Hist Mdrn Western Civ.
November 8, 2007
The Age of the Enlightenment best describes the time period from 1688-1815 in
that it encompasses all other aspects of the 18
century such as, reason, science and
revolution. Reason, a rational approach to thought, is one of the most important fractions
of the enlightenment. It was exemplified through great philosophes, leaders and new
religions. The importance of science, or belief in natural law, was illustrated through John
Locke and Isaac Newton. Revolution was extremely prominent, the most well-known
being the French Revolution of 1789. Great thinkers, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau,
redefined the causes of revolution. Each individual ideal, alone, cannot define the 18
century. In fact, each great thinker and each great movement was made up of more than
one enlightened characteristic. When put together, each principle helps to build the larger
Age of Enlightenment.
French philosophes, such as Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Diderot, were made
famous through their use of reason as applied to different changing aspects of the
enlightenment. Montesquieu combined reason and science in
The Spirit of the Laws
order to contribute to political thought. He used the scientific method, a method formed
by reason and rational thinking, in order to conclude the appropriate type of government
for a certain people. Voltaire and Diderot embodied skepticism, or growing
secularization, of the enlightenment. Diderot supported religious toleration, expressed in
, a great work, epitomizing reason as the most practical approach to life.