The relationship between the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment

Examine the relationship between the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment.

List the intellectual developments leading to the emergence of the Enlightenment, the leading figures of the Enlightenment, and their main contributions. Identify the type of social environment in which the philosophes thrived and the role women played in that environment.

Record the innovations in art, music, and literature that occurred in the eighteenth century, and differentiate between popular culture and high culture in the eighteenth century.

Contrast popular religion with institutional religion in the eighteenth century.

Examine the relationship between the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment.

The Enlightenment era of the 18th century was characterized by the courage of

intellectuals to utilize their intelligence. Several intellectual developments triggered the onset of

the Enlightenment. One of them was the skepticism towards religion and the rising secularization

of thought (Spielvogel 359). Travel literature was also published by explorers, traders, medical

practitioners, and missionaries, and it provided details about diverse cultures, which contributed

to people’s skepticism about the European culture and Christianity (Spielvogel 359). The

Enlightenment was also inspired by John Locke’s knowledge theory and Isaac Newton’s laws of


The Enlightenment’s leading intellectuals, who were also known as philosophes, included

Montesquieu (1689-1755), Voltaire (1694-1778), Diderot (1713-1784), Adam Smith (1723-

1790), Holbach (1723-1789), and Rousseau (1712-1778). Montesquieu criticized traditional

religion, denounced slavery, and advocated for religious tolerance. He published The Spirit of the

Laws and the Persian Letters (Spielvogel 362). Voltaire also supported religious tolerance and

deism and condemned the traditional religion. Diderot considered Christianity to be unreasonable

and fanatical, and he wrote an Encyclopedia with the goal of changing people’s way of thinking.

Adam Smith founded the modern economics discipline, while Holbach published the System of

Nature in which he advocated atheism (Spielvogel 364). Rousseau promoted the social contract


The Philosophes lived in different social environments, ranging from aristocrats to lower-

middle class. However, the Enlightenment’s greatest appeal was to the upper-middle classes and

the aristocracy (Spielvogel 366).


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