The Age of Enlightenment: Key Ideas and Thinkers

Learn about the major concepts and significant philosophers from the Age of Enlightenment! Explore the ideas of thinkers like John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Voltaire in the areas of reason, the social compact, individualism, and more. Examine the school of thinking that influenced modern ideas.

Key Ideas/ThinkersYearPhilosopher/Thinker
Reason1689John Locke
Natural rights1632Thomas Hobbes
Social contract1762Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Separation of powers1689Montesquieu
Empiricism1561Francis Bacon
Tabula rasa1632John Locke
Religious tolerance1689John Locke
Freedom of speech1692John Milton
Scientific method1564René Descartes
Individualism1712Bernard Mandeville
Equality1690John Locke
Rationalism1596René Descartes
Secularism1690John Locke
Skepticism1561Michel de Montaigne
Freedom of thought1692John Milton
Liberty1712John Locke
Utilitarianism1748Jeremy Bentham
Freedom of religion1685John Locke
Deism1696Thomas Paine
Enlightenment1724Immanuel Kant
Natural law1667John Locke
Egalitarianism1712Pierre Bayle
Civic virtue1714Bernard Mandeville
Separation of church and state1689John Locke
Constitutional government1748Montesquieu
Enlightenment despotism1752Frederick the Great
Freedom of the press1692John Milton
Democracy1712Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Religious freedom1689John Locke
Empirical observation1564Francis Bacon
Voluntary association1762Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Separation of powers1752Voltaire
Civic participation1714Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Rule of law1689John Locke
Religious skepticism1712Pierre Bayle
Inalienable rights1690John Locke
Intellectual freedom1692John Milton
Social progress1712Bernard de Fontenelle
Popular sovereignty1762Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Scientific inquiry1564René Descartes
Human rights1696John Locke
Moral autonomy1712Bernard Mandeville
Freedom of assembly1690John Locke
Liberalism1685John Locke
Constitutionalism1689John Locke
Enlightenment feminism1792Mary Wollstonecraft
Moral relativism1561Michel de Montaigne
Enlightenment economics1723Adam Smith
Rule of law1712Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Enlightenment morality1724Immanuel Kant
Cosmopolitanism1751Denis Diderot
Civic nationalism1758Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Philosophical skepticism1712Pierre Bayle
Natural theology1755William Paley
Enlightenment literature1712Voltaire
Secular ethics1712Bernard Mandeville
Natural philosophy1564Francis Bacon
Enlightened absolutism1730Catherine the Great
Aesthetic autonomy1724Immanuel Kant
Enlightenment architecture1728Étienne-Louis Boullée
Political liberty1759Benjamin Constant
Enlightenment education1762Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Religious pluralism1689John Locke
Critique of religion1755Denis Diderot
Public opinion1712Pierre Bayle
Enlightenment anthropology1753Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Free trade1776Adam Smith
Republicanism1762Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Feminist philosophy1792Mary Wollstonecraft
Enlightenment music1750Johann Sebastian Bach
Civil liberties1689John Locke
Enlightened despotism1730Joseph II
Epistemological empiricism1561Francis Bacon
Enlightened monarchy1756Frederick the Great
Ethical individualism1712Bernard Mandeville
Scientific progress1564René Descartes
Enlightenment theatre1700Voltaire
Economic liberalism1776Adam Smith
Enlightenment art1724Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin
Freedom of religion1762Voltaire
Enlightenment historiography1753Edward Gibbon
Enlightenment human rights1689John Locke
Philosophical empiricism1632John Locke
Enlightened despotism1730Catherine the Great

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