Age of Enlightenment - Important Intellectuals

Important Intellectuals

  • Thomas Abbt (1738–1766) German. Author of "Vom Tode für's Vaterland" (On dying for one's nation).
  • Jean le Rond d'Alembert (1717–1783) French. Mathematician and physicist, one of the editors of Encyclopédie.
  • Francis Bacon (1561–1626) English philosopher who started the revolution in empirical thought that characterized much of the enlightenment.
  • Pierre Bayle (1647–1706) French. Literary critic known for his newsletter "Nouvelles de la république des lettres" and his powerful Dictionnaire historique et critique, and one of the earliest influences on the Enlightenment thinkers to advocate tolerance between the different religious beliefs.
  • Cesare Beccaria (1738–1794) Italian. criminal law reformer, best known for his treatise On Crimes and Punishments (1764).
  • Balthasar Bekker (1634–1698) Dutch, a key figure in the Early Enlightenment. In his book De Philosophia Cartesiana (1668) Bekker argued that theology and philosophy each had their separate terrain and that Nature can no more be explained from Scripture than can theological truth be deduced from Nature.
  • George Berkeley (1685–1753) Irish. Philosopher and mathematician famous for developing the theory of subjective idealism.
  • Justus Henning Boehmer (1674–1749), German ecclesiastical jurist, one of the first reformers of the church law and the civil law which was basis for further reforms and maintained until the 20th century.
  • James Boswell (1740–1795) Scottish. Biographer of Samuel Johnson, helped established the norms for writing biography in general.
  • G.L. Buffon (1707–1788) French biologist. Author of L'Histoire Naturelle considered Natural Selection and the similarities between humans and apes.
  • Edmund Burke (1729–1797) Irish. Parliamentarian and political philosopher, best known for pragmatism, considered important to both Enlightenment and conservative thinking.
  • Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle (1657–1757)
  • Dimitrie Cantemir (1673–1723) Moldavian. Philosopher, historian, composer, musicologist, linguist, ethnographer, and geographer.
  • Francisco Javier Clavijero (1731–1787) Mexican. Historian, best known for his Antique History of Mexico.
  • Marquis de Condorcet (1743–1794) French. Philosopher, mathematician, and early political scientist who devised the concept of a Condorcet method.
  • James Cook (1728–1779) – British naval captain. Explored much of the Pacific including New Zealand, Australia, New Caledonia and Hawaii.
  • Ekaterina Dashkova (1743–1810) Russian. Director of the Imperial Academy of Arts and Sciences (known now as the Russian Academy of Sciences).
  • Denis Diderot (1713–1784) French. Founder of the Encyclopédie, speculated on free will and attachment to material objects, contributed to the theory of literature.
  • Christlieb Feldstrauch (1734–1799), Russian and German educator and philosopher. Author of Beobachtungen über den Geist des Menschen und dessen Verhältniß zur Welt
  • French Encyclopédistes (1700s)
  • Denis Fonvizin (1744–1792) Russian. Writer and playwright.
  • José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia (1766–1840) Paraguayan. First president of Paraguay. Introduced radical political ideas never-before seen in South America to Paraguay, making his country prosperous and more secure than any other in South-America.
  • Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) American. Statesman, scientist, political philosopher, author. As a philosopher known for his writings on nationality, economic matters, aphorisms published in Poor Richard's Almanac and polemics in favor of American Independence. Involved with writing the United States Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of 1787.
  • Edward Gibbon (1737–1794) English. Historian best known for his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) is closely identified with Enlightenment values, progressing from Sturm und Drang ("Storm and Stress"); leader in Weimar Classicism.
  • Olympe de Gouges (1748–1793), French playwright and activist who championed feminist politics.
  • Alexander Hamilton (1755–1804) American. Economist, political theorist and politician. A major protagonist for the Constitution of the United States, and the single greatest contributor to the Federalist Papers, advocating for the constitution's ratification through detailed examinations of its construction, philosophical and moral basis, and intent.
  • Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) Austrian composer who revolutionized the symphonic form.
  • Claude Adrien Helvétius (1715–1771)
  • Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744–1803) German. Theologian and linguist. Proposed that language determines thought, introduced concepts of ethnic study and nationalism, influential on later Romantic thinkers. Early supporter of democracy and republican self-rule.
  • Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) English philosopher, who wrote Leviathan, a key text in political philosophy. While Hobbes justifies absolute monarchy, this work is the first to posit that the temporal power of a monarch comes about, not because God has ordained that he be monarch, but because his subjects have freely yielded their own power and freedom to him - in other words, Hobbes replaces the divine right of kings with an early formulation of the social contract. Hobbes' work was condemned by reformers for its defense of absolutism, and by traditionalists for its claim that the power of government derives from the power of its subjects rather than the will of God.
  • Baron d'Holbach (1723–1789) French. Author, encyclopaedist and Europe's first outspoken atheist. Roused much controversy over his criticism of religion as a whole in his work The System of Nature.
  • Henry Home, Lord Kames (1696–1782) Scottish. Lawyer and philosopher. Patron of Adam Smith and David Hume. See Scottish Enlightenment.
  • Robert Hooke (1635–1703) English, probably the leading experimenter of his age, Curator of Experiments for the Royal Society. Performed the work which quantified such concepts as Boyle's Law and the inverse-square nature of gravitation, father of the science of microscopy.
  • David Hume (1711–1776) Scottish. Historian, philosopher and economist. Best known for his empiricism and rational skepticism, advanced doctrines of naturalism and material causes. Influenced Kant and Adam Smith.
  • Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) German. Philosopher and physicist. Established critical philosophy on a systematic basis, proposed a material theory for the origin of the solar system, wrote on ethics and morals. Prescribed a politics of Enlightenment in What is Enlightenment? (1784). Influenced by Hume and Isaac Newton. Important figure in German Idealism, and important to the work of Fichte and Hegel.
  • Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) American. Statesman, political philosopher, educator. As a philosopher best known for the United States Declaration of Independence (1776), especially "All men are created equal," and his support of democracy in theory and practice. A polymath, he promoted higher education as a way to uplift the entire nation .
  • Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos (1744–1811), Main figure of the Spanish Enlightenment. Preeminent statesman.
  • Hugo Kołłątaj (1750–1812) Polish. He was active in the Commission for National Education and the Society for Elementary Textbooks, and reformed the Kraków Academy, of which he was rector in 1783–86. He co-authored the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's Constitution of May 3, 1791, and founded the Assembly of Friends of the Government Constitution to assist in the document's implementation.
  • Ignacy Krasicki (1735–1801): Polish. Leading poet of the Polish Enlightenment.
  • Antoine Lavoisier (1743–1794)French; a founder of modern chemistry; executed in the French Revolution for his politics
  • Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716) German philosopher & mathematician; rival of Newton.
  • Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781) German. Dramatist, critic, political philosopher. Created theatre in the German language
  • Carl von Linné (Carl Linnaeus) (1707–1778) Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy
  • John Locke (1632–1704) English Philosopher. Important empiricist who expanded and extended the work of Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes. Seminal thinker in the realm of the relationship between the state and the individual, the contractual basis of the state and the rule of law. Argued for personal liberty emphasizing the rights of property.
  • Mikhail Lomonosov (1711–1765) Russian. Polymath, scientist and writer, who made important contributions to literature, education, and science.
  • James Madison (1751–1836) American. Statesman and political philosopher. Played a key role in the writing of the United States Constitution and providing a theoretical justification for it in his contributions to the Federalist Papers; author of the American Bill of Rights.
  • Moses Mendelssohn (1729–1786) German. Philosopher of Jewish Enlightenment in Prussia (Haskalah), honoured by his friend Lessing in his drama as Nathan the Wise.
  • James Burnett, Lord Monboddo (1714–1799) Scottish. Philosopher, jurist, pre-evolutionary thinker and contributor to linguistic evolution. See Scottish Enlightenment
  • Josef Vratislav Monse (1733–1793) Czech. Professor of Law at University of Olomouc, leading figure of Enlightenment in the Habsburg Monarchy
  • Benito Jerónimo Feijóo y Montenegro (1676–1764) Spanish, was the most prominent promoter of the critical empiricist attitude at the dawn of the Spanish Enlightenment. See also the Spanish Martín Sarmiento (1695–1772)
  • Montesquieu (1689–1755) French political thinker. He is famous for his articulation of the theory of separation of powers, taken for granted in modern discussions of government and implemented in many constitutions all over the world. Political scientist, Donald Lutz, found that Montesquieu was the most frequently quoted authority on government in colonial America.
  • Leandro Fernández de Moratín (1760–1828) Spanish. Dramatist and translator, support of republicanism and free thinking. Transitional figure to Romanticism.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) Austrian. A leading composer of the era.
  • José Celestino Mutis (1755–1808), Spanish botanist; lead the first botanic expeditions to South America, and built a major collection of plants.
  • Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727) Lucasian professor of mathematics, Cambridge University; author, 'Philosphiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica'.
  • Nikolay Novikov (1744–1818) Russian. Philanthropist and journalist who sought to raise the culture of Russian readers and publicly argued with the Empress. See Russian Enlightenment.
  • Zaharije Orfelin (1726–1785) Serbian. Polymath-poet, writer, historian, translator, engraver, editor, publisher, etc.
  • Dositej Obradović (1739–1811) Serbian. Writer, linguist and influential proponent of Serbian cultural nationalism.
  • Thomas Paine (1737–1809) English/American pamphleteer, most famous for Common Sense (1776) calling for American independence as the most rational solution
  • William Paley (1743–1805) English theologian known for his exposition of the teleological argument and rational religion.
  • Marquis of Pombal (1699–1782) Portuguese statesman notable for his swift and competent leadership in the aftermath of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. He also implemented sweeping economic policies to regulate commercial activity and standardize quality throughout the country.
  • Stanisław August Poniatowski (1732–98), the last king of independent Poland, a leading light of the Enlightenment in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and co-author of one of the world's first modern constitutions, the Constitution of May 3, 1791.
  • François Quesnay (1694–1774) French economist of the Physiocratic school.
  • Alexander Radishchev (1749–1802) Russian. Writer and philosopher. He brought the tradition of radicalism in Russian literature to prominence.
  • Thomas Reid (1710–1796) Scottish. Philosopher who developed Common Sense Realism.
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) Swiss political philosopher; influenced many Enlightenment figures but did not himself believe in primacy of reason and is closer to Romanticism.
  • Adam Smith (1723–1790) Scottish economist and philosopher. He wrote The Wealth of Nations, in which he argued that wealth was not money in itself, but wealth was derived from the added value in manufactured items produced by both invested capital and labour. He is sometimes considered to be the founding father of the laissez-faire economic theory, but in fact argues for some degree of government control in order to maintain equity. Just prior to this he wrote Theory of Moral Sentiments, explaining how it is humans function and interact through what he calls sympathy, setting up important context for The Wealth of Nations.
  • Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677) Dutch philosopher who helped lay the groundwork for the 18th-century Enlightenment.
  • Alexander Sumarokov (1717–1777) Russian. Poet and playwright who created classical theatre in Russia
  • Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) Natural philosopher and theologian whose search for the operation of the soul in the body led him to construct a detailed metaphysical model for spiritual-natural causation.
  • Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) (1694–1778) French. Highly influential writer, historian and philosopher. He promoted Newtonian ism and denounced organized religion as pernicious.
  • Adam Weishaupt (1748–1830) German who founded the Order of the Illuminati.
  • Christian Wolff (1679–1754) German philosopher.
  • Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797) British writer, and pioneer feminist.

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Aufklaerung - Important Intellectuals
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