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Heroes of the Enlightenment: The power of knowledge | 52mins
Director: Sheila Hayman | Producer: Sun Shuyun
Focus Years: 2011 | Country: United Kingdom
Subject Tags: belief, culture, discoveries, education, europe, global, science, united kingdom
Quality Tags: Optimistic, Slow, Activating, Harmonizing
What are the defining cultural technologies of our time? Google, Facebook and Wikipedia. Where are the commons that define modern democracy? The worlds of finance, manufacture, science and the law. We owe them all to one period in history: the Enlightenment of the 18th Century. In the space of barely a century, Western deference to unquestioned authority – both divine and royal – gave way to a belief that all humans had within themselves the power to understand both their own natures and the universe around them. Holy writ gave way to empirical investigation, belief in miracles to logic and reason. It was a revolution in ideas, information and technology at least the equal of our own times. A literal as well as metaphorical enlightenment – from a world where flickering candles and the waxing and waning moon dictated all human activity, to public buildings lit by gas day and night. The whole world became bright. And with the growth of trade and empire, Enlightenment changed not just the West, but the world, forever. The Age of Enlightenment is a new major two-part documentary series commissioned by ARTE Television and Beijing Television. Filmed in key locations in Britain, France, Germany, Portugal and America, it will bring to life the major characters of the Enlightenment in each, and the ideas and developments they represented. From Newton in Britain to his disciple Voltaire in France, from the Lisbon earthquake to the radical challenge to the Bible’s history represented by the first theories of evolution, from the incredible and subversive enterprise of Diderot’s Encyclopedie, to the boom in reading and publishing it heralded, from Thomas Jefferson’s shaping of the first modern republic in America, to Condorcet’s dream of replicating it in France, the films will follow the thread of ideas and technologies from the beginning of the period to its culmination in the French Revolution. Experts in each subject will be interviewed on location in the dramatic settings in which the events of the period unfolded, augmented by images and music from the period.
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