This chapter suggests that the Enlightenment was driven by a modern secular spirit of criticism directed against the authority of church, state, and antiquity and aimed at effecting significant change in existing practices and institutions. The first modern critical discourse arose during the Enlightenment. Still, the cultural critics of the Enlightenment all shared a number of important convictions; these permit the author to refer to their collective orientation, despite their other differences, as that of liberal humanism. Further, the fact that liberal humanism became the dominant ideology of most European and American governments has appeared to many to have compromised its original critical stance. Probably the earliest and most straightforward type of cultural critique was that of skepticism, which involved both a general critical attitude toward all claims to knowledge on the basis of authority and a more specific process of challenging particular claims case by case.