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The Enlightenment Research Papers

The Enlightenment was one of the most progressive and quintessential eras of mankind's history. Learn about the Enlightenment thinkers, scientists, explorers and writers from a custom written research paper from Paper Masters. Any Enlightenment era topic you need done, our writers will do.

An Enlightenment research papers outlines the fact that the Enlightenment witnessed the birth of a new idea - the belief that orderliness could be achieved in human relations.  “It was the creed of men who had the means to investigate, ponder and discuss the phenomena of the world in which they lived”. 

  • The men of the Enlightenment employed their literary skills to condemn the abuses of the Old Regime, both its institutions and its beliefs. 
  • Enlightenment era philosophers and writers also suggested ways of improving their world.  They dangled before men the prospects of a world where freedom and equality of opportunity would prevail. 
  • These ideas—bold, shocking, innovative, and revolutionary—painted a world seemingly the exact opposite of the reality of the 18th century.

Immanuel Kant once attempted to describe the Age of Enlightenment as man’s emergence from intellectual immaturity.  The EnlightenmentKant, who was perhaps the leading thinker of the late Enlightenment, invoked his audience:

Sapere aude! Dare to know! Have the courage to use your own intelligence. 

There is an old axiom that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.  This being said, it must be remembered that Enlightenment thought led to two of history’s most profound political revolutions: the American and the French.  If the Establishment could have foreseen the events that would culminate in its own trip to the guillotine, does it not stand to reason that xsthe leading philosophes of the day were a threat to the established order?

The historical period known as the Enlightenment was a period of intense intellectual activity. The scientific advances of the Renaissance, combined with the destruction of the Roman Church’s hegemony, ushered in an age where human reason was allowed to question everything and explore the universe. Descartes combined reason with mathematics and sought to prove his very existence—cogito ergo sum—I think, therefore I exist. Advances in literature were also common. The following are four great writers of the Enlightenment who were radically different from those who came before them, and these writers laid the groundwork for the birth of the true novel:

  1. Daniel Defoe
  2. Jonathan Swift
  3. Voltaire
  4. Alexander Pope

The great writers of the pre-Enlightenment period made great strides in the form of poetry and drama. William Shakespeare is our greatest dramatist, weaving fantastic tales around very human characters. Geoffrey Chaucer, with The Canterbury Tales, and Boccacio’s Decameron, created the form of the novel, but both works are largely dependent upon shorter, poetic pieces that are tied together with a greater plot device. The writers of the Enlightenment, in contrast, gave birth to the modern notion of the novel.

Writers of the Enlightenment used their intellectual might to push the boundaries of literature beyond what they were. They sought to explore injustice and human foibles in works that were, on the surface, quite simple. Both Gulliver’s Travels and Robinson Crusoe are often mistaken for children’s literature. Nothing could be further from the truth. Swift, Defoe, Pope and Voltaire were geniuses at combining realistic literature and satire to expose corruption.

Related Research Paper Topics

European Enlightenment - European Enlightenment research papers discuss one of the most revolutionary period of intellectual development in Europe that occurred between 1620 1780.

The Age of Enlightenment - The Age of Enlightenment research papers examine a time period between 1650 and 1780 when European thought stressed reason, science, and individualism over the forces of authority.

Immanuel Kant and Enlightenment - This research paper on Immanuel Kant and Enlightenment discusses the philosophical thoughts by Kant on what is enlightenment to humanity.

Causes of the French Revolution - There is a logical connection between the new ideas that emerged during the eighteenth century's Enlightenment, and the emergence of the Revolution.

Age of Reason - The Age of Reason is another name given to the Enlightenment, the 18th century intellectual movement of reason and science that swept Europe.

Seventeenth Century Developments - A period of time such as the Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, did not suddenly happen.