W CS 07

Age of Enlightenment (1600-1800)

The Age of Enlightenment developed from the Scientific Revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries. A new focus on reasoning was used to understand social, political and economic institutions.

Content Statement

7. Enlightenment ideas challenged practices related to religious authority, absolute rule and mercantilism.

Content Elaborations

Philosophical thought during the Enlightenment impacted religion, government and economics in Europe. Challenges to religious authority began during the Scientific Revolution with a shift away from the belief that truth is revealed solely through the Bible and the Church. There was a rejection of many of the Church’s doctrines and an increased focus on earthly as well as spiritual welfare.

There was a shift from forms of government in which power was held by only one or few individuals to forms of government in which many have a say, both directly and indirectly. Enlightenment ideas promoted the belief in a social contract between the governed and their government.

The mercantilist system was challenged due to a growing belief that natural laws could define an economic system including a free-market economy with limited government regulation.

Expectations for Learning

Analyze how Enlightenment ideas challenged practices related to religious authority, absolute rule and mercantilism.