Age of Enlightenment

The Enlightenment was a philosophical movement that took place primarily in Europe during the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

Its participants thought they were illuminating human intellect and culture after the “dark” Middle Ages. Characteristics of the Enlightenment include the rise of concepts such as reason, liberty and the scientific method.

Enlightenment philosophy was skeptical of religion especially the powerful Catholic Church monarchies and hereditary aristocracy. Later on, its thinking was influential in ushering in both the constitutions of the French Revolution and the American Revolution.

The Enlightenment, also known as The Age of Reason, began with the Scientific Revolution of the 1600s and and culminated in the French Revolution (1789-1799) and was followed by the Romantic period.

During the Enlightenment, there was more emphasis on scientific methods, secularization of learning, religious tolerance, universal education, individual liberty, reason, progress and the separation of church and state.

Intellectual Movement

In general terms, the Enlightenment was an intellectual movement, developed mainly in France, Britain and Germany, which advocated freedom, democracy and reason as the primary values of society.

It started from the standpoint that men’s minds should be freed from ignorance, from superstition and from the arbitrary powers of the State, in order to allow mankind to achieve progress and perfection.

The period was marked by a further decline in the influence of the church, governmental consolidation and greater rights for the common people. Politically, it was a time of revolutions and turmoil and of the overturning of established traditions.

The major philosophical movements of the period include British Empiricism, Rationalism and Kantianism. It also saw an increasing focus on Political Philosophy.

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