The Age of Enlightenment Essay

The Age of Enlightenment Essay

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The Enlightenment was a period in the eighteenth century where change in philosophy and cultural life took place in Europe. The movement started in France, and spread to Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Germany at more or less around the same time, the ideas starting with the most renowned thinkers and philosophers of the time and eventually being shared with the common people. The Enlightenment was a way of thinking that focused on the betterment of humanity by using logic and reason rather than irrationality and superstition. It was a way of thinking that showed skepticism in the face of religion, challenged the inequality between the kings and their people, and tried to establish a sound system of ethics. The ideas behind the Enlightenment were shared through multiple media such as literature and art, and those ideas provided the framework for the American and French Revolutions, as well as giving rise to multiple genres of art such as the Rococo and Neoclassical styles along with the Romanticist style that went against Enlightenment ideals.
One reason as to why the Enlightenment came about according to German philosopher Immanuel Kant is “primarily in religious matters because our rulers have no interest in playing the role of guardian to their subjects with regard to the arts and sciences and because this type of immaturity is the most harmful as well as the most dishonorable” (p. 63). He supported the free exercise of reason and in doing so, opposed the church's control of it, since the church had an effect on how much people were allowed to know. In opposition to the oppression of the people by the church and the monarchy that was closely tied to the church, Enlightenment values focused on the distancing of reli...


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...lightenment an Interpretation. New York, NY: W.W. Norton [and], 1977. Print.
Hume, David, L. A. Selby-Bigge, and P. H. Nidditch. A Treatise of Human Nature. Oxford: Clarendon, 1978. Print.
Schmidt, James., and Immanuel Kant. What Is Enlightenment?: Eighteenth-century Answers and Twentieth-century Questions. Berkeley: University of California, 1996. 63. Print.
Locke, John, and Peter Laslett. Two Treatises of Government:. London: Cambridge U.P., 1967. Print.
Montesquieu, Charles De Secondat, and Thomas Nugent. The Spirit of Laws. New York, NY: Cosimo Classics, 2011. 9. Print.
Stokstad, Marilyn, and Michael Watt. Cothren. "22." Art History. 4th ed. Vol. 2. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall/Pearson, 2011. 756. Print.
Stokstad, Marilyn, and Michael Watt. Cothren. "29." Art History. 4th ed. Vol. 2. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall/Pearson, 2011. 944. Print.

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