The Enlightenment - Mr. Darby's History

The Enlightenment
The European Age of Reason
Origins of the Enlightenment
 The ideals of humanism from the Renaissance
permeate society.
 Rediscovery of classical texts influences the new
 The Scientific Revolution convinces many that the
world can be understood through natural laws.
 The Wars of Religion persuade many that
toleration is the only way for civilization to
The Doctrine of Progress
 Philosophes believed in
the progress of human
 Human beings were
basically good, but
corrupted by society;
therefore, human
institutions needed reform
 Marquis de Condorcet
(1743-1794) made
argument in Progress of the
Human Mind
John Locke (1632-1704)
 Two
Government:justified supremacy
of Parliament; natural rights
 Essay
Concerning Human
Understanding (1690): tabula
rasa (“blank slate”)
– considered one of most
– all human knowledge is the
result of sensory experience:
thus, human progress is in the
hands of society—education!
 secular world view: first time in human history;
marked end of age of religion
 natural science and reason
 deism: God created universe and then stepped
back and left it running (like a clock) – prime
 Grew out of Newton’s theories regarding natural
 Thomas Paine, Age of Reason: advocates deism
 Voltaire also advocated deism over Christianity.
Voltaire (1694-1778)
 François Marie Arouet
 Ardent critic of the Old
 Wrote essays, letters,
 Candide (1759) satire
criticizing religious
persecution and
Voltaire in England
 Voltaire in imprisoned in France after his
ideas offend French authorities.
 He lived in England from 1726 to 1729.
 He comes to admire the English toleration
of political ideas and religion.
 Returning to France, he published Letters
on the English (1733), admiring English
constitutionalism and criticizing French
Voltaire in England
Voltaire and Tolerance
 Voltaire supported toleration in religion and
politics, an idea he saw in practice in
 Voltaire defended Jean Calas, a Hugeunot
accused of murdering his son lest he convert
to Catholicism.
 He published his Treatise on Tolerance in
1763, convincing authorities to reverse their
conviction of Calas in 1765.
The Enlightened Despots
Catherine the Great
 Least “enlightened” of
the Enlightened Despots
 westernization:
architecture, sculpture,
 reforms:reduced torture,
limited religious
toleration, some
education improvement,
increased local control
The Enlightened Despots
 Joseph
II (1765-1790) – greatest of the
Enlightened despots (“greatest good for greatest
 Abolished serfdom in 1781, freedom of press,
freedom of religion & civic rights, more equitable
justice system, made German official language (to
assimilate minorities), increased control over
Catholic education, expanded state schools, left
empire in economic and political turmoil: Leopold
I rescind many laws (e.g., serfdom)
The Enlightened Despots
 Frederick the Great
– Became a reformer during 2nd half of his reign;
ruler was the “first servant of the state”
– Religious freedom, education in schools and
universities, codified laws, promoted industry
and agriculture, encouraged immigration
– Social structure remained heavily stratified:
serfdom; extended privileges for the nobility,
Junkers became heart of military; difficult
upward mobility for middle class leadership.
Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755)
 French attorney and
 Believed in no single
political system.
 In Spirit of the Laws
(1748) advocated
separation of powers
amongst executive,
legislative, and judicial
Diderot and the Encyclopedia
 Denis Diderot (1718-
1784) edited the
Encyclopedia published
in 28 vols. Between 1751
and 1772.
 Voltaire, Rousseau and
Montesquieu contributed
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
 Born in Geneva to
Calvinist family
 He believed rationalism
and civilization was
destroying rather than
liberating the
individual; emphasized
nature, passion—
influenced early
Romantic movement
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
 Natural Education
– Rousseau believed that in there natural state,
humans were virtuous, free, equal, and happy.
– Civilization had corrupted them.
– Natural education would free children of
– Set forth ideas in Emile (1762).
– Children would learn through experience
(nature, emotional experience), not books.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
 General Will
– Rousseau advocated radical contract form of
government in The Social Contract (1762)
– Desired freedom, but rejected individualism
and focused on his role in society.
– People’s opinion would form the “general will”
to be carried out by a small government.
– He did not favor democracy, but felt that
sovereignty laid in the people.
Economic Philosophes
 François Quesnay
(1694-1774) –
“physiocrats”: opposed
to mercantilist economic
 advocated reform of the
agrarian order.
 Adam Smith (17271790): Wealth of
Nations (1776): The
“Bible” of capitalism;
laissez faire “let do”
François Quesnay
Women Philosophes
 Gender theory: women
played important role in
organizing salons.
 Salons of Madame de
Geoffren and Louise
de Warens
 Mary Wollstonecraft –
Vindication of the
Rights of Women (1792)
Mary Wollstonecraft
The Later Enlightenment:
 Baron Paul d’Holbach (1723-1789): humans were
machines governed by outside forces
– freewill, God, and immortality of soul were foolish myths
– severe blow to unity of the Enlightenment
 David Hume (1711-76): emphasized limitations of human
reasoning (similar to Rousseau)
– human mind is nothing but a bundle of impressions; later became
dogmatic skeptic that undermined Enlightenment
 Immanuel Kant (1724-1794): Separated science and
morality into separate branches of knowledge.
– Science could describe natural phenomena of material world but
could not provide a guide for morality