A history of the european enlightenment period in the 18th century

Age of Enlightenment

Another prominent intellectual was Francesco Mario Paganowho wrote important studies such as Saggi Politici Political Essays,one of the major works of the Enlightenment in Naples; and Considerazioni sul processo criminale Considerations on the criminal trial,which established him as an international authority on criminal law.

In several ways this period has not ended in several primitive society and the genesis of ideas and acceptance of rationalism, empiricism and other schools of thoughts have become social institutions that are integrated it our minds quite naturally and to some extent by the promotion of education such as mathematics, science, history philosophy, and economics.

The most famous natural right formulation comes from John Locke in his Second Treatise, when he introduces the state of nature. Wilson and Reill note: Clarke also supports the empirical argument from design, the argument that concludes from the evidence of order in nature to the existence of an intelligent author of that order.

That is something that this era re-imbibed into mankind and that is probably the way to live life and the way with which one can find the meaning of life and truth about life.


Its pages contained critical articles, by tradesmen as well as scientists, on unfair taxes, the evils of the slave trade, and the cruelty of criminal laws.

His is one of many voices in the Enlightenment advocating for free trade and for minimal government regulation of markets.

Age of Enlightenment

The most famous of these works, The Social Contractwas Rousseau's indictment of absolute monarchy. Most of its thinkers believed passionately in human progress through education. Locke claims that the end or purpose of political society is the preservation and protection of property though he defines property broadly to include not only external property but life and liberties as well.

The political revolutions of the Enlightenment, especially the French and the American, were informed and guided to a significant extent by prior political philosophy in the period. According to a common Enlightenment assumption, as humankind clarifies the laws of nature through the advance of natural science and philosophy, the true moral and political order will be revealed with it.

According to Kant, scientific knowledge of nature is not merely knowledge of what in fact happens in nature, but knowledge of the causal laws of nature according to which what in fact happens must happen. Alongside the rationalist strand of ethical philosophy in the Enlightenment, there is also a very significant empiricist strand.

What changes took place during the 18th Century. Writing along these lines Samuel Richardson produced Pamelathe story of a virtuous servant-girl, and Henry Fielding wrote the equally famous Tom Jonesthe rollicking tale of a young man's deep pleasures and superficial regrets.

Though neither for Locke nor for Descartes do all of our ideas represent their objects by way of resembling them e.

Voltaire despised democracy and said the absolute monarch must be enlightened and must act as dictated by reason and justice — in other words, be a "philosopher-king". The study of science, under the heading of natural philosophywas divided into physics and a conglomerate grouping of chemistry and natural historywhich included anatomybiology, geologymineralogy and zoology.

He also professed admiration for "noble savages," who lived completely free of law, courts, priests, and officials. It is the attitude of inquiry that Bayle displays, rather than any doctrine he espouses, that mark his as distinctively Enlightenment thought.

Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth-Century Art in Europe and North America

In Italy, Galileo Galilei developed an improved type of telescope that brought advances in astronomy. For Martin Luther as for Bacon or Descartes, the way to truth lay in the application of human reason.

18th Century European Enlightenment

However, skepticism is not merely a methodological tool in the hands of Enlightenment thinkers. Beyond the natural religion of the Deists lay the more radical products of the application of reason to religion: It is a striking feature of the Encyclopedia, and one by virtue of which it exemplifies the Baconian conception of science characteristic of the period, that its entries cover the whole range and scope of knowledge, from the most abstract theoretical to the most practical, mechanical and technical.

English painting lacked the characteristic rococo frivolity, but the style affected works by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsboroughwhose portraits tended to flatter their aristocratic subjects. Put in the terms Kant defines, the problem is: As noted above, both Shaftesbury and Hutcheson want to do justice to the idea that proper moral motivation is not the pursuit of pleasure, even disinterested pleasure, but rather an immediate response to the perception of moral value.

In France, the Enlightenment emerged in the early s and was driven by writers and intellectuals called philosophes. All discord, harmony not understood; All partial evil, universal good And, spite of pride, in erring reason's spite, One truth is clear: According to the general social contract model, political authority is grounded in an agreement often understood as ideal, rather than real among individuals, each of whom aims in this agreement to advance his rational self-interest by establishing a common political authority over all.

While there are significant Enlightenment thinkers who are metaphysicians — again, one thinks of Christian Wolff — the general thrust of Enlightenment thought is anti-metaphysical.

More than has been widely understood, the Encyclopedie, and many other achievements of the philosophes were joint efforts with their female colleagues among the salonnieres.

Historyplex Staff Last Updated: He was among the earliest critics of absolute monarchy. Samuel Clarke, perhaps the most important proponent and popularizer of Newtonian philosophy in the early eighteenth century, supplies some of the more developed arguments for the position that the correct exercise of unaided human reason leads inevitably to the well-grounded belief in God.

The civil freedom that Locke defines, as something protected by the force of political laws, comes increasingly to be interpreted as the freedom to trade, to exchange without the interference of governmental regulation.


On the one hand, Rousseau was a product of the 18th century Europe in that Rousseau with faith in the human dignity and intelligence was the philosophical father of the French Revolution. He finds that God and the immaterial soul are both better known, on the basis of innate ideas, than objects of the senses.

Enlightenment philosophers find that the existing social and political orders do not withstand critical scrutiny. During the 18th century, the Enlightenment culminated in the American and French revolutions. Philosophy and science increased in prominence.

The Ottoman Empire experienced an unprecedented period of peace and economic expansion, A Dictionary of Eighteenth-Century World History () pp.

Home › History › 18th Century European Enlightenment 18th Century European Enlightenment The Enlightenment is a name given by historians to an intellectual movement that was predominant in the Western world during the 18th century. The 18th Century proudly referred to itself as the "Age of Enlightenment" and rightfully so, for Europe had dwelled in the dim glow of the Middle Ages when suddenly the lights began to come on in men's minds and humankind moved forward.

Home › History › 18th Century European Enlightenment 18th Century European Enlightenment The Enlightenment is a name given by historians to an intellectual movement that was predominant in the Western world during the 18th century.

The Enlightenment is a name given by historians to an intellectual movement that was predominant in the Western world during the 18th century. The Age Of Enlightenment In 18th Century History Essay. Print Reference this. Disclaimer: Support for religious toleration was difficult since the Catholic Church had a big stake on European societies.

Clearly religious enlightenment had not become a groundswell from below by the s. In the period of the Enlightenment there were.

A history of the european enlightenment period in the 18th century
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