Perhaps the chief achievement of the Enlightenment was the creation of the social sciences and the application of these sciences to the problems of human existence. The selections which follow offer a first-hand glimpse of the type of work that Enlightenment thinkers accomplished in the fields of psychology, economics, political science, and ethics. The selections are but fragments of thorough, systematic analyses of the foregoing subjects. However, our primary interest here is to understand some of the important assumptions and conclusions rather than to acquire a detailed knowledge of each of the sciences. The ideas presented may seem oversimplified and naive to the mind of a twentieth century social scientist, but that is simply the result of a perspective based on two centuries of further research and experimentation. [excerpt]
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Bloom, Robert L. et al. "3. The Science of Man. Pt. X: The Eighteenth Century Enlightenment." Ideas and Institutions of Western Man (Gettysburg College, 1958), 28- 67.