Immanuel Kant defined the Enlightenment as, "man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity." He states that this self-inflicted imaturity is not from a lack of understanding, but from the lack of courage to use one’s reason, intellect, and wisdom without the guidance of another. Kant says that the motto of enlightenment is, "Sapere aude!- Dare to be wise!" In other words, Kant believed that the Enlightenment was the beginning of man's willingness to question authority and to think for himself.
The Enlightenment was sometimes called the Age of Reason because there were three central concepts that evolved from Kant's definition. The first of these concepts was that natural science could and should be used to examine and understand all aspects of life. The second concept was that scientific methods could be used to discover the laws of human society. The third concept was that armed with the proper method of discovering human existence, thinkers believed in the creation of better societies and people. These concepts can be considered extensions of Kant's definition because they all advocate reason as the primary source and basis of authority.
Enlightenment concepts differed from medieval and renaissance thinkers in many ways. During the Medieval Age, Christianity played a major role in every day life. The medieval thinker held beliefs based on religion and did not question the authority of the church. During the Renaissance, people began to focus more on art and the beauty of the human body, but religion still played a key role. Enlightenment concepts involved the importance of science and the ability to use one's reason, intellect, and wisdom without the guidance of another. The ideas of Enlightenment thinkers such as John Locke and Voltaire, challenged the authorities of the church and the monarchies of Europe.
During the 18th century, France was considered the center of Enlightenment thought because French thinkers of this...