America and the Age of Unreason


America and the Age of Unreason

Illustration: Akshita Monga


homas Paine, the 18th-century British-American philosopher created a mini-revolution with the publication of his seminal work, The Age of Reason. American citizens were particularly influenced by the “Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology” since it broke fresh ground by espousing the cause of free thinkers and rejecting dogmas, miracles, and the absolute power of the church over citizens.

A hundred and forty-five years later, French philosopher-author Jean Paul Sartre injected Paine’s underlying ideas of freedom into his 20th-century classic novel, also titled The Age of Reason. On the surface, the edgy plot follows a philosopher over three days as he tries to gather money to pay for his mistress’s abortion, but the subtext is an exploration of the human psyche. The eventual takeaway is that freedom is the ultimate aim that one must constantly struggle for.