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- What Was the Enlightenment?
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Lincoln, United Kingdom. They tested popular notions with scientifically controlled experiments and personal experience, though skepticism of one's own senses was another factor in Enlightenment thought, and caused complicated philosophical conundrums, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Enlightenment intellectuals were skeptical of the divine right of kings and monarchies in general, scientific claims about the natural world, the nature of reality and religious doctrine.
The deist movement became popular during the Enlightenment. Deism holds that God exists but does not intervene on Earth. The universe proceeds according to natural, scientifically based laws.
What Was the Enlightenment?
Though skeptical of religious institutions, many Enlightenment thinkers believed that people should be free to worship as they wished. The Enlightenment tolerance of religion is related to the movement's emphasis on personal liberty.
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The centuries before the Enlightenment were characterized by rapid changes, from the discoveries of the Scientific Revolution to the exploration of the world and the advancement in art technique during the Renaissance. Largely because of this, Enlightenment thinkers believed that the human condition was improving over time. Philosophers like David Hume and Adam Smith, both Scotsmen, tied Enlightenment ideals to politics, economic policies and more, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Empiricists argued that all human knowledge comes through the senses and sensory experiences. Rationalists, who lived primarily in continental Europe, argued that senses were untrustworthy and knowledge came from the mind, through conceiving of or intuiting ideas, according to Loyola University New Orleans. Toward the end of the period, philosophers began to consider exactly what they meant by the term "enlightenment.
Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed nonage [many interpret nonage as "immaturity"]. Nonage is the inability to use one's own understanding without another's guidance … Dare to know! Have the courage to use your own understanding," is therefore the motto of the enlightenment.
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Abernethy discussed the following men who made significant contributions to the Enlightenment:. John Comenius was a Czech intellectual who espoused universal education and practical instruction. He was instrumental in introducing pictorial textbooks written in the vernacular of the student rather than Latin. He advocated for lifelong learning and the development of logical thinking as opposed to memorization by rote. He wanted education to be given to women and impoverished children. The Dutchman Hugo Grotius was a prodigious intellectual who laid the foundation for international law based on the concept of natural law.
He was one of the pioneers in putting forth the idea of a society of states governed not by force and warfare but by laws and mutual agreement to enforce those laws. He also espoused the idea of religious tolerance.
Englishmen who were influential in the Enlightenment include Thomas Hobbes and John Locke Hobbes championed absolutism for the sovereign but he believed in the right of the individual and the equality of all men. He stated that political communities should be based on a "social contract" meaning individuals consent either explicitly or tacitly to surrender some of their freedoms and submit to the authority of the ruler or to the decision of the majority in exchange for the protection of their remaining rights.
Locke promoted the opposite type of government, which was a representative government. The French Philosophes philosophers took the Enlightenment to new heights. Charles-Louis de Secondat, better known as the Baron de Montesquieu , developed the work of John Locke and espoused the concept of the separation of power by creating divisions in government. He wrote attacks on the Catholic Church and exposed injustices.
He promoted the concepts of freedom of religion, freedom of expression and the separation of church and state. His writings were popular and reached many readers.
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Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote the book "The Social Contract," in which he championed for a form of government based on small, direct democracy, which openly signifies the will of the population. Denis Diderot was not as interested in inciting revolution but wanted to collect and disseminate Enlightenment knowledge. He embarked on a mammoth project to create the "Encyclopaedia, or a Systemic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts. The "Encyclopaedia" would incorporate all of the world's knowledge and spread it to other countries all over the world.
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher who gained fame as an essayist, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. He was a highly influential empiricist who argued that humans were a bundle of sensations with no true selves this is called the Bundle Theory and that ethics were based on emotion rather than moral principles. Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher central to the Enlightenment.
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