27 April 2023

What is the Enlightenment? – History and characteristics of the Enlightenment

By Donald

The Enlightenment is one of the most important epochs in human history. This is because he left behind the dogmas of obscurantism to begin the years that I was looking for the light of reason. He also sought the advancement of society in areas such as political, scientific, philosophical and others.

What is the concept and meaning of the Enlightenment?

Its name comes from the idea that reason and progress are the forces that could illuminate people’s livesTherefore, it was also known as the Age of Enlightenment. It is a stage in history in which there was a global evolution of thought in general. This movement is based on all the rationalist and empiricist currents of the 17th century, such as Descartes, Locke, Bacon, Galileo and others.

At this time it was put end to fanaticism or ignorance of past thoughts and sought natural values ​​such as equality, freedom, among others. With this, seek the triumph of reason in man, discover, progress and explain the unknown.

What are the main ideas of the Enlightenment?

At this time, main ideas were discussed that changed the way of thinking of many people. Some of them are:

I reject absolutism reason why a critical thought was adopted proposing political and civil changes. They were rejection of all the privileges that the aristocrats had, thus demanding equal rights for all people.

As to church, their power and traditional social structure were questioned. She was cataloged with an obstacle in the search for truth, social and scientific progress and in the realization of the individual. At this time different theological ideas arose such as deism, atheism, agnosticism or skepticism.

By anthropocentrism Man was believed to be the center of existence, this went against the theological thought that put God at the center of the universe. In this aspect, the Enlightenment sought to highlight the human being’s ability to reason and think critically.

also through scientific method it was possible to give an explanation to unknowns and ideas so far inexplicable by the human being. Since they were only previously interpreted by the Catholic Church. Scientific and technological progress was sought to improve the warmth of life and the morale of the people.

This movement left behind the religious dogmas that limited progress. Thus adopting the use of reason to reach the truth of things.

Where did the Enlightenment come from?

This cultural moment arose in Europe and America under the regency of some empires European colonials. Achieving a great effect in the political, social and cultural field of the eighteenth century.

Although it spread to various countries, not all of them were given the same importance, only some of them were the ones that contributed great ideas, while others only followed it. Regarding the place where it arose, three countries can be established, which are England, Germany and especially France.

French illustration

It is known as a cultural movement born in europe, which originated in the 18th century and lasted until the French Revolution. Although it was known that in some places it lasted until the 19th century. This stage of life is better known as the Age of Enlightenment.

There is talk of the French Enlightenment, since it was one of the countries that knew it best, since it had a great impact on ideas and lifestyle of individuals. At this time the thinkers or sages believed that human reason was important to clarify superstition, tyranny and ignorance and thus create a better world.

This period of time was marked by an interest in social and political problems, which gave rise to the well-known revolution in 1789. This is because individuals they were critical and skeptical of the old systems, therefore, enlightened despotism arose in France, defining itself as everything for the people but without the people. This failed system originated the well-known French Revolution that marked a before and after in the country.

Kant illustration

As in France, in Germany this cultural movement was experienced with some delay compared to England. In this country it was based on reaching reason and one of the most important figures of this thought was Emmanuel Kant. This philosopher defined this time as an action by which man puts aside his immaturity caused by himself.

What are the characteristics of the Enlightenment?

This movement had several characteristics that define it and distinguish it from others. Some of them are:

  • The moral: they lived independently of religion, since the individual was guided by established morals and not just because an Almighty God ordered them. For what they sought in reason respect and good treatment towards others.
  • Deism: This takes God as the creator of nature, which together with the soul cannot be known through the reason of man. Therefore, it is the work of metaphysics, that is, of the abstract because it cannot be known by the senses. This is known as natural religion.
  • Freedom and equality: This thought was based on the fact that men have the same nature and the ability to reason. So they have the same abilities to do it and also to make their own religious, economic, intellectual and political decisions according to their beliefs.
  • The reason: at this time the use of it was very important, since it was believed that with proper use a great even unlimited process would be possible. Therefore, it was a fundamental guide to study the laws of nature, that is, what was good and bad, taking good as rational and bad, which does not lead to reason. Consequently, if a person wanted to advance, the most important path was to study the natural laws, acting in accordance with them and above all, ceasing to be irrational.
  • Nature: It was very relevant because they sought to discover its laws through reason and observation. This played a very valuable role in the existence of man and God, especially by the laws established by him. This was very important to the illustrators so that people would understand that through education life could improve.

Who are the most important representatives of The Enlightenment?

At this time some individuals emerged who helped promote these ideas having a great influence on history.

  • Rousseau: He captured the French encyclopedia as a graphic representation of this thought in the year 1751 to 1766. This great work was edited by Diderot and D’alembert, in which a large number of connoisseurs worked so that the publisher would publish it throughout Europe. This was one of the best-known works of illustration in the European and American continent, since it touched on themes of rejection of tradition, confrontation between science, religion, skepticism, religion and others.
  • Rene Descartes: He was a philosopher and mathematician who had a great influence on the European Enlightenment. As for the speech of his method, which indicated the correct use of reason and the search for truth. He had a great impact on all intellectuals, serving as the foundation of the search for reason and science. He explained the importance of it in order to reach a real conclusion of any experiment, therefore, I look for methods to reach the truth and the famous phrase of him I think therefore I am.
  • Voltaire: He is one of the most representative figures in the philosophy of this movement because he believed that literature could be a method to achieve social progress. He is known for capturing satirical strips and philosophical reflections, showing his discontent towards the tyranny and hypocrisy of Christianity. Which caused conflicts between the clergy and the political authority of the time, since they based all their beliefs on the Bible. He was known for questioning traditional values, which is why he called himself a defender of tolerance or freedom of knowledge.

What are the consequences of the Enlightenment?

This time in history is known for causing great changes in the life of man. In short, it left important consequences for society. Some of them are:

  • French Revolution (1789).
  • Independence of the United States (1776).
  • Romanticism, which gave great importance to feelings.

As for the Scientific advancesleft some important progress for humanity as

  • The hydraulic press, Bramach, 1795.
  • Steam engine, Watt, 1767.
  • Alcohol thermometer, Reaumur, 1730.
  • Mercury thermometer, Fahrenheit, 1714.
  • Power loom, Cartwright, 1785.