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Enlightenment - Essay Example

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These people had high regard for man, being superior over all of God's creations because of his ability to reason. Relatively, they contrasted reason with what they believed were in dominance during the Middle Ages - the uncritical acceptance of authority, together with superstition and ignorance. These individuals also blamed the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church for keeping the people in the dark in order to satisfy their personal ambition, which was to stay in power.
Among the products of the Enlightenment Age was Francois-Marie Arouet, popularly known as Voltaire. A native of Paris, France, and a son of a lawyer, Voltaire studied in a Jesuit school wherein most students came from the nobility. His company was sought by the Paris society due to his extraordinary ability to write verses, as well as his ability to make people laugh and because of his natural cleverness.
Voltaire became extremely wealthy through inheritance and wise investment. He also became popular and was considered to be the greatest French playwright of his time. However, in 1726, his success came to an end when the Chevalier de Rohan a young and influential nobleman had him beaten by his men before having him thrown into the Bastille again as prisoner. According to historians, it all started when the Chevalier de Rohan asked for Voltaire's name in a mocking manner; the former's question implied that the latter was claiming to be of noble descent when in fact he was nothing but a commoner.
During the time he was in prison, Voltaire was allowed to choose between remaining a prisoner in France or to be put on exile. Upon choosing the latter, Voltaire left France and lived in England for three years, where he found religious and political freedom.
In England, Voltaire was impressed with Sir Isaac Newton's works as well as the reverence that the people of England gave him. In his letters, Voltaire's commendation of English customs, its institutions and way of thinking seemed to indirectly criticize their French counterparts. Consequently, the French authorities expressed strong disapproval of his writings.
Voltaire was 83 years old when he returned to Paris, where he was received with enthusiasm. It was also where he saw his last play before he died.
And since his criticisms caused the Roman Catholic Church to refused Voltaire's remains to be buried in the church ground, it was taken to an abbey in Champagne. However, it was transferred to the Parthenon in Paris in 1791.
Another French philosopher whose name became well-known during the Enlightenment Age was Charles de Secondat, also known as Montesquieu. Having inherited the title Baron de la Brede et de Montesquieu, was how he got his pen name. His greatest contribution was probably the influence he made in writing of constitutions all over the world. Montesquieu believed in the complexity of the laws that govern human nature and therefore he considered the study of humanity rather difficult.
In his Persian Letters, ...Show more

Summary

The Age of Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Rationalism or the Age of Reason, started some time in the 1600s and ended in the latter part of the following decade. During this period, French philosophers such as the Marquis de Condorcet, Rene Descartes, Denis Diderot, Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Montesquieu and English philosopher John Locke, insisted that learning the truth could best be achieved through the use of reason.
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