The word "Enlightenment" is used to indicate the eighteenth century in the history of ideas of the Western World. It is a word that indicates a sum of ideas about the character of man, his beliefs and activities, and the universe. These ideas have three common assumptions which are at the root of what we mean by the Enlightenment. The thinkers and writers of this period assumed that reason and knowledge will reveal an order inherent in the universe; will disclose the truth about religion, economics, politics, morals - every aspect of life; and, that when man discovers the order and truth of the universe, evil will disappear and good will reign. These assumptions are clearly expressed in the use of the symbol of light to denote the character of the eighteenth century: the English called it the "Age of Enlightenment," the French, "le siecle des lumieres," the German, "die Aufklarung," the Italian, "il secolo dell' illuminisma." [excerpt]
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Bloom, Robert L. et al. "1. An Introduction to the Enlightenment. Pt. X: The Eighteenth Century Enlightenment." Ideas and Institutions of Western Man (Gettysburg College, 1958), 1-10.