Age of Enlightenment

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The Enlightenment was an intellectual movement 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

The Enlightenment inspired the framework for the American and French Revolutions (among others); the democratic government of the United States is largely an enlightenment innovation.

The liberal ideology, which emphasizes personal liberty (immunity from the arbitrary exercise of authority), arose from Enlightenment ideas.


David Brin views The Enlightenment as a key revolution which replaced a lot of old, bad ideas with a lot of new good ones [1]:

  • 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).