Chapter 18 - The Enlightenment\


The Enlightenment. What does it really mean? Take a look at the word. EN-LIGHTEN-MENT. To LIGHTEN something is to make it brighter or otherwise more clear. Clarity is the key word here. The philosophers of this time period were concerned with finding out the meaning behind the way things were. Their main tool was the use of logic. They questioned everything. They questioned if having an absolute ruler made sense. They questioned if everything we experience was even real. They wanted to know if there was a method to prove something is true or false.

Naturally, you would expect an absolute monarch of this time to not like this sort of thing very much. In truth, kings across Europe had a mixed reaction to this group of philosophers. Some of the kings (called Enlightened Despots) like Catherine the Great of Russia and Frederick the Great of Prussia were rather fond of them. Others detested them and saw these trouble makers as a real threat to their power.