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The Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th Century

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The Philosophes

French intellectual leaders of the Enlightenment were bankers, merchants, and professional men who had education and wealth. As a result of their political voice being denied to them, these men paved the way for the French Revolution through their skeptical attitudes toward government, religion, and social traditions. This group of aggressive dissenters and critics of the Old Regime, the prerevolution monarchy, were the Philosophes.

The Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th century involved a particular group of French thinkers who were very popular during the middle of the 18th century. This group was known as the Philosophes, a large group of people who pursued a variety of the same intellectual interests. Believing in and fighting for the same common goal held the Philosophes together. One of the goals they were striving for was to get rid of erroneous views of thought, such as religion. They also doubted the perfectibility of human beings. Philosophes questioned everything and wanted direct answers, which is why a lot of them were great thinkers and scientist...


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...hould be looked at strongly, but they were also very much against religion. Most Philosophes rejected the traditional medieval/early modern conceptualization of a Christian God. Philosophes started a whole new era with a great way of looking at things that were happening in the world around them.

End Notes:

1. Thomas, Barry. Great Historical Writers. New York: Walker (1967). 24-49

2. www.voltairefoundation.com

3. www.voltairefoundation.com

4. Thomas, 121

5. Thomas, 121

6. http://webhome.infonie.fr/prelate/doc-006.htm

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