The Enlightenment
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  • 1. The Enlightenment
  • 2. Introduction: Defining the Enlightenment
    • French philosophes – the ‘high Enlightenment’
    • Jonathan Israel and Roy Porter: Dutch and English late 17cy scientific revolutions (Spinoza, Locke and Newton)
    • National contexts
    • Global nature (voyages of Cook and de Bougainville)
    • Enlightened Absolutism ‘Enlightenment from above’
    • Robert Darnton ‘Enlightenment from below’
  • 3. 1) The Philosophes Voltaire (1694-1778)
  • 4. Toleration
    • If a country’s religion is sacred (for every country boasts that it is), a hundred thousand volumes written against it will do it no more harm than [that done] to rock-solid walls by a hundred thousand snowballs. The gates of Hell shall not prevail against it, as you know! How can a few black letters traced on paper destroy it?
    • Voltaire, Dialogues between ABC (1768)
  • 5. Voltaire and religion
    • Lisbon earthquake 1755
    • Jean Calas case (1762)
    • Voltaire: not an atheist, but a deist – religion could be rational
  • 6. L’Encyclopédie
    • Denis Diderot editor from 1751 to 1765
    • Contributors: Rousseau, d’Holbach and Buffon – 72,000 articles by 300 writers
    • Sold 25,000 copies by 1789
    • Acquisition of rational, modern knowledge
  • 7. Diderot and d’Alembert’s Tree of Human Knowledge
  • 8. Rousseau and the perfectibility of man
    • Born 1712 city state of Geneva
    • Discourse on the Origins of Inequality (1754)
    • The Social Contract (1762)
    • Emile (1762)
    • modern civilization and corruption of man’s innate virtue
  • 9. Rousseau and the problem of civilization
    • ‘ Noble savage’ in ‘state of nature’ -solitary, free, self-sufficient
    • Society =
    • dependents
    • division of labour
    • envy, pride and acquisition of riches
    • Solutions to loss of freedom:
    • Social contract : ruled by ‘general will’ citizens would be ‘forced to be free’
    • Emile : moral education
  • 10. Rousseau and French Revolution
    • Rousseau reburied in republican Pantheon in Paris
    • Robespierre: ‘the morality which has disappeared in most individuals can be found only in the mass of people and in the general interest’.
    • Origins of totalitarianism?
  • 11. 2) Enlightened despotism
    • Catherine II of Russia (1762-1796)
    • Reforms:
    • 1764: church lands secularized
    • 1765: survey of landownership
    • 1767: new code of laws drafted, but not implemented
    • 1775: local government reforms (influence of Montesquieu)
    • Genuinely enlightened or merely strategic?
    Catherine II and Diderot
  • 12. Maria-Theresa and Joseph II of Austria Hungary
    • Maria-Theresa, with chancellors, Haugwitz and Kaunitz, introduced various reforms:
    • Jesuit influence curtailed (1773)
    • Civil and criminal law codified (1766)
    • Church property surveyed
    • Joseph II, enlightened not just practical reform:
    • discrimination against Protestants, Greek orthodox removed (1781-3)
    • Some Jewish disabilities (eg. Leibmaut ) removed but had to speak German in public
    • Legal reforms, influenced by Beccaria: death penalty abolished (1787), tried and failed to emancipate serfs in 1789
  • 13. Genuinely enlightened?
    • Some monarchs influenced by enlightenment ideas but
    • Trying to curtail rival forms of authority
    • New forms of administration could be equally barbaric
  • 14. 3) Enlightenment from below?
    • Rational dissent = alliance between unorthodox religion (Protestant nonconformists eg. Unitarians, Muggletonians) and scientific thinking
    • Joseph Priestly
    • Erasmus Darwin and the Lunar Society in Birmingham (Josiah Wedgewood and James Watt)
    • America: Benjamin Franklin
  • 15. The public sphere
    • New forms of sociability: coffee houses, reading societies, political discussion
    • Masonic Lodges
    • More accessible and open, but how open?
    • Women – salons, masonic lodges Emilie du Châtelet, translator of Newton
    • but Enlightenment often denied women’s capacity to reason
    • What about the poor and rural population?
  • 16. The literary underground
    • Darnton – in France explosion in literary population, 1750-1790 = ‘Grub street’
    • Hostility to literary elite, courtly connections, patronage
    • Wrote scandalous libelles against court, church, monarchy
    • Chipping away at the legitimacy of court of Louis XVI
    • Largely uninterested in philosophy but
    • attracted to Rousseau’s utopianism
    • Mercier, L’An 2440 (1771)