Significant people and publications
The most famous work by Nicholas de Condorcet
, Esquisse d'un tableau historique des progres de l'esprit humain
With the publication of this book, the development of the Age of Enlightenment is considered generally ended.
The Age of Enlightenment was preceded by and closely associated with the scientific revolution. Earlier philosophers whose work influenced the Enlightenment included Bacon and Descartes. The major figures of the Enlightenment included Beccaria, Baruch Spinoza, Diderot, Kant, Hume, Rousseau and Adam Smith. Some European rulers, including Catherine II of Russia, Joseph II of Austria and Frederick II of Prussia, tried to apply Enlightenment thought on religious and political tolerance, which became known as enlightened absolutism.
Many of the main political and intellectual figures behind the American Revolution associated themselves closely with the Enlightenment: Benjamin Franklin visited Europe repeatedly and contributed actively to the scientific and political debates there and brought the newest ideas back to Philadelphia; Thomas Jefferson closely followed European ideas and later incorporated some of the ideals of the Enlightenment into the Declaration of Independence; and James Madison incorporated these ideals into the United States Constitution during its framing in 1787.
The most influential publication of the Enlightenment was the Encyclopédie (Encyclopaedia). Published between 1751 and 1772 in thirty-five volumes, it was compiled by Diderot, d'Alembert (until 1759) and a team of 150 scientists and philosophers. It helped spread the ideas of the Enlightenment across Europe and beyond. Other landmark publications were Voltaire's Dictionnaire philosophique (Philosophical Dictionary; 1764) and Letters on the English (1733); Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality (1754) and The Social Contract (1762); Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and The Wealth of Nations (1776); and Montesquieu's The Spirit of the Laws (1748). The ideas of the Enlightenment played a major role in inspiring the French Revolution, which began in 1789. After the Revolution, the Enlightenment was followed by the intellectual movement known as Romanticism.