The development from Aquinas through Locke and Newton represents more than four
hundred years of stumbling, tortuous, prodigious effort to secularize the
Western mind, i.e., to liberate man from the medieval shackles. It was the
buildup toward a climax: the eighteenth century, the Age of Enlightenment.
For the first time in modern history, an authentic respect for reason became
the mark of an entire culture; the trend that had been implicit in the
centuries-long crusade of a handful of innovators now swept the West
explicitly, reaching and inspiring educated men in every field. Reason, for so
long the wave of the future, had become the animating force of the present.