The Enlightenment

This passage discusses a very important period during the 17th and 18th centuries known as the Enlightenment.

Lexile Level: 1020L

Categories: History Science & Technology


The Enlightenment was a historical period in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Europe and America. At this time, philosophers and intellectuals promoted the idea of rationality. They wanted to break from earlier times, which they dubbed the "Dark Ages." They wanted people to be motivated by reason and the scientific method, not by superstitions and irrationality. They published their writings, and their ideas were also disseminated in salons, coffeehouses, and universities. While Enlightenment thinkers disagreed on many subjects, they were united in a search for universal principles that governed society and nature. They were also concerned with the relationship of the citizen to the ruler or state. The idea that society is a contract between the individual and the state was developed during the Enlightenment. Thomas Jefferson used many Enlightenment ideas when writing the Declaration of Independence. The Enlightenment laid the foundations for democracy and inspired the American and French Revolutions.


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