The Age of Reason
The Enlightenment was a consequence of historical circumstances which created the sparks for individuals, from a multitude of backgrounds, the arts, science, philosophy, to share and progress their new ideas and rationale.
- There was a pattern of rebellion against the constraints and previously unchallenged assumptions of tradition and prejudice that had characterised the integration of state and religion, which had been hand-in-hand for so long.
- Blindly observed and previously accepted theories and beliefs in the natural sciences were rejected
- The philosophers from France emerged leading much of the new thinking
- Largely liberal and humanitarian outlook on life, they were particularly critical of the repressiveness and dogmatism of the Roman Catholic Church and rulers who ignored the welfare of their subjects
- The Scientific Revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries provided the foundations and inspiration for the new thinking, including the work of Copernicus, Keplet Galileo and more, who had overturned the belief of religious leaders that the Earth was at the centre of the universe
- Major contributions were forthcoming from Newton, Voltaire, Descartes, John Locke in England to name but a few
- The French Encylopedie compiled by direction of Denis Diderot (between 1751 and 1772) in 28 volumes, for the first time pulled together all the latest philosophic and scientific thinking.
This new way of thinking impacted in many areas of society and particularly opened up the intellectual debate into the need for greater social reform and change.
As Voltaire so aptly wrote:
“Ecrasez l’infame” – Stamp Out the Abuses. Voltaire in a letter dated 26 NOV 1762
this was just a spark in history but it was a very significant one.