The Era of Enlightenment

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The Enlightenment was an era of major social and political change in 18th century Europe. The Enlightenment was centered in France, which at the time was a dominant force in Europe ruled by an oppressive government. During this era, many intellectuals began to question some of the norms and customs of European society, such as monarchy and religious discrimination. These intellectuals helped spread new ideas about human rights and democracy, which helped inspire the revolutions that followed. As stated by Immanuel Kant in his essay, What is Enlightenment?, enlightenment is the realization of people to think for themselves. He believed that most people were too afraid and too lazy to use their own judgments, and instead relied on the teachings of their superiors. During the time period surrounding the enlightenment, the overwhelming influence that monarchs and the church upon the citizens of Europe shaped their lives. At the time, people perceived free thinking to be dangerous. Kant believed the lack of freedom given to citizens of European society to be an obstacle to enlightenment. In his essay, Kant states that, “After the guardians have first made their domestic cattle dumb and have made sure that these placid creatures will not dare take a single step without the harness of the cart to which they are tethered, the guardians then show them the danger which threatens if they try to go alone”. Essentially, he is comparing the relationship between the elite and
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