Age of Enlightenment
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.
- 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.