8. The Enlightenment

  1. M. A. R. Habib

Published Online: 24 FEB 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781444328004.ch8

Literary Criticism from Plato to the Present: An Introduction

Literary Criticism from Plato to the Present: An Introduction

How to Cite

Habib, M. A. R. (2010) The Enlightenment, in Literary Criticism from Plato to the Present: An Introduction, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444328004.ch8

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 24 FEB 2012
  2. Published Print: 7 JAN 2010

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405160346

Online ISBN: 9781444328004



  • Enlightenment, broad intellectual tendency - spanning philosophy, literature, language, art, religion and political theory;
  • Enlightenment thinkers - by no means uniform in their outlooks;
  • feudal world, values of static hierarchy - loyalty, reverence for authority and religious faith;
  • concept of reason, challenge - to centuries-old traditions of thought and institutional practice;
  • three seminal precursors of Enlightenment thought - Francis Bacon, philosopher Rene Descartes and Benedict Spinoza;
  • Voltaire, popularizing ideas of Newton and Locke - and Philosophical Dictionary;
  • philosopher, in formulation of political liberalism - John Locke and Enlightenment philosophies;
  • Enlightenment literary criticism - language, taste, and imagination;
  • philosophical assumptions of Enlightenment - literary and cultural criticism of major thinkers;
  • Edmund Burke, best known for his political writings - and activities as a statesman


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Historical and Intellectual Background

  • Enlightenment Literary Criticism: Language, Taste, and Imagination