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.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
References in periodicals archive ?
Weed is entering an era of enlightenment where its medical value has been proven as a potent, non-addictive painkiller unlike opioids.
Perhaps in this new era of enlightenment, we should appreciate the art of the prank.
Rugby claims to be in a new era of enlightenment - the Bastareaud punishment is a decision from the Dark Ages.
The country is emerging out of darkness and entering into an era of enlightenment.
While one evolved into a steadfast symbol of strength and power, the other ushered in the era of enlightenment -- bringing ideas, cultures and nations closer together through the power of print.
CHOOSING another foreign manager over the bulldog spirit of Kevin Ball was supposed to herald the start of a new era of enlightenment at Sunderland's Stadium of Light.
OIC Secretary General Ehsan Ughlo also gave a speech in which he stressed that the revolutions of the Arab Spring tended to turn the Islamic nations to a new era of enlightenment.
Muslims are, in fact, duty-bound to eliminate ignorance and usher in an era of enlightenment. But Taliban do not want modern education, especially for women; they do not want modern medicines; and they do not want freedom.
By recognizing Tolchenov's life as reflecting a Russia caught between its customary past and fluid future, Ransel's account serves as an excellent introduction to the complicated development of Russian society in an era of Enlightenment and change.
Based on a conference held in 2002 at the National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, this collection of essays revisits how a Marxist interpretation of the French nobility in the era of Enlightenment and French Revolution was challenged, in the 1970s and 80s, by a "revisionist" interpretation that played down social and economic factors in favor of culture and politics.
The press release says, "The opening of the new museum, Psychiatry: an Industry of Death and the expanded facilities of CCHR mark the beginning of a new era of enlightenment on the motivation, history and crimes of psychiatry."
It kicked off the era of enlightenment at the beginning of the 18th century, an era which--in European thinking--placed the individual human being at the centre of the universe.