Jonathan I. Israel claims that Christian ‘controversialists’ endeavoured first to obscure or efface Spinozism, materialism, and non-authoritarian free thought, and then, in the early eighteenth century, to fight these openly, and desperately. Israel appears to have adopted the view of enlightenment as a battle against what Voltaire has called ‘l’infâme’, and David Hume has labelled ‘stupidity, Christianity, and ignorance’. These authors’ barbs were launched later in the century, however, in the period of the high Enlightenment, following polarizing controversies (...) of mid-century. This chapter argues that many Enlightenment figures, including Hume and Voltaire, were far more involved within a culture in the second quarter of the century that was less divided against Christian interlocutors, less rigid, and more complex than these two wished to suggest, in retrospect, after mid-century. A Christian literary and scientific circle was productive and prominent in French Enlightenment culture, particularly in the personages of François Prévost, Pierre Desfontaines, Samuel Formey and Noël Pluche, and in the pages of ubiquitous journals and occasional publications. Many of the Catholics among these lumières held the education and retained the status of ‘abbé’, a title with prophylactic properties that legitimated expansive inquiry – into topics such as libertinism and atheism – and facilitated in-print exchanges with Voltaire and other less orthodox figures. This wing of the Enlightenment developed a culture that reflected, and sometimes promoted, Christian theology – especially in the tradition of natural theology – and displayed broadly Christian and politically conservative values. The latter aspect served in part to motivate concerted efforts toward their marginalization by others, but the French Enlightenment of the eighteenth century’s second quarter was actually very mixed, and not so very radical; rather, it became polarized at mid-century, and in retrospect, the Christians of this wing were written out of the history by the likes of Voltaire and Hume. (shrink)
In the wake of the Scientific Revolution, the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw the complete demolition of traditional structures of authority, scientific thought, and belief by the new philosophy and the philosophes, including Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau. The Radical Enlightenment played a part in this revolutionary process, which effectively overthrew all justification for monarchy, aristocracy, and ecclesiastical power, as well as man's dominance over woman, theological dominance of education, and slavery. Despite the present day interest in the revolutions (...) of the eighteenth century, the origins and rise of the Radical Enlightenment have received limited scholarly attention. The greatest obstacle to the movement finding its proper place in modern historical writing is its international scope: the Racial Enlightenment was not French, British, German, Italian, Jewish or Dutch, but all of these at the same time. In this wide-ranging volume, Jonathan Israel offers a novel interpretation of the Radical Enlightenment down to La Mettie and Diderot, two of its key exponents. Particular emphasis is placed on the pivotal role of Spinoza and the widespread underground international philosophical movement known before 1750 as Spinozism. (shrink)
The first major reassessment of the Western Enlightenment for a generation. Continuing the story he began in Radical Enlightenment, Jonathan Israel now focuses on the first half of the eighteenth century. He traces to their roots the core principles of Western modernity: the primacy of reason, democracy, racial equality, feminism, religious toleration, sexual emancipation, and freedom of expression.
Charles Griswold has written a comprehensive philosophical study of Smith's moral and political thought. Griswold sets Smith's work in the context of the Enlightenment and relates it to current discussions in moral and political philosophy. Smith's appropriation as well as criticism of ancient philosophy, and his carefully balanced defence of a liberal and humane moral and political outlook, are also explored. This 1999 book is a major philosophical and historical reassessment of a key figure in the Enlightenment that (...) will be of particular interest to philosophers and political and legal theorists, as well as historians of ideas, rhetoric, and political economy. (shrink)
Conventionally lauded as the luminous Age of Reason in which the fogs of religious superstition lifted to reveal a new world of tolerance and human dignity, the Enlightenment also possessed what one might term its “dark side”. A small number of writers and visual artists – such as Sade, Choderlos de Laclos (author of Les Liaisons dangereuses) and Francisco Goya – recognised that the newfound paths of Reason and empiricism could lead in unexpected directions and reveal aspects of human (...) experience very much at odds with Enlightenment ideals. This paper focuses on aspects of the work of Goya. Struck down in his mmid-forties by an illness that left him deaf for life, Goya encountered a domain of irremediable suffering to which the categories of Enlightenment thought seemed to have nothing to say. The result was the three series of etchings known as the Caprichos, the Disasters of War and the Disparates, the so-called “black paintings” (such as Saturn devouring his children), and a number of related works including the celebrated Third of May 1808. These works represent a radical repudiation of the underlying confidence in humanity represented by Enlightenment thought. Rejecting what André Malraux terms the “ornate image of man” underpinning eighteenth century baroque art, they are a world away from Watteau’s fêtes galantes or Fragonard’s idyllic rustic scenes, replacing the “ornate image” with a relentless catalogue of humiliation, suffering and atrocity. Created semi-clandestinely, the etchings and black paintings, foreshadow modern art’s abandonment of Renaissance and Enlightenment humanism, and have often been read as prophetic of the twentieth-century nightmare world of total war and extermination camps. They reveal a sinister netherworld in which man is simply victim and all trace of humanism has been erased. (shrink)
That the Enlightenment shaped modernity is uncontested. Yet remarkably few historians or philosophers have attempted to trace the process of ideas from the political and social turmoil of the late eighteenth century to the present day. This is precisely what Jonathan Israel now does. In Democratic Enlightenment , Israel demonstrates that the Enlightenment was an essentially revolutionary process, driven by philosophical debate. The American Revolution and its concerns certainly acted as a major factor in the intellectual ferment (...) that shaped the wider upheaval that followed, but the radical philosophes were no less critical than enthusiastic about the American model. From 1789, the General Revolution's impetus came from a small group of philosophe-revolutionnaires , men such as Mirabeau, Sieyes, Condorcet, Volney, Roederer, and Brissot. Not aligned to any of the social groups represented in the French National assembly, they nonetheless forged " la philosophie moderne "--in effect Radical Enlightenment ideas--into a world-transforming ideology that had a lasting impact in Latin America, Canada and eastern Europe as well as France, Italy, Germany, and the Low Countries. In addition, Israel argues that while all French revolutionary journals powerfully affirmed that la philosophie moderne was the main cause of the French Revolution, the main stream of historical thought has failed to grasp what this implies. Israel sets the record straight, demonstrating the true nature of the engine that drove the Revolution, and the intimate links between the radical wing of the Enlightenment and the anti-Robespierriste "Revolution of reason." Acclaim for earlier volumes in the trilogy: "His vast--and vastly impressive--book sets out to redefine the intellectual landscape of early modern Europe. Magnificent and magisterialwill undoubtedly be one of the truly great historical works of the decade." -- Sunday Telegraph "The scholarship is breathtaking. Israel has read everything, absorbed every nuance, followed up every byway." -- New Statesman "An enormously impressive piece of scholarship. The breadth and depth of the author's reading are breathtaking and Enlightenment Contested is set to become the definitive work for philosophers as well as historians on this extraordinary period." -- Tribune. (shrink)
Wealth and Virtue reassesses the remarkable contribution of the Scottish Enlightenment to the formation of modern economics and to theories of capitalism. Its unique range indicates the scope of the Scottish intellectual achievement of the eighteenth century and explores the process by which the boundaries between economic thought, jurisprudence, moral philosophy and theoretical history came to be established. Dealing not only with major figures like Hume and Smith, there are also studies of lesser known thinkers like Andrew Fletcher, Gershom (...) Carmichael, Lord Kames and John Millar as well as of Locke in the light of eighteenth century social theory, the intellectual culture of the University of Edinburgh in the middle of the eighteenth century and of the performance of the Scottish economy on the eve of the publication of the Wealth of Nations. While the scholarly emphasis is on the rigorous historical reconstruction of both theory and context, Wealth and Virtue directly addresses itself to modern political theorists and economists and throws light on a number of major focal points of controversy in legal and political philosophy. (shrink)
From Hegel to Engels, Sartre and Ruyer (Ruyer, 1933), to name only a few, materialism is viewed as a necropolis, or the metaphysics befitting such an abode; many speak of matter’s crudeness, bruteness, coldness or stupidity. Science or scientism, on this view, reduces the living world to ‘dead matter’, ‘brutish’, ‘mechanical, lifeless matter’, thereby also stripping it of its freedom (Crocker, 1959). Materialism is often wrongly presented as ‘mechanistic materialism’ – with ‘Death of Nature’ echoes of de-humanization and hostility to (...) the Scientific Revolution (which knew nothing of materialism!), also a powerful Christian theme in Cudworth, Clarke and beyond (Overhoff, 2000). Here I challenge this view, building on some aspects of Israel’s Radical Enlightenment concept (Israel, 2001), which has been controversial but for my purposes is a useful claim about the dissemination of a home-grown Spinozism, sometimes reformulated as an ontology of the life sciences, an aspect Israel does not address (compare Secrétan et al., eds., 2007; Citton, 2006). First, I examine some ‘moments’ of radical Enlightenment materialism such as La Mettrie and Diderot (including his Encyclopédie entry “Spinosiste”), but also anonymous, clandestine texts such as L’Âme Matérielle, to emphasize their distinctive focus on the specific existence of organic beings. Second, I show how this ‘embodied’, non-mechanistic character of Enlightenment ‘vital materialism’ makes it different from other episodes, and perhaps more of an ethics than is usually thought (also via the figure of the materialist as ‘laughing philosopher’). Third, I reflect on what this implies for our image of the Enlightenment – no longer a Frankfurt School and/or Foucaldian vision of ‘discipline’, regimentation and order (as in Mayr, 1986) – but ‘vital’, without, conversely, being a kind of holist vitalism “at odds with the universalizing discourse of Encyclopedist materialism, with its insistence on the uniformity of nature and the universality of physical laws” (Williams, 2003): vital materialism is still materialism. Its ethics tends towards hedonism, but its most radical proponents (Diderot, La Mettrie and later Sade) disagree as to what this means. (shrink)
Existing interpretations of Kant’s appeal to the spontaneity of the mind focus almost exclusively on the discussion of pure apperception in the Transcendental Deduction. The risk of such a strategy lies in the considerable degree of abstraction at which the argument of the Deduction is carried out: existing interpretations fail to reconnect adequately with any ground-level perspective on our cognitive lives. This paper works in the opposite direction. Drawing on Kant’s suggestion that the most basic picture we can have of (...) our cognitive capacity already makes reference to its state of excellence, or health (“sound understanding”), I set out by assembling Kant’s normative ground-level view of our cognitive lives, and then search for the fundamental condition of its possibility. This leads me to Kant’s conception of reflection as a normative requirement of judgment. Through examination of Kant’s remarks on reflection, I connect Kant’s preoccupation with the enlightenment ideal of originality (thinking for oneself) with his central appeal to the spontaneity of the mind. (shrink)
Popper first developed his theory of scientific method – falsificationism – in his The Logic of Scientific Discovery, then generalized it to form critical rationalism, which he subsequently applied to social and political problems in The Open Society and Its Enemies. All this can be regarded as constituting a major development of the 18th century Enlightenment programme of learning from scientific progress how to achieve social progress towards a better world. Falsificationism is, however, defective. It misrepresents the real, problematic (...) aims of science. We need a new conception of scientific method, a meta-methodology which provides a framework for the improvement of the aims and methods of science as scientific knowledge improves. This aim-oriented empiricist idea can be generalized to form a conception of rationality – aim-oriented rationality – which helps us improve problematic aims and methods whatever we may be doing. In this way, Popper’s version of the Enlightenment programme can be much improved, indeed transformed. (shrink)
Prologue -- Introduction -- The virtuous atheist -- The oral and written public sphere -- Books and pamphlets -- Periodicals -- The philosophe response -- Institutional reactions in France -- The Christian Enlightenment? -- Beyond the Christian Enlightenment -- Appendices. D'Holbach's publications, 1752-1789 -- Responses in French to d'Holbach's publications, 1752-1789 -- The corpus of periodical press articles produced in reaction to d'Holbach's publications.
The Enlightenment was the age in which the world became modern, challenging tradition in favor of reason, freedom, and critical inquiry. While many aspects of the Enlightenment have been rigorously scrutinized—its origins and motivations, its principal characters and defining features, its legacy and modern relevance—the geographical dimensions of the era have until now largely been ignored. Placing the Enlightenment contends that the Age of Reason was not only a period of pioneering geographical investigation but also an age (...) with spatial dimensions to its content and concerns. Investigating the role space and location played in the creation and reception of Enlightenment ideas, Charles W. J. Withers draws from the fields of art, science, history, geography, politics, and religion to explore the legacies of Enlightenment national identity, navigation, discovery, and knowledge. Ultimately, geography is revealed to be the source of much of the raw material from which philosophers fashioned theories of the human condition. Lavishly illustrated and engagingly written, Placing the Enlightenment will interest Enlightenment specialists from across the disciplines as well as any scholar curious about the role geography has played in the making of the modern world. (shrink)
This essay demonstrates how the early Enlightenment salonnière madame de Lambert advanced a novel feminist intellectual synthesis favoring women's taste and cognition, which hybridized Cartesian and honnête thought. Disputing recent interpretations of Enlightenment salonnières that emphasize the constraints of honnêteté on their thought, and those that see Lambert's feminism as misguided in emphasizing gendered sensibility, I analyze Lambert's approach as best serving her needs as an aristocratic woman within elite salon society, and show through contextualized analysis how she (...) deployed honnêteté towards feminist ends. Additionally, the analysis of Malebranche's, Poulain de la Barre's, and Lambert's arguments about the female mind's gendered embodiment illustrates that misrepresenting Cartesianism as necessarily liberatory for women, by reducing it to a rigid substance dualism, erases from view its more complex implications for gender politics in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, especially in the honnête environment of the salons. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: -- Reid and Hume on the Possibility of Character--James A. Harris * Adam Smith's Rhetorical Art of Character--Stephen McKenna * The Moral Education of Mankind: Character and Religious Moderatism in the Sermons of Hugh Blair--Thomas Ahnert * The Not-So-Prodigal Son: James Boswell and the Scottish Enlightenment--Anthony La Vopa * Character, Sociability and Correspondence: Elizabeth Griffith and The Letters between Henry and Frances--Eve Tavor Bannet * Smellie's Dreams: Character and Consciousness in the Scottish Enlightenment--Phyllis Mack (...) William * Aspects of Character and Sociability in Scottish Enlightenment Medicine--Neil Vickers * The 'Peculiar Colouring of the Mind': Character and Painted Portraiture in the Scottish Enlightenment--Viccy Coltman * National Characters and Race: A Scottish Enlightenment Debate--Silvia Sebastiani * Character and Cosmopolitanism in the Scottish-American Enlightenment--Hannah Spahn * Historical Characters: Biography, the Science of Man, and Romantic Fiction--Susan Manning * Necessity, Freedom, and Character Formation from the Eighteenth Century to the Nineteenth--Jerrold Seigel. (shrink)
Along with providing a translation into English of the last text Immanuel Kant published during his lifetime, Nachschrift eines Freundes, this essay provides a historical account of the context surrounding the writing and publishing of this postscript as well as the German-Lithuanian and Lithuanian-German dictionary that contains it. In addition, this essay discusses the intellectual-historical significance of Kants essay as a political intervention in the name of Lithuanians, their language, and their culture. Nachschrift eines Freundes demonstrates Kant practicing some of (...) the theoretical Enlightenment tenets that his philosophy espouses. (shrink)
This text is the first part of a larger study about Alexander Radishchev, one of the leading representatives of Enlightenment in Russia's XVIII Century. Analyzing Voltaire's and Diderot's relationship with Catherine II, the Empress of Russia, in the Introduction of this article, the author formulates the reasons for thematization of Russian reception of Enlightenment. Since Radishchev is considered as 'the father of Russian intelligentsia', different approaches to the meaning of the concept of 'Russian intelligentsia' are considered in the (...) first chapter. Radishchev's biography is interpreted in the second chapter in order to facilitate the understanding of his ideas. Interpretation of his ideas, as well as of Catherina's 'enlightened absolutism', will be subject to further consideration in the second part of the study. (shrink)
Interpreting the Enlightenment: on methods -- A map of the Enlightenment: whither France? -- The spirit of the moderns: from the new science to the Enlightenment -- Society, the subject of the modern story -- Quarrel in the Academy: the ancients strike back -- Humanism and Enlightenment: the classical style of the philosophes -- The philosophical spirit of the laws: politics and antiquity -- An ancient god: pagans and philosophers -- Post tenebras lux: Begriffsgeschichte or regime (...) d'historicité? -- Ancients and the Orient: translatio imperii -- Enlightened institutions (i): the royal academies versus the Republic of Letters -- Enlightened institutions (ii): universities, censorship, and public instruction -- Worldliness, politeness, and the importance of not being too radical -- From Enlightenment to Revolution: a shared history? -- France and the European Enlightenment -- Modern myths. (shrink)
Defining the Enlightenment as the "long eighteenth century," the Encyclopedia focuses on the entire range of philosophic and social changes engendered by the Enlightenment. It extends the conventional geographical boundaries of the Enlightenment, covering not only France, England, Scotland, the Low Countries, Italy, English-speaking North America, the German states, and Hapsburg Austria but also Iberian, Ibero-American, Jewish, Russian, and Eastern European cultures. Nor does the Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment limit itself to major centers like Paris in (...) France and Edinburgh in Scotland, but shares the rich lode of recent scholarship on "secondary" and "provincial" centers such as Berlin and Geneva; Philadelphia and Milan. The Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment brings a similar spirit of inclusion to the new theoretical and methodological approaches that have flowered in the humanities during the past two decades. Including feminist and various post-modernist reassessments alongside more traditional perspectives, the four volumes offer the broadest possible range of current knowledge. Accessibility combined with scholarly rigor make the encyclopedia the first choice for researching any aspect of the Enlightenment. Designed and organized for ease of use, its special features include more than 700 signed articles; annotated bibliographies following each article to guide further study; an extensive system of cross-references; a synoptic outline of contents; a comprehensive topical index providing easy access to networks of related articles; and high quality illustrations, including photographs, line drawings, and maps. (shrink)
Sensationism, a philosophy that gained momentum in the French Enlightenment as a response to Lockean empiricism, was acclaimed by Hippolyte Taine as "the doctrine of the most lucid, methodical, and French minds to have honored France." The first major general study in English of eighteenth-century French sensationism, _The Authority of Experience_ presents the history of a complex set of ideas and explores their important ramifications for literature, education, and moral theory. The study begins by presenting the main ideas of (...) sensationist philosophers Condillac, Bonnet, and Helvétius, who held that all of our ideas come to us through the senses. The experience of the body in seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching enabled individuals, as John C. O'Neal points out, to challenge the sometimes arbitrary authority of institutions and people in positions of power. After a general introduction to sensationism, the author develops a theory of sensationist aesthetics that not only reveals the interconnections of the period's philosophy and literature but also enhances our awareness of the forces at work in the French novel. He goes on to examine the relations between sensationism and eighteenth-century French educational theory, materialism, and _idéologie_. Ultimately, O'Neal opens a discussion of the implications of sensationist thought for issues of particular concern to society today. (shrink)
Eighteenth-century Epicureanism is often viewed as radical, anti-religious, and politically dangerous. But to what extent does this simplify the ancient philosophy and underestimate its significance to the Enlightenment? Through a pan-European analysis of Enlightenment centres from Scotland to Russia via the Netherlands, France and Germany, contributors argue that elements of classical Epicureanism were appropriated by radical and conservative writers alike. They move beyond literature and political theory to examine the application of Epicurean ideas in domains as diverse as (...) physics, natural law, and the philosophy of language, drawing on the work of both major figures (Diderot, Helvétius, Smith and Hume) and of lesser-known but important thinkers (Johann Jacob Schmauss and Dmitrii Anichkov). -/- Table of Contents -/- Neven Leddy and Avi S. Lifschitz, Epicurus in the Enlightenment: an introduction -/- Elodie Argaud, Bayle’s defence of Epicurus: the use and abuse of Malebranche’s Méditations chrétiennes -/- Hans W. Blom, The Epicurean motif in Dutch notions of sociability in the seventeenth century -/- Thomas Ahnert, Epicureanism and the transformation of natural law in the early German Enlightenment -/- Charles T. Wolfe, A happiness fit for organic bodies: La Mettrie’s medical Epicureanism -/- Natania Meeker, Sexing Epicurean materialism in Diderot -/- Pierre Force, Helvétius as an Epicurean political theorist -/- Andrew Kahn, Epicureanism in the Russian Enlightenment: Dmitrii Anichkov and atomic theory -/- Matthew Niblett, Man, morals and matter: Epicurus and materialist thought in England from John Toland to Joseph Priestley -/- James A. Harris, The Epicurean in Hume -/- Neven Leddy, Adam Smith’s critique of Enlightenment Epicureanism -/- Avi S. Lifschitz, The Enlightenment revival of the Epicurean history of language and civilisation -/- Bibliography -/- Index. (shrink)
There were two prevailing sentiments in Europe after the Reformation: One opposing papal authority and one advocating individual freedom. This paper analyzes these two sentiments and finds that the concept of conscience is crucial in understanding them. The issue of conscience is about judging truth and good, and in initiating the Reformation, Martin Luther heavily appealed to his conscience while countering Catholic attacks. With the wide dispersal of the Reformation, Luther’s notion of conscience was well received among his supporters throughout (...) Europe. Descartes later transformed Luther’s conscience into an epistemological being (the cogito ), and argued that its existence was the only valid thing that survived his thorough skepticism — and as such is the foundation of human knowledge. Rousseau continued this line of thinking, which we call subjectivism, and re-employed the term conscience as a replacement for cogito , holding that conscience is the final authority in judging good and bad; that, as the starting point of human existence, it cannot be withheld from any human being; and that it therefore constitutes an inalienable human right. This paper argues that the Enlightenment was a subjectivist movement propelled by this conscience- cogito -conscience conceptualization, and that it sought to enlighten this inalienable conscience. (shrink)
In the later Indian Yogācāra school, yogipratyakṣa, the cognition of yogins is a key concept used to explain the Buddhist goal of enlightenment. It arises through the practice of meditation upon the Four Noble Truths. The method of the practice is to contemplate their aspects with attention (sādara), without interruption (nairantarya), and over a long period of time (dīrghakāla). A problem occurs in this position since Buddhists hold the theory of momentariness: how is possible that a yogin attains yogipratyakṣa (...) even when everything arises and perishes moment by moment. It is not possible for the momentary mind to fix on the object. Neither is the intensification of the practice possible in a stream composed of cognitions different at each moment. To provide a solution of this problem, a renown eleventh century Buddhist logician, Jñānaśrīmitra, assures us that momentariness is incompatible with duration (sthāyitā), but not with the occurrence of dissimilarity (visadṛśotpāda). Even if cognitions are momentary, the vividness of an object continues to intensify in the course of each preceding cognition-moment producing, in turn, its following moment. Jñānaśrīmitra discusses the attainment of yogipratyakṣa in terms of Buddhist ontological distinctions of moment (kṣaṇa) and continuum (santāna). At the level of the continuum, the process of enlightenment is considered gradual. By retaining a strict adherence to the final moment of the practice, on the other hand, the process is considered sudden. (shrink)
Are human beings linked by a common nature, one that makes them see the world in the same moral way? Or are they fragmented by different cultural practices and values? These fundamental questions of our existence were debated in the Enlightenment by Locke, Shaftesbury, and Hutcheson. Daniel Carey provides an important new historical perspective on their discussion. At the same time, he explores the relationship between these founding arguments and contemporary disputes over cultural diversity and multiculturalism. Our own conflicting (...) positions today reflect long-standing differences that emerged during the Enlightenment. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 337 - 348 Gadamer is prominent on the list of counter-enlightenment philosophers of the20th century. He is on this list for good reasons, reasons that I will briefly explore here. Gadamer borrows much from Heidegger’s critique of modernity and he adds to it. As we all know, Gadamer’s critique of the Enlightenment and modernity serves as an opening for a reappropriation of the Greeks, especially Plato and Aristotle. Gadamer is often taken, (...) again with good reason, to be one of the leading voices revivifying the battle of ancients and moderns and urging, at least in some regards, the superiority of the ancients. Kant is without question the leading figure of the Enlightenment—at least within the German tradition, if not for the European Enlightenment in general. As such we should expect Gadamer to be strongly critical of Kant. And yet we find Gadamer’s relation to Kant displaying a deep ambivalence. It is this ambivalence that this paper examines. (shrink)
Introduction: identity as phantasy in Enlightenment in France and Germany -- The man with too many qualities : the young herder between France and Germany -- The language of cultural identity : Diderot to Nietzsche -- Strange classicism : aesthetic vision in Winckelmann, Nietzsche, and Thomas Mann -- Classicism and gender transformation : David, Goethe, and Stal -- The French Revolution and the problem of time : Hegel to Marx.
The subject of the paper is the crisis of the concept of enlightenment examined at three levels: polemic-rhetorical, historical-descriptive, and philosophical-normative. The author argues that the inconsistency of substantive definitions of enlightenment does not necessarily result in rejection of this concept but rather in its continuous transformation. By way of conclusion, the author stresses that the normative revival of the concept of enlightenment may be rendered more viable by making a distinction between Enlightenment, as a particular (...) historical period and intellectual legacy, and enlightenment, as a continuous process. He argues that the former is not the only possible form of the latter, but just one of its historical manifestations and one among many agents in the complex and uncertain history of modern process of enlightening. (shrink)
This major addition to Ideas in Context examines the development of natural law theories in the early stages of the Enlightenment in Germany and France. T. J. Hochstrasser investigates the influence exercised by theories of natural law from Grotius to Kant, with a comparative analysis of the important intellectual innovations in ethics and political philosophy of the time. Hochstrasser includes the writings of Samuel Pufendorf and his followers who evolved a natural law theory based on human sociability and reason, (...) fostering a new methodology in German philosophy. This book assesses the first histories of political thought since ancient times, giving insights into the nature and influence of debate within eighteenth-century natural jurisprudence. Ambitious in range and conceptually sophisticated, Natural Law Theories in the Early Enlightenment will be of great interest to scholars in history, political thought, law and philosophy. Natural Law Theories in the Early Enlightenment has been selected as the winner of the annual Morris D. Forkosch Prize for the best book in intellectual history published in 2000. (shrink)
Led by Adorno and Horkheimer’s understanding of the three conceptual orienteers - subject, reason and emancipation - this work attempts to sketch a status that they have attributed to the Enlightenment. Ulysses and Oedipus are here used not only in the way those two authors have done, not only to illustrate dialectical contradictions that this "project" falls into and is marked by, but also in a way that signalize possibilities of different interpretations that have relied upon them. Adorno and (...) Horkheimer’s "to enlighten the enlightenment about itself" is thus displayed, extended and examined also in the fields of contemporary thought where they have, in different ways, inspired and provoked new generation of Critical theory, and on the other hand, the postmodern authors. (shrink)
This paper offers a critical discussion of Jonathan Israel’s thesis that the political and moral ideas and values which define liberal democratic modernity should be regarded as the legacy of the Radical Enlightenment and thus as deriving from Spinoza. What I take issue with is not Israel’s map of the actual historical lines of intellectual descent of ideas and account of their social and political impact, but the accompanying conceptual claim, that Spinozism as filtrated by the naturalistic wing of (...) eighteenth-century French thought, is conceptually sufficient for the ideology of modernity. The post-Kantian idealist development, I argue, qualifies as radical, and hinges on Spinoza, but its construal of Spinoza does not fit Israel’s thesis, and reflects an appreciation of the limitations, for the purpose of creating a rational modernity, of the naturalistic standpoint represented by thinkers such as d’Holbach. (shrink)
Although the philosophy of Enlightenment was born in the Netherlands and England in the late 17th and early 18th century, there were considerable problems in defying the freedom. By the mid 18th century, under the influence of „national mercantilism“ , the freedom was perceived in more and more collective terms, giving bith to the political option of national liberalism. That is why in the second half of 18th century this two countries have been progresively loosing importance for the movement (...) of Enlightenment and two new countries emerged at its leading position, striving for democratic liberalism: United States of America and France. However, individual freedom faced not one, but two dangers during its philosophical and institutional development in the Age of Enlightenment: on the one hand, the danger of wanishing in the national freedom, and, on the other hand, the danger of becoming unbound and destructive. The emerging liberalism in England in the 18th century witnessed the first danger, while the second danger appeared in the wake of the Franch revolution. The French were the first in the Modern epohe to realise that the light of freedom is to powerful to be used without considerable precaussions in the establishement of liberal civil society. Therefore, some moderation hat to be taken into consideration. The idea of humanity, i.e. human rights, was at the end found as most helpful in solving the task of preserving individual freedom, without sacrifying social bonds between free individuals. (shrink)
That something is profoundly wrong with the way in which enlightenment has unfolded has widely been taken to be the main thrust of Dialectic of Enlightenment. In this paper, I propose to defend that to understand the book and shed light on some of its most puzzling features, one should rather take Horkheimer and Adorno's critical claim at face value: through their criticism they contend to have prepared a positive concept of enlightenment. How this can be so (...) is the question I want to answer. I defend that what we need is an account that works out the conceptual grounds on which their critique can operate. The focus of my attempt will consist in understanding what they mean when they assert that rationality is intrinsically social and how they conceive of rationality as being reflective at its core. (shrink)
To date no comprehensive treatment of Enlightenment cosmopolitanism has yet appeared. However, we are beginning to see the regular publication of more specialised studies, and Frederick Whelan’s interesting book is a noteworthy entry in this genre.
The aim of the paper is to present and analyze the interpretation of the Enlightenment which has recently been proposed by Jonathan Israel, with the focus on its philosophical aspect as opposed to the historical one. The paper consists of two parts. The task of the first part is reconstructive: it attempts to explore Israel’s most characteristic statements concerning the Enlightenment. The second and more extensive part has a polemical character: it endeavours to furnish the reader with an (...) answer to the question of the degree to which the understanding of the Enlightenment proposed by Israel can be considered a satisfying interpretation of this period. The paper suggests that the main problem which may undermine Israel’s account of the Enlightenment is associated with the unduly selective interpretation of Spinoza’s philosophy and its position in the intellectual society of that time. (shrink)
In this work, Henry Vyverberg traces the evolution and consequences of a crucial idea in French Enlightenment thought--the idea of human nature. Human nature was commonly seen as a broadly universal, unchanging entity, though perhaps modifiable by geographical, social, and historical factors. Enlightenment empiricism suggested a degree of cultural diversity that has often been underestimated in studies of the age. Evidence here is drawn from Diderot's celebrated Encyclopedia and from a vast range of writing by such Enlightenment (...) notables as Voltaire, Rousseau, and d'Holbach. Vyverberg explains not only the age's undoubted fascination with uniformity in human nature, but also its acknowledgment of significant limitations on that uniformity. He shows that although the Enlightenment's historical sense was often blinkered by its notions of a uniform human nature, there were also cracks in this concept that developed during the Enlightenment itself. (shrink)
This chapter examines a foundational democratic practice by considering how it expresses concepts of the Enlightenment. The practice is that of the vote or plebiscite as it appears in governance. The leading enlightenment concept is rationality as it is expounded by Kant. Kant did not participate in national democratic processes. He expected decisions of any consequence to be made in Berlin and thrived when his City was invaded by the Russians and their officers became his students, until they (...) left suddenly in 1762 (Kuehn, 2001, p.126). Kant participated in political debate where the issues were in the main constitutional and about the processes of government reform. He became known for his theory of natural law and the justification of positive law. He advocated the separation of powers, but denied the right of revolution. This latter onclusion was in apparent contradiction of his support for republicanism, including the French, English, and American revolutions (Beck, 1971, p.413). The term “republican” in Kant’s writings is sometimes interpreted to mean “parliamentary democracy”. This is probably a mistake, and Reiss suggests Kant’s term does not carry the “connotation” of modern Western democracy (Reiss's "Introduction" in Kant, 1991a, p.25). Kant himself wrote that he wanted to prevent “the republican constitution from being confused with the democratic one, as commonly happens” (Kant, 1991a, .100). So it is that, whilst Kant wrote about the interaction of morality and politics, he did not write on the topic of the present chapter which focuses on those mechanisms or mechanics that democracy displays when it works. (shrink)
The French Code civil , including the tradition of legal practice and scholarship it stands for, is the child of two parents: Enlightenment and Restoration. They came together in the person of Jean Etienne Marie Portalis (1746-1807), who was the main drafter of the code under Napoleon. I want to investigate which line of philosophical argument he followed in uniting the two and critically assess the value of this argumentation. In section 1 I briefly sketch the codification of civil (...) law in the (post-)revolutionary setting of the time, as well as Portalis’ philosophical background. Section 2 turns to the principled and wide-ranging discourse he delivered at the occasion of the formal presentation of the draft civil code to the legislature. This discourse, in turn, found its deeper roots in an extensive treatise that he wrote prior to the former, on the use and abuse of reason in times of Enlightenment (Section 3). I will focus, in particular, on the twin concepts of knowledge (section 4) and nature (section 5) in this treatise. From this vantage point, section 6 analyzes the eclectic way in which Portalis uses his philosophical godfathers Montesquieu and Rousseau, while section 7 shows why his preoccupation with the protection of established property rights can explain such eclecticism. Section 8 takes stock and submits that at least one of Portalis’ arguments presents a real challenge to Enlightenment philosophy up until the present day. (shrink)
This article examines the use of images of “light” and “enlightenment” in Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France and in the controversy that greeted the book, with an emphasis on caricatures of Burke and his book by James Gillray and others. Drawing on Hans Blumenberg’s discussion of the metaphor of “light as truth,” it situates this controversy within the broader usage of images of light and reason in eighteenth-century frontispieces and (drawing on the work of J. G. (...) A. Pocock and Albert O. Hirschman) explores the ways in which Burke’s critique of Richard Price operates with a rhetoric that views Price as part of an enlightenment that was inherently “radical” and, hence, a threat to the “enlightenment” that, in Burke’s view, had already been achieved. (shrink)
“Radical Enlightenment” and “moderate Enlightenment” are general categories which, it has become evident in recent decades, are unavoidable and essential for any valid discussion of the Enlightenment broadly conceived (1650-1850) and of the revolutionary era (1775-1848). Any discussion of the Enlightenment or revolutions that does not revolve around these general categories, first introduced in Germany in the 1920s and taken up in the United States since the 1970s, cannot have any validity or depth either historically or (...) philosophically. “Radical Enlightenment” was neither peripheral to the Enlightenment as a whole, nor dominant, but rather the “other side of the coin” an inherent and absolute opposite, always present and always basic to the Enlightenment as a whole. Several different constructions of “Radical Enlightenment” have been proposed by the main innovators on the topic – Leo Strauss, Henry May, Günter Mühlpfordt, Margaret Jacob, Gianni Paganini, Martin Mulsow, and Jonathan Israel – but, it is argued here, the most essential element in the definition is the coupling, or linkage, of philosophical rejection of religious authority (and secularism - the elimination of theology from law, institutions, education and public affairs) with theoretical advocacy of democracy and basic human rights. (shrink)
The central topic of the article is the importance of the freedom for the Age of Enlightenment, as well as ties connecting philosophy of Enlightenment and political liberalism. Furthermore, the author’s central thesis is that the light that began to enlightened the reason in the Age of Enlightenment had nothing to do with God or nature, but solely with human freedom. As Anthony Ashley Cooper, third Earl of Shaftsbury, noted in one of his letters, freedom shed the (...) light on two countries at first: the Netherlands and England. The author is also disputing the thesis developed by Jonathan Irving Israel in his recent books Radical Enlightenment and Enlightenment Contested that the movement of radical Enlightenment in 18. century was almost exclusevly inspired by the political and religious philosophy of the Dutch Baruch de Spinoza. Although Spinoza’s contribution to the radical Enlightenment is clear and evident, he could be also perceived as a thinker who inspired some currents of moderate Enlightenment and counter-Enlightenment as well. (shrink)
This article roots Kant’s concept of disinterestedness, as he uses it in the Critique of Judgment, in Aristotle’s notion of philia by establishing a path from ethics to aesthetics and back. In this way, the third Critique turns out to be one of the main sources for a new ideal of humanity: the ideal suitable for late Enlightenment. This article argues that Kant reaches this fruitful use of disinterestedness by giving to Aristotle’s concept of philia an aesthetic turn.
The author puts forward a set of assumptions and possible context for examining the connection between the concepts of enlightenment and taste. Kant’s definition of enlightenment is accepted, with special emphasis on the sphere of religion. Applying this criterion, we may discern a powerful and influential religious current stemming from strictly speaking Church circles that denies the systematic and historical significance of the opus of Dositej Obradović, who in his time was a protagonist of the European enlightenment. (...) Such a revaluation has been accepted by the greater portion of the younger generation, which relies predominantly on the St. Sava Myth. With a change of worldview, undoubtedly, tastes change as well. The next section of the paper discusses the approach to taste of the Scottish philosopher David Hume representative of dispositional aesthetic. Finally it is argued that music as one of the arts, might be exemplary for appraising the condition of enlightenment in a society. (shrink)
Each society is marked by a selective cultural memory which, beside events and traditions whose importance is emphasized, is also constituted by its parts and contents whose influence is either diminished or forgotten. Our society, too is marked by such kind of memory, with obvious reduction, value opposition and, in sum, general duality within the reception of cultural memory, which is always more complex than it appears in political speeches mother-tongue reading books or history textbooks. For this reason, an examination (...) of construction and reception of cultural memory, with an emphasis on traditions of Enlightenment and Romanticism, stems from a necessity to answer a set of questions regarding the contemporary relation to the past, the way "distance" or "proximity" to the latter is constituted, and especially the way in which contemporary practices mark, change and make use of cultural history. Starting from the assumptions that shaping cultural history, its heritage and "memory" is closely connected to the beginnings of nation-building and that cultural memory is a never-ending political process it is my intention in this research project to examine the rivalry juxtapositions, "interruptions" and new foundations of traditions, focusing on the interdependent relation of Enlightenment and Romanticist strands, and particularly on their unmarked, empty spots. Just as cultural memory is a result of two opposed processes - foregrounding and oblivion - so this research is similarly devoted to a double and apparently paradoxical task. On one hand, the accent is on the resurrection and reinforcement of integrative segments of these traditions which, at the time of their emergence as well as in subsequent interpretations, were mostly neglected. On the other hand there is the need to keep pace with what is required by the current "acceleration of time", which amounts to nothing else but the necessity to forget. Briefly put, the aim is to point to disciplinary-interdependent, more nuances and more communicative ways of viewing these relations, which would diminish the exclusivist and profound opposition within the contemporary reception of the traditions examined. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to provide an examination of the concept of aesthetic rationality in the philosophy of art of Theodor W. Adorno, related to his celebrated critique of the enlightenment in The Dialectic of the Enlightenment written with Max Horkheimer. Our main purpose is to show how Adorno’s conception of art responds to a problem posed in the former study, namely that of a dialectical self-enchantment and alienation of subjective reason. In the first two sections (...) is shown how self-preservation of subjective reason leads to its fall into the realm of myth. This turn was dialectically exposed in Adorno’s interpretation of Odysseus’ voyage as prahistory of subjectivity. The next four chapters expose a necessity and mode of critical approach and possibility of a transcendence of this mythical reality of reification in the structure of works of art, especially their form, with its ultimate goal to free individuals from social injustice and unconscious enslavement. Adorno’s account of the dialectics of aesthetic semblance, artistic truth content and immanent law of its form which embodies the consciousness of non-identity provides an explanation how modern art mimetically manages to transcend conditions of empirical reality and at the same time offers a plausible model of a “transitive“ rationality, which serves to discover its better possibilities. (shrink)
This brief “Introduction” to the volume discusses the general idea of the special edition of the journal, which is dedicated to the radicalism of the Enlightenment in the context of Jonathan Israel’s recent work on the Enlightenment, and highlights the topics of the articles contained in the edition.