It wasn’t necessarily the intent of the Enlightenment philosophers, but their movement ended up being solely about the material plane. But reason is only one aspect of mind, and it’s an insufficient vehicle to take one into the spiritual realm. The Enlightenment gave birth to a tremendous drive to understand the functioning of the material plane and ended up seeing it as the only thing that exists. According to Stephen Hawking, science has killed philosophy. He called it “the torch of discovery.” Philosophy has not kept up with science, so it has been left behind. You could say that the death of the Enlightenment began with Einstein’s theories of relativity and quantum mechanics. They upended Newton’s understandable, clockwork universe that the Enlightenment had been built up from. When we penetrated the atomic realm we took on a heightened level of responsibility that, aware of it or not, permeates our nervous systems now. We still speak as if the Enlightenment’s ideas and institutions are the center of the modern world, but everything is in flux.
Prior to the 2016 election, I’d been seeing the greatest enemy of humanity as globalization. Globalization is an outcome of the Enlightenment’s push for a completely cosmopolitan world. What that ended up meaning was a uniform, homogenized, soulless, corporate world, with all our lives centering around economics. I was concerned that the trade deals and treaties the heads of state were working toward were going to seal it up for good. The legal and military mechanisms of all nations were going to be working together to preserve the deal. It was going to be a crime to oppose it. The Clintons were very much in the leadership of that movement, and as Hillary Clinton moved inexorably toward the nomination of the Democratic Party, I stiffened against her. Trump was not a concern, I didn’t see him as viable. But I was interested in the phenomenon of Trump. What did he represent? I don’t remember at what exact point it all came together for me, but eventually I saw that he was essentially carrying the torch for the pre-Enlightenment world, the world of royalty and false religion. It had never been completely vanquished because the Enlightenment ideals weren’t true enough or strong enough to defeat that kind of evil. So now, as I see it, those ideas are withering, and as they do, the world of autocrats and the superstitions of fake religionists (what else can you call them?) are making a big comeback. It’s not just Trump and the USA. Right wing movements have made gains all over the world. I think most people believe that we just have to get back on track with the Enlightenment ideas. But they aren’t sufficiently true. The death of that movement is irreversible. We’re at a turning point.