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HIST 215
Sarah Waurechen

Thursday January 17th The public sphere and the enlightenment Question: What was the Enlightenment? Stolen from Kant’s famous essay. “What is Enlightenment?” I. The public sphere and broadening conversations A. Print and the Mobility of Knowledge 1. Knowledge is on the move in this era 2. We talk about new ways of sharing ideas 3. The printing press by the 18th c. is being used in different ways a) There are important changes to the implementation of the technology (1) What it is producing (2) The quantities in which it is producing 4. New networks of communication a) Newspapers (1) Published 2 or 3 times a week (2) In london they really take off: increase sixfold (3) People are ever more engaged in the world around them b) Periodical Journals (1) They provide a forum of intellectual exchange on a variety of different topics c) Republic of letters (1) Intellectuals and political letters exchange letters about new knowledge (a) Also enclosing printed pamphlets and journals (2) Many of the participants never actually met d) Novels (1) Opened up a space for women in new ways (2) Nature of the genre open the space in new ways (a) About characters and human existence 5. Physical spaces a) English Coffee Houses (1) Started appearing in the mid 17th c. (2) Increasingly common as coffee shifted from a luxury item to a mainstream commodity (3) Linked to sobriety (a) Provided an alternate venue for respectable people to come together and discuss things i) Instead of pubs (4) The coffee houses subscribe to newspapers and journals (a) So people could come and discuss them for the price of a coffee (a penny) b) French Salons (1) Parlors usually hosted by aristocratic women (a) Selected topics of conversation (b) Presided over the conversations (c) Invited intellectually curious men of means i) Aristocrats, intellectuals and Bourgeoisie (not manual labor) c) Lending libraries (1) Emerge in Paris, London, Milan and Berlin (2) Increased literacy allows for this to come about (a) Roughly half the male population of states in Europe can read (3) If you have a highly illiterate population, you read aloud to them! B. The birth of a Public Sphere 1. The bourgeois public sphere was the new virtual space (not physical) created by print and the conversations around it where private individuals came together to debate matters of public concern a) Did so in a rational, critical way b) Playing on the divide between public and private c) Theoretically open to all, resolved disputes when they came to a rational consensus. 2. Numerous challenges a) Access can never truly be open b) Denial that a public sphere can ever be unified or rational 3. If the thesis garnered this much attention, it is testament to the fact that conversations were expanded, people were talking - potentially in new ways a) this forms the backdrop to all the intellectual conversations we will go through next II. The Scientific Revolution A. 17 c. developments in math and science 1. Transformed peoples views about the natural world 2. Did this in ways that foregrounded the enlightenment 3. All the break throughs are based on the scientific method B. The scientific method and Francis Bacon (1626) 1. He privileged the practical over the abstract 2. Championed inductive reasoning a) You observe and conduct experiments in order to come to conclusions of more general importance b) Why the scientific method? (1) Because experimentation remains at the core of all scientific endeavor 3. Trying to know God by knowing nature a) God created the natural world b) Science is not mutually exclusive of faith but rather the two reinforce one another C. Astronomy 1. Traditional View:Aristotle/Ptolemy a) Geocentric Model (1) The earth is at the centre of the universe (a) Surrounded by circular spheres i) Stars and planets (2) The system was perfect and unchanging (3) God and the angels lived in the furthest out heavenly sphere 2. Copernicus a) Popularized a heliocentric model (1) The sun is at the centre of the universe (2) Comes to the conclusion based on observations (3) Also has mathematical conclusions (4) Also says the earth spins on its own axis around the sun 3. Brahe and Kepler a) Brahe observed an exploding star (1) The universe is not static and unchanging! (2) Tried to bind geocentric and heliocentric views together (a) Scientific process is not linear! b) Kepler (1) Showed planetary orbits were not circular (a) Affected by a force from the sun (b) Show that god did not have to keep things constantly in motion (c) He created a perfect system and then just stepped back 4. Galileo a) Constructed the telescope (1) Used it to confirm the heliocentric model of the earth (a) As well as its own rotation (b) Pope condemned this (c) People’s inquisition condemned him to house arrest b) Despite the church’s opposition, new ideas about the universe were circulating (1) The universe was no longer static! (2) Challenge hierarchies, challenge one - challenge all D. Rene Descartes (1630) 1. French philosopher wrote Discourse on Method 2. Refused to accept passed on knowledge a) Assume anything from prosperity was incorrect until examined himself b) Deductive Reasoning (1) From the general, premise to the specific - work in c) Begins by examining himself: I think therefore I am (1) World is divided into 2 substances: composed of mind and matter (2) His deductions were possible because he came to believe god had created a rational, self-perpetuating universe that men could understand E. Isaac Newton (1727) and a New Synthesis 1. Wrote Principia in 1687 2. Synthesizes the theoretical rigor of Descartes with the empiricism of inductive reasoning 3. He said every point of matter attracted every other point of matter with a force proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of their distance 4. Also responsible for color theory and calculus F. Science and Religion 1. None of the aforementioned men felt their faith was threatened 2. Keep in mind these were mostly men but there were some exceptions a) Cavendish b) Veratti 3. But mostly they were white privileged men who felt they were gained knowledge of God 4. Science was not yet disentangled from superstition a) So a lot of scientists are trying to understand witchcraft and alchemy III. The Enlightenment Canon A. Apply scientific logic and method to society, government and political thought 1. Critical analysis of social and political tended to have the effect of culminating in the value of freedom and the rule of law 2. Rejecting that the social system of the day were virtuous 3. This sat uneasily with absolutism 4. Enlightened philosophes sought to improve the human condi
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