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The Enlightenment which also known as The Age of Enlightenment was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th Century. The Enlightenment or the Century of Philosophy, played an important role in the time period 1700 to 1799. The period was the first time people seriously persuade question about their existence and led to greater achievement in scientific and philosophic fields.
On the surface, the most apparent cause of the Enlightenment was the Thirty Years’ War, which lasted from 1618 to 1648. This horribly destructive war compelled German writers to pen a number of criticisms regarding the ideas of nationalism and warfare. These great writers, such as Hugo Grotius and John Comenius, were some of the first mentors shooting the very first bullet against tradition to propose the better solutions. At the same time, right at the Europe heart, thinkers and scholars began paying more attention in the tangible world to develop more scientific studies, while greater exploration of the world exposed Europe to other cultures and philosophies. Eventually, centuries of mistreatment at the hands of monarchies and the church brought average citizens in Europe to a breaking point, and the most intelligent and vocal finally decided to speak out.
The Enlightenment developed through a snowball effect: small advances triggered larger ones, and before Europe and the world knew it, almost two centuries of philosophizing and innovation had ensued. These studies generally began in the fields of earth science and astronomy, as notables such as Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei took the old, beloved “truths” of Aristotle and disproved them. Thinkers such as René Descartes and Francis Bacon revised the scientific method, setting the stage for Isaac Newton and his landmark discoveries in physics.
In the mid-18th century, Paris, the Europe center, had an explosion of philosophic and scientific activity challenging traditional doctrines and dogmas. The philosophic movement was led by Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who argued for a society based upon reason rather than faith and Catholic doctrine, for a new civil order based on natural law, and for science based on experiments and observation. The political philosopher Montesquieu introduced the idea of a separation of powers in a government, a concept which was enthusiastically adopted by the authors of the United States Constitution. While the Philosophes of the French Enlightenment were not revolutionaries and many were members of the nobility, their ideas played an important part in undermining the legitimacy of the Old Regime and shaping the French Revolution.
The True: Science, Epistemology, and Metaphysics in the Enlightenment. In this era dedicated to human progress, the advancement of the natural sciences is regarded as the main exemplification of, and fuel for, such progress. Isaac Newton’s epochal accomplishment in his Principia Mathematica (1687), which, very briefly described, consists in the comprehension of a diversity of physical phenomena – in particular the motions of heavenly bodies, together with the motions of sublunary bodies – in few relatively simple, universally applicable, mathematical laws, was a great stimulus to the intellectual activity of the eighteenth century and served as a model and inspiration for the researchers of a number of Enlightenment thinkers. Newton’s system strongly encourages the Enlightenment conception of nature as an orderly domain governed by strict mathematical-dynamical laws and the conception of ourselves as capable of knowing those laws and of plumbing the secrets of nature through the exercise of our unaided faculties.
The conception of nature, and of how we know it, changes significantly with the rise of modern science. It belongs centrally to the agenda of Enlightenment philosophy to contribute to the new knowledge of nature, and to provide a metaphysical framework within which to place and interpret this new knowledge. The Enlightenment makes mankind happy, rational and free. The basic reason was by discovering the underlying laws which would organize all knowledge into a clear, rational system, enabling individuals to become enlightened, and the societies in which they live to progress. It was a goal seen as obtainable to the people of the 18th Century. In the 17th Century, the Scientific Revolution had provided a new model for solving problems through rational thought and experimentation, rather than on the authority of religion.
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