British feminist of the eighteenth century who argued for women's equality with men, even in voting, in her 1792 "Vindication of the Rights of Women."
Philosophe who wrote "Spirit of Laws" in 1748. He described the British model of divided branches of government with checks and balances as the ideal system, later influencing the framing of the U.S. Constitution.
Philosophe who wrote the "Candide", satirizing prejudice, oppressive government, and bigotry. Championed freedom of religion and thought.
Body of Enlightenment thinkers. Most famous for writing "Encyclopedia", a handbook for Enlightenment ideas, etided be Denis Diderot. French term for philosophers.
Age of Enlightenment
Eighteenth-century period of scientific and philosophical innovation in which people investigated human nature and sought to explain reality through rationalism, the notion that truth comes only through rational, logical thinking. This period formed the basis of modern science.
Economic philosophy of a "hands off" approach. Advocates that governments should not in any way interfere with business, as the marketplace provides an "inisible hand" to steer the economy. An early proponent was Adam Smith.
Philosphe who published the "Social Contract." he posited that people are born good but are corrupted e education, laws, and society. He advocated a government based on popular sovereignty and was distrustful of other philosophes' suffocating conformity to "reason."
A person who does not believe in the existence of God. This belief became prominent in the West during the Enlightenment of the 18th century, as scientists and philosophers discovered natural explanations for how the universe operated that did not rely on divine intervention.
European rulers who sought to apply some of the reforms of the 18th century Enlightenment to their governments without giving up their own absolutist authority. These rulers were characterized by legal, administrative, and educational improvements when it suited the state and as a means to enhance its power. Examples of these rulers include Frederick the Great of Prussia (r. 1740-1786), Catherine the Great of Russia (r. 1762-1796), and Joseph II of Austria (r. 1780-1790).
Members of Masonic lodges, social clubs organized around the elaborate secret rituals of stonemasons' guilds. Membership provided a place outside the traditional channels of socializing where nobles and middle-class professionals and even some artisans mingled and shared their common interest in the Enlightenment and reform. The movement began in Great Britain in the early 18th century and spread eastward across Europe. Although not explicitly political, members encouraged equality among its members
A liberal ideology promoted by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832). Based on the writings of John Locke (1632-1704), it argues that the best social and political policies are those that produce - in Bentham's words - "the greatest good for the greatest number" and are therefore the most useful, which, to him, meant liberalism. Liberals supported the Enlightenment ideas of increased personal liberty and free trade in economics.
The doctrine that all political authority derives not from divine right but from an implicit contract between citizens and their rulers. The idea emerged from the writings of Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) and John Locke (1632-1704) in the second half of the 17th century, although each came to different conclusions. Hobbes argued that his version of the doctrine gave the ruler absolute power, while Locke claimed it implied a constitutional agreement between a ruler and representatives of their subjects. Rousseau expanded on the theory in 1762, arguing that the doctrine existed not between a ruler and his or her subjects, but among all members of society, making it every individual's duty to subject their interests to what Rousseau called the "general will."
Informal gatherings, usually sponsored by middle-class or aristocratic women, that provided a forum for new ideas and an opportunity to establish new intellectual contacts among supporters of the Enlightenment in the 18th century. These informal gatherings gave intellectual life an anchor outside the royal court and church-dominated universities and afforded an opportunity to test ideas or present unpublished works.
The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation.
a Scottish moral philosopher and a pioneering political economist. He is a major contributor to the modern perception of free market economics.
German philosopher whose synthesis of rationalism and empiricism, in which he argued that reason is the means by which the phenomena of experience are translated into understanding, marks the beginning of idealism. His classic works include Critique of Pure Reason (1781) and Critique of Practical Reason (1788), in which he put forward a system of ethics based on the categorical imperative.