Thus it strongly defends science and opposes the vast influence of the Church,
Hi, my name is Christina Hartman and today on About.com, we're looking at the European Enlightenment of the XVIIIth century.The Enlightenment was a philosophical, cultural and scientific movement born in the middle of the XVIIIth century.First impulsed by philosophers such as Spinoza, Bayle, Newton and Voltaire, it developed in France and then in all Europe.The word 'enlightenment' was first used by Kant in his essay "Was ist Aufklarung?" (What is Enlightenment?). The name of the movement is seen as a metaphor for the passage from obscurantism to a free-mind, enlightened by the reason.The Enlightenment elevates the individual and his ability to think by himself. It defends the equality of all men and their right to exercise their freedom of thinking and acting.Thus it strongly defends science and opposes the vast influence of the Church, accusing it of obscuring reason. It stands, therefore, against despots and absolute monarchy. But that does not mean most of its philosophers are republicans: they often support a moderate monarchy.The new Enlightenment thinkers bore the idea that a public sphere and debate was at the heart of the movement. They would gather in coffee houses such as the Café Procope in Paris or in debating societies, held in salons or academies.Some European monarchs supported the philosophers and welcomed them in their court. It was notably the case for Empress Catherine II of Russia or Frederick the Great of Prussia. They were called the "enlightened despots."There are many important figures of Enlightenment, including Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Montesquieu and Diderot in France.With D'Alembert, Diderot published the first Encyclopedia for Sciences, Arts and Crafts. That book continues to be a major symbol from that movement: it was read and distributed throughout Europe.John Locke and Newton were part of the main thinkers in England, whereas Wolff, Lessing and Herder were main thinkers in Germany.The heritage of the Age of Enlightenment is vast. It is often said to have spurred the French Revolution. More generally, it promoted values of society that are still of primary importance today: democracy, freedom, tolerance and reason.This was a glance at the Age of Enlightenment. For more information, you can visit About.com. Thanks for watching.