Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment, or just The Enlightenment, was a movement in Western philosophy which advocated rationality as a means to establishing an authoritative system of aesthetics, ethics, and logic. It overturned the notions of mysticism and faith in individual revelation as the primary source of knowledge and wisdom.
- Rejected: authority, hierarchy, order, tradition and fanatical religiosity.
- Embraced: "modernism" (in a very particular sense); science, democracy, free markets, individual empowerment, liberty
This seems like a good interpretation to me (though other sources agreeing or disagreeing would be useful).
More from Brin :
- since the 1400s, each century in the West has been shaken almost to the core by new technologies that transformed three things – vision, memory and attention – providing human beings with augmented powers that then triggered crises of confidence.
- printing presses, glass lenses and perspective dramatically expanded what we could know, see and perceive.
- (later) mass education, libraries, telecommunications, databases
- With every new ratchet of progress, fearful voices called for a halt. Distrusting the ability of the masses to cope. Calling it hubris and folly for mankind to pick up powers that had been reserved to gods.
- Fortunately, the masses refused to be cowed. Instead (amid ruction and violence and chaos) we in West gradually-but-relentlessly chose individual empowerment:
- A trend toward dispersal of authority.
- Reciprocal accountability.
- Democratization of vision, memory and attention.