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Some Enlightenment-era ideals we still use are religious toleration, scientific reasoning, emphasizing reason/logic, individual rights, banning censorship by state or church, and separation of state and church. Although we still use these ideals, they have been altered and improved over time. Ideas such as religious toleration, individual rights, censorship by state or church, and separation of state and church actually have laws and amendments backing them up to now legally protect us. These laws and amendments make it clear and even in some cases such as individual rights expand our rights furthermore since the Enlightenment era. For example, aside from the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that stems from the Enlightenment Era, the government expanded it to the right to practice any religion, freedom of speech, the right to have a trial by an unbiased jury, the right to vote (for every citizen), and many other laws. Also, all these ideas including scientific reasoning and emphasizing reason logic for decisions, answers, and solutions is now the standard in society. “A well conducted government must have an underlying concept so well integrated that it could be likened to a system of philosophy. All actions taken must be well reasoned, and all financial, political and military matters must flow towards one goal: which is the strengthening of the state and the furthering of its power”(George). These same ideas are what our government still believes till ́ this day which is why they decided to make it more official by eventually implementing certain amendments/laws. Because of this, these are things that are now unquestionably basic rights.

There were different places people had and still has to debate, discuss, and spread ideas. For example, during the Enlightenment era, “The spirit of Enlightenment swept from the salons, coffeehouses, and Masonic lodges into the halls of government from Philadelphia to Vienna”(Lynn, 643). During that time, these places were common places to gather and exchange ideas. Ways we communicate and exchange ideas we still use from the Enlightenment era are through gathering at places such as coffee shops, salons(social gatherings), and masonic lodges to discuss whatever we choose to discuss.

In the past, consumerism did and still does have a strong influence on how we communicate and exchange ideas. As the population grew and the middle-class grew, the more consumerism increased which eventually made places such as coffee houses and salons began to be a common place for the elite (middle-class and upper middle-class) to meet to further debate and express their ideas regarding mostly political topics. For example, “In 1700, England had two thousand coffeehouses; by 1740, every English country town had at least two. Paris got its first cafés at the end of the seventeenth century, and Berlin opened its first coffeehouse in 1714” (Lynn 584). This shows how over time as consumerism grew, places for people to gather and discuss ideas grew. Consumerism still plays a role in how we exchange ideas because we still go to places such as coffee shops and gatherings (salons) to discuss our ideas.


George L. Mosse, Rondo E. Cameron, Henry Bertram Hill, and Michael B. Petrovich, eds., Europe in Review (Chicago: Rand McNally and Company, 1957), 111–12.

Lynn Hunt … [and others]. The Making of the West : Peoples and Cultures. Boston :Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2001.

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