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Age of Enlightenment

Age of Enlightenment

Overview
The Age of Enlightenment (or simply the Enlightenment or Age of Reason) was an elite cultural movement
Cultural movement
A cultural movement is a change in the way a number of different disciplines approach their work. This embodies all art forms, the sciences, and philosophies. Historically, different nations or regions of the world have gone through their own independent sequence of movements in culture, but as...

 of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason
Reason
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

 in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state. Originating about 1650–1700, it was sparked by philosophers Baruch Spinoza
Baruch Spinoza
Baruch de Spinoza and later Benedict de Spinoza was a Dutch Jewish philosopher. Revealing considerable scientific aptitude, the breadth and importance of Spinoza's work was not fully realized until years after his death...

 (1632–1677), John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

 (1632–1704), Pierre Bayle
Pierre Bayle
Pierre Bayle was a French philosopher and writer best known for his seminal work the Historical and Critical Dictionary, published beginning in 1695....

 (1647–1706), mathematician Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

 (1643–1727) and Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

 (1694–1778).
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Encyclopedia
The Age of Enlightenment (or simply the Enlightenment or Age of Reason) was an elite cultural movement
Cultural movement
A cultural movement is a change in the way a number of different disciplines approach their work. This embodies all art forms, the sciences, and philosophies. Historically, different nations or regions of the world have gone through their own independent sequence of movements in culture, but as...

 of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason
Reason
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

 in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state. Originating about 1650–1700, it was sparked by philosophers Baruch Spinoza
Baruch Spinoza
Baruch de Spinoza and later Benedict de Spinoza was a Dutch Jewish philosopher. Revealing considerable scientific aptitude, the breadth and importance of Spinoza's work was not fully realized until years after his death...

 (1632–1677), John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

 (1632–1704), Pierre Bayle
Pierre Bayle
Pierre Bayle was a French philosopher and writer best known for his seminal work the Historical and Critical Dictionary, published beginning in 1695....

 (1647–1706), mathematician Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

 (1643–1727) and Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

 (1694–1778). Ruling princes often endorsed and fostered figures and even attempted to apply their ideas of government. The Enlightenment flourished until about 1790–1800, after which the emphasis on reason gave way to Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

's emphasis on emotion and a Counter-Enlightenment
Counter-Enlightenment
"Counter-Enlightenment" is a term used to refer to a movement that arose in the late-18th and early-19th centuries in opposition to the 18th century Enlightenment...

 gained force.

The centre of the Enlightenment was France, where it was based in the salons
Salon (gathering)
A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine taste and increase their knowledge of the participants through conversation. These gatherings often consciously followed Horace's definition of the aims of poetry, "either to...

 and culminated in the great Encyclopédie
Encyclopédie
Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers was a general encyclopedia published in France between 1751 and 1772, with later supplements, revised editions, and translations. It was edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert...

(1751–72) edited by Denis Diderot
Denis Diderot
Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer. He was a prominent person during the Enlightenment and is best known for serving as co-founder and chief editor of and contributor to the Encyclopédie....

 (1713–1784) with contributions by hundreds of leading philosophes (intellectuals) such as Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

 (1694–1778), Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

 (1712–1778) and Montesquieu
Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu
Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu , generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the Enlightenment...

  (1689–1755). Some 25,000 copies of the 35 volume set were sold, half of them outside France. The new intellectual forces spread to urban centres across Europe, notably England, Scotland, the German states, the Netherlands, Russia, Italy, Austria, and Spain, then jumped the Atlantic into the European colonies, where it influenced Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

 and Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

, among many others, and played a major role in the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

. The political ideals influenced the American Declaration of Independence, the United States Bill of Rights
United States Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. These limitations serve to protect the natural rights of liberty and property. They guarantee a number of personal freedoms, limit the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and...

, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is a fundamental document of the French Revolution, defining the individual and collective rights of all the estates of the realm as universal. Influenced by the doctrine of "natural right", the rights of man are held to be universal: valid...

, and the Polish–Lithuanian Constitution of May 3, 1791
Constitution of May 3, 1791
The Constitution of May 3, 1791 was adopted as a "Government Act" on that date by the Sejm of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Historian Norman Davies calls it "the first constitution of its type in Europe"; other scholars also refer to it as the world's second oldest constitution...

.

Use of the term


The term 'Enlightenment' came into use in English during the mid-18th century, with particular reference to French philosophy, as the equivalent of the French term 'Lumières' (used first by Dubos 1733 and already well established by 1751). From Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

's 1784 essay "Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung?" the German term became 'Aufklärung'. The German term synonymous with 'Lumières' and 'Enlightenment' is 'Erleuchtung'. 'Aufklärung' has a quite different meaning: a clearing up. In the spirit of the Enlightenment, Kant's choice of 'Aufklärung' was an intentional correction of the French and English terminology.

According to Kant, The Enlightenment was "Mankind's final coming of age, the emancipation of the human consciousness from an immature state of ignorance and error." According to historian Roy Porter
Roy Porter
Roy Sydney Porter was a British historian noted for his prolific work on the history of medicine.-Life:...

, the thesis of the liberation of the human mind from the dogmatic state of ignorance that he argues was prevalent at the time is the epitome of what the age of enlightenment was trying to capture. According to Bertrand Russell, however, the enlightenment was a phase in a progressive development, which began in antiquity, and that reason and challenges to the established order were constant ideals throughout that time. Russell argues that the enlightenment was ultimately born out of the Protestant reaction against the Catholic counter-reformation, when the philosophical views of the past two centuries crystallized into a coherent world view. He argues that many of the philosophical views, such as affinity for democracy against monarchy, originated among Protestants in the early 16th century to justify their desire to break away from the pope and the Catholic Church. Though many of these philosophical ideals were picked up by Catholics, Russell argues, by the 18th century the Enlightenment was the principal manifestation of the schism that began with Martin Luther.

Chartier (1991) argues that the Enlightenment was only invented after the fact for a political goal. He claims the leaders of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 created an Enlightenment canon of basic text, by selecting certain authors and identifying them with The Enlightenment in order to legitimize their republican political agenda.

Historian Jonathan Israel
Jonathan Israel
Professor Jonathan Irvine Israel is a British writer on Dutch history, the Age of Enlightenment and European Jewry. Israel was appointed the Modern European History Professor in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton Township, New Jersey, U.S...

 dismisses the post-modern interpretation of the Enlightenment and the attempts of modern historians to link social and economical reasons for the revolutionary aspect of the period. He instead focuses on the history of ideas in the period from 1650 to the end of the 18th century, and claims that it was the ideas themselves that caused the change that eventually led to the revolutions of the later half of the 18th century and the early 19th century. Israel argues that until the 1650s Western civilization "was based on a largely shared core of faith, tradition and authority". Up until this date most intellectual debates revolved around "confessional" - that is Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed (Calvinist), or Anglican issues", and the main aim of these debates was to establish which bloc of faith ought to have the "monopoly of truth and a God-given title to authority". After this date everything thus previously rooted in tradition was questioned and often replaced by new concepts in the light of philosophical reason. After the second half of the 17th century and during the 18th century a "general process of rationalization and secularization set in which rapidly overthrew theology's age-old hegemony in the world of study", and that confessional disputes was reduced to a secondary status in favor of the "escalating contest between faith and incredulity". This period saw the shaping of two distinct lines of enlightenment thought: Firstly the radical enlightenment, largely inspired by the one-substance philosophy of Spinoza, which in its political form adhered to: "democracy; racial and sexual equality; individual liberty of lifestyle; full freedom of thought, expression, and the press; eradication of religious authority from the legislative process and education; and full separation of church and state". Secondly the moderate enlightenment, which in a number of different philosophical systems, like those in writings of Descartes, John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

, Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

 or Christian Wolff
Christian Wolff
Christian Wolff may refer to:* Christian Wolff , German actor* Christian Wolff , German composer* Christian Wolff , American composer of experimental classical music...

, expressed some support for critical review and renewal of the old modes of thought, but in other parts sought reform and accommodation with the old systems of power and faith. These two lines of thought were again met by the conservative counter enlightenment, encompassing the thinkers which held unto the traditional belief-based systems of thought.

Timespan


There is little consensus on the precise beginning of the age of Enlightenment; the beginning of the 18th century (1701) or the middle of the 17th century (1650) are often used as an approximate starting point. If taken back to the mid-17th century, the Enlightenment would trace its origins to Descartes
René Descartes
René Descartes ; was a French philosopher and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the 'Father of Modern Philosophy', and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day...

' Discourse on Method
Discourse on Method
The Discourse on the Method is a philosophical and autobiographical treatise published by René Descartes in 1637. Its full name is Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One's Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences .The Discourse on Method is best known...

, published in 1637. Others define the Enlightenment as beginning in Britain's Glorious Revolution
Glorious Revolution
The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, is the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau...

 of 1688 or with the publication of Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

's Principia Mathematica in 1687. Jonathan Israel
Jonathan Israel
Professor Jonathan Irvine Israel is a British writer on Dutch history, the Age of Enlightenment and European Jewry. Israel was appointed the Modern European History Professor in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton Township, New Jersey, U.S...

 argues, "after 1650, everything, no matter how fundamental or deeply rooted, was questioned in the light of philosophic reason". Israel makes the detailed case that, from 1650 to 1750, Spinoza was "the chief challenger of the fundamentals of revealed religion, received ideas, tradition, morality, and what was everywhere regarded, in absolutist and non-absolutist states alike, as divinely constituted political authority."

As to its end, most scholars use the last years of the century – often choosing the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 of 1789 or the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

 (1804–15) as a convenient point in time with which to date the end of the Enlightenment.

National variations


The Enlightenment operated in most countries, but often with a specific local emphasis. For example in France it became associated with anti-government and anti-Church radicalism, while in Germany it reached deep into the middle classes and expressed a spiritualistic and nationalistic tone without threatening governments or established churches. Government responses varied widely. In France the government was hostile, and the philosophes fought against its censorship. They were sometimes imprisoned or hounded into exile. The British government generally ignored the Enlightenment's leaders in England and Scotland, although it did give Isaac Newton a knighthood and a very lucrative government office in charge of the mint.

Enlightened absolutism



In several nations, powerful rulers – called "enlightened despots" by historians – welcomed leaders of the Enlightenment at court and had them help design laws and programs to reform the system, typically to build stronger national states. The most prominent of those rulers were Frederick the Great of Prussia, Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia from 1762 to 1796, and Joseph II
Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor
Joseph II was Holy Roman Emperor from 1765 to 1790 and ruler of the Habsburg lands from 1780 to 1790. He was the eldest son of Empress Maria Theresa and her husband, Francis I...

, Emperor of Austria 1780–1790. Joseph was over-enthusiastic, announcing so many reforms that had so little support, that revolts broke out and his regime became a comedy of errors and nearly all his programs were reversed. Senior ministers Pombal in Portugal and Struensee in Denmark
Johann Friedrich Struensee
Count Johann Friedrich Struensee was a German doctor. He became royal physician to the mentally ill King Christian VII of Denmark and a minister in the Danish government. He rose in power to a position of “de facto” regent of the country, where he tried to carry out widespread reforms...

 governed according to Enlightenment ideals.

Germany


Before 1750 the German upper classes looked to France for intellectual, cultural and architectural leadership; French was the language of high society. By the mid-18th century the German Enlightenment in music, philosophy, science and literature emerged as an intellectual force independent of France. Frederick the Great (1712–86), the king of Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 1740–1786, saw himself as a leader of the Enlightenment and patronized philosophers and scientists at his court in Berlin. He was an enthusiast for French ideas as he ridiculed German culture and was unaware of the remarkable advances it was undergoing. Voltaire, who had been imprisoned and maltreated by the French government, was eager to accept Frederick's invitation to live at his palace. Frederick explained, "My principal occupation is to combat ignorance and prejudice ... to enlighten minds, cultivate morality, and to make people as happy as it suits human nature, and as the means at my disposal permit. Other rulers were supportive, such as Karl Friedrich, Grand Duke of Baden, who ruled Baden for 73 years (1738–1811).

Christian Wolff
Christian Wolff (philosopher)
Christian Wolff was a German philosopher.He was the most eminent German philosopher between Leibniz and Kant...

 (1679–1754) was the pioneer as a writer who expounded the Enlightenment to German readers; he legitimized German as a philosophic language.

Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744–1803) broke new ground in philosophy and poetry, specifically in the Sturm und Drang
Sturm und Drang
Sturm und Drang is a proto-Romantic movement in German literature and music taking place from the late 1760s through the early 1780s, in which individual subjectivity and, in particular, extremes of emotion were given free expression in reaction to the perceived constraints of rationalism...

 movement of proto-Romanticism. Weimar Classicism
Weimar Classicism
Weimar Classicism is a cultural and literary movement of Europe. Followers attempted to establish a new humanism by synthesizing Romantic, classical and Enlightenment ideas...

 ("Weimarer Klassik") was a cultural and literary movement based in Weimar that sought to establish a new humanism by synthesizing Romantic, classical and Enlightenment ideas. The movement, from 1772 until 1805, involved Herder as well as polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

 (1749–1832) and Friedrich Schiller
Friedrich Schiller
Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller was a German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright. During the last seventeen years of his life , Schiller struck up a productive, if complicated, friendship with already famous and influential Johann Wolfgang von Goethe...

 (1759–1805), a poet and historian. Herder argued that every folk had its own particular identity, which was expressed in its language and culture. This legitimized the promotion of German language and culture and helped shape the development of German nationalism. Schiller's plays expressed the restless spirit of his generation, depicting the hero's struggle against social pressures and the force of destiny.

German music, sponsored by the upper classes, came of age under composers Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

 (1685–1750), Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809), and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

 (1756–1791).

In remote Königsberg
Königsberg
Königsberg was the capital of East Prussia from the Late Middle Ages until 1945 as well as the northernmost and easternmost German city with 286,666 inhabitants . Due to the multicultural society in and around the city, there are several local names for it...

 philosopher Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

 (1724–1804) tried to reconcile rationalism and religious belief, individual freedom and political authority. Kant's work contained basic tensions that would continue to shape German thought – and indeed all of European philosophy – well into the 20th century.

The German Enlightenment won the support of princes, aristocrats and the middle classes and permanently reshaped the culture.

England


John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

 was one of the most influential Enlightenment thinkers. He influenced other thinkers such as Rousseau, Voltaire, among others. "He is one of the dozens or so thinkers who are remembered for their influential contributions across a broad spectrum of philosophical subfields--in Locke's case, across epistemology, the philosophy of language, the philosophy of mind, metaphysics, rational theology, ethics, and political philosophy." He is known today for his liberalism in political theory. The main goal that most people remember about him is his famous words of " Life, Liberty and Property." With property he stated that its a natural right derived from labor. He was more of a positive Enlightenment thinker and often disagreed with others that related to Thomas Hobbes.

Scotland




The 18th-century Scottish Enlightenment, embodied by such world-class influential thinkers as Francis Hutcheson
Francis Hutcheson (philosopher)
Francis Hutcheson was a philosopher born in Ireland to a family of Scottish Presbyterians who became one of the founding fathers of the Scottish Enlightenment....

, Adam Smith
Adam Smith
Adam Smith was a Scottish social philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Smith is the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations...

 and David Hume
David Hume
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

, paved the way for the modernization of Scotland and the entire Atlantic world
Atlantic history
Atlantic history is a specialty field in history that studies of the Atlantic World in the early modern period. It is premised on the idea that, following the rise of sustained European contact with the New World in the 16th century, the continents that bordered the Atlantic Ocean—the...

. Hutcheson, the father of the Scottish Enlightenment, championed political liberty and the right of popular rebellion against tyranny. Smith, in his monumental Wealth of Nations (1776), advocated liberty in the sphere of commerce and the global economy. Hume developed philosophical concepts that directly influenced James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

 and thus the U.S. Constitution. In 19th-century Britain, the Scottish Enlightenment, as popularized by Dugald Stewart
Dugald Stewart
Dugald Stewart was a Scottish Enlightenment philosopher and mathematician. His father, Matthew Stewart , was professor of mathematics in the University of Edinburgh .-Life and works:...

, became the basis of classical liberalism.

Scientific progress was led by James Hutton
James Hutton
James Hutton was a Scottish physician, geologist, naturalist, chemical manufacturer and experimental agriculturalist. He is considered the father of modern geology...

 and William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin
William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin
William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin OM, GCVO, PC, PRS, PRSE, was a mathematical physicist and engineer. At the University of Glasgow he did important work in the mathematical analysis of electricity and formulation of the first and second laws of thermodynamics, and did much to unify the emerging...

. James Watt
James Watt
James Watt, FRS, FRSE was a Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer whose improvements to the Newcomen steam engine were fundamental to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution in both his native Great Britain and the rest of the world.While working as an instrument maker at the...

 (instrument maker to the University of Glasgow
University of Glasgow
The University of Glasgow is the fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of Scotland's four ancient universities. Located in Glasgow, the university was founded in 1451 and is presently one of seventeen British higher education institutions ranked amongst the top 100 of the...

), who perfected the crucial technology of the Industrial Revolution: the steam engine.

Russia



In Russia Enlightenment of the mid-eighteenth century saw the government begin to actively encourage the proliferation of arts and sciences. This era produced the first Russian university, library, theatre, public museum, and independent press. Like other enlightened despots
Enlightened absolutism
Enlightened absolutism is a form of absolute monarchy or despotism in which rulers were influenced by the Enlightenment. Enlightened monarchs embraced the principles of the Enlightenment, especially its emphasis upon rationality, and applied them to their territories...

, Catherine the Great played a key role in fostering the arts, sciences, and education. She used her own interpretation of Enlightenment ideals, assisted by notable international experts such as Voltaire (by correspondence) and, in residence, world class scientists such as Leonhard Euler
Leonhard Euler
Leonhard Euler was a pioneering Swiss mathematician and physicist. He made important discoveries in fields as diverse as infinitesimal calculus and graph theory. He also introduced much of the modern mathematical terminology and notation, particularly for mathematical analysis, such as the notion...

, Peter Simon Pallas
Peter Simon Pallas
Peter Simon Pallas was a German zoologist and botanist who worked in Russia.- Life and work :Pallas was born in Berlin, the son of Professor of Surgery Simon Pallas. He studied with private tutors and took an interest in natural history, later attending the University of Halle and the University...

, Fedor Ivanovich Iankovich de Mirievo (also spelled Teodor Janković-Mirijevski), and Anders Johan Lexell
Anders Johan Lexell
Anders Johan Lexell was a Swedish-born Russian astronomer, mathematician, and physicist who spent most of his life in Russia where he is known as Andrei Ivanovich Leksel .Lexell made important discoveries in polygonometry and celestial mechanics; the latter led to a comet named in...

. The national Enlightenment differed from its Western European counterpart in that it promoted further Modernization
Modernization
In the social sciences, modernization or modernisation refers to a model of an evolutionary transition from a 'pre-modern' or 'traditional' to a 'modern' society. The teleology of modernization is described in social evolutionism theories, existing as a template that has been generally followed by...

 of all aspects of Russian life and was concerned with attacking the institution of serfdom in Russia. Historians argue that the Russian enlightenment centered on the individual instead of societal enlightenment and encouraged the living of an enlightened life.

Spain



Charles III
Charles III of Spain
Charles III was the King of Spain and the Spanish Indies from 1759 to 1788. He was the eldest son of Philip V of Spain and his second wife, the Princess Elisabeth Farnese...

, king of Spain from 1759 to 1788, tried to rescue his empire from decay through far-reaching reforms such as weakening the Church and its monasteries, promoting science and university research, facilitating trade and commerce, modernizing agriculture, and avoiding wars. He was unable to control budget deficits, and borrowed more and more. Spain relapsed after his death.

Poland



The Age of Enlightenment reached Poland
History of Poland
The History of Poland is rooted in the arrival of the Slavs, who gave rise to permanent settlement and historic development on Polish lands. During the Piast dynasty Christianity was adopted in 966 and medieval monarchy established...

 later than in Germany or Austria, as szlachta
Szlachta
The szlachta was a legally privileged noble class with origins in the Kingdom of Poland. It gained considerable institutional privileges during the 1333-1370 reign of Casimir the Great. In 1413, following a series of tentative personal unions between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of...

 (nobility) culture (Sarmatism
Sarmatism
"Sarmatism" is a term designating the dominant lifestyle, culture and ideology of the szlachta of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Together with "Golden Liberty," it formed a central aspect of the Commonwealth's culture...

) together with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

 political system
Political system
A political system is a system of politics and government. It is usually compared to the legal system, economic system, cultural system, and other social systems...

 (Golden Freedoms) were in deep crisis. The period of Polish Enlightenment began in the 1730s–40s, peaked in the reign of Poland's last king, Stanisław August Poniatowski (second half of the 18th century), went into decline with the Third Partition of Poland
Third Partition of Poland
The Third Partition of Poland or Third Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth took place in 1795 as the third and last of three partitions that ended the existence of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.-Background:...

 (1795), and ended in 1822, replaced by Romanticism in Poland
Romanticism in Poland
Romanticism in Poland was a literary, artistic and intellectual period in the evolution of Polish culture that began around 1820, coinciding with the publication of Adam Mickiewicz's first poems in 1822. It ended with the suppression of the January 1863 Uprising against the Russian Empire in 1864. ...

. The model constitution of 1791 expressed Enlightenment ideals but was in effect for only one year as the nation was partitioned among its neighbors. More enduring were the cultural achievements, which created a nationalist spirit in Poland.

Goals


No brief summary can do justice to the diversity of enlightened thought in 18th-century Europe. Because it was a value system rather than a set of shared beliefs, there are many contradictory trains to follow. As Outram notes, The Enlightenment comprised "many different paths, varying in time and geography, to the common goals of progress, of tolerance, and the removal of abuses in Church and state."

In his famous essay "What is Enlightenment?
What is Enlightenment?
"Answering the Question: What Is Enlightenment?" is the title of an 1784 essay by the philosopher Immanuel Kant...

" (1784), Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

 described it simply as freedom to use one's own intelligence. More broadly, the Enlightenment period is marked by increasing empiricism, scientific rigor, and reductionism
Reductionism
Reductionism can mean either an approach to understanding the nature of complex things by reducing them to the interactions of their parts, or to simpler or more fundamental things or a philosophical position that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can...

, along with increasing questioning of religious orthodoxy.

Historian Peter Gay
Peter Gay
Peter Gay is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University and former director of the New York Public Library's Center for Scholars and Writers . Gay received the American Historical Association's Award for Scholarly Distinction in 2004...

 asserts the Enlightenment broke through "the sacred circle," whose dogma had circumscribed thinking. The Sacred Circle is a term he uses to describe the interdependent relationship between the hereditary aristocracy, the leaders of the church and the text of the Bible. This interrelationship manifests itself as kings invoking the doctrine "Divine Right of Kings" to rule. Thus church sanctioned the rule of the king and the king defended the church in return.

Zafirovski, (2010) argues that The Enlightenment is the source of critical ideas, such as the centrality of freedom
Freedom (political)
Political freedom is a central philosophy in Western history and political thought, and one of the most important features of democratic societies...

, democracy, and reason as primary values of society – as opposed to the divine right of kings or traditions as the ruling authority. This view argues that the establishment of a contractual basis of rights would lead to the market mechanism
Market mechanism
Market mechanism is a term from economics referring to the use of money exchanged by buyers and sellers with an open and understood system of value and time trade offs to produce the best distribution of goods and services...

 and capitalism
Capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

, the scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

, religious tolerance
Toleration
Toleration is "the practice of deliberately allowing or permitting a thing of which one disapproves. One can meaningfully speak of tolerating, ie of allowing or permitting, only if one is in a position to disallow”. It has also been defined as "to bear or endure" or "to nourish, sustain or preserve"...

, and the organization of states into self-governing republics through democratic means. In this view, the tendency of the philosophes in particular to apply rationality
Rationality
In philosophy, rationality is the exercise of reason. It is the manner in which people derive conclusions when considering things deliberately. It also refers to the conformity of one's beliefs with one's reasons for belief, or with one's actions with one's reasons for action...

 to every problem is considered the essential change. Later critics of The Enlightenment, such as the Romantics
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 of the 19th century, contended that its goals for rationality in human affairs were too ambitious to ever be achieved.

A variety of 19th-century movements, including liberalism
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 and neo-classicism, traced their intellectual heritage back to the Enlightenment.

Social and cultural interpretation


In opposition to the intellectual historiographical approach of the Enlightenment, which examines the various currents, or discourses of intellectual thought within the European context during the 17th and 18th centuries, the cultural (or social) approach examines the changes that occurred in European society and culture. Under this approach, the Enlightenment is less a collection of thought than a process of changing sociabilities and cultural practices – both the "content" and the processes by which this content was spread are now important. Roger Chartier
Roger Chartier
Roger Chartier, born on December 9, 1945 in Lyon, is a French historian and historiographer who is part of the Annales school. He works on the history of books, publishing and reading.- Biography :...

 describes it as follows:
One of the primary elements of the cultural interpretation of the Enlightenment is the rise of the public sphere
Public sphere
The public sphere is an area in social life where individuals can come together to freely discuss and identify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action...

 in Europe. Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of 'communicative rationality' and the 'public sphere'...

 has influenced thinking on the public sphere more than any other, though his model is increasingly called into question. The essential problem that Habermas attempted to answer concerned the conditions necessary for "rational, critical, and genuinely open discussion of public issues". Or, more simply, the social conditions required for Enlightenment ideas to be spread and discussed. His response was the formation in the late 17th century and 18th century of the "bourgeois public sphere", a "realm of communication marked by new arenas of debate, more open and accessible forms of urban public space and sociability, and an explosion of print culture". More specifically, Habermas highlights three essential elements of the public sphere:
  1. it was egalitarian;
  2. it discussed the domain of "common concern";
  3. argument was founded on reason.


James Van Horn Melton provides a good summary of the values of this bourgeois public sphere: its members held reason to be supreme; everything was open to criticism (the public sphere is critical); and its participants opposed secrecy of all sorts. This helps explain what Habermas meant by the domain of "common concern". Habermas uses the term to describe those areas of political/social knowledge and discussion that were previously the exclusive territory of the state and religious authorities, now open to critical examination by the public sphere.

Habermas credits the creation of the bourgeois public sphere to two long-term historical trends: the rise of the modern nation state and the rise of capitalism. The modern nation state in its consolidation of public power created by counterpoint a private realm of society independent of the state – allowing for the public sphere. Capitalism likewise increased society's autonomy and self-awareness, along with creating an increasing need for the exchange of information. As the nascent public sphere expanded, it embraced a large variety of institutions; the most commonly cited being coffee houses and cafés, salons and the literary public sphere, figuratively localized in the Republic of Letters.

Dorinda Outram provides further description of the rise of the public sphere. The context of the rise of the public sphere was the economic and social change commonly grouped under the effects of the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

: "economic expansion, increasing urbanisation, rising population and improving communications in comparison to the stagnation of the previous century". Rising efficiency in production techniques and communication lowered the prices of consumer goods at the same time as it increased the amount and variety of goods available to consumers (including the literature essential to the public sphere). Meanwhile, the colonial experience (most European states had colonial Empires in the 18th century) began to expose European society to extremely heterogeneous cultures. Outram writes that the end result was the breaking down of "barriers between cultural systems, religious divides, gender differences and geographical areas". In short, the social context was set for the public sphere to come into existence.

A reductionist view of the Habermasian model has been used as a springboard to showcase historical investigations into the development of the public sphere. There are many examples of noble and lower class participation in areas such as the coffeehouses and the freemasonic lodges, demonstrating that the bourgeois-era public sphere was enriched by cross-class influences. A rough depiction of the public sphere as independent and critical of the state is contradicted by the diverse cases of government-sponsored public institutions and government participation in debate, along with the cases of private individuals using public venues to promote the status quo.

Exclusivity of the public sphere


The word "public" implies the highest level of inclusivity – the public sphere by definition should be open to all. However, as the analysis of many "public" institutions of the Enlightenment will show, this sphere was only public to relative degrees. Indeed, as Roger Chartier emphasizes, Enlightenment thinkers frequently contrasted their conception of the "public" with that of the people: Chartier cites Condorcet, who contrasted "opinion" with populace; Marmontel
Jean-François Marmontel
Jean-François Marmontel was a French historian and writer, a member of the Encyclopediste movement.-Biography:He was born of poor parents at Bort, Limousin...

 with "the opinion of men of letters" versus "the opinion of the multitude"; and d'Alembert, who contrasted the "truly enlightened public" with "the blind and noisy multitude". As Mona Ozouf underlines, public opinion was defined in opposition to the opinion of the greater population. While the nature of public opinion during the Enlightenment is as difficult to define as it is today, it is nonetheless clear that the body that held it (i.e. the public sphere) was exclusive rather than inclusive. This observation will become more apparent during the descriptions of the institutions of the public sphere, most of which excluded both women and the lower classes.

Social and cultural implications in music


Because of the focus on reason over superstition, the Enlightenment cultivated the arts. Emphasis on learning, art and music became more widespread, especially with the growing middle class. Areas of study such as literature, philosophy, science, and the fine arts increasingly explored subject matter that the general public in addition to the previously more segregated professionals and patrons could relate to.

As musicians depended more and more on public support, public concerts became increasingly popular and helped supplement performers and composers incomes. The concerts also helped them to reach a wider audience. Handel
HANDEL
HANDEL was the code-name for the UK's National Attack Warning System in the Cold War. It consisted of a small console consisting of two microphones, lights and gauges. The reason behind this was to provide a back-up if anything failed....

, for example, epitomized this with his highly public musical activities in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. He gained considerable fame there with performances of his operas and oratorios. The music of Handel and Mozart, with their Viennese Classical styles, are usually regarded as being the most in line with the Enlightenment ideals.

Another important text that came about as a result of Enlightenment values was Charles Burney
Charles Burney
Charles Burney FRS was an English music historian and father of authors Frances Burney and Sarah Burney.-Life and career:...

’s A General History of Music: From the Earliest Ages to the Present Period, originally published in 1776. This text was a historical survey and an attempt to rationalize elements in music systematically over time.

As the economy and the middle class expanded, there were an increasing number of amateur musicians. One manifestation of this involves women; this movement allowed women to become more involved with music on a social level. Though women were not yet in professional roles (except for singers), they contributed to the amateur performers scene, especially with keyboard music.

The desire to explore, record and systematize knowledge had a meaningful impact on music publications. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

’s Dictionnaire de musique (published 1767 in Geneva and 1768 in Paris) was a leading text in the late 18th century. This widely-available dictionary gave short definitions of words like genius and taste, and was clearly influenced by the Enlightenment movement.
Additionally, music publishers began to cater to amateur musicians, putting out music that they could understand and play. The majority of the works that were published were for keyboard, voice and keyboard, and chamber ensemble. After these initial genres were popularized, from the mid-century on, amateur groups sang choral music, which then became a new trend for publishers to capitalize on. The increasing study of the fine arts, as well as access to amateur-friendly published works, led to more people becoming interested in reading and discussing music. Music magazines, reviews, and critical works which suited amateurs as well as connoisseurs began to surface.

Although the ideals of the Enlightenment were rejected in postmodernism
Postmodernism
Postmodernism is a philosophical movement evolved in reaction to modernism, the tendency in contemporary culture to accept only objective truth and to be inherently suspicious towards a global cultural narrative or meta-narrative. Postmodernist thought is an intentional departure from the...

, they held fast in modernism
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

 and have extended well beyond the 18th century even to the present. Recently, musicologists have shown renewed interest in the ideas and consequences of the Enlightenment. For example, Rose Rosengard Subotnik’s Deconstructive Variations (subtitled Music and Reason in Western Society) compares Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (1791) using the Enlightenment and Romantic perspectives, and concludes that the work is “an ideal musical representation of the Enlightenment”.

Dissemination of ideas


The philosophes spent a great deal of energy disseminating their ideas among educated men and women in cosmopolitan cities. They used many venues, some of them quite new.

Schools and universities


In Germany and Scotland, the Enlightenment leaders were based in universities. However, in general the universities and schools of France and most of Europe were bastions of traditionalism and were not hospitable to the Enlightenment. In France the major exception was the medical university at Montpellier.

Learned academies


The history of Academies in France during the Enlightenment begins with the Academy of Science
French Academy of Sciences
The French Academy of Sciences is a learned society, founded in 1666 by Louis XIV at the suggestion of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, to encourage and protect the spirit of French scientific research...

, founded in 1666 in Paris. It was closely tied to the French state, acting as an extension of a government seriously lacking in scientists. It helped promote and organize new disciplines, and it trained new scientists. It also contributed to the enhancement of scientists’ social status, considered them to be the "most useful of all citizens". Academies demonstrate the rising interest in science
Scientific revolution
The Scientific Revolution is an era associated primarily with the 16th and 17th centuries during which new ideas and knowledge in physics, astronomy, biology, medicine and chemistry transformed medieval and ancient views of nature and laid the foundations for modern science...

 along with its increasing secularization, as evidenced by the small number of clerics who were members (13 percent).

The presence of the French academies in the public sphere cannot be attributed to their membership; although the majority of their members were bourgeois, the exclusive institution was only open to elite Parisian scholars. They did perceive themselves to be "interpreters of the sciences for the people". Indeed, it was with this in mind that academians took it upon themselves to disprove the popular pseudo-science of mesmerism.

However, the strongest case for the French Academies being part of the public sphere comes the concours académiques (roughly translated as academic contests) they sponsored throughout France. As Jeremy L. Caradonna argues in a recent article in the Annales, "Prendre part au siècle des Lumières: Le concours académique et la culture intellectuelle au XVIIIe siècle", these academic contests were perhaps the most public of any institution during the Enlightenment.

L’Académie française revived a practice dating back to the Middle Ages when it revived public contests in the mid-17th century. The subject matter was generally religious and/or monarchical, and featured essays, poetry, and painting. By roughly 1725, however, this subject matter had radically expanded and diversified, including "royal propaganda, philosophical battles, and critical ruminations on the social and political institutions of the Old Regime." Controversial topics were not always avoided: Caradonna cites as examples the theories of Newton and Descartes, the slave trade, women's education, and justice in France.

More importantly, the contests were open to all, and the enforced anonymity of each submission guaranteed that neither gender nor social rank would determine the judging. Indeed, although the "vast majority" of participants belonged to the wealthier strata of society ("the liberal arts, the clergy, the judiciary, and the medical profession"), there were some cases of the popular classes submitting essays, and even winning.

Similarly, a significant number of women participated – and won – the competitions. Of a total of 2 300 prize competitions offered in France, women won 49 – perhaps a small number by modern standards, but very significant in an age in which most women did not have any academic training. Indeed, the majority of the winning entries were for poetry competitions, a genre commonly stressed in women's education.

In England, the Royal Society of London also played a significant role in the public sphere and the spread of Enlightenment ideas. In particular, it played a large role in spreading Robert Boyle
Robert Boyle
Robert Boyle FRS was a 17th century natural philosopher, chemist, physicist, and inventor, also noted for his writings in theology. He has been variously described as English, Irish, or Anglo-Irish, his father having come to Ireland from England during the time of the English plantations of...

's experimental philosophy
Experimental philosophy
Experimental philosophy is an emerging field of philosophical inquiry that makes use of empirical data—often gathered through surveys which probe the intuitions of ordinary people—in order to inform research on philosophical questions This use of empirical data is widely seen as opposed to a...

 around Europe, and acted as a clearinghouse for intellectual correspondence and exchange. As Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer have argued, Robert Boyle was "a founder of the experimental world in which scientists now live and operate". Boyle's method based knowledge on experimentation, which had to be witnessed to provide proper empirical legitimacy. This is where the Royal Society came into play: witnessing had to be a "collective act", and the Royal Society's assembly rooms were ideal locations for relatively public demonstrations. However, not just any witness was considered to be credible; "Oxford professors were accounted more reliable witnesses than Oxfordshire peasants." Two factors were taken into account: a witness's knowledge in the area; and a witness's "moral constitution". In other words, only civil society were considered for Boyle's public.

The book industry


The increased consumption of reading materials of all sorts was one of the key features of the "social" Enlightenment. Developments in the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 allowed consumer goods to be produced in greater quantities at lower prices, encouraging the spread of books, pamphlets, newspapers and journals – "media of the transmission of ideas and attitudes". Commercial development likewise increased the demand for information, along with rising populations and increased urbanisation. However, demand for reading material extended outside of the realm of the commercial, and outside the realm of the upper and middle classes, as evidenced by the Bibliothèque Bleue. Literacy rates are difficult to gauge, but Robert Darnton writes that, in France at least, the rates doubled over the course of the 18th century.

Reading underwent serious changes in the 18th century. In particular, Rolf Engelsing has argued for the existence of a "reading revolution". Until 1750, reading was done "intensively: people tended to own a small number of books and read them repeatedly, often to small audience. After 1750, people began to read "extensively", finding as many books as they could, increasingly reading them alone. On the other hand, as Jonathan Israel writes, Gabriel Naudé was already campaigning for the "universal" library in the mid-17th century. And if this was an ideal only realistic for state institutions and the very wealthy (and indeed, an ideal that was seldom achieved), there are records for extremely large private and state-run libraries throughout Europe in the 17th and 18th-centuries.

Of course, the vast majority of the reading public could not afford to own a private library. And while most of the state-run "universal libraries" set up in the 17th and 18th centuries were open to the public, they were not the only sources of reading material.

On one end of the spectrum was the Bibliothèque Bleue, a collection of cheaply produced books published in Troyes, France. Intended for a largely rural and semi-literate audience these books included almanacs, retellings of medieval romances and condensed versions of popular novels, among other things. While historians, such as Roger Chartier and Robert Darnton, have argued against the Enlightenment's penetration into the lower classes, the Bibliothèque Bleue, at the very least, represents a desire to participate in Enlightenment sociability, whether or not this was actually achieved.

Moving up the classes, a variety of institutions offered readers access to material without needing to buy anything. Libraries that lent out their material for a small price started to appear, and occasionally bookstores would offer a small lending library to their patrons. Coffee houses commonly offered books, journals and sometimes even popular novels to their customers. The Tatler and The Spectator
The Spectator
The Spectator is a weekly British magazine first published on 6 July 1828. It is currently owned by David and Frederick Barclay, who also owns The Daily Telegraph. Its principal subject areas are politics and culture...

, two influential periodicals sold from 1709 to 1714, were closely associated with coffee house culture in London, being both read and produced in various establishments in the city. Indeed, this is an example of the triple or even quadruple function of the coffee house: reading material was often obtained, read, discussed and even produced on the premises.

As Darnton describes in The Literary Underground of the Old Regime, it is extremely difficult to determine what people actually read during the Enlightenment. For example, examining the catalogs of private libraries not only gives an image skewed in favor of the classes wealthy enough to afford libraries, it also ignores censured works unlikely to be publicly acknowledged. For this reason, Darnton argues that a study of publishing would be much more fruitful for discerning reading habits.

All across continental Europe, but in France especially, booksellers and publishers had to negotiate censorship laws of varying strictness. The Encyclopédie, for example, narrowly escaped seizure and had to be saved by Malesherbes
Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes
Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes , often referred to as Malesherbes or Lamoignon-Malesherbes, was a French statesman, minister, and afterwards counsel for the defence of Louis XVI.-Biography:...

, the man in charge of the French censure. Indeed, many publishing companies were conveniently located outside of France so as to avoid overzealous French censors. They would smuggle their merchandise – both pirated copies and censured works – across the border, where it would then be transported to clandestine booksellers or small-time peddlers.

Darnton provides a detailed record of one clandestine bookseller's (one de Mauvelain) business in the town of Troyes. At the time, the town's population was 22,000. It had one masonic lodge and an "important" library, even though the literacy rate seems to have been less than 50 percent. Mauvelain's records give us a good representation of what literate Frenchmen might have truly read, since the clandestine nature of his business provided a less restrictive product choice. The most popular category of books was political (319 copies ordered). This included five copies of D’Holbach's Système social, but around 300 libels and pamphlets. Readers were far more interested in sensationalist stories about criminals and political corruption than they were in political theory itself. The second most popular category, "general works" (those books "that did not have a dominant motif and that contained something to offend almost everyone in authority") likewise betrayed the high demand for generally low-brow subversive literature. These works, however, like the vast majority of work produced by Darnton's "grub street hacks", never became part of literary canon, and are largely forgotten today as a result.

Nevertheless, the Enlightenment was not the exclusive domain of illegal literature, as evidenced by the healthy, and mostly legal, publishing industry that existed throughout Europe. "Mostly legal" because even established publishers and book sellers occasionally ran afoul of the law. The Encyclopédie, for example, condemned not only by the King but also by Clement XII, nevertheless found its way into print with the help of the aforementioned Malesherbes and creative use of French censorship law.

But many works were sold without running into any legal trouble at all. Borrowing records from libraries in England, Germany and North America indicate that more than 70 percent of books borrowed were novels; that less than 1 percent of the books were of a religious nature supports a general trend of declining religiosity.

Natural history


A genre that greatly rose in importance was that of scientific literature. Natural history in particular became increasingly popular among the upper classes. Works of natural history include René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur's Histoire naturelle des insectes and Jacques Gautier d'Agoty's La Myologie complète, ou description de tous les muscles du corps humain (1746). However, as François-Alexandre Aubert de La Chesnaye des Bois's Dictionnaire de la Noblesse (1770) indicates, natural history was very often a political affair. As E. C. Spary writes, the classifications used by naturalists "slipped between the natural world and the social ... to establish not only the expertise of the naturalists over the natural, but also the dominance of the natural over the social". From this basis, naturalists could then develop their own social ideals based on their scientific works.

The target audience of natural history was French polite society, evidenced more by the specific discourse of the genre than by the generally high prices of its works. Naturalists catered to polite society's desire for erudition – many texts had an explicit instructive purpose. But the idea of taste (le goût) was the real social indicator: to truly be able to categorize nature, one had to have the proper taste, an ability of discretion shared by all members of polite society. In this way natural history spread many of the scientific development of the time, but also provided a new source of legitimacy for the dominant class.

Scientific and literary journals


The many scientific and literary journals (predominantly composed of book reviews) that were published during this time are also evidence of the intellectual side of the Enlightenment. In fact, Jonathan Israel argues that the learned journals, from the 1680s onwards, influenced European intellectual culture to a greater degree than any other "cultural innovation".

The first journal appeared in 1665– the Parisian Journal des Scavants
Journal des sçavans
The Journal des sçavans , founded by Denis de Sallo, was the earliest academic journal published in Europe, that from the beginning also carried a proportion of material that would not now be considered scientific, such as obituaries of famous men, church history, and legal reports...

– but it was not until 1682 that periodicals began to be more widely produced. French and Latin were the dominant languages of publication, but there was also a steady demand for material in German and Dutch. There was generally low demand for English publications on the Continent, which was echoed by England's similar lack of desire for French works. Languages commanding less of an international market – such as Danish, Spanish and Portuguese – found journal success more difficult, and more often than not, a more international language was used instead. Although German did have an international quality to it, it was French that slowly took over Latin's status as the lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

of learned circles. This in turn gave precedence to the publishing industry in Holland, where the vast majority of these French language periodicals were produced.

Israel divides the journals’ intellectual importance into four elements. First was their role in shifting the attention of the "cultivated public" away from "established authorities" to "what was new, innovative, or challenging." Secondly, they did much to promote the "‘enlightened’ ideals of toleration and intellectual objectivity." Thirdly, the journals were an implicit critique of existing notions of universal truth monopolized by monarchies, parliaments, and religious authorities. The journals suggested a new source of knowledge – through science and reason – that undermined these sources of authority. And finally, they advanced the "Christian Enlightenment", a notion of Enlightenment that, despite its advocacy for new knowledge sources, upheld "the legitimacy of God-ordained authority."

The Republic of Letters



The term "Republic of Letters" was coined by Pierre Bayle
Pierre Bayle
Pierre Bayle was a French philosopher and writer best known for his seminal work the Historical and Critical Dictionary, published beginning in 1695....

 in 1664, in his journal Nouvelles de la Republique des Lettres. Towards the end of the 18th century, the editor of Histoire de la République des Lettres en France, a literary survey, described the Republic of Letters as being:


In the midst of all the governments that decide the fate of men; in the bosom of so many states, the majority of them despotic ... there exists a certain realm which holds sway only over the mind ... that we honour with the name Republic, because it preserves a measure of independence, and because it is almost its essence to be free. It is the realm of talent and of thought.


The ideal of the Republic of Letters was the sum of a number of Enlightenment ideals: an egalitarian realm governed by knowledge that could act across political boundaries and rival state power. It was a forum that supported "free public examination of questions regarding religion or legislation". Immanuel Kant considered written communication essential to his conception of the public sphere; once everyone was a part of the "reading public", then society could be said to be enlightened. The people who participated in the Republic of Letters, such as Diderot and Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

, are frequently known today as important Enlightenment figures. Indeed, the men who wrote Diderot's Encyclopédie arguably formed a microcosm of the larger "republic".

Dena Goodman has argued that women played a major role in French salons – salonnières to complement the male philosophes. Discursively, she bases the Republic of Letters in polite conversation and letter writing; its principal social institution was the salon.

Robert Darnton's The Literary Underground of the Old Regime was the first major historical work to critique this ideal model. He argues that, by the mid-18th century, the established men of letters (gens de lettres) had fused with the elites (les grands) of French society. Consider the definition of "Goût" (taste) as written by Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

 in the Dictionnaire philosophique (taken from Darnton): "Taste is like philosophy. It belongs to a very small number of privileged souls ... It is unknown in bourgeois families, where one is constantly occupied with the care of one's fortune". In the words of Darnton, Voltaire "thought that the Enlightenment should begin with the grands". The historian cites similar opinions from d'Alembert
Jean le Rond d'Alembert
Jean-Baptiste le Rond d'Alembert was a French mathematician, mechanician, physicist, philosopher, and music theorist. He was also co-editor with Denis Diderot of the Encyclopédie...

 and Louis Sébastien Mercier.

Grub Street


Darnton argues that the result of this "fusion of gens de lettres and grands" was the creation of an oppositional literary sphere, Grub Street, the domain of a "multitude of versifiers and would-be authors". These men, lured by the glory of the Republic of Letters, came to Paris to become authors, only to discover that their dreams of literary success were little more than chimeras. The literary market simply could not support large numbers of writers, who, in any case, were very poorly remunerated by the publishing-bookselling guilds. The writers of Grub Street, the Grub Street Hacks, were left feeling extremely bitter about the relative success of their literary cousins, the men of letters.

This bitterness and hatred found an outlet in the literature the Grub Street Hacks produced, typified by the libelle. Written mostly in the form of pamphlets, the libelles "slandered the court, the Church, the aristocracy, the academies, the salons, everything elevated and respectable, including the monarchy itself". Darnton designates Le Gazetier cuirassé by Charles Théveneau de Morande as the prototype of the genre. Consider:


The devout wife of a certain Maréchal de France (who suffers from an imaginary lung disease), finding a husband of that species too delicate, considers it her religious duty to spare him and so condemns herself to the crude caresses of her butler, who would still be a lackey if he hadn't proven himself so robust.


or,


The public is warned that an epidemic disease is raging among the girls of the Opera, that is has begun to reach the ladies of the court, and that it has even been communicated to their lackeys. This disease elongates the face, destroys the complexion, reduces the weight, and causes horrible ravages where it becomes situated. There are lades without teeth, others without eyebrows, and some are completely paralyzed.


It was Grub Street literature that was most read by the reading public during the Enlightenment. More importantly, Darnton argues, the Grub Street hacks inherited the "revolutionary spirit" once displayed by the philosophes, and paved the way for the Revolution by desacralizing figures of political, moral and religious authority in France.

Coffee houses


The first English coffeehouse opened in Oxford in 1650. Brian Cowan argues that Oxford coffeehouses developed into "penny universities", offering a locus of learning that was less formal than structured institutions. These penny universities occupied a significant position in Oxford academic life, as they were frequented by virtuosi, who conducted their research on the premises. According to Cowan, "the coffeehouse was a place for like-minded scholars to congregate, to read, as well as learn from and to debate with each other, but was emphatically not a university institution, and the discourse there was of a far different order than any university tutorial."

Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli – François Procope – established the first café in Paris, the Café Procope
Café Procope
Café Procope, in rue de l'Ancienne Comédie, 6th arrondissement, is called the oldest restaurant of Paris in continuous operation. It was opened in 1694 by the Sicilian Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, with a slyly subversive name adopted from the historian Procopius, whose Secret History, the...

, in 1686; by the 1720s there were around 400 cafés in the city. The Café Procope in particular became a centre of Enlightenment, welcoming such celebrities as Voltaire and Rousseau. The Café Procope was where Diderot and D’Alembert decided to create the Encyclopédie. Robert Darnton
Robert Darnton
Robert Darnton is an American cultural historian, recognized as a leading expert on 18th-century France.-Life:He graduated from Harvard University in 1960, attended Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship, and earned a Ph.D. in history from Oxford in 1964, where he studied with Richard Cobb,...

 in particular has studied Parisian café conversation in great detail. He describes how the cafés were one of the various "nerve centers" for bruits publics, public noise or rumour. These bruits were allegedly a much better source of information than were the actual newspapers available at the time.

Debating societies



The Debating Societies that rapidly came into existence in 1780 London present an almost perfect example of the public sphere during the Enlightenment. Donna T Andrew provides four separate origins:
  • Clubs of fifty or more men who, at the beginning of the 18th century, met in pubs to discuss religious issues and affairs of state.
  • Mooting clubs, set up by law students to practice rhetoric.
  • Spouting clubs, established to help actors train for theatrical roles.
  • John Henley
    John Henley
    John Henley , English clergyman, commonly known as 'Orator Henley', and one of the first entertainers and a precursor to the talk show hosts of today.The son of a vicar, John Henley was born in Melton Mowbray...

    's Oratory, which mixed outrageous sermons with even more absurd questions, like "Whether Scotland be anywhere in the world?"


In any event, popular debating societies began, in the late 1770s, to move into more "genteel", or respectable rooms, a change which helped establish a new standard of sociability: "order, decency, and liberality", in the words of the Religious Society of Old Portugal Street. Respectability was also encouraged by the higher admissions prices (ranging from 6d. to 3s.), which also contributed to the upkeep of the newer establishments. The backdrop to these developments was what Andrew calls "an explosion of interest in the theory and practice of public elocution". The debating societies were commercial enterprises that responded to this demand, sometimes very successfully. Indeed, some societies welcomed from 800 to 1200 spectators a night.
These societies discussed an extremely wide range of topics. One broad area was women: societies debated over "male and female qualities", courtship, marriage, and the role of women in the public sphere. Societies also discussed political issues, varying from recent events to "the nature and limits of political authority", and the nature of suffrage. Debates on religion rounded out the subject matter. It is important to note, however, that the critical subject matter of these debates did not necessarily translate into opposition to the government. In other words, the results of the debate quite frequently upheld the status quo.

From a historical standpoint, one of the most important features of the debating society was their openness to the public; women attended and even participated in almost every debating society, which were likewise open to all classes providing they could pay the entrance fee. Once inside, spectators were able to participate in a largely egalitarian form of sociability that helped spread "Enlightening ideas".

Freemasonic lodges


Historians have recently been debating the extent to which Freemasonry
Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

 was part of, or even a main factor in the Enlightenment. On the one hand, historians agree that the famous leaders of the Enlightenment included Freemasons such as Montesquieu, Voltaire, Pope, Horace Walpole, Sir Robert Walpole, Mozart, Goethe, Frederick the Great, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington. On the other side, historians such as Robert Roswell Palmer
Robert Roswell Palmer
Robert Roswell Palmer , commonly known as R. R. Palmer, was a distinguished American historian at Princeton and Yale universities, who specialized in eighteenth-century France...

 concluded that even in France, Masons were politically "innocuous if not ridiculous" and did not act as a group. American historians, while noting that Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin
Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

 and George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 were indeed active Masons, have downplayed the importance of Freemasonry in the era of the American Revolution because the movement was non-political and included both Patriots and their enemy the Loyalists. Regarding the movement's influence on the European contintent, German historian Reinhart Koselleck claimed that "On the Continent there were two social structures that left a decisive imprint on the Age of Enlightenment: the Republic of Letters and the Masonic lodges.", while professor at University of Glasgow Thomas Munck argues that "although the Masons did promote international and cross-social contacts which were essentially non-religious and broadly in agreement with enlightened values, they can hardly be described as a major radical or reformist network in their own right."

Freemasonic lodges originated from English and Scottish stonemasonic guilds in the 17th century. In the 18th century, they expanded into an extremely widespread collection of interconnected (to varying degrees) men's, and occasionally women's, associations which Margaret Jacob contends had their own mythologies and special codes of conduct - including a communal understanding of liberty and equality inherited from guild sociability – "liberty, fraternity, and equality" The remarkable similarity between these values, which were generally common in Britain as on the Continent, and the French Revolutionary slogan of "Liberté, égalité, fraternité
Liberté, égalité, fraternité
Liberté, égalité, fraternité, French for "Liberty, equality, fraternity ", is the national motto of France, and is a typical example of a tripartite motto. Although it finds its origins in the French Revolution, it was then only one motto among others and was not institutionalized until the Third...

" spawned many conspiracy theories. Notably, Abbé Barruel
Augustin Barruel
Abbé Augustin Barruel was a French Jesuit priest. He is now mostly known for setting forth the conspiracy theory involving the Bavarian Illuminati and the Jacobins in his book Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism published in 1797...

 traced the origins of the Jacobins
Jacobin (politics)
A Jacobin , in the context of the French Revolution, was a member of the Jacobin Club, a revolutionary far-left political movement. The Jacobin Club was the most famous political club of the French Revolution. So called from the Dominican convent where they originally met, in the Rue St. Jacques ,...

 – and hence the Revolution – to the French freemasons.

Freemasonry was officially established on the continent of Europe in 1734, when a lodge was set up in The Hague, although the first "fully formed lodge" appears to have met in 1721 in Rotterdam. Similarly, there are records of a Parisian lodge meeting in 1725 or 1726. As Daniel Roche writes, freemasonry was particularly prevalent in France – by 1789, there were perhaps as many as 100,000 French Masons, making Freemasonry the most popular of all Enlightenment associations. Freemasonry does not appear to have been confined to Western Europe, however, as Margaret Jacob writes of lodges in Saxony in 1729 and in Russia in 1731.

Conspiracy theories aside, it is likely that masonic lodges had an effect on society as a whole. Jacob argues that they "reconstituted the polity and established a constitutional form of self-government, complete with constitutions and laws, elections and representatives". In other words, the micro-society set up within the lodges constituted a normative model for society as a whole. This was especially true on the Continent: when the first lodges began to appear in the 1730s, their embodiment of British values was often seen as threatening by state authorities. For example, the Parisian lodge that met in the mid 1720s was composed of English Jacobite
Jacobitism
Jacobitism was the political movement in Britain dedicated to the restoration of the Stuart kings to the thrones of England, Scotland, later the Kingdom of Great Britain, and the Kingdom of Ireland...

 exiles.

Furthermore, freemasons all across Europe made reference to the Enlightenment in general in the 18th century. In French lodges, for example, the line "As the means to be enlightened I search for the enlightened" was a part of their initiation rites. British lodges assigned themselves the duty to "initiate the unenlightened". This did not necessarily link lodges to the irreligious, but neither did this exclude them from the occasional heresy. In fact, many lodges praised the Grand Architect, the masonic terminology for the divine being who created a scientifically ordered universe.

On the other hand, Daniel Roche contests freemasonry's claims for egalitarianism, writing that "the real equality of the lodges was elitist", only attracting men of similar social backgrounds. This lack of real equality was made explicit by the constitution of the Lausanne Switzerland lodge (1741):


The order of freemasons is a society of confraternity and equality, and to this end is represented under the emblem of a level ... a brother renders to another brother the honour and deference that is justly due him in proportion to his rank in the civil society.


Elitism was beneficial for some members of society. The presence, for example, of noble women in the French "lodges of adoption" that formed in the 1780s was largely due to the close ties shared between these lodges and aristocratic society.

A historiographical overview


Enlightenment historiography
Historiography
Historiography refers either to the study of the history and methodology of history as a discipline, or to a body of historical work on a specialized topic...

 began in the period itself, from what "Enlightenment figures" said about their work. A dominant element was the intellectual angle they took. D'Alembert's Preliminary Discourse of l'Encyclopédie provides a history of the Enlightenment which comprises a chronological list of developments in the realm of knowledge – of which the Encyclopédie
Encyclopédie
Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers was a general encyclopedia published in France between 1751 and 1772, with later supplements, revised editions, and translations. It was edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert...

forms the pinnacle. A more philosophical example of this was the 1783 essay contest (in itself an activity typical of the Enlightenment) announced by the Berlin newspaper Berlinische Monatsschrift, which asked that very question: "What is Enlightenment?" Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn
Moses Mendelssohn
Moses Mendelssohn was a German Jewish philosopher to whose ideas the renaissance of European Jews, Haskalah is indebted...

 was among those who responded, referring to Enlightenment as a process by which man was educated in the use of reason (Jerusalem
Jerusalem (Mendelssohn)
Jerusalem or On Religious Power and Judaism is the title of a book written by Moses Mendelssohn, which was first published in 1783 – the same year, when the Prussian officer Christian Wilhelm von Dohm published the second part of his Mémoire Concerning the amelioration of the civil status of the...

, 1783). Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

 also wrote a response, referring to Enlightenment as "man's release from his self-incurred tutelage", tutelage being "man's inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another". This intellectual model of interpretation has been adopted by many historians since the 18th century, and is perhaps the most commonly used interpretation today.

Dorinda Outram provides a good example of a standard, intellectual definition of the Enlightenment:
Like the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, the Enlightenment has long been hailed as the foundation of modern Western political and intellectual culture. It has been frequently linked to the French Revolution of 1789. However, as Roger Chartier points out, it was perhaps the Revolution that "invented the Enlightenment by attempting to root its legitimacy in a corpus of texts and founding authors reconciled and united ... by their preparation of a rupture with the old world". In other words, the revolutionaries elevated to heroic status those philosophers, such as Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

 and Rousseau, who could be used to justify their radical break with the Ancien Régime. In any case, two 19th-century historians of the Enlightenment, Hippolyte Taine
Hippolyte Taine
Hippolyte Adolphe Taine was a French critic and historian. He was the chief theoretical influence of French naturalism, a major proponent of sociological positivism, and one of the first practitioners of historicist criticism. Literary historicism as a critical movement has been said to originate...

 and Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville was a French political thinker and historian best known for his Democracy in America and The Old Regime and the Revolution . In both of these works, he explored the effects of the rising equality of social conditions on the individual and the state in...

, did much to solidify this link of Enlightenment causing revolution and the intellectual perception of the Enlightenment itself.

In his l Régime (1876), Hippolyte Taine
Hippolyte Taine
Hippolyte Adolphe Taine was a French critic and historian. He was the chief theoretical influence of French naturalism, a major proponent of sociological positivism, and one of the first practitioners of historicist criticism. Literary historicism as a critical movement has been said to originate...

 traced the roots of the French Revolution back to French Classicism. However, this was not without the help of the scientific view of the world [of the Enlightenment], which wore down the "monarchical and religious dogma of the old regime". In other words then, Taine was only interested in the Enlightenment insofar as it advanced scientific discourse and transmitted what he perceived to be the intellectual legacy of French classicism.

Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis de Tocqueville
Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville was a French political thinker and historian best known for his Democracy in America and The Old Regime and the Revolution . In both of these works, he explored the effects of the rising equality of social conditions on the individual and the state in...

 painted a more elaborate picture of the Enlightenment in L'Ancien Régime et la Révolution (1850). For de Tocqueville, the Revolution was the inevitable result of the radical opposition created in the 18th century between the monarchy and the men of letters of the Enlightenment. These men of letters constituted a sort of "substitute aristocracy that was both all-powerful and without real power". This illusory power came from the rise of "public opinion", born when absolutist centralization removed the nobility and the bourgeosie from the political sphere. The "literary politics" that resulted promoted a discourse of equality and was hence in fundamental opposition to the monarchical regime.

From a historiographical point of view, de Tocqueville presents an interesting case. He was primarily concerned with the workings of political power under the Ancien Régime and the philosophical principles of the men of letters. However, there is a distinctly social quality to his analysis. In the words of Chartier, de Tocqueville "clearly designates ... the cultural effects of transformation in the forms of the exercise of power". Nevertheless, for a serious cultural approach, one has to wait another century for the work of historians such as Robert Darnton, The Business of Enlightenment: A Publishing History of the Encyclopédie, 1775–1800 (1979).

In the meantime, though, intellectual history remained the dominant historiographical trend. The German scholar Ernst Cassirer
Ernst Cassirer
Ernst Cassirer was a German philosopher. He was one of the major figures in the development of philosophical idealism in the first half of the 20th century...

 is typical, writing in his The Philosophy of the Enlightenment (19321951) that the Enlightenment was " a part and a special phase of that whole intellectual development through which modern philosophic thought gained its characteristic self-confidence and self-consciousness". Borrowing from Kant, Cassirer states that Enlightenment is the process by which the spirit "achieves clarity and depth in its understanding of its own nature and destiny, and of its own fundamental character and mission". In short, the Enlightenment was a series of philosophical, scientific and otherwise intellectual developments that took place mostly in the 18th century – the birthplace of intellectual modernity.

Recent work


Only in the 1970s did interpretation of the Enlightenment allow for a more heterogeneous and even extra-European vision. A. Owen Aldridge
A. Owen Aldridge
Alfred Owen Aldridge was a professor of French and comparative literature, founder-editor of the journal Comparative Literature Studies, and author of books on a wide range of literature studies.-Career:...

 demonstrated how Enlightenment ideas spread to Spanish colonies and how they interacted with indigenous cultures, while Franco Venturi explored how the Enlightenment took place in normally unstudied areas – Italy, Greece, the Balkans, Poland, Hungary, and Russia.

Robert Darnton
Robert Darnton
Robert Darnton is an American cultural historian, recognized as a leading expert on 18th-century France.-Life:He graduated from Harvard University in 1960, attended Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship, and earned a Ph.D. in history from Oxford in 1964, where he studied with Richard Cobb,...

's cultural approach launched a new dimension of studies. He said, :


"Perhaps the Enlightenment was a more down-to-earth affair than the rarefied climate of opinion described by textbook writers, and we should question the overly highbrow, overly metaphysical view of intellectual life in the eighteenth century."


Darnton examines the underbelly of the French book industry in the 18th century, examining the world of book smuggling and the lives of those writers (the "Grub Street Hacks") who never met the success of their philosophe
Philosophe
The philosophes were the intellectuals of the 18th century Enlightenment. Few were primarily philosophers; rather they were public intellectuals who applied reason to the study of many areas of learning, including philosophy, history, science, politics, economics and social issues...

cousins. In short, rather than concerning himself with Enlightenment canon, Darnton studies "what Frenchmen wanted to read", and who wrote, published and distributed it.
Similarly, in The Business of Enlightenment. A Publishing History of the Encyclopédie 1775–1800, Darnton states that there is no need to further study the encyclopædia itself, as "the book has been analyzed and anthologized dozen of times: to recapitulate all the studies of its intellectual content would be redundant". He instead, as the title of the book suggests, examines the social conditions that brought about the production of the Encyclopédie. This is representative of the social interpretation as a whole – an examination of the social conditions that brought about Enlightenment ideas rather than a study of the ideas themselves.

The work of German philosopher Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of 'communicative rationality' and the 'public sphere'...

 was central to this emerging social interpretation; his seminal work The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (published under the title Strukturwandel der Öffentlicheit in 1962) was translated into English in 1989. The book outlines the creation of the "bourgeois public sphere" in 18th century Europe. Essentially, this public sphere describes the new venues and modes of communication allowing for rational exchange that appeared in the 18th century. Habermas argued that the public sphere was bourgeois, egalitarian, rational, and independent from the state, making it the ideal venue for intellectuals to critically examine contemporary politics and society, away from the interference of established authority.

Habermas's work, though influential, has come under criticism on all fronts. While the public sphere is generally an integral component of social interpretations of the Enlightenment, numerous historians have brought into question whether the public sphere was bourgeois, oppositional to the state, independent from the state, or egalitarian.

These historiographical developments have done much to open up the study of Enlightenment to a multiplicity of interpretations. In A Social History of Truth (1994), for example, Steven Shapin makes the largely sociological argument that, in 17th-century England, the mode of sociability known as civility became the primary discourse of truth; for a statement to have the potential to be considered true, it had to be expressed according to the rules of civil society.

Feminist interpretations have also appeared, with Dena Goodman being one notable example. In The Republic of Letters: A Cultural History of the French Enlightenment (1994), Goodman argues that many women in fact played an essential part in the French Enlightenment, due to the role they played as salonnières in Parisians salons. These salons "became the civil working spaces of the project of Enlightenment" and women, as salonnières, were "the legitimate governors of [the] potentially unruly discourse" that took place within. On the other hand, Carla Hesse, in The Other Enlightenment: How French Women Became Modern (2001), argues that "female participation in the public cultural life of the Old Regime was ... relatively marginal". It was instead the French Revolution, by destroying the old cultural and economic restraints of patronage and corporatism (guilds), that opened French society to female participation, particularly in the literary sphere.

All this is not to say that intellectual interpretations no longer exist. Jonathan Israel, for example, in Enlightenment Contested: Philosophy, Modernity, and the Emancipation of Man, 1670–1752 (2006), constructs an argument that is primarily intellectual in scope. Like many historians before him, he sets the Enlightenment within the context of the French Revolution to follow. Israel argues that only an intellectual interpretation can adequately explain the radical break with Ancien Régime society.

Important intellectuals



  • Thomas Abbt
    Thomas Abbt
    Thomas Abbt was a German mathematician and writer.Born in Ulm, Abbt visited a secondary school in Ulm, then moved in 1756 to study theology, philosophy and mathematics at the University of Halle, receiving a Magister degree in 1758...

     (1738–1766) German. Author of "Vom Tode für's Vaterland" (On dying for one's nation).
  • Jean le Rond d'Alembert
    Jean le Rond d'Alembert
    Jean-Baptiste le Rond d'Alembert was a French mathematician, mechanician, physicist, philosopher, and music theorist. He was also co-editor with Denis Diderot of the Encyclopédie...

     (1717–1783) French. Mathematician and physicist, one of the editors of Encyclopédie.
  • Francis Bacon
    Francis Bacon
    Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Albans, KC was an English philosopher, statesman, scientist, lawyer, jurist, author and pioneer of the scientific method. He served both as Attorney General and Lord Chancellor of England...

     (1561–1626) English philosopher who started the revolution in empirical thought that characterized much of the enlightenment.
  • Pierre Bayle
    Pierre Bayle
    Pierre Bayle was a French philosopher and writer best known for his seminal work the Historical and Critical Dictionary, published beginning in 1695....

     (1647–1706) French. Literary critic known for his newsletter "Nouvelles de la république des lettres" and his powerful Dictionnaire historique et critique, and one of the earliest influences on the Enlightenment thinkers to advocate tolerance between the difference religious beliefs.
  • Cesare Beccaria (1738–1794) Italian. criminal law reformer, best known for his treatise On Crimes and Punishments (1764).
  • Balthasar Bekker
    Balthasar Bekker
    Balthasar Bekker was a Dutch minister and author of philosophical and theological works. Opposing superstition, he was a key figure in the end of the witchcraft persecutions in early modern Europe.-Life:...

     (1634–1698) Dutch, a key figure in the Early Enlightenment. In his book De Philosophia Cartesiana (1668) Bekker argued that theology and philosophy each had their separate terrain and that Nature can no more be explained from Scripture than can theological truth be deduced from Nature.
  • George Berkeley
    George Berkeley
    George Berkeley , also known as Bishop Berkeley , was an Irish philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called "immaterialism"...

     (1685–1753) Irish. Philosopher and mathematician famous for developing the theory of subjective idealism.
  • Justus Henning Boehmer (1674–1749), German ecclesiastical jurist, one of the first reformer of the church law and the civil law which was basis for further reforms and maintained until the 20th century.
  • James Boswell
    James Boswell
    James Boswell, 9th Laird of Auchinleck was a lawyer, diarist, and author born in Edinburgh, Scotland; he is best known for the biography he wrote of one of his contemporaries, the English literary figure Samuel Johnson....

     (1740–1795) Scottish. Biographer of Samuel Johnson, helped established the norms for writing biography in general.
  • G.L. Buffon
    Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon
    Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon was a French naturalist, mathematician, cosmologist, and encyclopedic author.His works influenced the next two generations of naturalists, including Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Georges Cuvier...

     (1707–1788) French biologist. Author of L'Histoire Naturelle considered Natural Selection and the similarities between humans and apes.
  • Edmund Burke
    Edmund Burke
    Edmund Burke PC was an Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party....

     (1729–1797) Irish. Parliamentarian and political philosopher, best known for pragmatism, considered important to both Enlightenment and conservative thinking.
  • Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle
    Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle
    Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle , also called Bernard Le Bouyer de Fontenelle, was a French author.Fontenelle was born in Rouen, France and died in Paris just one month before his 100th birthday. His mother was the sister of great French dramatists Pierre and Thomas Corneille...

     (1657–1757)
  • Dimitrie Cantemir
    Dimitrie Cantemir
    Dimitrie Cantemir was twice Prince of Moldavia . He was also a prolific man of letters – philosopher, historian, composer, musicologist, linguist, ethnographer, and geographer....

     (1673–1723) Romanian. Philosopher, historian, composer, musicologist, linguist, ethnographer, and geographer.
  • Francisco Javier Clavijero
    Francisco Javier Clavijero
    Francisco Javier Clavijero Echegaray , was a Novohispano Jesuit teacher, scholar and historian...

     (1731–1787) Mexican. Historian, best known for his Antique History of Mexico.
  • Marquis de Condorcet
    Marquis de Condorcet
    Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, marquis de Condorcet , known as Nicolas de Condorcet, was a French philosopher, mathematician, and early political scientist whose Condorcet method in voting tally selects the candidate who would beat each of the other candidates in a run-off election...

     (1743–1794) French. Philosopher, mathematician, and early political scientist who devised the concept of a Condorcet method.
  • James Cook
    James Cook
    Captain James Cook, FRS, RN was a British explorer, navigator and cartographer who ultimately rose to the rank of captain in the Royal Navy...

     (1728–1779) – British naval captain. Explored much of the Pacific including New Zealand, Australia, New Caledonia and Hawaii.
  • Ekaterina Dashkova (1743–1810) Russian. Director of the Imperial Academy of Arts and Sciences (known now as the Russian Academy of Sciences).
  • Denis Diderot
    Denis Diderot
    Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer. He was a prominent person during the Enlightenment and is best known for serving as co-founder and chief editor of and contributor to the Encyclopédie....

     (1713–1784) French. Founder of the Encyclopédie, speculated on free will and attachment to material objects, contributed to the theory of literature.
  • French Encyclopédistes (1700s)
  • Denis Fonvizin
    Denis Fonvizin
    Denis Ivanovich Fonvizin was a playwright of the Russian Enlightenment, whose plays are still staged today. His main works are two satirical comedies which mock contemporary Russian gentry.-Life:...

     (1744–1792) Russian. Writer and playwright.
  • José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia
    José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia
    200px|right|thumb|José Gaspar Rodríguez de FranciaDr. José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia y Velasco was the first leader of Paraguay following its independence from Spain...

     (1766–1840) Paraguay
    Paraguay
    Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

    an. First president of Paraguay. Introduced radical political ideas never-before seen in South America to Paraguay, making his country prosperous and more secure than any other in South-America.
  • Benjamin Franklin
    Benjamin Franklin
    Dr. Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A noted polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, musician, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat...

     (1706–1790) American. Statesman, scientist, political philosopher, author. As a philosopher known for his writings on nationality, economic matters, aphorisms published in Poor Richard's Almanac and polemics in favor of American Independence. Involved with writing the United States Declaration of Independence
    United States Declaration of Independence
    The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

     and the Constitution of 1787.
  • Edward Gibbon
    Edward Gibbon
    Edward Gibbon was an English historian and Member of Parliament...

     (1737–1794) English. Historian best known for his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer, pictorial artist, biologist, theoretical physicist, and polymath. He is considered the supreme genius of modern German literature. His works span the fields of poetry, drama, prose, philosophy, and science. His Faust has been called the greatest long...

     (1749–1832) is closely identified with Enlightenment values, progressing from Sturm und Drang
    Sturm und Drang
    Sturm und Drang is a proto-Romantic movement in German literature and music taking place from the late 1760s through the early 1780s, in which individual subjectivity and, in particular, extremes of emotion were given free expression in reaction to the perceived constraints of rationalism...

    ("Storm and Stress"); leader in Weimar Classicism
    Weimar Classicism
    Weimar Classicism is a cultural and literary movement of Europe. Followers attempted to establish a new humanism by synthesizing Romantic, classical and Enlightenment ideas...

    .
  • Olympe de Gouges
    Olympe de Gouges
    Olympe de Gouges , born Marie Gouze, was a French playwright and political activist whose feminist and abolitionist writings reached a large audience....

     (1748–1793), French playwright and activist who championed feminist politics.
  • Alexander Hamilton
    Alexander Hamilton
    Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

     (1755–1804) American. Economist, political theorist and politician. A major protagonist for the Constitution of the United States, and the single greatest contributor to the Federalist Papers
    Federalist Papers
    The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 articles or essays promoting the ratification of the United States Constitution. Seventy-seven of the essays were published serially in The Independent Journal and The New York Packet between October 1787 and August 1788...

    , advocating for the constitution's ratification through detailed examinations of its construction, philosophical and moral basis, and intent.
  • Joseph Haydn
    Joseph Haydn
    Franz Joseph Haydn , known as Joseph Haydn , was an Austrian composer, one of the most prolific and prominent composers of the Classical period. He is often called the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet" because of his important contributions to these forms...

     (1732–1809) Austrian composer who revolutionized the symphonic form.
  • Claude Adrien Helvétius
    Claude Adrien Helvétius
    Claude Adrien Helvétius was a French philosopher and littérateur.-Life:...

     (1715–1771)
  • Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744–1803) German. Theologian and linguist. Proposed that language determines thought, introduced concepts of ethnic study and nationalism, influential on later Romantic thinkers. Early supporter of democracy and republican self rule.
  • Thomas Hobbes
    Thomas Hobbes
    Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury , in some older texts Thomas Hobbs of Malmsbury, was an English philosopher, best known today for his work on political philosophy...

     (1588–1679) English philosopher, who wrote Leviathan
    Leviathan (book)
    Leviathan or The Matter, Forme and Power of a Common Wealth Ecclesiasticall and Civil — commonly called simply Leviathan — is a book written by Thomas Hobbes and published in 1651. Its name derives from the biblical Leviathan...

    , a key text in political philosophy. While Hobbes justifies absolute monarchy, this work is the first to posit that the temporal power of a monarch comes about, not because God has ordained that he be monarch, but because his subjects have freely yielded their own power and freedom to him - in other words, Hobbes replaces the divine right of kings
    Divine Right of Kings
    The divine right of kings or divine-right theory of kingship is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God...

     with an early formulation of the social contract
    Social contract
    The social contract is an intellectual device intended to explain the appropriate relationship between individuals and their governments. Social contract arguments assert that individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept...

    . Hobbes' work was condemned by reformers for its defense of absolutism, and by traditionalists for its claim that the power of government derives from the power of its subjects rather than the will of God.
  • Baron d'Holbach
    Baron d'Holbach
    Paul-Henri Thiry, Baron d'Holbach was a French-German author, philosopher, encyclopedist and a prominent figure in the French Enlightenment. He was born Paul Heinrich Dietrich in Edesheim, near Landau in the Rhenish Palatinate, but lived and worked mainly in Paris, where he kept a salon...

     (1723–1789) French. Author, encyclopaedist and Europe's first outspoken atheist. Roused much controversy over his criticism of religion as a whole in his work The System of Nature
    The System of Nature
    The System of Nature or, the Laws of the Moral and Physical World is a work of philosophy by Paul Henri Thiry, Baron d'Holbach . It was originally published under the name of Jean-Baptiste de Mirabaud, a deceased member of the French Academy of Science...

    .
  • Robert Hooke
    Robert Hooke
    Robert Hooke FRS was an English natural philosopher, architect and polymath.His adult life comprised three distinct periods: as a scientific inquirer lacking money; achieving great wealth and standing through his reputation for hard work and scrupulous honesty following the great fire of 1666, but...

     (1635–1703) English, probably the leading experimenter of his age, Curator of Experiments for the Royal Society. Performed the work which quantified such concepts as Boyle's Law
    Boyle's law
    Boyle's law is one of many gas laws and a special case of the ideal gas law. Boyle's law describes the inversely proportional relationship between the absolute pressure and volume of a gas, if the temperature is kept constant within a closed system...

     and the inverse-square nature of gravitation, father of the science of microscopy.
  • David Hume
    David Hume
    David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

     (1711–1776) Scottish. Historian, philosopher and economist. Best known for his empiricism and rational skepticism
    Scientific skepticism
    Scientific skepticism is the practice of questioning the veracity of claims lacking empirical evidence or reproducibility, as part of a methodological norm pursuing "the extension of certified knowledge". For example, Robert K...

    , advanced doctrines of naturalism and material causes. Influenced Kant and Adam Smith.
  • Immanuel Kant
    Immanuel Kant
    Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

     (1724–1804) German. Philosopher and physicist. Established critical philosophy on a systematic basis, proposed a material theory for the origin of the solar system, wrote on ethics and morals. Prescribed a politics of Enlightenment in What is Enlightenment? (1784). Influenced by Hume
    David Hume
    David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

     and Isaac Newton
    Isaac Newton
    Sir Isaac Newton PRS was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, alchemist, and theologian, who has been "considered by many to be the greatest and most influential scientist who ever lived."...

    . Important figure in German Idealism, and important to the work of Fichte
    Johann Gottlieb Fichte
    Johann Gottlieb Fichte was a German philosopher. He was one of the founding figures of the philosophical movement known as German idealism, a movement that developed from the theoretical and ethical writings of Immanuel Kant...

     and Hegel
    Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
    Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was a German philosopher, one of the creators of German Idealism. His historicist and idealist account of reality as a whole revolutionized European philosophy and was an important precursor to Continental philosophy and Marxism.Hegel developed a comprehensive...

    .
  • Thomas Jefferson
    Thomas Jefferson
    Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

     (1743–1826) American. Statesman, political philosopher, educator. As a philosopher best known for the United States Declaration of Independence
    United States Declaration of Independence
    The Declaration of Independence was a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. John Adams put forth a...

     (1776), especially "All men are created equal," and his support of democracy in theory and practice. A polymath, he promoted higher education as a way to uplift the entire nation .
  • Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos
    Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos
    Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos was an Asturian-born Spanish neoclassical statesman, author, philosopher and a major figure of the Age of Enlightenment in Spain.-Life:...

     (1744–1811), Main figure of the Spanish Enlightenment. Preeminent statesman.
  • Hugo Kołłątaj (1750–1812) Polish. He was active in the Commission for National Education and the Society for Elementary Textbooks, and reformed the Kraków Academy, of which he was rector in 1783–86. He co-authored the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's Constitution of May 3, 1791, and founded the Assembly of Friends of the Government Constitution to assist in the document's implementation.
  • Ignacy Krasicki
    Ignacy Krasicki
    Ignacy Krasicki , from 1766 Prince-Bishop of Warmia and from 1795 Archbishop of Gniezno , was Poland's leading Enlightenment poet , a critic of the clergy, Poland's La Fontaine, author of the first Polish novel, playwright, journalist, encyclopedist, and translator from French and...

     (1735–1801): Polish. Leading poet of the Polish Enlightenment.
  • Antoine Lavoisier
    Antoine Lavoisier
    Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier , the "father of modern chemistry", was a French nobleman prominent in the histories of chemistry and biology...

     (1743–1794)French; a founder of modern chemistry; executed in the French Revolution for his politics
  • Gottfried Leibniz
    Gottfried Leibniz
    Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German philosopher and mathematician. He wrote in different languages, primarily in Latin , French and German ....

     (1646–1716) German philosopher & mathematician; rival of Newton.
  • Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
    Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
    Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was a German writer, philosopher, dramatist, publicist, and art critic, and one of the most outstanding representatives of the Enlightenment era. His plays and theoretical writings substantially influenced the development of German literature...

     (1729–1781) German. Dramatist, critic, political philosopher. Created theatre in the German language
  • Carl von Linné (Carl Linnaeus) (1707–1778) Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy
  • John Locke
    John Locke
    John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

     (1632–1704) English Philosopher. Important empiricist who expanded and extended the work of Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes. Seminal thinker in the realm of the relationship between the state and the individual, the contractual basis of the state and the rule of law. Argued for personal liberty emphasizing the rights of property.
  • Mikhail Lomonosov
    Mikhail Lomonosov
    Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov was a Russian polymath, scientist and writer, who made important contributions to literature, education, and science. Among his discoveries was the atmosphere of Venus. His spheres of science were natural science, chemistry, physics, mineralogy, history, art,...

     (1711–1765) Russian. Polymath, scientist and writer, who made important contributions to literature, education, and science.
  • James Madison
    James Madison
    James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

     (1751–1836) American. Statesman and political philosopher. Played a key role in the writing of the United States Constitution
    United States Constitution
    The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

     and providing a theoretical justification for it in his contributions to the Federalist Papers
    Federalist Papers
    The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 articles or essays promoting the ratification of the United States Constitution. Seventy-seven of the essays were published serially in The Independent Journal and The New York Packet between October 1787 and August 1788...

    ; author of the American Bill of Rights.
  • Moses Mendelssohn
    Moses Mendelssohn
    Moses Mendelssohn was a German Jewish philosopher to whose ideas the renaissance of European Jews, Haskalah is indebted...

     (1729–1786) German. Philosopher of Jewish Enlightenment in Prussia (Haskalah), honoured by his friend Lessing
    Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
    Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was a German writer, philosopher, dramatist, publicist, and art critic, and one of the most outstanding representatives of the Enlightenment era. His plays and theoretical writings substantially influenced the development of German literature...

     in his drama as Nathan the Wise.
  • James Burnett, Lord Monboddo
    James Burnett, Lord Monboddo
    James Burnett, Lord Monboddo was a Scottish judge, scholar of linguistic evolution, philosopher and deist. He is most famous today as a founder of modern comparative historical linguistics . In 1767 he became a judge in the Court of Session. As such, Burnett adopted an honorary title based on his...

     (1714–1799) Scottish. Philosopher, jurist, pre-evolutionary thinker and contributor to linguistic evolution. See Scottish Enlightenment
    Scottish Enlightenment
    The Scottish Enlightenment was the period in 18th century Scotland characterised by an outpouring of intellectual and scientific accomplishments. By 1750, Scots were among the most literate citizens of Europe, with an estimated 75% level of literacy...

  • Josef Vratislav Monse
    Josef Vratislav Monse
    Josef Vratislav Monse was a Moravian lawyer and historian.He was a leading enlightenment figure in the Habsburg Monarchy and an early exponent of the Czech National Revival in Moravia. Monse played a key role in the development of modern Moravian Historiography...

     (1733–1793) Czech. Professor of Law at University of Olomouc, leading figure of Enlightenment in the Habsburg Monarchy
    Habsburg Monarchy
    The Habsburg Monarchy covered the territories ruled by the junior Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg , and then by the successor House of Habsburg-Lorraine , between 1526 and 1867/1918. The Imperial capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611, when it was moved to Prague...

  • Benito Jerónimo Feijóo y Montenegro (1676–1764) Spanish, was the most prominent promoter of the critical empiricist attitude at the dawn of the Spanish Enlightenment. See also the Spanish Martín Sarmiento
    Martín Sarmiento
    Martín Sarmiento or Martiño Sarmiento, also Father Sarmiento , was a Spanish scholar, writer and Benedictine monk, illustrious representative of the Enlightenment in Spain.He wrote on a wide variety of subjects, including Literature, Medicine, Botany,...

     (1695–1772)
  • Montesquieu
    Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu
    Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu , generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the Enlightenment...

     (1689–1755) French political thinker. He is famous for his articulation of the theory of separation of powers, taken for granted in modern discussions of government and implemented in many constitutions all over the world. Political scientist, Donald Lutz, found that Montesquieu was the most frequently quoted authority on government in colonial America.
  • Leandro Fernández de Moratín
    Leandro Fernández de Moratín
    Leandro Fernández de Moratín was a Spanish dramatist, translator and neoclassical poet.-Biography:Moratín was born in Madrid the son of Nicolás Fernández de Moratín, a major literary reformer in Spain from 1762 until his death in 1780.Distrusting the teaching offered in Spain's universities at...

     (1760–1828) Spanish. Dramatist and translator, support of republicanism and free thinking. Transitional figure to Romanticism.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

     (1756–1791) Austrian. A leading composer of the era.
  • José Celestino Mutis
    José Celestino Mutis
    -External links:*** at The Catholic Encyclopedia official site...

     (1755–1808), Spanish botanist; lead the first botanic expeditions to South America, and built a major collection of plants.
  • Nikolay Novikov
    Nikolay Novikov
    Nikolay Ivanovich Novikov was a Russian writer and philanthropist most representative of his country's Enlightenment. Frequently considered to be the first Russian journalist, he aimed at advancing the cultural and educational level of the Russian public....

     (1744–1818) Russian. Philanthropist and journalist who sought to raise the culture of Russian readers and publicly argued with the Empress. See Russian Enlightenment
    Russian Enlightenment
    The Russian Age of Enlightenment was a period in the eighteenth century in which the government began to actively encourage the proliferation of arts and sciences. This time gave birth to the first Russian university, library, theatre, public museum, and relatively independent press...

    .
  • Zaharije Orfelin
    Zaharije Orfelin
    Zaharije Orfelin was an 18th-century Serb polymath who lived and worked in the Austrian Monarchy and Venice. Described as a Renaissance man, he was an educator, administrator, poet, engraver, lexicographer, herbalist, historian, winemaker, translator, editor, publisher, polemicist, and traveler...

     (1726–1785) Serbian. Polymath-poet, writer, historian, translator, engraver, editor, publisher, etc.
  • Dositej Obradović
    Dositej Obradovic
    Dositej Dimitrije Obradović was a Serbian author, philosopher, linguist, polyglot and the first minister of education of Serbia...

     (1739–1811) Serbian. Writer, linguist and influential proponent of Serbian cultural nationalism.
  • Thomas Paine
    Thomas Paine
    Thomas "Tom" Paine was an English author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States...

     (1737–1809) English/American pamphleteer, most famous for Common Sense
    Common Sense (pamphlet)
    Common Sense is a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine. It was first published anonymously on January 10, 1776, during the American Revolution. Common Sense, signed "Written by an Englishman", became an immediate success. In relation to the population of the Colonies at that time, it had the largest...

    (1776) calling for American independence as the most rational solution
  • William Paley
    William Paley
    William Paley was a British Christian apologist, philosopher, and utilitarian. He is best known for his exposition of the teleological argument for the existence of God in his work Natural Theology, which made use of the watchmaker analogy .-Life:Paley was Born in Peterborough, England, and was...

     (1743–1805) English theologian known for his exposition of the teleological argument and rational religion.
  • Marquis of Pombal (1699–1782) Portuguese statesman notable for his swift and competent leadership in the aftermath of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. He also implemented sweeping economic policies to regulate commercial activity and standardize quality throughout the country.
  • Stanisław August Poniatowski (1732–98), the last king of independent Poland, a leading light of the Enlightenment in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and co-author of one of the world's first modern constitutions, the Constitution of May 3, 1791
    Constitution of May 3, 1791
    The Constitution of May 3, 1791 was adopted as a "Government Act" on that date by the Sejm of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Historian Norman Davies calls it "the first constitution of its type in Europe"; other scholars also refer to it as the world's second oldest constitution...

    .
  • François Quesnay
    François Quesnay
    François Quesnay was a French economist of the Physiocratic school. He is known for publishing the "Tableau économique" in 1758, which provided the foundations of the ideas of the Physiocrats...

     (1694–1774) French economist of the Physiocratic school. * Alexander Radishchev
    Alexander Radishchev
    Alexander Nikolayevich Radishchev was a Russian author and social critic who was arrested and exiled under Catherine the Great. He brought the tradition of radicalism in Russian literature to prominence with the publication in 1790 of his Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow...

     (1749–1802) Russian. Writer and philosopher. He brought the tradition of radicalism in Russian literature
    Russian literature
    Russian literature refers to the literature of Russia or its émigrés, and to the Russian-language literature of several independent nations once a part of what was historically Russia or the Soviet Union...

     to prominence.
  • Thomas Reid
    Thomas Reid
    The Reverend Thomas Reid FRSE , was a religiously trained Scottish philosopher, and a contemporary of David Hume, was the founder of the Scottish School of Common Sense, and played an integral role in the Scottish Enlightenment...

     (1710–1796) Scottish. Philosopher who developed Common Sense Realism.
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

     (1712–1778) Swiss political philosopher; influenced many Enlightenment figures but did not himself believe in primacy of reason and is closer to Romanticism
    Romanticism
    Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

    .
  • Adam Smith
    Adam Smith
    Adam Smith was a Scottish social philosopher and a pioneer of political economy. One of the key figures of the Scottish Enlightenment, Smith is the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments and An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations...

     (1723–1790) Scottish economist and philosopher. He wrote The Wealth of Nations
    The Wealth of Nations
    An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title The Wealth of Nations, is the magnum opus of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith...

    , in which he argued that wealth was not money in itself, but wealth was derived from the added value in manufactured items produced by both invested capital and labour. He is sometimes considered to be the founding father of the laissez-faire economic theory, but in fact argues for some degree of government control in order to maintain equity. Just prior to this he wrote Theory of Moral Sentiments, explaining how it is humans function and interact through what he calls sympathy, setting up important context for The Wealth of Nations.
  • Baruch Spinoza
    Baruch Spinoza
    Baruch de Spinoza and later Benedict de Spinoza was a Dutch Jewish philosopher. Revealing considerable scientific aptitude, the breadth and importance of Spinoza's work was not fully realized until years after his death...

     (1632–1677) Dutch philosopher who helped lay the groundwork for the 18th-century Enlightenment.
  • Alexander Sumarokov
    Alexander Sumarokov
    Alexander Petrovich Sumarokov was a Russian poet and playwright who single-handedly created classical theatre in Russia, thus assisting Mikhail Lomonosov to inaugurate the reign of classicism in Russian literature....

     (1717–1777) Russian. Poet and playwright who created classical theatre in Russia
  • Emanuel Swedenborg
    Emanuel Swedenborg
    was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, and theologian. He has been termed a Christian mystic by some sources, including the Encyclopædia Britannica online version, and the Encyclopedia of Religion , which starts its article with the description that he was a "Swedish scientist and mystic." Others...

     (1688–1772) Natural philosopher and theologian whose search for the operation of the soul in the body led him to construct a detailed metaphysical model for spiritual-natural causation.
  • Voltaire
    Voltaire
    François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

     (François-Marie Arouet) (1694–1778) French. Highly influential writer, historian and philosopher. He promoted Newtonian ism and denounced organized religion as pernicious.
  • Adam Weishaupt
    Adam Weishaupt
    Johann Adam Weishaupt was a German philosopher and founder of the Order of Illuminati, a secret society with origins in Bavaria.-Early life:...

     (1748–1830) German who founded the Order of the Illuminati.
  • Christian Wolff
    Christian Wolff (philosopher)
    Christian Wolff was a German philosopher.He was the most eminent German philosopher between Leibniz and Kant...

     (1679–1754) German philosopher.
  • Mary Wollstonecraft
    Mary Wollstonecraft
    Mary Wollstonecraft was an eighteenth-century British writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights. During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children's book...

     (1759–1797) British writer, and pioneer feminist.

See also

  • American Enlightenment
    American Enlightenment
    The American Enlightenment is the intellectual thriving period in America in the mid-to-late 18th century, especially as it relates to American Revolution on the one hand and the European Enlightenment on the other...

  • Atlantic Revolutions
    Atlantic Revolutions
    "Atlantic Revolutions" is a cover term for a wave of late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century revolutions associated with Atlantic history during the The Age of Enlightenment.* Corsican Revolution * American Revolution...

     (American Revolution, French Revolution, Latin American Revolutions, etc.)
  • Counter-Enlightenment
    Counter-Enlightenment
    "Counter-Enlightenment" is a term used to refer to a movement that arose in the late-18th and early-19th centuries in opposition to the 18th century Enlightenment...

  • Deism
    Deism
    Deism in religious philosophy is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world, without the need for organized religion, can determine that the universe is the product of an all-powerful creator. According to deists, the creator does not intervene in human affairs or suspend the...

  • Enlightened absolutism
    Enlightened absolutism
    Enlightened absolutism is a form of absolute monarchy or despotism in which rulers were influenced by the Enlightenment. Enlightened monarchs embraced the principles of the Enlightenment, especially its emphasis upon rationality, and applied them to their territories...

  • European and American voyages of scientific exploration
    European and American voyages of scientific exploration
    The era of European and American voyages of scientific exploration followed the Age of Discovery and were inspired by a new confidence in science and reason that arose in the Age of Enlightenment...

  • Public Sphere
    Public sphere
    The public sphere is an area in social life where individuals can come together to freely discuss and identify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action...

  • Science in the Age of Enlightenment
    Science in the Age of Enlightenment
    The scientific history of the Age of Enlightenment traces developments in science and technology during the Age of Reason, when Enlightenment ideas and ideals were being disseminated across Europe and North America...


Reference and surveys

  • Becker, Carl L. The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers. (1932)
  • Bronner, Stephen Eric. The Great Divide: The Enlightenment and its Critics
  • Burns, William. Science in the Enlightenment: An Encyclopædia (2003) 353pp
  • Chisick, Harvey. Historical Dictionary of the Enlightenment. 2005. 512 pp
  • Delon, Michel. Encyclopædia of the Enlightenment (2001) 1480pp
  • Dupre, Louis
    Louis Dupre
    Louis Dupre is a Catholic phenomenologist and religious philosopher. He was the T. Lawrason Riggs Professor in Yale University's religious studies department from 1973 to 1998, after which he became Professor Emeritus...

    . The Enlightenment & the Intellectual Foundations of Modern Culture 2004
  • Gay, Peter
    Peter Gay
    Peter Gay is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University and former director of the New York Public Library's Center for Scholars and Writers . Gay received the American Historical Association's Award for Scholarly Distinction in 2004...

    . The Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Paganism (1966, 2nd ed. 1995), 952 pp; excerpt and text search vol 1; The Enlightenment: The Science of Freedom, (1969 2nd ed. 1995), a highly influential study excerpt and text search vol 2;
  • Greensides F, Hyland P, Gomez O (ed.). The Enlightenment (2002)
  • Fitzpatrick, Martin et al., eds. The Enlightenment World. (2004). 714pp; 39 essays by scholars online edition
  • Hazard, Paul. European thought in the 18th century: From Montesquieu to Lessing (1965)
  • Humphreys, Kenneth. Jesus never existed (2005) Welcome to the enlightenment
  • Himmelfarb, Gertrude
    Gertrude Himmelfarb
    Gertrude Himmelfarb , also known as Bea Kristol, is an American historian. She has written extensively on intellectual history, with a focus on Britain and the Victorian era, as well as on contemporary society and culture....

    . The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenments (2004) excerpt and text search
  • Jacob, Margaret Enlightenment: A Brief History with Documents 2000
  • Kors, Alan Charles
    Alan Charles Kors
    Alan Charles Kors is Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches the intellectual history of the 17th and 18th centuries. He has received both the Lindback Foundation Award and the Ira Abrams Memorial Award for distinguished college teaching. Dr. Kors graduated summa...

    . Encyclopædia of the Enlightenment (4 vol. 1990; 2nd ed. 2003), 1984pp excerpt and text search; also complete text online at www.oxfordreference.com
  • Munck, Thomas. Enlightenment: A Comparative Social History, 1721–1794 England. (1994)
  • Outram, Dorinda. The Enlightenment(1995) 157pp excerpt and text search
  • Outram, Dorinda. Panorama of the Enlightenment (2006), emphasis on Germany; heavily illustrated
  • Porter, Roy. The Enlightenment (2nd ed. 2001) excerpt and text search
  • Reill, Peter Hanns, and Wilson, Ellen Judy. Encyclopædia of the Enlightenment. (2nd ed. 2004). 670 pp.
  • Yolton, John W. et al. The Blackwell Companion to the Enlightenment. 1992. 581 pp.

Specialty studies

  • Aldridge, A. Owen
    A. Owen Aldridge
    Alfred Owen Aldridge was a professor of French and comparative literature, founder-editor of the journal Comparative Literature Studies, and author of books on a wide range of literature studies.-Career:...

     (ed.).
    The Ibero-American Enlightenment (1971).
  • Andrew, Donna T. "Popular Culture and Public Debate: London 1780". The Historical Journal, Vol. 39, No. 2. (June 1996), pp 405–423. in JSTOR
  • Brewer, Daniel. The Enlightenment Past: reconstructing 18th-century French thought. (2008).
  • Broadie, Alexander. The Scottish Enlightenment: The Historical Age of the Historical Nation (2007)
  • Broadie, Alexander. The Cambridge Companion to the Scottish Enlightenment (2003) excerpt and text search
  • Bronner, Stephen Eric. Interpreting the Enlightenment: Metaphysics, Critique, and Politics, 2004
  • Brown, Stuart, ed. British Philosophy in the Age of Enlightenment (2002)
  • Buchan, James. Crowded with Genius: The Scottish Enlightenment: Edinburgh's Moment of the Mind (2004) excerpt and text search
  • Campbell, R.S. and Skinner, A.S., (eds.) The Origins and Nature of the Scottish Enlightenment, Edinburgh, 1982
  • Cassirer, Ernst
    Ernst Cassirer
    Ernst Cassirer was a German philosopher. He was one of the major figures in the development of philosophical idealism in the first half of the 20th century...

    .
    The Philosophy of the Enlightenment. 1955. a highly influential study by a neoKantian philosopher excerpt and text search
  • Chartier, Roger
    Roger Chartier
    Roger Chartier, born on December 9, 1945 in Lyon, is a French historian and historiographer who is part of the Annales school. He works on the history of books, publishing and reading.- Biography :...

    .
    The Cultural Origins of the French Revolution. Translated by Lydia G. Cochrane. Duke University Press, 1991.
  • Cowan, Brian, The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffeehouse. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005.
  • Darnton, Robert
    Robert Darnton
    Robert Darnton is an American cultural historian, recognized as a leading expert on 18th-century France.-Life:He graduated from Harvard University in 1960, attended Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship, and earned a Ph.D. in history from Oxford in 1964, where he studied with Richard Cobb,...

    .
    The Literary Underground of the Old Regime. (1982).
  • Edelstein, Dan. The Enlightenment: A Genealogy (University of Chicago Press; 2010) 209 pages
  • Goodman, Dena. The Republic of Letters: A Cultural History of the French Enlightenment. (1994).
  • Hesse, Carla. The Other Enlightenment: How French Women Became Modern. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.
  • Hankins, Thomas L. Science and the Enlightenment (1985).
  • Israel, Jonathan I. Enlightenment Contested: Philosophy, Modernity, and the Emancipation of Man 1670–1752 (2008)
  • Israel, Jonathan
    Jonathan Israel
    Professor Jonathan Irvine Israel is a British writer on Dutch history, the Age of Enlightenment and European Jewry. Israel was appointed the Modern European History Professor in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton Township, New Jersey, U.S...

    .
    Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity, 1650–1750. (2001).
  • Israel, Jonathan. A Revolution of the Mind - Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy. (2009).
  • May, Henry F. The Enlightenment in America. 1976. 419 pp.
  • Melton, James Van Horn. The Rise of the Public in Enlightenment Europe. (2001).
  • Porter, Roy. The Creation of the Modern World: The Untold Story of the British Enlightenment. 2000. 608 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Redkop, Benjamin. The Enlightenment and Community, 1999
  • Reid-Maroney, Nina. Philadelphia's Enlightenment, 1740–1800: Kingdom of Christ, Empire of Reason. 2001. 199 pp.
  • Roche, Daniel. France in the Enlightenment. (1998).
  • Sorkin, David. The Religious Enlightenment: Protestants, Jews, and Catholics from London to Vienna (2008)
  • Staloff, Darren. Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson: The Politics of Enlightenment and the American Founding. 2005. 419 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Till, Nicholas. Mozart and the Enlightenment: Truth, Virtue, and Beauty in Mozart's Operas. 1993. 384 pp.
  • Venturi, Franco. Utopia and Reform in the Enlightenment. George Macaulay Trevelyan Lecture, (1971)

Primary sources

  • Broadie, Alexander, ed. The Scottish Enlightenment: An Anthology (2001) excerpt and text search
  • Diderot, Denis.
    Denis Diderot
    Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer. He was a prominent person during the Enlightenment and is best known for serving as co-founder and chief editor of and contributor to the Encyclopédie....

     
    Rameau's Nephew and First Satire.'(2008).
  • Diderot, Denis.
    Denis Diderot
    Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer. He was a prominent person during the Enlightenment and is best known for serving as co-founder and chief editor of and contributor to the Encyclopédie....

    The Encyclopédie of Diderot and D'Alembert: Selected Articles (1969) excerpt and text search
  • Gomez, Olga, et al. eds. The Enlightenment: A Sourcebook and Reader (2001) excerpt and text search
  • Kramnick, Issac, ed. The Portable Enlightenment Reader(1995) excerpt and text search