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Age of Enlightenment

The Age of Enlightenment thinkers admired the classical Greek and Roman societies for their use of reason, dialogue, observation and experimentation to learn about the natural world. The Age of Enlightenment spanned the sixteen and seventeen hundreds, but its ideas culminated in the late 1700s during the time of the Classical Era of music.

Enlightenment thinking emphasized advances in human knowledge through scientific experimentation, logical thought, controlled observation and mathematical calculations. These methods of understanding the world replaced mythological and religious explanations.

Morality based on reason led to laws based on fairness and punishments that fit the infraction and were equitably enforced (as opposed to those determined on a whim by the ruling class).

“To prejudge other men’s notions before we have looked into them is not to show their darkness but to put out our own eyes.”

John Locke

Philosophers during the Enlightenment include Francois-Marie Arouet “Voltaire”, John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Thomas Jefferson, and many more.


A natural effect of Enlightenment thought was to throw into question the long accepted idea that absolute monarchs were given their power by God. Instead, Enlightenment thinkers developed ideas of representative government that considered input from and were accountable to those who are governed.

The American and French revolutions occurred during this time.

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