Q:

How did the Enlightenment influence society?

A:

Quick Answer

The Enlightenment influenced society in the areas of politics, philosophy, religion and the arts. Both the American and French Revolutions were based on Enlightenment ideals.

Continue Reading
How did the Enlightenment influence society?
Credit: Marion Doss CC-BY-SA 2.0

Full Answer

The Age of Enlightenment, which lasted throughout much of the 17th and 18th centuries, was an intellectual movement which resulted in overturning many old ideas. Leading European thinkers advocated for personal freedoms and free thought. The Enlightenment is sometimes called the Age of Reason because of its emphasis on rationality. Enlightenment thinkers did not trust the established authorities, such as monarchies of the church. They believed individuals could find truth for themselves and improve society by looking to science, reasoning, and dialogue.

This mistrust of authority and faith in the rational abilities of the common man resulted in profound political change, not only in Europe, but across the world. The leaders of the American Revolution were acting on Enlightenment principles when they overthrew the British government and demanded independence. The French Revolution was also an attempt to overcome absolute authority and usher in a new age.

The effects of the Enlightenment are still felt today. The founding fathers established the United States according to Enlightenment ideals. For example, the separation of the government into three branches: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial, and the system of checks and balances was originally developed by French Enlightenment thinker Montesquieu. The system holds the authorities accountable to the people, and is an implementation of the Enlightenment theory that governments should exist only by the will of the governed.

Learn more about Foreign Laws

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What role did Denis Diderot play in the Enlightenment?

    A:

    Denis Diderot had an important influence on the Enlightenment in several ways, but particularly through his editorship of the Encyclopedia. This scholarly work, which consisted of 28 volumes, had contributions from many of the most prominent Enlightenment figures.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the book "Who Owns the Future?"

    A:

    "Who Owns the Future?" is a book written by Tony Kearney about how humanity can address challenges now and in the future by looking at environmentalism, philosophy, science, psychology, language, religion, politics and more. The book takes into consideration factors that include climate change and poverty.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are the disciplines of the humanities?

    A:

    The humanities include the disciplines of history, visual and performing arts, language, music, religion, philosophy, culture and literature. The focus of the humanities is on human culture past and present. People who study the humanities at school may enroll in a program that take an interdisciplinary approach focusing on a specific geographical area or language, or they may pursue such majors as creative writing, history, philosophy or comparative studies.

    Full Answer >
  • Q:

    What are the forms of imperial rule?

    A:

    Historians define four types of imperial government: direct control, indirect control, rule by sphere of influence, and economic imperialism. "Modern World History" further categorizes imperial rule as being formal or informal, depending on whether the imperial nation officially establishes itself as the ruler of a colony.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore