The Enlightenment

History of the Enlightenment

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Perspective


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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Index

Enlightenment Index | Women | Culture: ArchitectureArtLearningLiterature: NovelsTravel | Music: Classical PeriodBachHandelMozartHaydn | Philosophy: PhilosophesOld RegimeFaith or Reason?Age of ReasonEnglish and Dutch PhasesRadical EnlightenmentLater Enlightenment Adam SmithPhysiocrats • | Popular Culture | Scholarship | Science and Technology | Medicine | Religion: AuthoritySects | Power: LawReform



history of the Enlightenment

The Enlightenment: Index

history of the Enlightenment | women

Society: Women


history of the Enlightenment | culture

Culture

history of the Enlightenment | architecture

Culture: Architecture

history of the Enlightenment | art

Culture: Art


history of the Enlightenment | learning

Culture: Learning

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history of the Enlightenment  | literature

Culture: Literature

history of the Enlightenment | literature | novels

Literature: Novels

history of the Enlightenment | travel literature

Literature: Travel

history of the Enlightenment | music

Culture: Music

history of the Enlightenment | classical music

Music: Classical Period

history of the Enlightenment | classical music| Bach

Music: Bach

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history of the Enlightenment | classical music | Handel

Music: Handel

history of the Enlightenment | classical music | Haydn

Music: Haydn

history of the Enlightenment | classical music | Mozart

Music: Mozart

history of the Enlightenment | philosophy

Culture: Philosophy

history of the Enlightenment | philosophes

Philosophy: The Philosophes

history of the Enlightenment | Old Regime

Philosophy: Old Regime

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history of the Enlightenment | faith or reason?

Philosophy: Faith or Reason?

history of the Enlightenment | philosophy | Age of Reason

Philosophy: Age of Reason

history of the Enlightenment | philosophy | English and Dutch phases

Philosophy: English and Dutch Phases

history of the Enlightenment | philosophy | Radical Enlightenment

Philosophy: Radical Enlightenment

history of the Enlightenment |philosophy | Later Enlightenment

Philosophy: Later Enlightenment

history of the Enlightenment | philosophy | Adam Smith

Philosophy: Adam Smith

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history of the Enlightenment | philosophy | Physiocrats

Philosophy: Physiocrats


history of the Enlightenment | popular culture

Culture: Popular Culture

history of the Enlightenment | scholarship

Culture: Scholarship

history of the Enlightenment | science and technology

Culture: Science and Technology

history of the Enlightenment | medicine

Science and Technology: Medicine

history of the Enlightenment | religion

Religion

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history of the Enlightenment | religious authority

Religion: Authority

history of the Enlightenment | religion | sects

Religion: Sects


history of the Enlightenment | power

Power

history of the Enlightenment | law

Power: Law

history of the Enlightenment | reform

Power: Reform

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