Background And The Enlightenment

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Background to the Enlightenment The Enlightenment was important philosophical, intellectual, cultural, and social movement that spread through Europe in the 1700’s. It involved a new worldview where people looked for answers with reason instead of faith, with a natural approach rather than a supernatural one. These characteristics are shared with an earlier intellectual movement known as the Renaissance. The Enlightenment could be looked at as a continuation of the Renaissance. There is one important difference, though. The Renaissance was associated with the accumulation of past knowledge while the Enlightenment focuses on acquiring new knowledge and clearly involved an effort to break from the past. The Enlightenment was selective in its rejection of past knowledge though. For example, the Middle Ages, a period of complete control from the church, was shunned while classical Greek and Roman knowledge is valued. A major precursor of the Enlightenment was the Scientific Revolution. Many breakthroughs in science such as the theory of gravitation by Newton and many medical discoveries led people to believe that similar progress could be made in other fields if the same methods were applied. Background to Enlightenment Political Thought One of the most heavily influenced areas of thought in the Enlightenment was politics. New ideas from thinkers such as Locke, Montesquieu and Rousseau radically changed how people looked at government. John Locke was an English doctor and
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