The Age of Enlightenment
Due date: 18/01/2017 Questions: 0/4
The Age of Enlightenment
Due date:
35 The Philosophes-and Others
The eighteenth century, or at least the years of that century preceding the French Revolution of 1789, is commonly known in European history as the Age of Enlightenment, and though that name raises some difficulties, still there is no other that describes so many features of the time so well.
When was the French Revolution?
When was the "Age of Enlightenment"?
People strongly felt that theirs was an enlightened age, and it is from their own evaluation of themselves that our term Age of Enlightenment is derived. Everywhere there was a freeling that Europeans had at least emerged from a long twilight. The past was generally regarded as a time of barbarism and darkness. The sense of progress was all but universal among the educated classes. It was the belief both of the forward-looking thinkers and writers known as the philosophes and of the forward-looking monarchs, the "enlightened despots," together with their ministers and officials.

The leading ideas of the Enlightenment - optimistic beliefs in the historical advance of reason, science, education, social reform, tolerance, and enlightened government - have been constant themes in the modern world. The Enlightenment, in short, remains a dynamic tradition in cultural and political life. Intellectual debates since the eighteenth century have almost always returned, explicitly or implicitly, to questions about the validity and legacy of Enlightenment conceptions of truth, knowledge, and progress. The Enlightenment has often been challenged or condemned by influential cultural movements ideologies (for example, fascism, ethnic nationalisms). Yet the vehemence of its modern critics confirms the Enlightenment's exceptional, enduring importance in the cultures and politics of modern societies.
Which were the leading ideas of the Enlightenment?
Eighteenth-century critiques of existing regimes and cultural traditions drew increasingly on the ideas of the Enlightenment; indeed, such ideas were contributing by the end of the century to explosive political revolutions in America and Europe. In later centuries, Enlightenment ideas continued to generate opposition to unpopular governments or dominant cultural ideologies or hierarchical social systems, but the Enlightenment was also condemned in many cultures. For its advocates and critics alike, however, the "Age of Enlightenment" has always represented a decisive historical moment or force in the development of "modernity".
Why do both the advocates and critics of the "Age of Enlightenment" agree on it being a "decisive historical moment"?