Intellectual Developments During The Enlightenment

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In the eighteenth century a new period of change swept across Europe because of previous intellectual developments as well as some very strong and independent people who stood up against common belief. The Enlightenment of the eighteenth century was like nothing that had ever occurred in Europe, shortly after the Scientific Revolution, this period was classified as a period where intellectuals “dared to know”. Even though the effects of this period mostly affected the elite few that were able to read, the effects would affect everyone. This period focused on looking back at previous discoveries and making one’s own opinion as well as sharing it with other intellectuals. Before this period could emerge several other intellectual developments…show more content…
The intellectuals of the Enlightenment were called philosophes, but they were not all philosophers, they could be any literary person. Charles de Secondat was a philosophe from the French nobility, and wrote many books. His biggest contribution to this time was his The Spirit of the Laws which used the scientific method to create “natural laws” about social and political relationships between people; but the most important parts of this book were his distinguishment of the three basic types of government, republics, monarchies, and despotism, and the mentions of the importance of separation of power. He would use England as an example of a successful system with separation of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, this would not only be a major contribution to the Enlightenment, but also be critical in the creation of the United States Constitution in the future. François-Marie Arouet is considered one of the greatest figures of the Enlightenment due to his contributions toward religious toleration. Also known as Voltaire, originally a middle-class French boy, he would create plays and epics that impressed many intellectuals, and in his Philosophic Letters on the English he would remark that if there were many religions in England that they would live in peace and harmony. Voltaire would touch on all important intellectual topics, including the criticism of absolute monarchy, with his numerous pamphlets, novels, and other literature. Voltaire not only fought for religious toleration, but also for a religious outlook called deism, that harshly ridiculed Christianity for asking for grace and praying to God; the principles of this outlook was that if God did create the world, he left it to run to its own natural laws. Denis Diderot was
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