Age of Enlightenment

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Age of Enlightenment

the period of intellectual ferment leading up to the French Revolution, which was distinguished by a fundamental questioning of traditional modes of thought and social organization, and sought to replace these with an exclusive reliance on human reason in determining social practices. Many thinkers and philosophers were associated with these developments, amongst them Voltaire (1694-1778), MONTESQUIEU, Holbach (1723-89), Helvétius (1715-71), Diderot (1713-84) and ROUSSEAU. Nor was the movement merely confined to France; it also embraced numerous other thinkers elsewhere, including members of the so-called SCOTTISH ENLIGHTENMENT, such as Adam FERGUSON and John MILLAR, whose work was especially sociological. Despite a common accord on the importance of reason in human affairs, major differences of view existed between thinkers: Voltaire popularized English liberal doctrines of NATURAL RIGHTS; Holbach and Helvétius took these doctrines further and argued for UTILITARIANISM and representative government; while Rousseau's concept of the SOCIAL CONTRACT led to holistic conceptions of state and society realized in the French Revolution. In retrospect, much Enlightenment thought is seen as superficial, lacking an adequate empirical research base, and above all overconfident about human PROGRESS and the ultimate triumph of Reason. However, the Enlightenment era signalled a final decisive break between traditional and modern thought, and between traditional and modern forms of social organization. See also COMTE, RATIONALISM, GRAND NARRATIVES.
References in periodicals archive ?
Today, perhaps since the Enlightenment period as the church has struggled to continue in its Christendom mode, it often bends over backwards to reflect the dominant or popular culture even when it is blatantly non-biblical.
The nature of the Jesuit's boundary-crossing work, theology, texts, and lives offered the substrate on which new fields of study like ethnography and anthropology germinated in the Enlightenment period, illustrating the Jesuits' enlightened approach.
As a researcher of climate history as well as climate research history, he examines the developments from the Enlightenment period to the present day.
The Enlightenment explores advances in science, art, and medicine during the Enlightenment period as well as the Enlightenment as a cause of the American Revolution.
Harrison tracks how the perception of contagion changed as science and societies advanced over time; from the divination of disease in the middle ages, the secularisation of disease during the enlightenment period, the contagion/ anti-contagion debate of the nineteenth century, and through to the problems of border-security in the modern day: six centuries of history of medical thought, in the major trading areas of the world.
Erasmus Darwin, who lived in Lichfield, was a physician and leading figure in the British Enlightenment period and member of the Lunar Society along with industrialist Matthew Boulton and scientist James Watt.
The key characteristics of the Enlightenment period were the revival of classicism and what was regarded as the high-minded simplicity of ancient Greece and Rome.
Semler (1725-1791) was one of the most productive German theologians of the Enlightenment period, and yet he remains one of the least read due to his often-dark conceptual language and his infamous verbosity.
Like the coffee houses of the enlightenment period, or the silicon valleys of today, innovation comes from environments that foster the open exchange of ideas in a melting pot of people with different perspectives.
These revolutions are, therefore, completely opposite to what had happened to the society of Makkah, when Islam first appeared during the first half of the seventh century or to Europe at the start of the Enlightenment period in the 18th century.
The editor and authors of this volume wish to argue that the anti-religious strain usually associated with the Enlightenment period may perhaps be the dominant one but is by no means the only one.
Chapter 5 moves into the Enlightenment period and the twentieth-century to show how Judas becomes a redeemed sinner and heroic rebel who pushes Jesus to his destiny.