The key ideas of the enlightenment essay

It is a starting point is to revisit Enlightenment principles that transformed the word in the last years and to ground them in emerging models of human nature. By humanizing ideas such as autonomy, universalism, and progress, we have a focus for a renewed public sphere. This means we can live up to another Enlivenment exhortation by recognizing the contingent nature of modern consciousness, we can imagine another way century enlightenment. To think about the core ideas of the Enlightenment, and how they gave rise to modern values, norms, and lifestyles, is a process of cultural psychotherapy, delving into the collective consciousness of modern people.

The key ideas of the enlightenment essay

Age of Enlightenment The Age of Enlightenment is a term used to describe the trends in thought and letters in Europe and the American colonies during the 18th century prior to the French Revolution.

The phrase was frequently employed by writers of the period itself, convinced that they were emerging from centuries of darkness and ignorance into a new age enlightened by reason, science, and a respect for humanity. The precursors of the Enlightenment can be traced to the 17th century and earlier.

Equally important, however, were the self-confidence engendered by new discoveries in science and the spirit of cultural relativism encouraged by the exploration of the non-European world.

The key ideas of the enlightenment essay

Of the basic assumptions and beliefs common to philosophers and intellectuals of this period, perhaps the most important was an abiding faith in the power of human reason. People came to assume that through a judicious use of reason, an unending progress would be possible-progress in knowledge, in technical achievement, and even in moral values.

Following the philosophy of Locke, the 18th-century writers believed that knowledge is not innate, but comes only from experience and observation guided by reason.

Through proper education, humanity itself could be altered, its nature changed for the better.

Key Ideas of the Enlightenment - Essay

A great premium was placed on the discovery of truth through the observation of nature, rather than through the study of authoritative sources, such as Aristotle and the Bible. Although they saw the church-especially the Roman Catholic church-as the principal force that had enslaved the human mind in the past, most Enlightenment thinkers did not renounce religion altogether.

They opted rather for a form of Deism, accepting the existence of God and of a hereafter, but rejecting the intricacies of Christian theology. Human aspirations, they believed, should not be centered on the next life, but rather on the means of improving this life.

Worldly happiness was placed before religious salvation. Nothing was attacked with more intensity and ferocity than the church, with all its wealth, political power, and suppression of the free exercise of reason. More than a set of fixed ideas, the Enlightenment implied an attitude, a method of thought.

A desire arose to reexamine and question all received ideas and values, to explore new ideas in many different directions-hence the inconsistencies and contradictions that often appear in the writings of 18th-century thinkers.

Many proponents of the Enlightenment were not philosophers in the commonly accepted sense of the word; they were populizers engaged in a self-conscious effort to win converts. Because they were journalists and propagandists as much as true philosophers, historians often refer to them by the French word philosophes.

In many respects, the homeland of the philosophes was France. It was there that the political philosopher and jurist Charles de Montesquieu, one of the earliest representatives of the movement, had begun publishing various satirical works against existing institutions, as well as his monumental study of political institutions, The Spirit of Laws ; trans.

It was in Paris that Denis Diderot, the author of numerous philosophical tracts, began the publication of the Encyclopedie This work, on which numerous philosophes collaborated, was intended both as a compendium of all knowledge and as a polemical weapon, presenting the positions of the Enlightenment and attacking its opponents.

The single most influential and representative of the French writers was undoubtedly Voltaire. Beginning his career as a playwright and poet, he is best known today for his prolific pamphlets, essays, satires, and short novels, in which he popularized the science and philosophy of his age, and for his immense correspondence with writers and monarchs throughout Europe.

The Enlightenment was also a profoundly cosmopolitan and antinationalistic movement with representatives in numerous other countries. Kant in Germany, David Hume in England, Cesare Beccaria in Italy, and Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson in the American colonies all maintained close contacts with the French philosophes but were important contributors to the movement in their own right.

During the first half of the 18th century, the leaders of the Enlightenment waged an uphill struggle against considerable odds. Several were imprisoned for their writings, and most were hampered by government censorship and attacks by the church.

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In many respects, however, the later decades of the century marked a triumph of the movement in Europe and America. By the s, second-generation philosophes were receiving government pensions and taking control of established intellectual academies.

The enormous increase in the publication of newspapers and books ensured a wide diffusion of their ideas. Scientific experiments and philosophical writing became fashionable among wide groups in society, including members of the nobility and the clergy. A number of European monarchs also adopted certain of the ideas or at least the vocabulary of the Enlightenment.

Voltaire and other philosophes, who relished the concept of a philosopher-king enlightening the people from above, eagerly welcomed the emergence of the so-called enlightened despots, of whom Frederick II of Prussia, Catherine II of Russia, and Joseph II of Austria were the most celebrated examples.

In retrospect, however, it appears that most of these monarchs used the movement in large part for propaganda purposes and were far more despotic than enlightened.

During the later 18th century certain changes in emphasis emerged in Enlightenment thought. Under the influence of Rousseau, sentiment and emotion became as respectable as reason.The enlightenment influenced French society in many aspects, it gave way to new world views and ideas that brought church and science together.

It was responsible for bringing the scientific revolution to the political and cultural fields. Aug 29,  · Watch video · The Enlightenment’s important 17th-century precursors included the Englishmen Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes, the Frenchman Renee Descartes and the key natural philosophers of the Scientific.

To start, the developments of the Scientific Revolution were widespread and greatly influenced the Enlightenment era of philosophy. One of the important scientific developments during the era was the basis for the modern-day scientific method, created by the ideas of Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes.

There is a renowned Scottish Enlightenment (key figures are Frances Hutcheson, Adam Smith, David Hume, Thomas Reid), and the related idea that the results of philosophy ought to be of use to common people, are characteristic ideas of the Enlightenment, particularly pronounced in the Scottish Enlightenment.

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An Essay on Man, ed. by M. Suggested Essay Topics; How to Cite This SparkNote; Table of Contents; Overview. The Enlightenment was a sprawling intellectual, philosophical, cultural, and social movement that spread through England, France, Germany, and other parts of Europe during the s.

The new freedoms and ideas sometimes led to abuses—in particular, the. The Key Ideas of the Enlightenment Essay examples - This essay will be examining the key concepts of the ‘Enlightenment’ also known as “The Age of Reason“ that occurred from the 16th and 17th century, before considering the manner in which it helped to shape the sociological view on societies and how it has linked to the birth of sociology.

Enlightenment - HISTORY