The Enlightenment was a period of great self awareness. I think I remember us saying that the people of the time called the period the Enlightenment. I think the choice naming it the Enlightenment, instead of the Enlightened, or something of the sort, is important because “Enlightenment” suggests that they were continually on a quest for knowledge, they were enlightening themselves. They appreciated the constant growth/learning process and weren't arrogant about it saying they were the Enlightened Ones….though I do think a bit of confidence helped some writers and philosophers share their ideas.
On another note, perhaps the conquests in foreign parts of the world and information sent from the New World and the Far East to
Europe enhanced their own view of themselves. They began defining themselves in opposition
to other cultures they had not previously had contact with. They could point out the flaws in other’s
civilizations, and comparatively (at least in their minds) they were further
along intellectually, emotionally, scientifically, etc. By seeing different
cultures, they saw their own society differently. Social commentators could
either say that European society trumps others because "blah blah blah", and
others like Voltaire could point out that Europeans are just as corrupt as
others, even more in some case because "blah blah blah." In sum, European contact with foreign lands had
a strong influence on the way they viewed themselves.