Age of Enlightenment

Jump to: navigation, search

An Age of Enlightenment is an intellectual movement that stresses reason over tradition.



  1. Eugen Weber, Movements, Currents, Trends: Aspects of European Thought in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (1992)
  2. I. Bernard Cohen, "Scientific Revolution and Creativity in the Enlightenment." Eighteenth-Century Life 7.2 (1982): 41–54.
  3. Sootin, Harry. "Isaac Newton." New York, Messner (1955)
  4. Jeremy Black, "Ancien Regime and Enlightenment. Some Recent Writing on Seventeenth-and Eighteenth-Century Europe," European History Quarterly 22.2 (1992): 247–55.
  5. Robert A. Ferguson, The American Enlightenment, 1750–1820 (1994).
  6. Robert Darnton, The Business of Enlightenment: a publishing history of the Encyclopédie, 1775–1800 (2009).


  • (Pinker, 2018) ⇒ Steven Pinker. (2018). “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.” Penguin. ISBN:0525427570
    • Quote: In his new book, Enlightenment Now, Pinker makes a broader argument that, by all significant measures, humans are making progress. Whereas before he argued that people are more likely to stay alive, now he wants to show that they are also flourishing more than ever across a wide array of areas. Whatever the naysayers might think, human beings are healthier, better fed, and richer than ever before. In spite of some obvious reversals here and there, peace is on the rise, and more people demand and enjoy democracy. Finally, they are happier, by their own testimony. The data he reports shows, for example, that the world has grown 200 times wealthier since [[the Enlightenment, dwarfing growth in all of history to that point. In 1820, Pinker reports, more than 80 percent of human beings lacked basic education, and now more than 80 percent enjoy it.


    • QUOTE: Not only does Pinker argue that these advances fulfill Enlightenment hopes, he proposes they are a direct result of [[the Enlightenment itself, the period beginning after the Renaissance and Reformation when a group of thinkers insisted on the supremacy of rational inquiry over unthinking dogma, forged a commitment to the perfectibility of global life (in spite of the flaws of human nature), and promoted “humanism” — which Pinker defines as a reliance on institutions to counteract the evil and violent propensities of humankind while coaxing the capacity for cosmopolitan sympathy to its maximum. “The Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment set in motion,” he writes, “the process of using knowledge to improve the human condition.” And their plan, Pinker contends, succeeded. As he puts it early in the book, “the Enlightenment has worked.”


    • QUOTE: Progress is a gift of the ideals of the Enlightenment and will continue to the extent that we rededicate ourselves to those ideals. Are the ideals of the Enlightenment too tepid to engage our animal spirits? Is the conquest of disease, famine, poverty, violence and ignorance … boring? Do people need to believe in magic, a father in the sky, a strong chief to protect the tribe, myths of heroic ancestors? I don’t think so. Secular liberal democracies are the happiest and healthiest places on earth, and the favorite destinations of people who vote with their feet. And once you appreciate that the Enlightenment project of applying knowledge and sympathy to enhance human flourishing can succeed, it’s hard to imagine anything more heroic and glorious.