From 1715-1789, the enlightenment age was marked by a focus on key components such as the creation of a philosophical movement which dominated the evolution of ideologies during this period (Israel 21). In the Enlightenment, reason was established as the basis of authority and legitimacy. This promoted all individual, social and governmental endeavors. The Enlightenment saw the rise of philosophies which had an impact on monarchy and church authority and sparked uprisings. The Enlightenment elements required a change in attitudes, views and beliefs about various aspects of western society during the Enlightenment period.
A greater appreciation of logic was a hallmark of the Enlightenment. Simply put, reasoning can be described as the ability to think rationally and sensibly about something. In this period logic was the dominant source of authority within the intellectual and political life of society (Storm 14,). There was a rapid rise in the number of scientific and philosophical pursuits which were aimed at rationally investigating social problems and other societal occurrences. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau argued for this new base of intellectual foundations. They proposed that society be built on reason as the source to knowledge (Storm 96) This era saw intellectual advances furthered by the shift from the traditional ideologies to scientific revolution. In order to bring empiricism, logic thinking and understanding to all development and processes, science became an extremely revered discipline.
The Enlightenment emphasized democratic principles and brought about changes in political orientation. Since the Enlightenment, liberal democracies have emerged that acknowledge the value of participation by the public in the formation of government. Before this, monarchy was the dominant form of government. After using the rational part, philosophers such as Hobbes found that democratic governments were better at delivering essential freedoms and fighting for people’s rights. The separation of power was also a feature of this age, leading to modern western administration.
The Enlightenment years had significant influence on western culture. It was characterized by growing appreciation for reason, separation of powers and advocacy for freedom and human rights. These are all key elements of western society. It is clear that the Enlightenment had a significant influence on western civilizations. This can be seen in our dependence upon science and philosophy for justifications or explanations of intellectual understanding.