SONATA, SYMPHONY, AND OPERA
IN THE EARLY CLASSIC PERIOD
The movement known as the Enlightenment challenged established systems of thought and behavior. In the sphere of religion, it valued individual faith and practical morality more than the church as an institution. In philosophy and science, the emphasis on reasoning from experience and from careful observation favored the study of the human mind, the emotions, social relations, and organizations. In social behavior, naturalness was preferred to artificiality and formality. The belief that individuals had rights challenged the authority of the state. With the recognition that all people were equal and with the adoption of universal education, many believed that class privilege would disappear. Most important, the Enlightenment stood for the conviction that reason and knowledge could solve social and practical problems.
Religion, philosophical systems, science, the arts, education, the social order, all were being judged by how they contributed to the well-being of the individual. Some declared that the highest good was the harmonious development of a person's inborn capacities. Francis Hutcheson (1694-1746), in his treatise Concerning Moral Good and Evil, defined the ethical ideal as "the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers."
The French philosophes (as they were called), such as Rousseau, Montesquieu, and Voltaire, were truly social reformers rather than philosophers. They reacted to the conditions they saw around them and promoted social change. They developed doctrines about individual rights—some of which are incorporated in the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution—in response to the terrible inequalities between the condition of the