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The Enlightenment, known in French as the ‘’Siècle des Lumières’’ (Century of Enlightenment), and in German as the ‘’Aufklärung’’, was a philosophical movement which dominated the world of ideas in Europe in the 18th century. The principal goals of Enlightenment thinkers were liberty, progress, reason, tolerance, and ending the abuses of the church and state.<ref>Outram, Dorinda. Panorama of the Enlightenment. Getty Publications, 2006, p. 29.</ref><ref>Milan Zafirovski, The Enlightenment and Its Effects on Modern Society (201) p 144</ref> In France, the central doctrines of the Lumières were individual liberty and religious tolerance, in opposition to the principle of absolute monarchy and the fixed dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church.<ref name=ELarousse/> The Enlightenment was marked by increasing empiricism, scientific rigor, and reductionism, along with increased questioning of religious orthodoxy.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=citation }}</ref>

French historians traditionally place the Enlightenment between 1715, the year that Louis XIV died, and 1789, the beginning of the French Revolution. Some recent historians begin the period in the 1620s, with the start of the scientific revolution. The Philosophes, the French term for the philosophers of the period, widely circulated their ideas through meetings at scientific academies, Masonic lodges, literary salons and coffee houses, and through printed books and pamphlets. The ideas of the Enlightenment undermined the authority of the monarchy and the church, and prepared the way for the revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries.<ref name=ELarousse/> A variety of 19th-century movements, including liberalism and neo-classicism, trace their intellectual heritage back to the Enlightenment.<ref>Eugen Weber, Movements, Currents, Trends: Aspects of European Thought in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (1992)</ref>

The Age of Enlightenment was preceded by and closely associated with the scientific revolution. Earlier philosophers whose work influenced the Enlightenment included Francis Bacon, Descartes, Locke, and Spinoza.<ref>Sootin, Harry. "Isaac Newton." New York, Messner(1955)</ref> The major figures of the Enlightenment included Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, Adam Smith, and Immanuel Kant. Some European rulers, including Catherine II of Russia, Joseph II of Austria and Frederick I of Prussia, tried to apply Enlightenment thought on religious and political tolerance, which became known as enlightened absolutism. The Americans Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson came to Europe during the period and contributed actively to the scientific and political debate, and the ideals of the Enlightenment were incorporated into the United States Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

The most influential publication of the Enlightenment was the Encyclopédie, compiled by Denis Diderot and (until 1759) by Jean le Rond d’Alembert and a team of 150 scientists and philosophers. It was published between 1751 and 1772 in thirty-five volumes, and spread the ideas of the Enlightenment across Europe and beyond.<ref name=ELarousse>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Other landmark publications were the Dictionnaire philosophique (Philosophical Dictionary, 1764) and Letters on the English (1733) written by Voltaire; Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality (1754) and The Social Contract (1762); and Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws (1748). The ideas of the Enlightenment played a major role in inspiring the French Revolution, which began in 1789. After the Revolution, the Enlightenment was followed by an opposing intellectual movement known as Romanticism.


Age of Enlightenment sections
Intro  Philosophy  Science  Economics and law  Politics  Religion  National variations  Historiography  Society and culture  Dissemination of ideas  Important intellectuals  See also  References  Further reading  External links  

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