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Hy 102

In: English and Literature

Submitted By bryandouglas
Words 840
Pages 4
Bryan Savage
HY 102-016
Essay #1

The Age of Enlightenment refers to the sprawling intellectual, philosophical, cultural and social movement that spread through England, France, Germany, and other parts of Europe during the 18th century. The Enlightenment is often thought of as a time of change but also of tradition. Toward the middle of the eighteenth century, Enlightenment thinkers began to apply the ideas of Bacon, Locke, and Newton, to their newfound perspective of life. Locke argued that human nature was mutable and that knowledge was gained through accumulated experience rather than by accessing some sort of outside truth. Newton's calculus and optical theories provided the powerful Enlightenment metaphors for precisely measured change and illumination.
Scientific rationalism, exemplified by the scientific method, was the hallmark of everything related to the Enlightenment. Near the end of the Renaissance, thinkers believed that the advances of science and industry foreshowed a new age of egalitarianism and progress for humankind. The intellectuals, also known as the philosophes, hoped they could create a new society in the belief that education could create better human beings and a better human society. Such philosophes as Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, Hume, Quesnay, Smith, Beccaria, Condorcet, and Rousseau attacked traditional religion as the enemy, advocated religious toleration and freedom of thought creating a new science of man. In doing so, the philosophes laid the foundation for a modern worldview based on rationalism and secularism. Although, many philosophes continued to hold traditional views about women, the Enlightenment appealed largely to the urban middle classes, and its ideas were discussed in salons, coffeehouses, reading clubs. The idea of a “public,” an informed collection of citizens invested in the common good and preservation...

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