intellectual assertions were debated in informal settings, some of them were accepted, modified, or rebuked, as an antiphony. The enlightenment was a struggle between opposite blocs or tendencies, a battle of views of such diverse mindsets. The flow of knowledge was so abundant, in comparison to past centuries, that the enlightenment is called “the century of philosophy par excellence”.

4. The Enlightenment defined a set of diverse ideologies for modernity.
This definition is the consequence of the scientific upheaval which started with the earliest scientists of the Renaissance. Some call it the “Scientific revolution”.  “The great shifts in science occurred between Galileo and Newton, in such a way that changed western civilization profoundly” (1). Descartes, theorized a 180-degree extreme change in terms of a mechanical world, new discoveries, new procedures, new instruments, etc. Newton with his “Principles Mathematica” (1687) connected the dots between reality and mathematics. With the application of physics and mathematical laws, he explained the conception of nature, on numbers. It was strictly mathematical-mechanical laws (static-dynamical) laws that explained nature; not superstition, mythologies, demonology, or prejudices. Suddenly the world was explained not by alchemy or magic, but by math! Facing this situation, a new ideology (or a different set of ideologies under a common ground) was required. The evidence of science was a blast to the intellectuals, but it was a need… more than a want. The Enlightenment was a set of new mental frameworks that could explain this new era of discoveries which was more than pages for debate, but also the new emerging foundations, the mechanisms that helped humans to trade, relate, progress, travel, and do their own things with freedom. In this context, the enlightenment definition was the reaction against the traditional forms in which the monarchs-aristocrats and ecclesiastical power were traditionally explaining the world before modern science commenced.

5. The Enlightenment defined as a movement.
A movement is usually defined as a dynamic situation in which someone changes from point A to point B. In this specific context of the Enlightenment, when we consider defining it as a movement, it means particularly a transition. Progress from null to becoming enlightened suggests literally that before the Enlightenment and the advent of science, people were sunk in the darkness. With the Enlightenment, the confusion, ignorance, and illness of understanding were left behind, opening the door to a new truth explained in natural terms, a vision of the world in which not only the scientific theories are founded in a set of new presuppositions that trigger intellectual progress; but in the strong belief that this new “enlightened paradigm” is also the set of innovative bases to improve human society, individual lives and a new state of economic prosperity. The enlightenment explained as a transition is a “conversion experience” (3) from the darkness to the enlightenment: “humankind becoming progressively self-directed in thought and action through the awakening of one’s intellectual powers” (3).

6. The Enlightenment as a process.
It is a process of different dimensions. This view defines the Enlightenment as a set of parallel developments that progressively were happening simultaneously in different countries. The first process was the cooling down of the conflicts between Protestants and Catholics. Tolerance in this context meant protestants and Catholics stopped killing each other because of their different positions (3). The second process is, of course, the raise of modern science “insisting on grounding knowledge in observation, and mathematical reasoning rather than deference to authority… increasing the knowledge of nature in this way could yield a tremendous technological pay-off”(3). The third process is the emergence of the idea that there are quotidian activities with traditional hierarchies that are worthwhile or virtuous and by doing them there is a strong moral egalitarianism for everyone.

7. The enlightenment defined as a response to an authority crisis.
To define the enlightenment under this view implies understanding that before and during the first decades of the 1600s, there was horrific destruction between Catholicism and Protestantism. The catholic church accumulated centuries of strategic alliances with the monarchies in power, not just to explain and validate the justifications of their kingships. In addition, the protestant church was fragmented: Lutherans, Calvinists, Anglicans, and numerous dissident protestant sects since the reformation. In the middle of these conflicts, scientific knowledge conducted mainly by Descartes, then Newton, and others; complicated things for the traditional theologians that supported the “status quo” of spiritual domination that endorsed the monarchs of different conflicted lands: particularly in Germany, Spain, France, Sweden, Denmark, Flanders, Portugal and parts of Italy.  The tensions between ecclesiastical power, the theological dissent, pleas for tolerance within churches; and the emergence of a new scientific explanation of natural events, triggered little by little a crisis of legitimate authority not just at each of the kingdom rulers (monarchies), but also in the religious institutions. This profound authority crisis in the middle of chaos originated the enlightenment. When authorities “lose their presumptive aura of importance, and a secular science began to replace these teachings, individuals felt they could defy or leave their community if they found its dogmas or power structure stifling” (3).

8. The enlightenment defined as a social-political-cultural disruption.
The propagation of Enlightenment ideas in the earlier decades was mainly clandestine because the persecution of these earlier radical enlighten-thinkers was visible. These men of the first wave of the Enlightenment have been tagged under the radical enlightenment representatives, from which it is stated that the pioneer was the Portuguese-Dutch Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), among others from other Enlightenment branches. Under this radical view, “the Enlightenment is most connected with its political accomplishments, the three socio-political-cultural revolutions: The English Revolution (1688), the American Revolution (1775-1783) and the French Revolution (1789-1799). These three events altogether lay the basis for modern, republican, and constitutional democracies”. Enlightenment under this conceptualization is the remake of a new model for social-political-cultural order with at least 5 constituents (2):

  • The model of government is founded upon the consent of the governed.
  • The political ideals of freedom equality and institutional realization
  • The articulation of basic individual human rights to be respected and realized by any legitimate political system.
  • The promotion of tolerance of religious diversity as a virtue to be respected in a well orderly society.
  • The conception of the basic political powers is organized in a system of checks and balances.

9. The enlightenment defined as a mix of everything.
This definition will be introduced as a result, in the conclusion section, by the end of Season 1.

Announcement. Next week we won´t publish the start day of Leg 2, which is scheduled for Wednesday 25th of January 2023, but on Friday 27th. Look at our outline calendar, please. The next topic is “ How does the enlightenment develop. Origins”.

13 January 2023, The Ocean Race 2022-23, Alicante sunset at the dock and Santa Bárbara Castle, Illustrative and non-commercial image. Used for educational use. Utilized only informatively for the public good.

Ocean Musical Section

In this saga, we are racing with our research, authorship, and watercolor paintings, while our fleet sailors are navigating in the middle of uncertainty, right now between Alicante and Cabo Verde. Several things have happened during this week. The team Viva Mexico suffered a mast accident on the first day of racing. Meanwhile, Guyot was forced to repair the mainsail using all the inventions they could. The Guyot skippers also took a different route. “Benjamin Dutreux and co-skipper Robert Stanjek decided to leave the route of the competitors and take the tactical option when sailing between Fuerteventura and Gran Canaria”(4). The Ocean Race 2022-2023 is already in full motion. We still don´t know who will be the winner, if 11th Hour racing or Holcim-PRB. The winner of Leg 1 is going to arrive in the following hours at Cabo Verde. During this Leg 1, I am honored to share the Ocean Show of today, which is self-explanatory. The second video is about Vivaldi’s expression of the fleet.

Finally, by observing the boats, an idea of a refrigerator came to me. I am convinced that global warming can be fixed (at least partially with a solution that is inside or above the ocean). Why? Because God has put the ocean as our Earth´s dynamic and flowing refrigerator. I can only explain it simplistically that way. We all don´t perish because we reside in a pleasant fridge operated by the oceans.  Moreover, the ocean is our home refrigerator, in which we all reside with all living species. Mainly our planet is water, with some inland. Can you see the shift? The protagonist of our planet is the ocean. Not the islands in which we reside. And our fridge is being hurt because of human pollution. Let´s try to see how can we help to improve the conditions of our oceanic refrigerator, or at least let´s imagine how can we stop ruining our oceanic fridge, so the sea (and the water cycle-including wind) can do its cooling role to put down our global temperature. The basics: to keep our ocean fridge clean: don´t throw rubbish inside it, because we all will be contaminated, it will stink, and it will sicken us more and more. But let´s elevate our reasoning: how can we help our ocean fridge to cool down global warming? Some material for your thoughts.

This song represents the tribulations and the journey for this leg 1.

See you next Friday 27th of January with Episode 3.

Who will win this Leg1: 11th Hour Racing or HolcimPRB? Bet. Good luck to the winner. Photo Source: Sail world

Sources of reference are utilized today.


(3) What is enlightenment, Routledge. (2013)


Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY.  All are used as Illustrative and non-commercial images. Utilized only informatively for the public good. Nevertheless, most of this blog’s pictures, images, or videos are not mine. I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s