ABSTRACT

The rise of intellectuals in the late stage of Western civilization, largely during the eighteenth century, was a unique cultural phenomenon the likes of which had never occurred before and is unlikely to repeat itself again. France was from the very start and remained throughout the homeland of the intellectuals. Germany had no capital but dozens of small cities, scattered over a large landmass, hence it had no center or focus for intellectual activity. Europe was one intellectual sphere, but there were deep divisions within it. The subsequent history of Europe and the world is inconceivable without the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was a cultural revolution, perhaps the most radical that humanity had even experienced. For if the Enlightenment marks the most dramatic step towards secularization in Europe’s history, it does so no less in the wider history not just of western civilization, but, arguably, of the entire world.