Essay by mgsimmonsCollege, UndergraduateA, November 2008

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The 18th century is referred to as the “Age of Enlightenment” in European history. It also includes thinkers from the late century as well, a period which was known as the “Age of Reason.” This entire period was an intellectual movement that the philosophers conducted by trying to understand the world and the place humans hold in it through rational reason and not through religious beliefs. Through rational thinking, the movement tried to understand and gain ethics, aesthetics, and knowledge. The intellectual leaders that led this movement defined themselves as courageous since they were lighting the way out of the period called the “Dark Ages.” This movement gave birth to the American and French Revolutions, as well as the Latin American Independence movement. Capitalism grew under this movement and socialism was born. In music, it runs parallel to the baroque and classical eras in music, and in the arts, the neo-classical period.

In the science movement, it advocates logical positivism. (Frost)There are no strict guidelines about what the elements of the Enlightenment were. However, the main components that were believed to constitute the Enlightenment include: the rationality of the universe i.e. it was believed that the universe can be understood through reason alone. Secondly, that one can arrive at the truth through empirical observation, systematic doubt and the use of reason. Also, that the history of humankind has been one of progress. Human beings and their thinking can be improved through education and by developing their rational facilities. There is no need of religious doctrines to understand the physical and human worlds. In addition, human experience is to be preferred over authority in the understanding of truth. Lastly, another component was that the social and individual lives of a human can be understood in the same way that the natural...