History of europe the enlightenment the enlightenment was both a movement and a state of mind the term represents a phase in the intellectual history of europe but it also serves to define programs of reform in which influential literati inspired by a common faith in the possibility of a better world outlined specific targets for criticism and proposals for action. The age of enlightenment also known as the age of reason or simply the enlightenment was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in europe during the 18th century the century of philosophy some consider the publication of isaac newtons principia mathematica 1687 as the first major enlightenment work french historians traditionally date the . Enlightenment french siecle des lumieres literally century of the enlightened german aufklarung a european intellectual movement of the 17th and 18th centuries in which ideas concerning god reason nature and humanity were synthesized into a worldview that gained wide assent in the west and that instigated revolutionary developments in art philosophy and politics. Instead it was the philosophes of the eighteenth century itself from italy france germany the united states and england indeed all of europe as well as across the atlantic who used words like illuminati aufklarung lumiere and enlightenment to describe the age they believed they had bequeathed to humanity. Enlightenment a philosophical movement in 17th and 18th century europe the age of enlightenment or the age of reason emphasized rationalism key topics the enlightenment also known as the age of reason was a movement that began during the 18th century in europe and the american colonies
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