Major Publication Dates of the Enlightenment

  • Newton's Principia Mathematica

    Newton's Principia Mathematica
    Isaac Newton developed and used mathematical methods now included in the field of calculus. Newton gave many of his proofs in a geometric form of infinitesimal calculus, based on limits of ratios of vanishing small geometric quantities.
  • Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding

    Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding
    An Essay Concerning Human Understanding is one of John Locke's two most famous works. The other work his Second Treatise on Civil Government. This book concerns the foundation of human knowledge and understanding. He describes the mind at birth as a blank slate filled later through experience. Further, this essay influenced many enlightenment philosophers.
  • Voltaire's Letters on the English

    Voltaire's Letters on the English
    Letters the English is a series of essays written by Voltaire based on his experiences living in England between 1722 and 1734. The book praised the virtues of the English and indirectly criticized the abuses of French society. He also wrote a book called Elements of the Philosophy of Newton, which popularized the thought of the great scientist.
  • Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws

    Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws
    The Spirit of the Laws is a treatise on political theory first published anonymously by Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu in 1748 with the help of Claudine Guérin de Tencin. Originally published anonymously partly because Montesquieu's works were subject to censorship, its influence outside of France was aided by its rapid translation into other languages. He became a major political philosopher, used Islamic culture as a foil to criticize his own Europeana society.
  • First volume of the Encyclopedia edited by Diderot and d'Alembert

    First volume of the Encyclopedia edited by Diderot and d'Alembert
    The philosophe Denis Diderot edited the Encyclopedia. He and his co-editor, Jean d'Alembert, published the first edition of the Encyclopedia in 28 volumes between 1751 and 1772. The Encyclopedia was the product of the collective effort of more than one hundred authors, and its editors had solicited articles from all the major French philosophes.The Encyclopedia set forth the most advanced critical ideas in religon, government, and philosophy.
  • Rousseau's Social Contract

    Rousseau's Social Contract
    The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau is the book in which Rousseau theorized about the best way in which to set up a political community in the face of the problems of commercial society. He also had identified in his other book, "Discourse on Inequality", published in 1754.
  • Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations

    Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations
    The Wealth of Nations is the masterpiece of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith. Smith believed that economic liberty was the foundation of a natural economic system. The book is a reflection on economics at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and argues that free market economies are more productive and beneficial to their societies. The book, written for the educated, is considered to be the foundation of modern economic theory.
  • Lessing's Nathan the Wise

    Lessing's Nathan the Wise
    Nathan the Wise is a play by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, published in 1779. It is a fervent plea for religious tolerance. Its performance was forbidden by the church during Lessing's lifetime and along with another of his works, The Jews were also banned by the Nazis. The major themes were friendship, tolerance, relativism of God, a rejection of miracles and a need for communication.
  • Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

    Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
    A Vindication of the Rights of Woman was written by the eighteenth-century British feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who was one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy. In it, Wollstonecraft responded to those educational and political theorists of the eighteenth century who did not believe women should have an education. She maintained that women are human beings deserving of the same fundamental rights as men.