Enlightenment (Ger. Aufklärung)
- Daniel Heartz
A movement in 18th-century thought dedicated to raising the level of general education by combating superstition and inherited prejudices, and by placing human betterment above preoccupation with the supernatural. ‘The proper study of mankind is man’ (Pope, Essay on Man, 1733). The movement’s origins are placed in English empiricism (Locke, Newton), French rationalism (Descartes, who was greatly admired for his clarity of expression and critical methods) and French scepticism (Bayle). Key figures in the diffusion of what was quite early called ‘les lumières’ were Montesquieu (...