The men of the Enlightenment hoped and expected to bring about the ideal society of mankind based on progress through education
The ancient world seems to have had no conception progress. Greeks and Romans looked back rather to a Golden Age from which man had degenerated and the Middle Ages were preoccupied with thoughts of the next world.
was Fontenelle who instilled the eighteenth-century
faith in progress. It was from science and reason that
he hoped that Europe would not only equal but far surpass
So long as men continue to accumulate knowledge, progress will be as inevitable as the growth of a tree; nor is there any reason to look for its cessation.
Condorcet summed up the hopes and the confidence of the whole age when he wrote: There is no limit set to the perfecting of the powers of man it will never go backward; at least, so long as the earth occupies the same place in the system of the universe.