Age of Enlightenment

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The 18th century is referred to as the ‘Age of Enlightenment’. The trends in thought and letters from Europe to the American colonies brought a new light and attention upon mankind. This new movement described a time in Western philosophy and cultural life in which reason was advocated as the primary source and legitimacy for authority. ‘To understand the natural world and humankinds place in it solely on the basis of reason and without turning to religious belief was the goal of the wide-ranging intellectual movement’ (Hackett). At the heart o this age, a conflict began between religion and the inquiring mind that wanted to know and understand through reason based on evidence and proof rather than belief on faith alone.

Many scholars believed that this was primarily a French movement because the French culture dominated Europe and their ideas were expressed in the environment of the Parisian salon. IN my opinion, this movement was even more influential on the world because it was primarily a middle-class movement.. These pioneers labored for man in general and for humanity. This was also an era that public readings by scholars and philosophers came into existence because of increased literacy. These philosophers however, lived a very precarious life due to the fact that they did not know if they would be imprisoned or courted for their public performances. The analytical methods of Newtonian physics placed its stamp on the Enlightenment Era. Order and regularity came from the analysis of observed facts. The new ideal of knowledge was simply a further development of the 17th century logic and science with a new emphasis on; 1. The particular rather than the general. 2. Observable facts rather than principles. 3. Experience ra...

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... because human beings are more willing to question their belief systems now and that is thanks to the Age of Enlightenment.

I believe the most important issues involving the Enlightenment period was the recognition of the middle class. Most of the influential people of the period were from the working class. The rise in literacy gave the middle class more opportunities to spread their wings and become an influential voice in society.


Copestone, Frederick., A History of Philosophy. London. Search, 1946.Print.

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Thackeray, Frank. Events that Changed the World in the Eighteenth Century. Westport. Greenwood Press.1998. Print.

World History Project. World History International. 1995-2006. Web. 19 Dec. 2010

Rempel, Gerhard, Western New England College. 2007.Web. 19 Dec 2010
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