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The Age of Enlightenment was a period that took place after the Renaissance and is characterized by profound changes in mind and attitude of many Europeans. For centuries before, the Roman Catholic Church was a dominant force in society. People believed that by accepting the hardships there were in life, and devoting themselves to God, they could expect a better afterlife. However, at the start of the Renaissance, people began to question the ideas of Christianity. The church authority was gradually being undermined by people such as Copernicus and Galileo, who had new ideas about the universe and Rene Descartes, who said that everything should be doubted until it is proved. At the start of the seventeen hundreds, came the Age of Enlightenment. During this time, there existed a strong desire for knowledge, willingness to exchange new ideas, and a belief that rational thought and action could help solve problems. German Philosopher, Immanual Kent said “The Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his nonage,” nonage meaning immaturity. Man had become mature enough to find his own way. The people became leaders, instead looking at antiquity, and following the ancient Greek traditions and ideas. There was a drive to understand nature and the natural world by methods of science. The enlightenment was a time was people began to question politics, religions and society. Ideas were attacked with new ideas that governed logic and reason. During the enlightenment there existed a religious revolution, a scientific revolution, a technological Revolution and a revolution in the attitudes and minds of man altogether. The ideas and discoveries that took place during the Enlightenment gave birth to our modern world.
The philosophers played a large role in bringing out the radical change during the Enlightenment. They defied traditional boarders and dared to use their own mind to discover new things, and challenge the old. The philosophers changed many aspects of society, regarding religious, political, social and scientific views. Man had finally become mature enough to find his own way, and to understand his own nature and the natural world. From Scotland to Naples, an impressive clan of amazing intellectuals had become passionate and outspoken. The philosophers had a deep and lasting effect on Europe and the rest of the world. Their ideas influenced those who followed. And the concepts and discoveries are still practiced today.
For centuries, Christianity and the church played a significant role in European society. There were strict rules that went along with religion and the church that could not be defied by the people or they would be defying the greatest power; God. Martin Luther, was a prominent person in this revolution. He wrote the 95 Thesis, and, although it was banned, eventually gave freedom to religion. There was a total fundamental transformation due to Martin Luther’s proposals. His ideas constituted things such as fighting for everyday English to be used rather than Latin, and he stated that God could be reached anywhere, at anytime, as opposed to only in the church. People could go to God out of choice. Humanism was one of the greatest legacies of the Enlightenment. Intellectuals began expressing the power of humans versus the power of God. They began to renounce the ideas of Christianity, and ridiculed the concept of miracles ever happening. They thought of God as the mechanic of the universe. He became only a watchmen, and instead of looking up to him, people began to take more responsibility in themselves. The idea that man controlled his own destiny by his own decisions and actions, rather than God whom decided a set fate for each individual. Instead of the old age faith in religion, new ideas and attitudes changed people’s faith in the church and God, and they began to have more faith in themselves.
In addition to a religious revolution that took place during the Enlightenment, there was also a scientific revolution. This revolution was significant in that it took away the old ideas of supernatural power and fate and replaced them with revolutionary discoveries that gave a start to the modern knowledge we have today. Many assumptions about the universe and the human body were changed when innovative discoveries by people such as Johanis Kepler and Issac Newton were made. More focus
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Age of Enlightenment, Scientific revolution, Humanism, Enlightenment in Western secular tradition, Counter-Enlightenment, Deism
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