Age Of Enlightenment

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In the 18th century, Europe reached the glorious Age of Enlightenment, a political movement that introduced a new world of ideas to Europe and the world. Following the scientific revolution in the 17th century, advanced ideals such as liberty, progress, tolerance, fraternity, constitutional government, and separation of church and state came into people’s minds. They felt that they were enlightened, and Europe has finally emerged from a shadow. It was during this time that modern political ideologies, such as fascism and ethnic nationalism, and influential cultural movements, such as romanticism and religious revivals, were introduced. As such, the Age of Enlightenment has always been representative of the development of “modernity”.

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The philosophes were social and literary critics, popularisers and publicists. They approached any subject with an inquisitive mind. They were responsible in introducing modern ideas to the public, who were mostly firm believers of the Church. Their writing reached out to the reading public, expanding their numbers and educating them. Voltaire and Rousseau argued for a society based upon reason rather than religious faith, and science based upon experiments and observations. Montesquieu, in The Spirit of Laws introduced the idea of a separation of powers in a government. Spinoza advocated for democracy, individual liberty, freedom of expression, and eradication of religious authority. The most serious of all philosophe enterprises, the Encyclopédie, was published in 17 large volumes, comprising of scientific, technical, and historical knowledge, carried a strong undertone of criticism of existing society and institutions. Virtually all the French philosophers contributed – Voltaire, Montesquieu, Rousseau, and many others. It was not the first encyclopedia, but it was the first that had such a big impact on the progress of the society. The Encyclopédie became widely known and read across Europe, before the French Revolution. As such, it influenced the thoughts of the general population …show more content…
John Locke was one of the most influential Enlightenment thinkers, and his idea of governance, together with Rousseau, revolved around the social contract theory, in which individual surrender some of their freedoms and submit to the authority of the government, in exchange for protection. He is also known for his statement that individuals have a right to “Life, Liberty and Property”, and his belief that natural right to property is derived from labour. The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes developed the idea of liberal thought, and all legitimate political power must be based on the will of the people. Most famous of all philosophes was the French trio, Montesquieu, Voltaire and Rousseau. All were extraordinary thinkers and philosophers, but different vehemently from one another. Montesquieu, with his The Spirit of Laws, suggested that forms of government varied according to climate and circumstances, and proposed the separation and balance of powers in governments (aimed against royal absolutism in France). Voltaire argued for “natural religion” and “natural morality”, holding that belief in God and the differences between good and evil arose from reason itself. No supernatural revelation in addition to reason was necessary, and belief in supernatural revelation made people ignorant, stupid and cruel. This view hugely impacted the way people looked at the French government, which was closely

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