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Voltaire was living in the age of enlightenment but the age itself was not enlightened. Comment

Voltaire was one of the greatest philosophers of 18 century. And 18 century was the age of enlightenment in Europe. During this age, the liberal and progressive ideals such as liberty, equality, constitutionalism, scientific outlook, logic and reason, tolerance, humanism, empiricism, and emphasis on the application of wisdom to human activities were being popularized by philosophers like Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Danis Diderot.

  1. Voltaire was living in the age of enlightenment. The political, social, religious, and economic system was still based on medieval ideas and practices.
  2. Absolute monarchy based on the divine rights of the king was prevalent in every country of Continental Europe. Aristocracy, feudalism, and arbitrary judicial legal system everywhere.
  3. The people did not enjoy any political right. They were being exploited by the king and his officers’.
  4. Social inequality was also deep-rooted. Society was divided into privileged class (comprising priests and nobles) and unprivileged class (comprising common people).
  5. The church was full of evils. The priest was enjoying luxurious life at the cost of the common masses. The public trust was being misused.
  6. More than 80% of the French population was that of the peasantry. Hardly any resources were available to them to meet their basic needs. Wealth was in the hands of few individuals and institutions.

The ideas of the enlightenment were yet to find a manifestation in the political, social, religious, and economic spheres. That is why Immanuel Kant commented that the age in which Voltaire lived is yet to be enlightened.

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