The Age of Enlightenment also referred to as the Age of Reason was an intellectual movement that characterized the world of ideas in Europe in the course of the 18th century (Roberson 246). There are different factors that led to the Enlightenment movement. They include the power struggle between the state and the church. It was also caused by the discovery of new societies by the West with different cultural traditions and values. In addition, many intellectuals were angered by the unwillingness of their governments to provide personal rights. These factors led to the introduction of a cultural revolution which enhanced new ideas and principles regarding economic, political and most importantly, philosophical debates. Increasing skepticism and concerns over the absolute authority of the church and the state sparked a revolution which focused on individualism, self-determination and liberty among other change agents (Roberson 246. The thinkers of Enlightenment valued democracy and equality. The Age of Enlightenment would have a lasting effect throughout the world. Although it was a major phenomenon during the 18th century, its impacts are still felt on most of the major documents of the world. As a matter of fact, in the absence of this period, perhaps the US would not be in existence today. While in Europe, most of the America’s founding fathers met and shared with the Enlightenment thinkers. As a result, they brought back their ideas and principles to America. Most important is the fact that the Enlightenment entailed different ideas that were based on reason as the main pillar of authority and legitimacy, which later came to promote ideas like constitutional government, liberty, and tolerance (Outram 29). Other ideals include separation of church and state and fraternity.
Outram, Dorinda. Panorama of the Enlightenment. Getty Publications, p. 29
Roberson, Rusty. Enlightened Piety during the Age of Benevolence: The Christian Knowledge
Movement in the British Atlantic World. Church History, 85.2: 246