The age of enlightenment essay

The quantity and diversity of artistic works during the period do not fit easily into categories for interpretation, but some loose generalizations may be drawn. At the opening of the century, baroque forms were still popular, as they would be at the end. They were partially supplanted, however, by a general lightening in the rococo motifs of the early s. This was followed, after the middle of the century, by the formalism and balance of neoclassicism, with its resurrection of Greek and Roman models.

The age of enlightenment essay

The Age of Reason, as it was called, was spreading rapidly across Europe.


In the late 17th century, scientists like Isaac Newton and writers like John Locke were challenging the old order. In the wake of political turmoil in England, Locke asserted the right of a people to change a government that did not protect natural rights of life, liberty and property.

People were beginning to doubt the existence of a God who could predestine human beings to eternal damnation and empower a tyrant for a king. Europe would be forever changed by these ideas. In America, intellectuals were reading these ideas as well.

On their side of the Atlantic, Enlightened ideas of liberty and progress had a chance to flourish without the shackles of Old Europe. Religious leaders began to change their old dogmatic positions.

They began to emphasize the similarities between the Anglican Church and the Puritan Congregationalists rather than the differences. Even Cotton Mather, the Massachusetts minister who wrote and spoke so convincingly about the existence of witches advocated science to immunize citizens against smallpox.

Harvard ministers became so liberal that Yale College was founded in New Haven in in an attempt to retain old Calvinist ideas. This attempt failed and the entire faculty except one converted to the Church of England in By the end of the century, many New England ministers would become Unitarians, doubting even the divinity of Christ.

John Locke defended the displacement of a monarch who would not protect the lives, liberties, and property of the English people. Jean-Jacques Rousseau stated that society should be ruled by the "general will" of the people.

Baron de Montesquieu declared that power should not be concentrated in the hands of any one individual.


He recommended separating power among executive, legislative, judicial branches of government. American intellectuals began to absorb these ideas.

The delegates who declared independence from Britain used many of these arguments. The constitutions of our first states and the United States Constitution reflect Enlightenment principles. The writings of Benjamin Franklin made many Enlightenment ideas accessible to the general public.

The old way of life was represented by superstition, an angry God, and absolute submission to authority. The thinkers of the Age of Reason ushered in a new way of thinking. This new way championed the accomplishments of humankind. Individuals did not have to accept despair.

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Science and reason could bring happiness and progress.Brief Overview Causes. On the surface, the most apparent cause of the Enlightenment was the Thirty Years’ horribly destructive war, which lasted from to , compelled German writers to pen harsh criticisms regarding the ideas of nationalism and warfare.

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The age of enlightenment essay

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Science in the Age of Enlightenment - Wikipedia

The Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, was a philosophical movement that took place primarily in Europe and, later, in North America, during the late 17 th and early 18 th century. The Age of Enlightenment was a period of scientific awakening, largely centred around France, although the starting point for Enlightenment was John Locke's () book Essay Concerning Human Understanding (), which was a relentless attack on metaphysical arguments.

Kant's essay also addressed the causes of a lack of enlightenment and the preconditions necessary to make it possible for people to enlighten themselves. He held it necessary that all church and state paternalism be abolished and people be given the freedom to use their own intellect.

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