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What is the Enlightenment?

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"Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!"--German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1784)

The Enlightenment is a period in European history when philosophers encouraged the abandonment of knowledge that was acquired through religion and superstition. It called for the application of reason and logic to draw conclusions about the world. Placing a date on the beginning and end of the Enlightenment period is tricky, but the most important century for Enlightenment thought is the 18th Century.

The 1680's was an important decade for the Enlightenment. In a span of three years, Isaac Newton and John Locke published books that were important in establishing a basis for the use of reason and observation in understanding the world. Newton's work in physics and astronomy was groundbreaking while Locke applied reason in the realm of politics. The works of both would revolutionize how Europeans saw the world.

The Enlightenment of the 18th Century produced important books, inventions, scientific discovery, and revolutions in political thought. The American and French Revolutions were inspired by the Enlightenment.

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