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Fifth Enlightenment Evening

Aleksander Mielnikow | October 29, 2018

It all started with the light

How did Enlightenment shape the world? Are its ideas still valid? Was it uniform? Those and many other questions were tackled during The Fifth Annual Enlightenment Evening at the British Museum.

The journey began in The Enlightenment Gallery. Dr David Mitchell introduced the main movements, historical events and ground-breaking ideas which were taking place at that time. Later on, students with academics were analysing the period’s core principles in relation to the museum’s exhibits. The Gallery itself seemed to be a mosaic of the entire world. Next to the ancient Greek sculptures there were Arabic scriptures as well as Chinese porcelain artefacts. They created a sense of universality which was based on a notion of the period to find general patterns in the arts, cultures and sciences.

The trip continued at the college. It was followed by a conversation between students and academics which was moderated by Dr Callum Barrell. This discussion tackled many issues related to the period. Participants vividly analysed its ideas, their limitations as well as the universality of the term Enlightenment. Especially, the conversation focused on answering a question: what we as the citizens of the 21st century should take away from the period and what should we leave…

This event is one of the best examples of the unique experience at NCH. It completely got away from formal style. The precise roles of “tellers” and “listeners” were substituted with a conversationalist and cooperative tone where each contribution mattered. This experience promoted a comprehensive analysis of ideas which is the most effective way to truly understand the world. Different perspectives of, among others, philosophers, historians and economists created a holistic discussion which would not have been possible otherwise.

Knowledge as a source of real happiness

Aleksander Mielnikow

Aleksander Mielnikow is a current student at New College of the Humanities. Read his blog entries here.