Age of Enlightenment

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 31, 2022, 14:04

The Age of Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Reason) was a philosophical and intellectual revolution that dominated Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries and had global ramifications.

The Enlightenment Period encompassed a wide range of beliefs based on the importance of happiness, the pursuit of knowledge through reason and sensory evidence, and goals such as freedom, development, acceptance, tolerance, fraternity, constitutional government, and religious liberty.

Timeline of the Age of Enlightenment

The Scientific Revolution and the work of Francis Bacon, among others, predated the Age of Enlightenment, which had its roots in a European intellectual and scholastic movement known as Renaissance humanism.

The publishing of René Descartes' Discourse on the Method in 1637, which included his famous aphorism, Cogito, ergo sum, is considered by some to mark the start of the Age of Enlightenment ("I think, therefore I am").

Others consider Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica (1687) to be the end of the Scientific Revolution and the start of the Enlightenment.

Historians date the Age of Enlightenment in Europe (with a focus on France) to the late 17th and early 18th centuries, or, more broadly, from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 to the French Revolution of 1789. It denotes a period in Europe's intellectual history as well as reform projects motivated by a belief in the potential of a better world, which identified specific goals for criticism and action plans.

Many historians currently place the closure of the Enlightenment at the turn of the nineteenth century, with Immanuel Kant's death in 1804 as the most recent recommended year.

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Characteristics of the Age of Enlightenment

Scientists and philosophers of the time shared their ideas at scientific institutes, Masonic clubs, literary salons, coffeehouses, and in printed books, periodicals, and pamphlets.

The Enlightenment Period's principles weakened the monarch and the Catholic Church, paving the ground for the revolutionary movements of the 18th and 19th centuries. Liberal ideology, communism, and neoclassicism are just a few of the 19th-century groups that may trace their philosophical roots back to the Enlightenment.

Personal freedom and religious tolerance were the core principles of the Enlightenment thinkers in France, as opposed to monarchy and the Church's established dogmas.

The focus on the scientific approach and reductionism, as well as the growing questioning of religious dogma, characterized the Age of Enlightenment.

Important Figures of Age of Enlightenment

The Philosophers of France, particularly Voltaire and also the political philosopher Montesquieu, were among the most influential writers of the Enlightenment Period.

Denis Diderot, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Condorcet were among the Encyclopédie's compilers.

Outside of France, significant Enlightenment intellectuals included David Hume and Adam Smith of Scotland, Jeremy Bentham of England, Immanuel Kant of Germany, and Thomas Jefferson of the United States.

The Enlightenment Period came to an end as a result of its own indulgences. The concept that human civilization is a record of general development that would continue into the future, which characterized much of Enlightenment philosophy, persisted for the next two hundred years as one of the movement's most enduring legacies.

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FAQs on the Age of Enlightenment

Q.1. What were the three main ideas of the Age of Enlightenment?

The use of reasoning, the scientific process, and progress were the three core ideas of the Age of Enlightenment.

Q.2. Who were the most influential thinkers during the Age of Enlightenment?

Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau were among the most influential thinkers during the Enlightenment Period.

Q.3. What were some of the drawbacks of the Enlightenment Period in terms of politics?

Increased dependence on factual reasoning and reductionism was a negative impact of the Age of Enlightenment in the realm of politics.

Q.4. When did the Age of Enlightenment begin?

The Age of Enlightenment began in the seventeenth century and was influenced by advances in scientific knowledge. Scientists and philosophers of the time shared their ideas at Masonic lodges, literary salons, coffeehouses, and in printed books, periodicals, and pamphlets.