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Lecture: The Public Sphere and the Enlightenment

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HIST 215
Sarah Waurechen

Lecture: The Public Sphere and the Enlightenment January 17, 2013 QUESTION: What was the Enlightenment? The Public Sphere and Broadening Conversations • Print and the mobility of knowledge • the birth of a public sphere • knowledge is on the move ◦ new ways of sharing ideas ◦ newspapers (2-3 times a week) ▪ people more engaged in the world around them ◦ periodical journals ◦ republic of letters ▪ plugs into the print network because intellectuals and political leaders trading letters are also enclosing printed pamphlets and journals that they want to talk about ▪ broadens the conversation ◦ novels ▪ allowed for critique in new ways • English coffee houses ◦ coffee shifted from a luxury item for the curious to a mainstream commodity ◦ linked to sobriety ◦ lured people in by subscribing to newspapers ◦ people came to read and discuss ideas • French salons • Lending Libraries ◦ Paris, Milan, London, Berlin ◦ underwritten by increased literacy • Bourgeois public sphere ◦ virtual sphere where private individuals came together to debate matters of public concern in a rational, critical way ◦ play on divide of public and private The Scientific Revolution • The Scientific Method and Francis Bacon ◦ privileged the practical over the abstract ◦ inductive reasoning ▪ experimentation is at the core • Astronomy ◦ Aristotle/Ptolemy ▪ geocentric ◦ Copernicus ▪ heliocentric ▪ Earth spins on its own axis ◦ Brahe and Kepler ▪ universe is not static and unchanging ◦ Galileo ▪ made the telescope ▪ confirmed Copernicus stuff • René Descartes ◦ wrote "Discourse on Method" ◦ deductive reasoning ◦ "I think, therefore I am" ◦ mind and matter • Isaac Newton and a New Synthesis ◦ balance between inductive and deductive reasoning ▪ modern scientific method ◦ "Principia" ◦ theory of gravity ◦ theory of colours ◦ calculus • Science and Religion ◦ alchemy ◦ witchcraft The Enlightenment Canon • John Locke ◦ people at birth are a blank slate (tabula rasa) ◦ life, liberty, property ◦ men born free, good, and rational ◦ natural rights • Montesquieu ◦ "Spirit of the Laws" ▪ three potential forms of government ▪ republican ▪ monarchical ▪ despotic ▪ motivated by ▪ love of virtue ▪ love of honour ▪ fear of the ruler ◦ liberty, and how to secure it ▪ possible only in republic or monarchy ◦ need for constitutionalism (order and freedom) ◦ states are human constructs ◦ sovereignty comes from the people, not God • Voltaire ◦ states and their governments determined by the history and circumstanc
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