age of reason

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See also: Age of Reason



age of reason (usually uncountable, plural ages of reason)

  1. (Roman Catholicism) Seven years of age, at which age a person is morally liable for the sins that he or she commits.
    Synonym: age of discretion
    • 1762, Allan Bloom (translator), Jean Jacques Rousseau (author), Émile, or, on Education:
      Book 1:
      Reason alone teaches us to know good and bad. . . . Before the age of reason we do good and bad without knowing it, and there is no morality in our actions. . . . A child wants to upset everything he sees; he smashes, breaks everything he can reach.
      Book 4:
      We hold that no child who dies before the age of reason will be deprived of eternal happiness. . . . The whole difference I see here between you and me is that you claim that children have this capacity [i.e., to recognize the divinity] at seven, and I do not even accord it to them at fifteen.
    • 2006, February: Julia Sweeney, “Letting Go of God” performed at TED2006, 0:16–0:54
      On September tenth — the morning of my seventh birthday — I came downstairs to the kitchen, where my mother was washing the dishes and my father was… reading the paper or something, and I sort-of presented myself to them in the doorway, and they said “Hey! Happy birthday!” And I said “I’m seven.” And my father smiled and said “Well, you know what that means, don’t you?” And I said “Yeah… that I’m gonna have a party and a cake and get a lot of presents (?)” And my dad said “Well, yes, but more importantly, being seven means that you’ve reached the age of reason, and you’re now capable of committing any and all sins against God and man.”
    • c. 2008, Michelle Arnold, "What is the correct age for confirmation?," (retrieved 29 Oct 2013):
      Since the Church has traditionally understood the age of reason to be seven years old, your daughter would not be too young to receive confirmation at age eight.
  2. (usually capitalized) The historical period when philosophy, science, and social thought were associated with the principles of rationalism and the celebration of the achievements of human reason, often considered to be centered in the 18th century.
    Synonym: Enlightenment