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Age of Enlightenment

The Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Enlightenment or the Age of Reason; in French: le Siècle des Lumières, lit. '"the Century of Lights"' in German: Aufklärung, "Enlightenment" and in Italian: L’Illuminismo, “Enlightenment”) was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century, "The Century of Philosophy".

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General Description

In the eighteenth century, there was a movement called the Enlightenment, or Age of Reason. During this movement, many new ideas in multiple academic fields were developed and philosophers began to challenge the Roman Catholic Church and traditional teachings and beliefs were being questioned and debated. Thinkers in this period believed in reason and progress. People began to apply reason to all aspects of society - government, religion, economics and education. Important philosophers from this age included: Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Voltaire, Rousseau and Montesquieu.

Contributed by Christina A. Zito

part two of The Marriage of Figaro

Contributed by Nicholas Jakob


The Marriage of Figaro, a full-length opera by Wolfgang Mozart, is a wonderful take on yet another of the Enlightenment's many biting French satires, as it follows the plight of the simple palace barber Figaro whose only desire in life is to get married to his wife. However, Figaro's employer, Count Almaviva, plans to steal Figaro's wife for himself, though not to marry, and so continue a savage Medieval practice called "Prima Nocte," in which the lord could sleep with any bride in his fife before her husband on the day of her wedding. Can Figaro save his wife?...well it's a classic tale so...probably.

Contributed by Nicholas Jakob

Candide is a brilliant satire that is sure to entertain any audience. In his magnum opus, Voltaire assaults the Medieval notion that 'everything is already perfect as is, and nothing can be made better.' This philosophy, upheld by dogma and later supported by the great philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, held that changes, such as self-determination, political alteration, societal reorganization, were all impossible and foolish endeavors as everything was already at its peak and nothing could be made better. This book, through a marvelously cynical and electrifying plot, guides the reader through a wild goose-chase that helps to show, if nothing else, that the world is indeed not perfect and well overdo for many, many changes. Source: Vive la Revolution

Contributed by Nicholas Jakob

A free, online copy of Jean Jacques Rousseau's classical treatise, The Social Contract. This stunning piece of literature formed the basis of the radical thought that people can form, and dissolve, governments as they choose, a notion that would lead to the ideas of self-determination, which would give rise to both the American and French Revolutions. Insightful and filled with both critique and analysis, this work is a cornerstone of the great Age of Enlightenment.

Contributed by Nicholas Jakob

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