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Enlightenment Essay & Criticism

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Critical Overview

Literary historians describe the Enlightenment as a movement that profoundly affected not only literature but also science, philosophy, politics, and religion. Because it lasted for over one hundred years, it evolved and came to have many manifestations. In The Enlightenment, author Norman Hampson comments, "Within limits, the Enlightenment was what one thinks it was." He adds that "the Enlightenment was an attitude of mind rather than a course in science and philosophy." Critics almost universally applaud the Enlightenment for its insistence that the world should be analyzed and that authorities should be subject to questioning. In The Party of Humanity: Essays in the French Enlightenment, Peter Gay remarks:

The philosophes were the enemies of myth. . . . Their
rationalism was, one might say, programmatic: it
called for debate of all issues, examination of all
propositions, and penetration of all sacred precincts.
But I cannot repeat often enough that this critical...



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This section contains 328 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Enlightenment Study Guide
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Enlightenment from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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