The Age of Reason: Enlightenment Concept Map, Ideas, and Effects

Last updated on September 22, 2022 by

In the 18th century, it is evident that the Enlightenment era also called the Age of Reason, is an awakening period for philosophers in British North America and the early United States. Somehow, it was also motivated by the concepts of the British and fresh enlightenment. The main ideas and the outcomes of the Enlightenment were extreme and still remain up to this time. The only thing that has changed is how each person views the Enlightenment. Here, an Enlightenment concept map was conceptualized to present the principles and impacts of this period.

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The Enlightenment Concept Map

Main Ideas of Enlightenment
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6 Main Ideas of Enlightenment

The enlightenment era has given way to new ideas and principles concerning the existence of God, nature, and humanity. Wherein, scholars and thinkers started to discover truths about human reasoning, the world, and religion. These enlightenment ideas discussed below were shared and cultivated by the European and American enlightenment philosophers, including Voltaire and Isaac Newton. 


Tradition, etiquette, and prejudice were seen by European Enlightenment thinkers as impediments to understanding the fundamental principles of nature. Deism, or the concept that God exists apart from sacred texts, divine providence, revealed religion, prophecy, and miracles, is the answer. Deism bases religious convictions on reason and observation of nature. God was regarded as a reasonable deity by deists.

Deists were typically (though not always) Protestants who shared the Catholic Church’s contempt for religious dogmatism and slavish adherence to tradition. The majority of deists turned to the use of gentler weapons like humor and satire in their conflict with Catholics rather than resorting to violence and bigotry.


Individual liberty and religious tolerance were American Enlightenment thinking, which stood in opposition to an absolute monarchy and the unchanging principles of the Church. For this reason, it aimed to abolish the power of the king, conventional conservatism, self-governing democracy, and hereditary privilege standards.

In Northern Europe, liberalism was adopted by traders and entrenched in practical unity. It believes in the concept of freedom and human rights. In addition to this, Liberals supported a legal system committed to protecting private property rights, a strong individualism over the passive collectivism associated with feudal systems, and an outlook of tolerant pluralism that did not discriminate between consumers or citizens based on their race or principles. They also supported the interests of the middle class over those of the elite aristocracy.

With the developing Enlightenment concepts of the time, liberalism continued to progress throughout the 18th century. During the 18th century, there was a period of strong intellectual vitality that challenged established norms and had an impact on numerous European monarchies.


Toleration, also known as tolerant pluralism, was also emphasized in the American enlightenment concept. In correspondence with the early liberalism that was popular among Northern Europe’s merchant elite, tolerance of difference emerged. It expressed their conviction that prejudice or fear of people of different races and creeds hindered trade, smothered freedom of speech, weakened the foundation for international friendship, and caused persecution and conflict.

The almost thirty years of war, especially the French wars of religion in the 16th and 17 centuries, makes European thinkers envision a time when enlightened reason, not religious dogmatism, governed relations between various peoples who had allegiances to various religions. The Protestant Reformation and the Treaty of Westphalia drastically reduced the power of the Catholic Church and strengthened secular political institutions, creating the ideal environment for the development of autonomous nation-states.

Scientific Progress 

When the scientific revolution first began, individuals began to distinguish it from philosophical or theological movements. The necessity for a continually interfering God was eliminated by advances in science, whether it was the rejection of the geocentric model of the universe due to Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo’s work or the discovery of natural laws like Newton’s mathematical explanation of gravity.

Following the publication of Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia in 1660, the Royal Society of England, the Académie des Sciences in France, and later the Academy of Sciences in Germany all institutionalized their belief in the advancement of science. Prior to the American Revolution, scientists and natural philosophers in the country belonged to the Royal Society. Benjamin Franklin helped found the American Philosophical Society in 1768 and later served as its first president.


In the past, people thought that a government chosen by hereditary rights would control the country. Republicanism was created in order to eradicate this idea from the country. Actually, it remained true to its political advocacy, which mentioned that the country would support democratic government and that only general elections would be used to choose the state’s highest official. The mid-20th century saw the generalization of this political ideology as an analysis.

Republican principles include civic patriotism, virtue in government, and a focus on individual property. Classic republicanism, which emerged in late antiquity and the early renaissance, varied from early liberalism in that it held that rights were the outcomes of being a member of a political society rather than gifts from God in a pre-social state of nature. According to the classical republican understanding of liberty, people use their freedom within the framework of pre-existing social relations, historical associations, and traditional communities, not as independent individuals aside from their social and political relationships.


The most well-known political ideology of the post-Enlightenment period is Conservatism. Instead of focusing on logic, they tended to highlight human experiences. Though the Enlightenment is more frequently identified with liberalism and republicanism, a definite strain of conservatism evolved during its final stages, primarily as a response to the excesses of the French Revolution. In his Reflections on the Revolution in France, Edmund Burke predicted in 1790 that after the revolution, usually referred to as “the Terror”, order and morality would dissipate in French society. Burkean conservatism was supposedly an anti-Enlightenment movement, yet conservatives were also working within the framework of Enlightenment principles.

The Effects of the Enlightenment

It was assumed during the Enlightenment period that human thinking could easily benefit from learning the facts of the world and religion. Moreover, it desired the betterment of the quality of life for each individual. This concept was believed to have a huge impact on everyone’s thinking at a time when everything was still limited by experimentation and interpretation. Anyway, below are the impact of enlightenment ideas that still exists. 

Enlightenment Effects
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Separation of Powers

The first government to ensure a separation of powers (government and church), was that of the American colonies, which did so in 1776 after winning their War of Independence. It had risen to become the most well-liked system of governance globally by the middle of the 20th century. Meanwhile, a basic separation of powers between the executive (the King’s government), the legislature (parliament), and the judiciary was recognized in England by Montesquieu (the law courts)

Rights of Man

The idea that all men have equal rights was rarely held before the Enlightenment. Any break from the established hierarchy was seen as harmful and there is ’divine right of kings,’ which asserted that monarchs had a God-given right to govern. However, declarations of human rights had fully transitioned from theory to reality by the end of the 18th century, as France joined the United States in a popular rebellion. Even though it would take another century for these ideas to catch on, the Enlightenment was essential to their development.


While kings could compel their subjects’ allegiance by force, the church typically supported these monarchies with theories that justified their hierarchy — God gave his power to kings, who commanded their subjects in His name — and this relationship between sacred and profane power was exposed by the theorists of the Enlightenment.

By the end of the 18th century, the concept of legal separation of church and state was growing to seem more and more inevitable. It prepared the way for a future when fewer and fewer people would claim any kind of religious affiliation. They used the sectarian carnage of the 17th century as proof and improve their way of living.


The Enlightenment Concept Map gives a brief understanding of the ideas and effects gained in this period. Undoubtedly, it is one of the important eras in history that paved the way for scientific reasoning, human rights, separation of powers, religion, and freedom. Anyway, if you are a history buff who got fascinated by historical topics, you can make also your own mind map using GitMind. 

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Posted by: on to Tips and Resources. Last updated on September 22, 2022

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