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Age of Enlightenment

The Age of Enlightenment (or simply the Enlightenment or Age of Reason) was a cultural movement of intellectuals in the 17th and 18th centuries, which began first in Europe and later in the American colonies. Its purpose was to reform society using reason, challenge ideas grounded in tradition and faith, and advance knowledge through the scientific method. It promoted scientific thought, skepticism and intellectual interchange and opposed superstition, intolerance and some abuses of power by the church and the state. Originating about 1650 to 1700, it was sparked by philosophers Baruch Spinoza(16321677), John Locke (16321704), Pierre Bayle (16471706), physicistIsaac Newton (16431727),
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and philosopher Voltaire (16941778).

The Enlightenment flourished until about 17901800, after which the emphasis on reason gave way to Romanticism's emphasis on emotion, and aCounterEnlightenment gained force. Although the term 'the Counter-Enlightenment' was first used in English (in passing) by William Barrett in a 1949 article ("Art, Aristocracy and Reason") inPartisan Review, it was Isaiah Berlin who established its place in the history of ideas. He used the term to refer to a movement that arose primarily in late 18th and early 19th century Germany against the rationalism, universalism andempiricism commonly associated with the Enlightenment. Berlin's widely read essay "The Counter-Enlightenment" was first published in 1973, and later reprinted in a popular collection of his essays, Against the Current, in 1981. The term has had wide currency since.