The Enlightenment1.docx - The Enlightenment The...

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The Enlightenment The Enlightenment was an intellectual movement which took place in Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. As a historical category, the term "Enlightenment" refers to a series of changes in European thought and letters. It is one of the few historical categories that was coined by the people who lived through the era. “The Enlightenment focused on the use of reason and secularism. It also led to new developments in art, philosophy, and especially politics. Enlightenment thinkers, or philosophers, as well as followers of the movement believed that humans could understand the universe and better themselves through the use of reason”. The Enlightenment had its roots in several areas, including the popularization of science, skepticism about religion, as well as travel literature which emphasized that the Christian perception of God was one of many, and not a universal doctrine. Perhaps the most significant root of the Enlightenment was the Scientific Revolution, which affected the perspective of the world Enlightenment philosophers had by influencing them to use logic, reason, and rationalism in order to understand the world. “The scientific revolution (1500-1700) gave rise to the spirit of inquiry, reasoning, and the critical (scientific) method of arriving at the truth”. Major figures of the Enlightenment include Voltaire, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, Isaac Newton and Thomas Jefferson. The Scientific Revolution The origins of the philosophical ideas that would lead to the Enlightenment began during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) as per Susan Abernethy , a Colorado-based historian and writer. This was a long and bloody conflict fought mostly over religion and caused a great deal of social disruption. Men started to question and criticize the concepts of nationalism and warfare." The Age of Exploration, in which Columbus "discovered" the New World, "exposed men to other philosophies and cultures," said Abernethy. "And finally, after centuries of exploitation and abuse by monarchies and the church, regular citizens of Europe were exasperated and began to write and speak up." "In addition, the ideas of the Renaissance led men to examine the tangible world more closely, which led to greater scientific study," Abernethy said. This movement is known as the Scientific Revolution. The Scientific Revolution began with the publication of Nicolaus Copernicus ' heliocentric (sun- centered) universe theory in 1543. The many discoveries of the Scientific Revolution include Johann Kepler 's three laws of planetary motion, Galileo Galilei 's theories of motion and inertia and Tycho Brahe 's new view of the stars and how they work, according to the history department at Indiana University Northwest . The Scientific Revolution ended with Isaac Newton 's discovery of the law of gravitation and understanding of a mechanical universe in the late 1600s.
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With each new scientific discovery, the accepted Judeo-Christian understanding of the universe changed. Gradually, thinkers embraced the Copernican-Newtonian paradigm. This paradigm
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