Age of Enlightenment

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The Age of Enlightenment or the Enlightenment, in European history, refers to an intellectual movement and/or to a time period when this movement flourished, with disputed dates, but sometime around or in the 18th century.

The name was invented by participants in the movement, somewhat similar to how the name the "Renaissance" ("Rebirth") also was invented by participants, who also saw the previous period as a dark age. Another name is the Age of Reason, despite that, for example, medieval Scholasticism also claimed to be based on logic and reason.

Modern liberalism claims to be based on the Enlightenment. As such, the Enlightenment is described very positively in many leftist and mainstream sources.

A politically correct origin is the Scientific Revolution, sometimes used to imply that Enlightenment and liberal political ideas are scientifically proven to be true, a false claim as fundamental ideas were often simply proclaimed to be "self-evident".

A less politically correct origin is religious or partly religious movements, such as the Puritan Levellers and the Quakers, who supported many of the same political ideas, but who often used religious arguments.

Another less politically correct development during the Enlightenment was the first scientific studies on race.

See also


  • Edward Gibbon - Influential Enlightenment writer, who also had less politically correct views.
  • Voltaire - Influential Enlightenment writer, who also had less politically correct views.
  • Baruch Spinoza - Jewish philosopher, now claimed to have been a central figure of the Enlightenment.

External links