Define the term "philosophes" from the 18th century Enlightenment.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The philosophes were the intellectuals who were some of the driving forces behind the Enlightenment.  They were mostly, but not all, French.  They were not generally actually philosophers (regardless of their name).  Instead, they were people who were actively involved in society.  They were social reformers, journalists, economists, and other people who were interested in making their society better.  The philosophes advocated for Enlightenment ideas of rationality and the scientific method.  They wanted to use these ideas to improve their societies.  Among the most important of the philosophes were Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Diderot.