What is Enlightenment? Simply explained

by Pramith

Wondering what sex education is and want a simple explanation? Find out what’s behind the term and what you should know about it

What is sex education? The term simply explained

Enlightenment is a term that describes how people use their minds and knowledge to get out of ignorance and irrational ways of thinking.

  • Rationality and critical thinking: The Enlightenment emphasises the importance of reason and critical thinking as the basis for decisions and actions. It is about questioning information and not blindly relying on authority.
  • Emancipation of the individual: The Enlightenment promotes the idea of self-determination and individuality. People are encouraged to form their own beliefs and act independently rather than being constrained by traditional structures or power relations.
  • Scientific knowledge: The Enlightenment is based on a belief in the power of science and progress. Through empirical observation and rational analysis, knowledge and understanding are to be expanded.
  • Social change: The Enlightenment aims to bring about social and political change to combat injustice and oppression. It is about creating a just society in which individual freedom, equality and tolerance are important.

The Enlightenment: a period of intellectual progress

The Enlightenment was a major intellectual and cultural movement that took place mainly in the 18th century.

  • Historically, the Enlightenment is often associated with the 18th century, especially in Europe. However, the exact beginning and end of the Enlightenment is a subject of debate among historians. In some cases, the 17th century is also included, as some ideas and precursors of the Enlightenment already appeared in this period.
  • The Enlightenment was a reaction to the prevailing authorities and traditions that strongly influenced people’s thoughts and actions. It emphasised the importance of reason, knowledge and critical thinking to lead the individual out of ignorance and irrational beliefs.
  • The Enlightenment was shaped by eminent thinkers such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Kant and many others. Their philosophical writings and ideas helped spread the Enlightenment and influenced political, social and cultural changes.
  • Although the Enlightenment originated in Europe, its ideas spread to other parts of the world. In particular, the ideas of individual freedom, human rights and democratic principles caught on and influenced societies worldwide.


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