(Ger. Aufklärung). 1. Philos. movement that began toward the end of the Renaissance,* flowered esp. in the 2d half of the 18th c., and began to decay in the 19th c.; its elements were individualistic, rationalistic, and subjective; its goal was independence, also from authority of Biblical revelation; affected every phase of life; marked the beginning of modern secular culture; spread from Eur. to N and S Am.
2. Humanism began and developed in It. in the 15th16th c. Its influence was temporarily restricted by religious interest aroused by the Reformation but revived and found expression in R. Descartes,* B. Spinoza,* P. Bayle,* and Deism.* In the Fr. Enlightenment upper classes became frivolous and regarded RCm and Protestantism as equally ridiculous. Its leading exponents were the Encyclopedists.* It attacked religious, pol., and soc. traditions and reached its climax in the Fr. Revolution (see France, 2).
3. Ger. Enlightenment was influenced by the Eng. and the Fr. It drew strength from Freemasonry* and the philos. of C. v. Wolff.* Prominent factors in the Ger. movement were the influence of the skeptical Frederick II, C. F. Nicolai's* Allgemeine Deutsche Bibliothek, and the writings of M. Mendelssohn,* H. S. Reimarus,* and G. E. Lessing.* Theol. became grossly rationalistic. But vulgar features were sloughed off by J. W. v. Goethe* and I. Kant,* who criticized shallowness and led Ger. literature and philos. to their greatest heights. Ger. Enlightenment was followed by an influential philos. idealism.*
J. G. Hibben, The Philosophy of the Enlightenment (London, 1910); E. Cassirer, The Philosophy of the Enlightenment, tr. F. C. A. Koelln and J. P. Pettegrove (Princeton, New Jersey, 1951); Das Zeitalter der Aufklärung, ed. W. Philipp, in Klassiker des Protestantismus, VII, ed. C. M. Schröder (Bremen, 1963); H. G. Nicolson, The Age of Reason: The Eighteenth Century, in The Mainstream of the Modern World Series, ed. J. Gunther (New York, 1961).
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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