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The Enlightenment


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Title: The Enlightenment

The Enlightenment
The Age of Reason
I. What is (the) Enlightenment?
  • Develops out of the ideas of the Scientific
  • - an expansion of the worldliness and secularism
    of the Renaissance

B. Immanuel Kant What is Enlightenment?
Enlightenment is man's release from his
self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man's
inability to make use of his understanding
without direction from another. Self-incurred is
this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of
reason but in lack of resolution and courage to
use it without direction from another. Sapere
aude!Dare to know! "Have courage to use your
own reason!"- that is the motto of enlightenment.
II. Central Concepts of the Enlightenment
  • A. The methods of natural science should be used
    to understand all aspects of life - through the
    use of REASON
  • B. Discover the natural laws of human society as
    well as the natural world (social science)
  • C. The idea of progress - The confidence in human
    power, human reason to improve society

II. Central concepts of the Enlightenment cont
  • D. Rejection of superstition and tradition
  • E. Tolerance and equality
  • F. Deism - God does not intervene in the world
    through miracles he created the world, and then
    removed himself from it

What is Enlightenment?
Reason Logic
Traditions and Superstitions
  • rationalism
  • empiricism
  • tolerance
  • skepticism
  • Deism
  • nostalgia for the past
  • organized religions
  • irrationalism
  • emotionalism

Immanuel Kant -- DARE TO KNOW!
Centers of the Enlightenment
III. The Philosophes
men of letters who wrote for public consumption,
using humor, wit, satire
A. Denis Diderot - The Encyclopedia - a
compilation of all knowledge!
The Encyclopedia
Our aim is to collect all the knowledge
scattered over the face of the earth, and to
transmit this to those who will come after us....
It could only belong to a philosophical age to
attempt an encyclopedia All things must be
examined, debated, and investigated without
exception and without regard for anyones
feelings. We have for quite some time needed a
reasoning age.
It is impious to want to impose laws upon mans
conscience this is a universal rule of conduct.
People must be enlightened and not constrained.
War is the fruit of mans depravity it is a
convulsive and violent sickness of the body
politic If reason governed men and had the
influence over the heads of nations that it
deserves, we would never see them inconsiderately
surrender themselves to the fury of war they
would not show that ferocity that characterizes
wild beasts.
The Encyclopedia
No man has received from nature the right to
command others.... The government, although
hereditary in a family, is not private property,
but public property that consequently can never
be taken from the people, to whom it belongs
exclusively. It is not the state that belongs to
the prince, it is the prince who belongs to the
It is of the greatest importance to conserve
this practice the free press in all states
founded on liberty.
The buying of Negroes, to reduce them to
slavery, is one business that violates religion,
morality, natural laws, and all the rights of
human nature.
Sample Pages of the Encyclopedia
Sample Pages of the Encyclopedia
Sample Pages of the Encyclopedia
Sample Pages of the Encyclopedia
Subscriptions to Diderots Encyclopedia
III. The Philosophes (cont)
B. Montesquieu - separation and balance of
powers admired the British model of government
III. The Philosophes (cont)
  • C. Voltaire
  • 1. freedom of thought and religion toleration
  • 2. ridiculed the clergy for their bigotry,
    intolerance, and superstition
  • 3. Admired Louis XIV and Frederick the Great -
    thought people unable to govern themselves

The Wit and Wisdom of Voltaire
I have never made but one prayer to God, a very
short one Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.
And God granted it.
Almost everything that goes beyond the adoration
of a Supreme Being and submission of the heart to
his orders is superstition. One of the most
dangerous is to believe that certain ceremonies
entail the forgiveness of crimes. Do you believe
that God will forget a murder you have committed
if you bathe in a certain river, sacrifice a
black sheep? Do better miserable humans, have
neither murders nor sacrifices of black sheep.
God is a comedian playing to an audience too
afraid to laugh. It is dangerous to be right
when the government is wrong. I may not agree
with what you have to say, but I will defend to
the death your right to say it.
III. The Philosophes (cont)
  • D. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (later Enlightenment)
  • 1. Society is artificial and corrupt - state of
    nature is better - education
  • 2. Valued impulse and emotion more than reason
  • 3. Believed in contract government and individual
  • 4. General Will - republic as ideal government

Discussion Question
Historians often refer to the Enlightenment
project. What was the project of the
Enlightenment? What reforms were the philosophes
seeking? What kind of society were they trying
to create?
IV. The Republic of Letters
  • URBAN -- gathering of
    elites in the cities (salons)
  • B. URBANE -- cosmopolitan, worldly -
    music, art, literature, politics - read
    newspapers the latest books
  • C. POLITENESS -- proper behavior -

Reading During the Enlightenment
  • Literacy - 80 for men, 60 women
  • Books were expensive (one days wages)
  • Many readers for each book - novels, plays
    other literature - journals, memoirs,
    private lives - philosophy, history,
    theology - newspapers, political
    pamphlets - often censored by

Must Read Books of the Time
A Parisian Salon
A Parisian Salon
The Salonnieres
Madame Geoffrin (1699-1777)
Madame Suzanne Necker (1739-1794)
Mademoiselle Julie de Lespinasse (1732-1776)
Zoology Biology
A dissection at the Royal Academy, London
Chemistry Labs Botany Gardens
Questions for Review
  1. What types of literature were featured in the
    illegal book trade in France?
  2. What were the important trends of Enlightenment
  3. What was the primary purpose of Fontenelles
  4. Why does the Enlightenment develop best in
  5. What does Locke put forth in his Essay Concerning
    Human Understanding?
  6. What was the reading revolution?
  7. What does Montesquieu argue in his Spirit of
  8. What does DHolbach present in System of Nature?
  9. What was the fundamental goal of the
  10. What was Rousseaus general will?
  11. Who wrote the Historical and Critical Dictionary?
  12. Which social classes intermingled in Parisian
  13. Who wrote Progress of the Human Mind? What was
    put forth in this work?
  14. What did Emmanuel Kant advocate?
  15. Who was Mendelssohn and what did he argue?