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You might be wondering, what was the ‘Enlightenment’ and also when go the ‘Age of Enlightenment’ occur?

Put simply, the enlightenment was a period in history, occuring roughly between the late-16th and 18th century, that fully transformed western culture. The ‘Age that Reason’, together it came to be known, experienced long-established monarchies, spiritual institutions, social systems and also hierachies tested from below and also a philosophical search for human improvement.

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Ideas that liberty, factor and religious tolerance traversed Europe, producing social upheaval, revolution and change. In ~ the structure of this change lay the ideas and practises of a couple of incredibly significant figures, who would every in your own way truly adjust the world and also the way in which human being viewed it.

Here is a list of 10 that these key Figures of the Enlightenment.

1. Francis Bacon (1561–1626)


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Sir Francis Bacon. Photo Credit: windy Domain


Sir Francis Bacon to be an eminent philosopher, statesman and also scientist. While that did no personally do any significant scientific discoveries, he came to be known for laying under the practical methods of clinical investigation based on observation and also reason together a method of reaching a logical conclusion.

Entirely innovative in ~ the time, Bacon championed a brand-new scientific technique that associated gathering data and examining it by performing experiments to observe nature’s truths in an arranged way. V this approach, science could be made use of as a device to much better humankind by expanding common expertise of the world.

2. Rene Descartes (1596–1650)

Best known for the speak ‘Cogito ergo sum’ (I think therefore I am), Descartes to be a French philosopher and also mathematician that revolutionised philosophy, algebra and geometry. Like countless philosphers the the enlightened era, Descartes didn’t choose to think anything without analyzing why he thought it.

Known together the ‘Method of Cartesian Doubt’, Descartes asserted that one need to never simply accept anything as true if there was also the slightest opportunity that that wasn’t. In this respect he was greatly influenced through Francis Bacon and developed his own deductive approach, using maths and also logic, to solving and understanding life’s plenty of mysteries.


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3. John Locke (1632–1704)

Locke was one of the most influential philosophers of the Enlightenment, who concentrated specifically on just how systems of governments might be formed. In his Two Treatises of Government that heralded the idea the a representative government that would ideal serve every the people.

Locke’s composing influenced plenty of philosphers such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant and Thomas Paine that would later inspire the revolutions of the late-18th century. This was because his occupational was based basically on the concept of civil liberties – the belief that men are free and same by nature, versus claims that God had made all civilization naturally topic to a monarch.


Locke’s most crucial contribution come the enlightenment was his belief that the person mind was a empty slate (a “tabula rasa”), which developed based ~ above experience. In order come develop and become enlightened people needed to view themselves together ignoramuses, void of any kind of inherent knowledge, duty or servitude. Accepting one’s ignorance was the very first step to self-improvement, and every man had actually a best to execute so.

4. Frederick the great (1712–1786)

While most emperors feared the Enlightenment, together it tested their authority and also divine best to rule, Frederick the great of Prussia truly adopted it. He supported artists and writers such as Voltaire, and also believed that a monarch’s very first duty was to encourage the benefit of his people – also if this meant encouraging individualistic thinking further scrutiny that long-established institutions.

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Having stated this, Frederick the an excellent was, simultaneously, very aggressive army leader who reinvented Prussia native a little backwater state right into a major European strength house.

5. Voltaire (1694–1778)

During his life Voltaire was a superstar the the Enlightenment. The was well known for his wit and his strikes on the Church and advocacy of flexibility of religion, expression and the separation of Church and State. He to be a excellent writer and also produced works in just around every genre, including a really early science fiction story referred to as Micromegas, in i beg your pardon ambassadors come from one more planet to witness the folly that mankind.

This was sufficient to make him a significant man in France and he spent lot of his time abroad, specifically in England, where he discovered an environment which positive embraced totally free thinking. He additionally attracted the fist of Frederick the an excellent who offered protection and a consistent income – although castle did autumn out later in life.

6. Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790)


Benjamin Franklin to be a prolific American thinker, writer, inventor and also founding father who constantly sailed ago and forth between the American colonies and the Old World. The was motivated by the ideals of the european Enlightenment and helped carry these ideas and concepts end to the brand-new World.

He play an integral component in forming the brand-new government that the United states of America and had a major hand in composing the declaration of Independence and also the Constitution the would kind the bedrock of the newly-formed nation.

7. Denis Diderot (1713–1784)

Diderot became famous because that writing among the most important records of the enlightenment – the Encyclopedie, which to be intended come pull with each other as lot knowledge throughout all subjects and also genres as possible. He to be a prolific writer, although plenty of of his functions went unpublished until his death.

8. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778)

A radical thinker who thought in unshackling human being from the boundaries of society, his polemic work-related entitled The social Contract envisaged a civilization of straight democracy in which every citizens can have direct influence top top the to run of the state.

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His work would accumulate the leader of the French Revolution, who offered Rousseau as the thoughtful backbone that the brand-new republic. Sadly the change and republic born out of that turned out to it is in somewhat much more brutal and also ugly 보다 Rousseau would have envisioned.

9. Cutting board Paine (1737–1809)


The English-born writer and also philosopher thomas Paine became one that the establishing fathers of the American Revolution. His pamphlet, Common Sense, published in 1776, urged American homesteaders to increase up versus the English. It ended up being hugely renowned within the colonies, and also those who were influenced by Paine’s writing soon followed his advice and challenged English authority.

Paine was additionally enthralled through the French Revolution. In his significant work, The legal rights of Man, that railed against absolutist monarchy. He was granted honorary French citizenship and had a function in the national Convention. He voted because that the Republic, however did no agree that the execution of Louis XVI was neccessary.

10. David Hume (1711-1776)

One that the best known thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment, Hume was sceptical top top a range of philosophical subjects. He attacked several theory supposedly explaining the visibility of God, such as the Teleological Argument, otherwise recognized as the “argument indigenous design”. His decision of principles was the prompt forerunner to the standard utilitarian see of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill.

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His ethical outlook was much more conservative than succeeding political radicals. The believed, because that instance, the the British federal governments would role best with the visibility of a solid and prominent monarchy.