The writers of the Enlightenment called themselves philosophes (French for "philosophers"). While "philosophers" concern themselves with abstract theories, the philosophes were public intellectuals that were dedicated to solving real world problems. They wrote on subjects concerning current affairs to art criticism in every conceivable format. For example, the Swiss philosophe Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote a political contract, a treatise on education, a constitution for Poland, an analysis of the effects of the theater on public morals, a best-selling novel, an opera, and a notorious autobiography.
Philosophes are public intellectuals of the Enlightenment who wrote on subjects ranging from current affairs to art criticism with the goal of furthering reform in society. (The word in French means "philosophers.")
Philosophes were the intellectuals of the 18th century Enlightenment. They applied reason to the study of many areas of learning, including philosophy, history, science, politics, economics and social issues. They were strong supporters of toleration as well as progress.