Summary and characteristics of the Enlightenment or "The Age of Enlightenment"

Summary and characteristics of the Enlightenment or

What was the Enlightenment?

Illustration, also known as "Age of Enlightenment"Was a period in which Western society made considerable progress in many aspects of life.

It was characterized by the utilitarian rationalism of the bourgeois class in its ascendant stage, in which it achieved capitalist structural hegemony and the seizure of political power, although the enlightened despotism tried in vain to avoid it.

Age of Enlightenment was focused on the period between the Second English Revolution of 1688 and the French Revolution of 1789, even though continued in some places until 1830.

Inside of Enlightenment evolution five different phases can be found:

1) The crisis of postnacentist consciousness (1688-1715)
2) The emergence of a new freethinking dominant (1715-1748)
3) The "encyclopedism", full awareness of the movement (1748-1770)
4) The overcoming crisis of his own identity (1770-1789)
4) The non-growth of ideologism, which remained anchored in the old formulas (1789-1830).

The movement originated in Great Britain and spread mainly by France, where it took its own roots and developed in its fullest form, in what became known as the “encyclopedism”.

Outstanding authors of the Age of Enlightenment and the Encyclopedia

Authors like Diderot, D’Alembert, Voltaire, Rousseau or Montesquieu They stood out within this new climate where they wanted to learn and teach what they had learned, publishing works such as “L’Encyclopédie" (the famous Encyclopedia), or the "Dictionnaire philosophique”.

Intellectuals They enjoyed increasing and looser economic independence, which fostered the rapid advance of the enlightenment movement throughout Europe.

Scientific-literary societies were created (clubs, academies, cafes, economic societies) that, together with the periodical press and the internationalization of editions, served as a catalyst for philosophical, political, economic and social development.

Purpose of the Enlightenment

The main idea proposed “illuminate mankind with the lights of reason”.

The thinkers of the time considered reason as an instrument to acquire more than to possess knowledge and it was used to fight "tolerantlythrough anti-metaphysical intellectual debauchery (also known as freethinkers) and of the anti-conformist morality (curiosity and uneasiness, which led to the satisfaction of passions).

Anthropocentrism, Rationalism, Hyper-criticalism, Pragmatism, Imitation, Idealism, and Universalism were the foundations of a philosophy that lacked all-encompassing ambitions in the field of theory, whose greatest exponent was Kant.

The happiness it was a theme that was always present because it was what they wanted to achieve.

They understood that it could be achieved through continued progress and educational processes, but it was also considered as something natural and individual.

All lands were nurtured by this type of theories. For example, ethics he began to speak of utility and pleasure; the economy became interested in human psychology.

Political, economic and social modifications

Were produced links between all human areas, leaving aside certain banalities such as superstition or religious revelations, and opted to reconcile the positive and the rational through sensualist and empiricist forms, a field where they stood out Hume and Locke.

The relativization of all these principles led to pre-dialectical approaches, to the rejection of transcendence and materialism.

In addition, the interest that there was in that academic and intellectual class regarding science, led to great technical progress that would be the precursor of the Industrial Revolution.

TO political level, the principle of the sovereign subordinate to the nation was introduced (popular sovereignty) and the Rousseau's social contract theory, which led to republican and anticolonialist approaches, with which a vision of history was created from the social group and not from the great individuals.

Economic thinking, arisen as a result of commercialism, tended towards physiocracy, liberalism and determined pre-socialisms.

In the field of artistic creation, highlighted the relativity of beauty and academic neoclassicism. Thanks to the influence of philosophy, moralism and the exaltation of sensitivity were recurring themes.

The narrative evolved a lot, giving rise to the modern novel, socio-moral writings and small texts.

The music also developed and the great leap of Purcell to Beethoven, through Vivaldi, Bach, Rameau, Haydn and Mozart.

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.


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