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What Was The Enlightenment? And Defination

Enlightenment is defined as “complete knowledge of a circumstance.” The phrase is generally used to refer to the Age of Enlightenment, but it is also employed in religious contexts in Western cultures. It translates a number of Buddhist terminology and ideas, including bodhi, kensho, and satori. In Hinduism, related words include kaivalya and moksha (freedom), in Jainism, Kevala Jnana, and in Zoroastrianism, ushta. The term “enlightenment” is seldom used in Christianity, except to refer to the Age of Enlightenment and its effect on Christianity. In Christianity, somewhat comparable concepts include enlightenment, kenosis, metanoia, revelation, salvation, theosis, and conversion. Perennialists and Universalists consider enlightenment and mysticism to be synonymous with religious or spiritual insight.

Enlightenment refers to the act or means of enlightening an individual or a state of being enlightened with knowledge and skills. The concept is mainly referred to in two primary contexts — The Age of Enlightenment and Spiritual Enlightenment.

The Age of Enlightenment refers to a philosophical movement of the 18th century. This movement was marked by rejecting conventional religious, social, political, and intellectual ideas. This movement was dependent on a radical emphasis on rationalism and practicality. On the other hand, spiritual enlightenment denotes a final state of being blessed by the absence of any desire or suffering. A state of spiritual enlightenment has also been postulated to provide knowledge, understanding, and insight to an individual.

Spiritual Enlightenment

When utilized in the religious sense, enlightenment denotes several concepts and terms known in Buddhist philosophy. The most notable of these terms are Bodhi, Kenshu, and Satori. Other terms associated with the ones mentioned above are moksha in Hinduism, Kevala Jnana in Jainism, and Ushta in Zoroastrianism. Additionally, In Christianity, the word “enlightenment” denotes the Age of Enlightenment and its effect on the religion that is Christianity.

These terms represent the liberation of one kind or the other. This liberation is supposed to help humanity escape the evils of earthly life through a ritual of good, moral, and positive living. The word enlightenment can be understood equally to other words such as revolution, salvation, elimination, and conversion, as described in Christianity. Perennials and Universalists comprehend enlightenment and mysticism as related religious or spiritual vocabulary.

Age of Enlightenment

The Age of Enlightenment was also referred to as the Age of reason or just the Enlightenment. This movement referred to an intellectual and philosophical school of thought that dominated the continent of Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. Although the moment was known to have originated in Europe, it had its long-lasting effects and influences all over the globe. The movement was said to contain a spectrum of notions centered on human values of happiness, knowledge, and its pursuit.

This knowledge was meant to be obtained utilizing reason and the evidence of the senses. The Age symbolized ideals like liberty, toleration, fraternity, progress, constitutional government, and the segregation of the church and the state. Enlightenment has been known to stem from the European intellectual movement recognized as Renaissance humanism. A successor to the scientific revolution, it is supposed to have begun in 1715. The movement was known for the circulation of ideas in many communities. Philosophers and scientists met at several places such as scientific academies, Masonic lodges, literary salons, and coffeehouses to discuss such ideas. Books, journals, and pamphlets were other print outlets that acted as carriers for these ideologies.


Some of the essential radical changes implemented by the Age of Enlightenment were the political revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries. These political revolutions involving liberalism, Neoclassicism, and communism paved the way for undermining the Catholic Church and the Monarchy’s authority.

In France, the central thesis of enlightenment philosophers revolved around the liberty of an individual and religious tolerance. This thesis was in absolute opposition to the Monarchy and the fixed doctrines of the church. The Age of enlightenment emphasized using scientific methods and practicality as their only way of life. The movement as a whole was known for its increasing interrogation of religious orthodoxy and authority. This attitude is echoed in Immanuel Kant’s essay, “Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment?”


The foundation of Enlightenment thinking was laid in René Descartes' rationalist philosophy. He wanted to secure a place for the sciences as a metaphysical skeleton for this school of thought. Jonathan Israel’s philosophy laid down two different ways of enlightenment thought. The first thought was for maintaining a balance between reform and the traditional systems of faith and power, while the second thought denoted the idea of radical enlightenment.

By the mid-18th century, Paris became the central area of power for philosophical and scientific activity to challenge traditional dogmas and doctrines. This movement, led by Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, stood for a society based on reason. Additionally, ideas such as segregation of power between the state and church revolutionized the times.

Immanuel Kant tried to connect rationalism with religious belief and individual freedom with political authority. He did so by mapping out a vision of public dimensions through private reasoning in terms of moral and religious philosophy. His work shaved a lot of German and European philosophy up until the 20th century.

Among authors and writers, Mary Wollstonecraft was one of England’s initial feminist philosophers. She debated that men and women should be treated as equal counterparts for a society that wanted to be based on reason. Her best-known work to date is A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.


There was an enormous role of science in Enlightenment discourse and thought. Many Enlightenment writers and thinkers came from a scientific background, so they related the overthrowing of religion and traditional authority with the Scientific growth of the Age. They worked alongside many others to develop free speech and thought in the day’s subjects. Some examples of scientific development during this Age were the discovery of carbon dioxide and the invention of the condensing steam engine. Contributions to mathematics in the enlightenment era were also many manifolds. They included significant progressions such as number theory, graph theory, algebra, and geometry.

Enlightenment was an era that valued rational thought over everything else. Even though significant philosophers criticized the applications of sciences in such a broad view because of its ability to distance man from nature, the search, and development of scientific academies and societies never took a backseat. Science became increasingly popular among the illiterate population with the practice of new medicine, mathematics, and physics.

Nationally science also influenced poetry and literature during the Age of Enlightenment. Some poetry to come out of this infusion was written directly about scientific ideas and topics. For instance, Sir Richard Blackmore manifested the Newtonian system to verse in Creation, a Philosophical Poem in Seven Books (1712). An example of the same is James Thomson’s work “Poem to the Memory of Newton,” which was celebrated for mourning Newton while at the same time appreciating his scientific contribution and legacy.

Sidriel Angel
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