Siècle des Lumières, also known as The Century of Enlightenment, was taking place during the 18th century over in the European continent. It was spreading like wildfire among the politicians, royal households, physicians, among many other higher members of courts and even well known authors of the time were participating in the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was a time for progressive liberal views to march forward and to make a new change. A new change in the political world, in the religious world, and even in the world in general. Many of my personal favorite authors such as Jean Jacques-Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, Voltaire, Mary Wollstonecraft and Émilie du Châtelet (who was primarily known as a Mathematician, was also an author) were all heavily influenced. They were influenced by the thought of freedom. The freedom of the press, the freedom of the people having a say of how they wish things could be run. The Enlightenment did not occur until the mid-18th century, when it had broken out all over France due to Jean Jacques-Rousseau distributing his word to the people, to the royal members, and to the church to see. Although Mr Jacques-Rousseau was a major influence of the Enlightenment happening, he would not have had major success without the help with another author and philosopher, Voltaire. Both of these gentlemen argued for society as a whole by the ways of reason, rather than using the Catholic doctrine and of faith. What they had done was for the good of society at the time, because they thought that freedom from the church was something that society needed.
Just like everything else, there are two different distinctions of the Enlightenment. There was the radical side and then there was the moderate view on the whole train of thought. The radical side was influenced heavily by a man named Baruch Spinoza. Spinoza had been advocating for democracy across the country and across the continent. On top of this he was advocating individual liberty, freedom of expression, and of the eradication of religious authority. The moderate views of the Enlightenment were heavily influenced by the support of Descartes, John Locke, Christian Wolff, among many others. Their views were to bring the reform and the traditional systems of power and faith together in order to have a just society. Even though there were two separate views on the movement, the conservative religious people who used the Counter-Enlightenment to oppose them. The separation of the church and state began to take place with several people supporting the decision to have the government have control instead of the Catholic church that seemed to rule the entire country.
If you have read this and noticed a few key points throughout the post, you would have noticed a few specific things that are included in the Declaration of Independence for the United States of America. During the year of 1776, in the month of July, the Declaration was signed by the men who are known as the founding fathers. All of them had been influenced by the revolutionary men of the Enlightenment and decided to take action and produce a document for the entire country to have. For instance, Spinoza had been advocating for freedom of expression, and if you look at the first amendment, it clearly states the citizen has the freedom to expression. Spinoza had influenced many of the founding fathers, and because of this, we are able to have this right. However, nowadays, are freedom of expression has been limited due to censorship and it seems as though we are backtracking to the time before the Enlightenment, before the time we were allowed to stand up for what we believed in and needed to say things to help make society a better place.
As a person who believes in the Enlightenment even in this day and age, I can say for a fact that we are backtracking. Look at the elections that are held today. When one person opposes a candidate, what happens, they either get thrown out or they get beaten up. The candidates are indeed acting like children rather than being adults and making wise decisions. The Enlightenment happened for a reason. It happened because like minded people, such as myself, decided to make a change in the political world, decided to make a change in the church world, and decided to make a change for society and to have the people be able to have a say in great matters.