Literary Movements: The Beginner’s Guide to The Enlightment

The Enlightment

The Enlightment is also known as the age of reason. It was an intellectual and philosophical movement which dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century that saw the rise of concepts such as reason, liberty and the scientific method.

Characteristics of the Enlightment

  1. The Enlightment era is known as the age of reason.
  2. Reason was seen as the primary source for authority.
  3. The targets of examination was the government and religious figures.
  4. Many prominent writers duing this period were deists.
  5. The Enlightment Era is also known as the Golden Age of Satire.
  6. There is an emphasis on the scientific method and along with increased questioning of religious orthodoxy
  7. Enlightment Authors promote advance ideals such as the separation of the church and state  and a constitutional government.
  8. The ideas of the Enlightenment undermined the authority of the monarchy and the Church.
  9. Many Enlightenment writers and thinkers had backgrounds in the sciences.
  10. Enlightenment scholars sought to curtail the political power of organized religion and thereby prevent another age of intolerant religious war.

Intellectual of the Enlightment

Voltaire was a deist, he  held mixed views of the Abrahamic religions but had a favourable view of Hinduism, he wrote  the Dictionnaire philosophique (1764) and Questions sur les Miracles (1765)

David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, who is best known today for his highly influential system of philosophical empiricism, skepticism, and naturalism. He is the author of  The Natural History of Religion (1757) and Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Francophone Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of the 18th century. His political philosophy influenced the Enlightenment in France and across Europe. He wrote The Social Contract, and Principles of Political Right

Rene Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist

John Locke was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the “Father of Liberalism”

Digging Deeper

Learn more about other literary movements by checking these other posts:




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