Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Ryan Patrick Hanley
The Enlightenment can be most conveniently defined as the principal intellectual event of eighteenth-century Europe, at once the cause and effect of a dramatic and sweeping rethinking of the nature and aims of philosophy, politics, and religion. Predominately Western European in its scope (from Scandinavia on the north to the Mediterranean on the south, and from the British Isles on the west to Russia on the east) and eighteenth century in its period (from the 1680s of the English Glorious Revolution to the 1790s and the French Revolution), the Enlightenment has been largely defined in scholarly and popular imaginations as an “age of reason,” its many strains unified by a core commitment to the use of reason for the promotion of happiness via the amelioration and improvement of the practical conditions of human life. For political theorists, the Enlightenment has come to represent a project to promote values characteristic of ...