History of the Enlightenment
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The history of the Enlightenment focuses on an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated thinking in Europe during the 18th century. It developed a new ethos centered on certain key tenets: the pursuit of happiness, the primacy of reason, and the certainty of the senses as the primary source of knowledge. With this, new thinking took shape in civil liberties, tolerance, humanism, the belief that government can change hands peaceably in an orderly succession of power, and the separation of church and state. These ideas challenged the foundations of European statecraft and the bedrock authority of the Church.
The ideas of philosophes and scientists circulated through meetings at scientific academies, esoteric orders like the Masons, and the salons and coffeehouses of London and Paris where books, journals, and pamphlets were read and discussed. The rationalism and humanism of the Enlightenment eroded the divine authority of the monarchy and the Church. It went on to play a key role in the political revolutions in America, France, and elsewhere across the Continent in the 19th century. The 19th-century movements of liberalism, communism, and neoclassicism had their roots in the Enlightenment.
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Enlightenment Index | Women | Culture: Architecture • Art • Learning • Literature: Novels • Travel | Music: Classical Period • Bach • Handel • Mozart • Haydn | Philosophy: Philosophes • Old Regime • Faith or Reason? • Age of Reason • English and Dutch Phases • Radical Enlightenment • Later Enlightenment • Adam Smith • Physiocrats • | Popular Culture | Scholarship | Science and Technology | Medicine | Religion: Authority • Sects | Power: Law • Reform
The Enlightenment: Index
Music: Classical Period
Philosophy: The Philosophes
Philosophy: Old Regime
Philosophy: Faith or Reason?
Philosophy: Age of Reason
Philosophy: English and Dutch Phases
Philosophy: Radical Enlightenment
Philosophy: Later Enlightenment
Philosophy: Adam Smith
Culture: Popular Culture
Culture: Science and Technology
Science and Technology: Medicine