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James Pleger Bonanno

In: 21st Century Anthropology: A Reference Handbook

Chapter 47: Enlightenment and Secularism

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Enlightenment and Secularism
Enlightenment and secularism

In the broadest sense of the word, enlightenment refers to the development and dissemination of the arts and sciences. Enlightenment entails secularism to a great extent in the Western intellectual tradition, though the two terms are not interchangeable. The entailment of secular ideas distinguishes the European Enlightenment from that of other traditions of the same name, namely the Buddhist Enlightenment of a much earlier period. However, enlightenment can also be described as transcendence, and in this regard, the Western Enlightenment is much less distant from its Buddhist counterpart. Indeed, transcendence is a key component of both enlightenment and secularism. This chapter describes the key components of enlightenment and secularism, and the relationship between the two concepts, as they have developed ...

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