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  • Published: 1 Sep 2017
  • DOI: 10.4324/9781138201521-HET8-1


  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • French Enlightenment
  • Scottish Enlightenment
  • Italian Enlightenment
  • References

Enlightenment in Europe

Université de Lille, France


If the Enlightenment can be defined as an emancipatory call for reason, a concern for more analytic and systematic explanations, or a claim to greater freedom, happiness and equality for mankind, then eighteenth-century economic thought as a specific inquiry into principles or laws governing the economy of a civil society, whether named science of trade or political economy, takes part in this vision. It might be said that economic thought contributed to the promotion of a civil and commercial culture insofar as it sought to achieve peace and prosperity within the nation and between nations. It is in this sense that in the eighteenth-century Europe science of trade and political economy were regarded as new and hopeful sciences.