The Enlightenment developed those features of the modern world that most libertarians prize—liberal politics and free markets, scientific progress, and technological innovation.

The Enlightenment took the intellectual revolutions of the early modern 17th century and transformed European and American society in the 18th century. At the beginning of the 17th century, Europe was largely feudal and presci-entific. By the end of the 18th century, however, liberal democratic revolutions had swept away feudalism; the foundations of physics, chemistry, and biology had been laid; and the Industrial Revolution was at full steam.

The Enlightenment was the product of thousands of brilliant and hardworking individuals, yet two Englishmen are most often identified as inaugurating it: John Locke (1632–1704), for his work on reason, empiricism, and liberal politics; and Isaac Newton ...

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