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Enlightenment Ideals

Rationalism
knowledge can be attained through the use of reason (rational thought)
Empiricism
knowledge can be gained through experiences (mainly through the senses –
what can be felt, seen, heard, etc.) as well as through the collection and analysis
of evidence and is a fundamental aspect of the scientific method
Secularism
religion and religious beliefs should be excluded from civic affairs
(government, economics, education, etc.)
Universalism
all concepts of the Enlightenment can be applied to all people, whether ruler or
ruled, rich or poor, educated or ignorant, urban or rural, slave or noble, woman
or man, etc.
Equality
all people in society should have the same rights and privileges as well as the
same limitations (the rule of law) and be treated in the same manner
Individualism
a concept that places the focus on the individual (as opposed to the community)
and the removal of barriers to achieve the highest amount of freedom for
everyone
Freedom
a person has the power to exercise choice and make decisions without political,
social, or natural interference (although, in reality, most freedoms come with
social responsibility and some restrictions)
Toleration
acknowledgement of the presence and practice of differing opinions or beliefs
without opposition or persecution, but does not necessarily mean acceptance
Progress
development and maturation of society that is considered to be more
sophisticated, beneficial, superior and complex than the previous state
Natural Rights
an innate set of rights and freedoms given by God (nature) that cannot be taken
away or restricted by government
Democracy/Popular Sovereignty/Consent of the Governed
a government, in which political (legislative, executive, and judicial) power
originates, rests, and is controlled by the people
Social Contract Theory
a mutual agreement between government and the people, where the people give
up some of their freedoms to live under the protection of a government
Deism
the theological ideology that the universe was created by a higher being (in
other words, a belief in a god not the God of the Christians). The deists
theorized that both faith and organized religion (especially those that claim that
their books and scriptures contained the revealed word of God, as deists
believed that those works were nothing more than human interpretations) were
unnecessary as only the application of reason and the observation of the natural
world were all that was needed to know that a Creator existed. According to
deists, the supreme being not only created the laws of nature, but governed by
them as well. The Creator did not interfere or suspend natural laws but
continued to operate within the scope of those laws. Therefore, deists rejected
the idea of divine or supernatural acts, such as miracles, manifestations,
messages, revelations, prophecies, etc., which they considered to be nothing
more than religious superstitions.