Sample Material of Our IAS Mains History Study Kit
Subject: History (Optional)
Topic: The Enlightenment
Meaning of enlightenment: “enlightenment meant the down of
light after long height of darkness — the darkness of ignorance superstition and
servitude to past. The scholar of 18th century tries to apply the method and
principle of science to long festering political economic and religious problem.
They started to use the method of 17th century natural science to the study of
world, God and the society in a nut sell the scientific revolution of 17th
century and consequently emergence of a new scientific approach of life in 18th
century came to be known as enlightenment. What is meaning of enlightenment and
what do you mean by Enlightment. The factors which prepare the way for
(1) The rise of middle class: In one sense enlightenment was
middle class world view it reflected the aspiration of emerging middle class up
to 18th century gain in power and prestige now, it was ready to appose undue
intervention into political and economic matters by the church. It demanded
share into its political power. It presented a code of conduct to the monarchy
and the church.
(2) The impact of Renaissance in fact enlightenment completed the process which
started with the Renaissance. Renaissance had supported the ideology of humanism
individualism and secularism. Furthermore it had encouraged scientific idea in
18 century enlightenment further progressed on the basis of renaissance ideas.
(3) The reformation gave a big blow to the universal church system it gave a
challenge to the church authority. Furthermore it encouraged individualism and
supported and commerce. It strengthen position of the middle class:
(4) Scientific Revolution of 17th century influence the human consciousness as
well as social science:
Science remove the veil of mystery from nature. Now, scientific method came to
be applied for solving basic problem in polity, economy and society.
The basic principle of enlightenment
(1) Rationalism is basis of knowledge.
(2) The future of man guided by Rationalism is bright.
(3) The political economic and social institution should function on scientific
(4) Enlightment was having a strong optimistic note.
(5) Enlightment gave primary to this World slyness and happiness and discarded
the term like salvation.
The Different Enlitghtment Scholar
The Enlightment is supposed to have started from the time a
French scholar Voltaire made a visit to England, because it after that he could
make a comparison between the openness and reasonableness of English life with
unreasonable and closed French society Voltaire was almost personification of
Enlightment he made a attack over the autocratic nature of the monarchy, the
superstitions of the church and stupidity of the Aristocratic class. He pleaded
for individual freedom. Another former Scholar was Montesquieu he was Scholar
made a study of the type of government on basis of geographical setting. He was
advocate for individual freedom and in order to insure it he gave emphasis
separation of power in the government. In his text the spirit of laws he
mentions about his theory of the separation of power. Another Frend Diderot
composed on famous encyclopedia and important British political thinker of the
time was John Lock. He presented the model of limited monarchy. According to him
in order to insure individual freedom the power of monarchy was limited. Like
wire the noted economic thinkers of the time were kesney and Adam smith. The
British Scholar Adam Smith composed a text wealth of nations in 1776. He
propounded a theory of class faire classer fair means free. According to smith
as the laws of nature were uniform so were the laws of market the function the
principle of demand and supply. In this ways, Adam smith became the father of
classical economic all Rousseau and Rant were the important further of the time
Scholar believe that no other scholar before more had influence human councilors
so deeply as deed Rousseau but Rousseau was different from other Enlightment
scholar as other scholar he did not support the concept of individual freedom
father it talks in terms of freedom of community.
The enlightened Scholars were guided by the middle class interest that why they
placed for limited monarchy but not democracy. According to them gov should have
been for the people but not by the people.
Features of enlightenment or the nature of enlightenment:
(1) Enlightenment represented the middle class world view.
Here, the middle class aspiration run countered to Autocratic nature of the
government and the superstitions of the church.
(2) Growing emphasis over rationalism at it was believed the future of man
guided by rationalism is bright the scholar like decarte and Spinoza emphasise
(3) Some scholar like Lock and percale give emphasis over the method of
empiricism (the knowledge get through observation or experience) in other woods,
according to them sensual organ or experience are true basis of knowledge.
(4) The greater emphasis over the method of science most of the enlightened
believe that the method of science should be applied even in sailing the basic
political economic and social problems.
(5) Enlightenment expressed the strong element of humanism. It emphasized this
worldly approach and discarded the objective like salvation.
(6) Enlightenment was having a strong note optimism. It believed in goodness of
man and perfectibility of the world. It belives the future of Man bird is bright
and someday it would reached up to stage of perfectibility.
(7) Enlightment supported the idea of individualism and human freedom.
(8) In economic field enlightenment oppose the state control of economy and
advocated for the principle of lessaie fair. For Example Adam smith propounded
the theory of lessaie fair in his text the wealth of nations.