The Enlightenment is also known as the age of reason. It was an intellectual and philosophical movement that 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.
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Characteristics of the Enlightenment
These are some of the most important characteristics of the enlightenment period
- The Enlightenment era is known as the age of reason.
- The reason was seen as the primary source of authority.
- The targets of examination were the government and religious figures.
- Many prominent writers during this period were deists.
- The Enlightenment Era is also known as the Golden Age of Satire.
- There is an emphasis on the scientific method and along with increased questioning of religious orthodoxy
- Enlightenment Authors promote advanced ideals such as the separation of church and state and a constitutional government.
- The ideas of the Enlightenment undermined the authority of the monarchy and the Church.
- Many Enlightenment writers and thinkers had backgrounds in the sciences.
- Enlightenment scholars sought to curtail the political power of organized religion and thereby prevent another age of intolerant religious war.
Intellectuals of the Enlightenment
These are some of the most important Enlightenment intellectuals
Voltaire was a deist, he held mixed views of the Abrahamic religions but had a favorable 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 Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the “Father of Liberalism”
Learn more about other literary movements by checking these other posts:
- A Guide to Renaissance Literature
- A Guide to Postmodernism in Literature
- A Guide to Modernism in Literature
- A Guide to the Beat Generation in Literature
- The Beginner’s Guide to Realism in Literature
- A Guide to Naturalism in Literature
- A Guide to the Bloomsbury Group in Literature
- A Guide to Existentialism in Literature
- A Guide to Transcendentalism in Literature
- A Guide to the Victorian Period Literature
- A Guide to Romanticism in Literature
- A Guide to The Enlightenment Literature
- A guide to Medieval Literature