Essay On The Enlightenment Thinkers

Essay On The Enlightenment Thinkers-15
The age was enormously impressed by Isaac Newton’s discovery of universal gravitation.

The age was enormously impressed by Isaac Newton’s discovery of universal gravitation.

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In many respects, however, the later decades of the century marked a triumph of the movement in Europe and America.

By the 1770s, second-generation philosophes were receiving government pensions and taking control of established intellectual academies.

The Age of Enlightenment is a term used to describe the trends in thought and letters in Europe and the American colonies during the 18th century prior to the French Revolution.

The phrase was frequently employed by writers of the period itself, convinced that they were emerging from centuries of darkness and ignorance into a new age enlightened by reason, science, and a respect for humanity.

Human aspirations, they believed, should not be centered on the next life, but rather on the means of improving this life.

Worldly happiness was placed before religious salvation.During the first half of the 18th century, the leaders of the Enlightenment waged an uphill struggle against considerable odds.Several were imprisoned for their writings, and most were hampered by government censorship and attacks by the church.According to the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, the motto of the age should be “Dare to know.A desire arose to reexamine and question all received ideas and values, to explore new ideas in many different directions-hence the inconsistencies and contradictions that often appear in the writings of 18th-century thinkers.Far more original were the works of Jean Jacques Rousseau, whose Social Contract (1762; trans. The Enlightenment was also a profoundly cosmopolitan and antinationalistic movement with representatives in numerous other countries.Kant in Germany, David Hume in England, Cesare Beccaria in Italy, and Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson in the American colonies all maintained close contacts with the French philosophes but were important contributors to the movement in their own right.In retrospect, however, it appears that most of these monarchs used the movement in large part for propaganda purposes and were far more despotic than enlightened.During the later 18th century certain changes in emphasis emerged in Enlightenment thought.Through proper education, humanity itself could be altered, its nature changed for the better.A great premium was placed on the discovery of truth through the observation of nature, rather than through the study of authoritative sources, such as Aristotle and the Bible.


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