The Ultimate Guide To Learning About The Enlightenment In World History

Looking to learn more about The Enlightenment, or studying for a test? In this article, we will try to guide you through the major points of The Enlightenment!

The Enlightenment was a period of social, scientific, and political advances. The Enlightenment was after the Renaissance. The Scientific Revolution “sparked” the Enlightenment/was in the same time period. The Scientific Revolution challenged traditional beliefs and emphasized rational thought.

The Basics Of The Enlightenment

The Enlightenment focused on reason, individualism, and skepticism of authority. Many Enlightenment thinkers used reason as the primary source of authority and knowledge. They believed that through reason, humanity could solve problems and improve society. This marked a departure from reliance on religious texts/religious superstition.

Key Principles In The Enlightenment

The Scientific Method: The Enlightenment used the scientific method as a means to obtain correct knowledge. Empirical evidence (evidence collected in an experiment) and observation became central to understanding the natural world and challenging traditional beliefs.

Individualism: Enlightenment thinkers emphasized the importance of the individual person and their rights. Concepts like individual freedom, natural rights, and self-determination gained prominence during this period.

Skepticism: The Enlightenment saw a shift away from religious explanations of the world towards secularism. Skepticism towards religious and traditional beliefs was encouraged, fostering a more critical approach to knowledge.

Key People In The Enlightenment

John Locke: Known for his theory of natural rights, which argued for life, liberty, and property as fundamental rights that governments should protect.

Voltaire: A prominent French philosopher and writer, Voltaire advocated for freedom of thought, expression, and religious tolerance.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Rousseau’s social contract theory influenced political thought with its emphasis on the general will and popular sovereignty.

Montesquieu: Created and advocated for the separation of powers within a government. The United States government uses a very similar system today, with the three branches of government for the United States being the Legislative, Judicial, and Executive.

Key Terms In The Enlightenment

Laissez-Faire: Policy allowing businesses to operate with the government having little to no say in their practices.

Natural Rights: Life, liberty, and property are rights that every human being has according to John Locke.

Checks and Balances: Each branch of government has the power to limit other branches.

The Impact Of The Enlightenment On The World

The Enlightenment had a major impact on the world, defining modern societies and political systems. It played a crucial role in inspiring democratic revolutions, including the American Revolution and the French Revolution.

The Enlightenment’s emphasis on reason led to many scientific and technological advancements, contributing to the Industrial Revolution and shaping the way we approach science today.

Overall, the Enlightenment was a necessary period in world history that focused on reason, individualism, and progress.

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