Answering a question according to given readings:how and why have our ideas of development changed over the past two centuries

In the past two centuries, the logic of Enlightenment previously materialized into the colonial rule and remains in contemporary post-Cold War world. Notwithstanding this prevalence, the practical implications of this worldview have significantly changed since the nineteenth century.
With the believing in Enlightenment ideals, people started to dealing with the need of improvement in anything they do and anywhere they go. In detail, ‘ spirit of the age’ included “ the primacy of reason/rationalism, a belief in empiricism, the concept of universal science and reason, the idea of progress, the championing of new freedoms, the ethic of secularism and the notion of all human beings as essentially the same” (Power 154). Due to this, colonialism as phenomenon was an outcome of Enlightenment logic, because European empires went to other lands to ‘ improve’ people living there (Craggs 34). Even though this period ended, we still feel the presence of its ideals.
As for the Cold War discourse that started as an aftermath of the World War II, many assumptions and policies simply reflected colonial past. Precisely, they were “ metropolitan concern to maintain and modernize…, and contact with local people, knowledge, and conditions” (Craggs 39). However, the end of colonialism in post-World War II era was a significant driver for change that we see in contemporary times. For instance, new universities based on multi- and inter-disciplinary studies appeared only in the twentieth century. They raised numerous questions, including the definition of the development term itself (Porter 137). As Potter thinks of this new approach, it contributed to the development of development studies as the discipline that investigates “ the evolution of human geography” (50). As a field of analysis for development theories, the concept ‘ Third World’ entered the stage. In fact, it made evident that people have started to imagine for the new geography in the last six decades. It happened because of conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. As Dodds explains, the Third World is a battlefield for the developed countries in terms of ideological and economic influence (43). However, the collapse of Soviet Union ended this era.
Since 1990s, postcolonialism as the new philosophy questions all the previous meta-narratives, including the concept of ‘ development’ (Potter 52). Even though both Cold War rivals emphasized on the need for the development in the Third World, the poverty of South and wealth of North maintain the division in contemporary world. In other words, “ both development theories were losing out in terms of their explanatory power” (Shuurman 55). In this context, the problem with seemingly elegant Smith and Ricardo’s economical logics is evident (Sapsford 147). In the given circumstances, conditions of the lowest income groups in the poorest countries, ambiguous ‘ great narratives’, and challenges of globalization in terms of changing the balance of economies are the main up-to-date problems in terms of development.
In sum, Enlightenment ideals were the core of our development thinking for the last two centuries. Only the end of colonialism and Cold War evoked the necessity of new logic to resolve the conflict between poverty and wealth in global world.
Desai, Vandana, and Robert Potter. The Companion to Development Studies. Third ed. New York and Oxon: Routledge, 2014. Print