My contention is that all of this progress has been propelled by mundane material factors, carried by the explosion of industry and technology in the early modern period. World commerce and trade multiplied the objects of fashion and in our households to such an extent that we became "cosmopolitan" in ways of life and standards of living. Something similar took place in the cultural sphere. Despite the historical rivalries between the countries of Europe, each began to assimilate some flavor of the culture of the others. As Joseph Texte wrote in Rousseau and the Cosmopolitan Spirit in Literature, the "classical spirit" of French literature absorbed Nordic input from England and Germany.
Commerce doesn't stay with the same old same old. Some new item of trade is always required to lure consumers. Novelty is thus the engine of capitalism. Our attitudes and values travel the same path, as we exchange old ones for new, more enlightened ones. To take an example from my own lifetime. Back in the 1950s, one spoke of divorce as causing a "broken home." Many decades down the road, it turns out that we were living on the cusp of a profound change in family relations, indeed on the cusp of "single-parent households."
Picture credits: Luctor et emergo; Majstersztyk