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The Enlightenment The period of the Enlightenment is dated to the middle of the eighteenth century and is primarily about the changes in the worldview of European culture The term Enlightenment refers to a series of changes in European thought and writings When writers philosophers and scientists of the eighteenth century referred to their activities as the Enlightenment they meant that they were breaking from the past and replacing the obscurity darkness and ignorance of European thought with the light of truth One distinct development in Enlightenment thought was the scientific revolution Throughout history it has been evident that man has tried to some degree to enhance his understanding of the known universe However it is during the scientific revolution that there was a change in the structure of mans thought itself We associate this revolution with natural science and technological change but in European thought systematic doubt empirical and sensory verification the abstraction of human knowledge into separate sciences and the view that the world functions as a machine entered the arena Consequently the Scientific Revolution paved the way for the Enlightenment by shaping the modern mind The main ideas of the Enlightenment are as follows the universe is fundamentally rational that is it can be understood through the use of reason alone Truth can be arrived at through empirical observation the use of reason and systematic doubt Human experience is the foundation of human understanding of truth authority is not to be preferred over experience All human life both social and individual can be understood in the same way the natural world can be understood once understood human life both social and individual can be manipulated or engineered in the same way the world can be manipulated or engineered Human history is largely a history of progress Human beings can be improved through education and the development of their rational facilities Religious doctrines have no place
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