The Enlightenment Period

The Philosophes

Who were the philosophes?

The term “philosophe” can and has been applied to virtually all intellectuals who advocated change in the world order during the decades leading up to the American and French revolutions. In that sense, David Hume, Jeremy Bentham, and Benjamin Franklin were all philosophes. However, to tell a manageable history of philosophy it is useful to narrow the term down to the French encyclopedists and Adam Smith, Edward Gibbon, Gotthold Lessing, and Cesare Beccaria.


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