Compare and contrast the Great Awakening and the Enlightenment.  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Both the Great Awakening and the Enlightenment were eighteenth-century movements. They were both influential throughout the British Atlantic, including Great Britain's North American colonies. They both featured an emphasis on the individual, including a movement toward individual and universal rights. But in many ways the similarities end there. The Great...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Both the Great Awakening and the Enlightenment were eighteenth-century movements. They were both influential throughout the British Atlantic, including Great Britain's North American colonies. They both featured an emphasis on the individual, including a movement toward individual and universal rights. But in many ways the similarities end there. The Great Awakening, in fact, has been interpreted as a reaction to the Enlightenment. The Awakening was a series of religious revivals in the British Atlantic world. It emphasized emotion, pathos, and an individual and direct relationship with God. It also rejected what was seen as the cold rationalism of the Enlightenment, especially as it was expressed in the mechanistic religious philosophy known as Deism. The Enlightenment was ultimately a secular movement, and while its adherents varied widely in their religious beliefs, they generally eschewed what they called religious "enthusiasm," a term that meant something like "fanaticism" today. The rationalism and scientific worldview that characterized the mainstream of Enlightenment thought were very much at odds with the Great Awakening.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team