One of the promoters of the Enlightenment was also the father of the girl who introduced the fear of science and progress

One of the promoters of the Enlightenment was also the father of the girl who introduced the fear of science and progress

Mary Shelley is the girl who wrote Frankenstein and the modern Prometheus , and an argument against scientific advances, a warning of what can happen to us if we play at being gods (in fact, this is where the so-called Frankenstein syndrome is born).

However, the father of this follower of the new romantic trend, who preferred to return to nature and emotions, was the philosopher William Godwin , one of the promoters of the Enlightenment, together with the Marquis de Condorcet or Immanuel Kant: the movement that he advocated just the opposite: the progress of science and technology through reason.

The two fathers of the Enlightenment

In 1793, the British philosopher William Godwin published Inquiry into Political Justice and Its Influence on Morals and Happiness . In this work, Godwin said that human reason, not political revolution, was the key to progress. That human beings are unique in our ability to control ourselves, including our passions, and thus improve our societies.

Rationalism, according to Godwin, was a powerful tool for forging a future where human suffering was significantly reduced.


William Godwin is thus considered one of the fathers of the Enlightenment. The other was the Marquis de Condorcet , a French nobleman and mathematician who, a year after Godwin’s work, in 1794, published Sketch of a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Spirit .

In it, he predicted infinite human progress using science and technology. Thanks to technology, more food could be grown in less area in order to supply a larger human population. He also supported trade between nations as a way to reduce food shortages.

The ideas of these two authors were the germ of what today we call Enlightenment . These authors were humanists because they believed that humans were special thanks to their unique ability to reason. That they should not bow to the designs of God, or of nature (a form of divinity), but that they could carve out their own future.

Mary Shelly, however, disavowed these ideas. Known initially as Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, she was also the second daughter of feminist philosopher and writer Mary Wollstonecraft .

You can learn more about the following story in this video about the parallels between the villain and the hero of the Dr. Stone series between Thomas Malthus and the Marquis de Condorcet: