Not withstanding the romantic counter movement, nothing communicates to me the sense of belief in rationality and associated progress more than 19th century works. If I was to cite an emblematic book, it might be Jules Vernes‘ „Mysterious Isle“, where I get the sense that the resident engineers and botanists are able to solve just about any problem through their „modern“ scientific knowledge and empiricism.
If I were to compare this with Robinson Crusoe from the 18th century, he seems to me a great deal less capable and more reliant upon god.
It is true that great forebears of rationalism such as Hume and Locke and Kant all lived before the 19th century. But might it stand to reason that their works from the 17th and 18th century laid the groundwork for rationalism, which flourished in the 19th century? So much so that it produced a counter movement?
In the comments the example of economics was raised. Perhaps it’s a good analogy for what I suspect. Free trade ideas are very old and effectively defended by Adam Smith (died 1790). But my impression is that the 19th century is when these ideas came to gain wider acceptance and lead to abolition of the Corn Laws (1846) for instance. America can be said to have responded earlier (1776?).
if we take as the criterion not the first proponents, but the time when rationalism gained wide appeal and political consequence, isn’t the 19th century as good a candidate for the „Age of Reason“ as any?
I am aware that these are just sketchy thoughts. Perhaps not even substantial enough for a question. It so, could you please direct me to some literature which elucidates the relationship of the centuries as regards to rationalism?