Lead: In a supreme irony, the great figures who graced the French Enlightenment were not particularly original thinkers, rather they were the ones who popularized and championed the new and radical ideas of that era.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Philosophe is the French word for philosopher, and the term is used almost exclusively in English to refer to those important figures of the French Enlightenment. Yet, these philosophes, brilliant of intellect and articulate of word, merely passed on in a most elegant and passionate way the ideas created elsewhere. They were the cheerleaders, the intellectual journalists, the summarizers, the popularizers that gave wings and prominence to the themes of liberty, equality, revolutionary science, economic freedom and the primacy of human reason that characterized the movement. The followers of the philosophes were well educated – mostly from the French elite and aristocracy. Their new ideas were considered chic and exciting.

 

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