Chapter 18:The Age of Enlightenment Enlightenment Influenced by intellectual, political, and social trends Shared the Sci-Revo’s emphasis on reason and faith in progress, but focused its attention on more than just exploring nature: society and government could also be improved by reason Enlightenment political thought criticized the assumptions of and justifications for Absolutist rule The Enlightenment • Applied reason to politics and society • Must understand nature to understand human beings • Human problems could be solved through rational thought and criticism • By using reason, pathways could be found for human advancement • The Enlightenment sparked debate over the place of religion in society, and of God in the world • Most Enlightenment philosophes rejected traditional Christianity, believing it an impediment to human advancement, and a legacy of the Dark Ages in Europe • Few philosophes were atheists; most advocated a form of worship known as Deism • Deists believed that God created the world and acted in it according to the natural laws that He set up at the beginning of time. •Enlightenment intellectuals championed Philosophes Writers and critics who advocated change and reform Middle-class professionals Fundamental principle: reforming society for the sake of human liberty Supported expansion of trade Admired Britain’s religious toleration, liberal government, and stability Traditional views on women Spoke with two voices regarding Islam As a result of the Enlightenment, a spirit of improvement and innovation characterized modern Europe and Western society John Locke Tabula Rasa (Blank Slate) One’s personality is the portrait of external sensations (environment) Human nature is changeable and can be molded by the environment Human improvement was possible Humans - Were not permanently flawed by sin H - Could take charge of their own destiny Locke and Newton were the intellectual forerunners of the Enlightenment Newton: Nature was rational Encouraged Europeans to approach the study of nature directly avoiding metaphysics and supernaturalism Denis Diderot (1713-1784) Encyclopedia: The Rational Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and the Crafts Intolerance, legal injustice and archaic social institutions were criticized Spread the ideas of the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment Became a weapon of the philosophes in their crusade against the old French society Scottish philosopher Hume (1711-1776) The human mind is nothing but a bundle of impressions It makes sense to inquire into the origins of our ideas by asking from which impressions they are derived. Even facts offer no dependable knowledge. Thus, beginning with skepticism is the only logical way to proceed. Moses Mendelssohn On the Immortality of the Soul Urged religious toleration Reason could compliment religion The human soul lives forever Activist against the oppression of his fellow Jews The Jewish Socrates Baruch Spinoza’s teachings portrayed the world as finite and subject to control by the human spirit Defended political toleration of alternative religious practices. I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand. Be not astonished at new ideas; for it is well known to you that a thing does not therefore cease to be true because it is not accepted by many. Rousseau Social Contract The social contract is an agreement on the part of an entire society to by governed by its general will The general will reflects the common interests of all the people Each person willingly surrenders some of their natural liberty to the community in order to gain protection and security. Government is evil, but a necessary one. Rousseau Liberty is achieved through being forced to follow what is best for all What is best for all is best for each individual Criticized philosophes as caring more about material wealth than virtue and happiness Wrote Emile, the most Enlightenment book on education Beccaria became an influential writer after his On Crimes and Punishments was published Attacked capital punishment and torture Purpose of laws: Greatest good for the greatest number Happy is the nation without a history Salons of France Philosophes, nobles and bourgeoisie discussed politics, religion, philosophy Organized by women Spread the ideas of the Enlightenment, paving the way for the French Revolution Madame Geoffrin Madames Geoffrin, Roland and Julie Lespinasse were the leading salonierres Patron of Diderot Madame Roland Another leading salonierre Julie de Lespinasse Most popular salonierre in Paris Supporter of Diderot’s Encyclopedia Writer of philosophy and science and volumes of passionate letters: You know that when I hate you, it is because I love you to a point of passion that unhinges my soul. Adam Smith Harmony and progress would result from the pursuit of self-interest in a competitive market. Mercantilism segues into Capitalism • Wealth of Nations established the basis for modern economics An invisible hand of free competition would discipline the greed of selfish individuals and provide the most effective means of increasing the wealth of all classes Laissez-faire: (leave it alone) A limited role for the government in a nation’s economy Full exploitation of nature for the good of humankind Quotes of Adam Smith Consumption is the sole purpose of all production The rich divide with the poor the produce of all their improvements. They are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal proportions among all its inhabitants. •The monopolists, by keeping the market constantly under-stocked, by never fully supplying the effectual demand, sell their commodities much above the natural price. No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. Montesquieu Persian Letters (1721) Spirit of the Laws (1748) Attacked cruelty and superstition in society, in particular the Catholic church and the French monarchy. Separation of powers/checks and balances prevented tyranny in government Admired the English constitution A conservative Advocated monarchy balanced by a reformed aristocracy Voltaire: Philosophic Letters (1733) Appealed for better individuals and institutions Criticized many of the ills oppressing France: royal absolutism lack of religious toleration freedom of thought Voltaire: Treatise on Toleration (1763) All men are brothers under God. Famous Quote: “ Crush the infamous thing!” The best one could hope for in government was an enlightened ruler Women and the Enlightenment New intellectual vistas for European women • Provoked strong opposition from male philosophes In Emile (1762) Rousseau, argued that women (and men) would be happiest if women retained their traditional roles. Women should be educated so far as it was necessary to fulfill the job of adorning a husband, but not given instruction in science or philosophy. Mary Wollstonecraft First modern feminist A Vindication of the Rights of Women Founded the first school for girls in Great Britain Mother of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein Endured harsh criticism in England for her advocacy of women’s rights Died during childbirth A desperate disease requires a powerful remedy. The inclusion of women as equals would make a stronger society, more balanced, less dysfunctional. Advocated for gender equality in all areas of society, but particularly education. Accused Rousseau of trying to narrow women’s vision and limit their experience Women were the victims of male tyranny Denying education to women would impede the progress of humanity Enlightened Absolutism Enlightened Absolutism Described the rulers who embraced the reforms of the philosophes Monarchial government dedicated to the rational strengthening of absolutist administration Was neither enlightened nor truly absolute in its exercise of royal power “Enlightened” Absolutism Joseph II of Austria Religious toleration Tried to increase the power of the central monarchy Unsuccessful with the Magyars Abolished the robot, services due the landlord from the peasant The End! Viva’ la French Revolution!
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