The Enlightenment Period


Were all eighteenth-century thinkers in agreement with Enlightenment themes?

No. As a counter-tradition to the general rational spirit of the Enlightenment were the Romantics, such as the writers Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Johann Gottfried Herder, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Friedrich Schiller, and William Wordsworth. There were also those, generally referred to as the “pessimists” of the Enlightenment, who did not subscribe to the belief in progress characteristic of the age. For example, in philosophy, Giambattista Vico, Edmund Burke, and Joseph-Marie de Maistre; and in letters, William Cowper, Choderlos de Laxlos, the Marquis de Sade, and Jonathan Swift.


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