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Transcript of The Enlightenment
ENLIGHTENMENT REVIEW: The preceding era, The Renaissance (14th - 17th c.), was marked by the birth of humanism, which was in part influenced by the influx of classics scholars (scholars of Greece and Roman culture) who were fleeing the fall of Constantinople (present day Istanbul) into the Italian city of Florence. The Renaissance was marked by a renewed creativity: the invention of the printing press, innovation in the arts, a move from pastoral medievalism to a new European cosmopolitanism. It is the age of Shakespeare and Da Vinci. It also the age of European expansion into the Americas and marks the birth of banking and commerce. The Enlightenment marks a new intellectual current in Western history. Although the movement was centered in Paris, it expanded to the American colonies. Enlightenment thinkers were intellectual and religious reformers
(and in some cases revolutionaries) who advocated for philosophical
argument and debate, and the right to criticize monarchs and
governmental systems. The seat of the Enlightenment was the salons
of Paris... JOHN LOCKE John Locke is the Englishman who takes the Enlightenment by
storm with his book "Essay Concerning Human Understanding."
The ideas can be summed up in the following:
All knowledge is derived from experience (empiricism)
There is no "innate reason" as suggested by rationalist Rene Descartes
There are two types of experience: external experience and internal reflection.
Nature and the world of the senses writes itself upon us. This idea is summed up in the phrase.... THE TABULA RASA The Tabula Rasa marks the beginning of the field of psychology and
creates demand for educational reform. Even during the Renaissance, education had been the territory of priests and the Church and limited to royalty and the merchant class. Locke's idea of the Tabula Rasa calls all this into question: if nothing is innate, if we are created by our experience, then why should certain people get education and others none? Why is the meaning of birthright or the Divine Rights of Kings? THE ENLIGHTENMENT and LITERATURE: The Birth of the Novel The idea of the tabula rasa, the early development of psychology, the belief that
experience creates Man, all this leads to a very particular art form: the novel.
In the novel, readers watch characters live through experiences and discover how they are shaped by these experiences.
Experimentation is also the hallmark of the Enlightenment. Received ideas (doxa) are tested in the fires of experience to see if they have any value. Literary conventions are also tested against the measure of experience and reality. Adventure stories, travel tales, and philosophical novellas are the order of the day. The Idea of "The Noble Savage" The development and extension of commerce and ship travel led to both
tourism and early anthropology. Early anthropology was characterized by a
curious mixture of romanticization and distain of foreign cultures and "simple folk." The city-dwelling and educated anthropologists speculated that perhaps native peoples were "simpler and wiser" than the "corrupt and worldly" 18th century Europeans and European settlers.
This sentimentalist idea maintains that natural Man is better before he is tainted by religious doctrine and civilization. The idea really takes off with the Romantic "back to nature"mantra of Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau and the concept of the noble savage are highly influential on later (19th century) American transcendentalist writers like Emerson and Thoreau, as well as the 19th century American poet Walt Whitman. Women in the Enlightenment In Britain, the salons (coffeehouses) were exclusively male. But in Paris, women were welcomed with an attitude of toleration. Their particular role was that of listener. The Enlightenment philosopher Diderot (and editor of the world's first encyclopedia) claimed that intellectual women were useful in that
But a few well-respected female thinkers emerged from the Enlightenment: Mme. d'Epinay contributed to the literary journal "Correspondance Litteraire"; and Voltaire's lover, Marquise du Chatelet (pictured above) wrote scientific essays on Leibniz's mathematics and metaphysics and translated Newton's writings into French from the original English. After 20 years, philosophers Denis Diderot and Jean d'Alembert finished writing and editing (with the help of philosophers Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, Duclos, and others) the world's first
encyclopedia. It contained 72,000 entries on the sciences, liberal arts, and engineering, as well as 2,500 illustrations.
The philosophers' creation of the encyclopedia, in keeping with Locke's tabula rasa, would be a great equalizer, as it strove to give access to a wide range of knowledge to all readers. The book also treated the tools of craftsman as equal to those of scientists and artists. THE WORLD'S FIRST ENCYCLOPEDIA Or as Diderot put it:
"In what physical or metaphysical system do we find more intelligence, discernment, and consistency than in the machines for drawing gold or making stockings, and in the frames of braid-makers, the gauze-makers, the drapers, or the silk workers?" In other words, philosophy is a domain for everyone...
...not just kings, priests, and scholars. The term "encyclopedia"means "the interrelation of all knowledge" (kinda like the 18th century version of the internet) RELIGIOUS TOLERATION The Protestant Reformation began in the 1500s (i.e. in the Renaissance). Until then, there were no Protestant faiths (no Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Quakers, Calvinists, etc.) The only Christian church was what is now called the Catholic Church. Back in the 1500s, some protesters wanted rights to worship differently than allowed by the orthodox Church (and, therefore, also the Kings, who were thought to be divinely chosen by God). The Protestants were influenced by the humanism of Renaissance intellectuals and the printing technology of the age. Among their demands was the right to have copies of biblical literature printed in their own languages instead of relying on Latin translations from the Church. Such personalized reading was not possible before the printing press. The Kings, as you might imagine, did not generally like this trend and by the Age of Enlightenment, they had long been banning Protestant worship, since its individualism (and humanism) was a threat to social order. But in 1688
(the end of the Renaissance)
the "Glorious Revolution"
occurred in England
and all that changed... The British invited a Dutch prince, William the III and his British wife, Mary, to take the
throne in England. This was called "The Glorious Revolution" because it was a bloodless coup.
A year after he took the throne, William the III passed 'The Toleration Act' which allowed
the citizens of England to worship any Christian denomination they pleased so long as it
wasn't Catholic. (But they couldn't hold public office unless they were Church of England.) The Toleration Act (original, with coffee stains ) The growth of international commerce and banking after the end of medieval feudalism--not to mention tourism and anthopology--- also had an effect on religious toleration. Trading with Muslims, Jews, and Hindus opened discussion between religious observers. Or as the saying currently goes 'the money of the non-Orthodox Christian or non-Christian was as green as anyone elses'...." So why not get to know them? THE AGE OF REVOLUTIONS The American Revolution The early American colonists left from Britian during the late Renaissance (much of colonization began in that age) but it was during the Age of Enlightenment that the American Revolution was begun. Diderot (the encyclopedist) said this of the colonies: "America offers all the inhabitants of Europe an asylum against fanaticism and tyranny." The American colonists were the first to overthrow their mainland kings in the name of Liberty, one of the main philosophical principles of the Enlightenment. The established order of Kings, who were thought to be the divine representatives of God on Earth until this historical epoch had existed for thousands of years, since the end of hunter-gatherer society... There were societies without kings (like the Greeks, for example). But no people had ever risen up against a king and proclaimed independence. The American Revolutionaries did just that. At first, most were reluctant to fight England, but the Massachusetts Bay Colonists were targeted by a series of economic hardships imposed by the British; John and Sam Adams (with others) convinced the rest of the Continental Congress to commit treason and revolt. This was not without extreme political risk. No one had ever done what they were about to do, and the punishment for treason was execution. Those representing areas where colonists still considered themselves devoted British subjects risked their careers and even their lives. (And a few of them had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the revolt) the revolution was a huge hit in Enlightenment Europe... The Haitian Revolution And it inspired the world's third revolution... The Haitian Revolution occurred near simultaneous to the French Revolution. It was led by Touissant L'Ouverture, a former slave. The Haitian Revolution
was a slave rebellion against the colonists of France. It is the only slave rebellion to achieve both self-emancipation and the foundation of new Republic.
Unfortunately, France refused to recognize the new nation and eventually the Haitians agreed to pay "reparations" to their French slaveowners for their
loss of property in exchange for peace and recognition of their sovereignty. The new nation started out with a debt to their former slaveowners that was
equivalent to the gross national produce of France the same year the deal with signed. Hence, the treaty that established the Republic also laid an impossible
debt on the shoulders of the Haitian people. The French Revolution was the second revolution to shake the world. The particulars are too numerous to cover, but there are a couple of points to consider (1) the French Revolution was inspired by the American Revolution. (2) The French had the disadvantage of fighting to overthrow their king and queen (Louis the XVI and Marie Antoinette) on their own soil--there was no ocean separating the old Republic from the new. (3) The
French Revolution took things one step further: at first they wanted to overthrow the rule of the clergy ("the first estate") and the King, and then moved to overthrow all the nobility and the landed merchants who served them (together called "the second estate"). Both estates were exempted from paying taxes and the burden fell on "the third estate", which was another name for "the rabble."
The response of American revolutionaries was split on the French Revolution. Jefferson was an early supporter, but John Adams was terrified of the possibility of mob rule (think about Plato's fears of "democracy" or rule of the common people). In response, Adams passed the Alien and Sedition Acts out of fear that French-Americans would uprise against those who had become wealthy in service to the King. The Acts called for the deportation of suspicious aliens and those who spoke out against the government. Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin bitterly opposed the acts, and Franklin's own grandson was arrested for treason. (But later pardoned by Jefferson.) The Adams/Jefferson split prefigured many modern questions about the meaning of the Enlightenment's most cherished principle... The French Revolution LIBERTY. Where does it end and begin in practice? Romanticism: The Anti-Enlightenment But there was a reaction to this newfound love of reason, order, pluralism, and the dry discourse of rights. This reaction was called Romanticism. It's leading figure was the poet and author William Blake (and perhaps also the German author Johann Goethe.) Blake sought truth in passion, not reason. He eschewed rationalism and favored the mystical, the poetic, and the sublime.
Reactions against the Enlightenment included not just poets and artists, but also rising charismatic religious movements in Europe (later in America) and the bloody revolutionary passions of the French Revolution, which claimed fidelity to Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Romanticism -vs- Reason This battle, begun at the end of the 18th century,
would rage until the middle of the 20th century...
and perhaps still rages today.... OR ? ENLIGHTENMENT PHILOSOPHY RENE DESCARTES Shows skepticism (modern) is a foundation for knowledge
Conquers doubts through confronting them in order of severity (1596-1650) Beginning of Enlightenment? 1. Should I trust my senses?
2. am i dreaming?
3. do i even exist? they do mislead sometimes. a mathematical or logical proof is a good test of reality,
but I might think that 2+2 equals 5 if I was living in a dream world... Yes! Because "I think; therefore I am." in latin, "cogito ergo sum" I can prove that I exist by the very
fact that I'm questioning my own
existence. If not, who would be
asking these questions? (1632-1704) THE TABULA RASA (the blank slate) but more on that in a minute (1711-1776) DAVID HUME David Hume takes empiricism and knowledge one step further:
Hume agrees with Locke that all we are is a blank slate, perpetually written on. But for Hume that "blank slate" is constantly in motion.
Due to this fact: All we are is "a bundle of perceptions" that are in "a perpetual flux". There is no such unified thing as a "self". IMMANUEL KANT (1724-1804) Kant works on modifying Hume's extreme empiricism while still critiquing rationalism:
The limits of human reason ought to be the boundary for rationalism : no more medieval questions of metaphysics.
Experience is the origin of human knowledge which begins with sense impressions. However, the purpose of these sense impressions is to be shaped by reason into human understanding.
There are two human mental faculties: intuition (residual representations left by sense impressions) and concepts (abstractions/universals such as boy, American, trees, dogs). Concepts serve to organize intuitions. Rationalism -vs- Empiricism A PRIORI: something that can be
known prior to experience or
without experience. A POSTERIORI: something that is
known or can only be known after
experience or through experience. ex.: I know a priori that any two sisters will also be siblings,
because a sister falls into the category of sibling. ex.: I can only know if sisters are argumentative after having met actual
sisters. There's nothing about the word or concept "sister" that
entails the attribute of "argumentativeness". "Women accustom us to making even the driest and thorniest of subjects clear and entertaining. Since we are always addressing ourselves to them we gradually acquire a certain facility of expression..." RATIONALISM EMPIRICISM BRIDGING
RATIONALISM AND EMPIRICISM