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HIST111 Lecture Notes - Public Sphere, Montesquieu

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Troy Osborne

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Enlightenment-Jan 24
1. Characteristics of Enlightenment
a. Reason: use of applying reason to everything; considered to be universal and to improve
the world
b. Natural law: look to nature for authority and therefore be freed from the Bible. Seek to
control nature as well.
c. Toleration
d. Most importantly: optimism and change; freed from the Ancients
e. Reform and Progress: e.g. speeding process of Enlightened government
2. People and Institutions
a. Coffee shops: small fee to get in
b. Libraries: revolutionary-greater access to learning material (anyone could walk in for
c. Masonic lodges: theoretically, here, social background doesn’t matter (e.g. all
considered to be of equal social class)
i. Unlike the Scientific Revolutions, where only elites were involved, there is a
general thirst for knowledge
d. Salon (room in a private house): traditionally hosted by women; represent a shift of
where things happen-a public sphere of life separate from court life
e. Republic of Letters
i. Enlightenment is an international phenomenon
ii. People writing letters around the globe thinking that they are part of a new
country called the “Republic of Letters” governed by reason, women and good
iii. Don’t need absolute government
f. Encyclopedie-Denis Diderot (1713-1784)
i. Knowledge to share; a useful, educational tool
ii. Critic of the church and monarchy-censored by royals
g. Voltaire (1712-1778)
i. Detested abuses of religious institutions
1. Erasons l’infame “let us crush the church”
ii. Deism: reason and observation of the natural of the world to determine the
existence of God
1. God alone created the world and then left it alone
iii. Lisbon Earthquake and Tsunami of 1755: how could God be so harsh?
iv. Atheists in the minority
h. Rousseau
i. Critical of salon culture and of optimism
ii. “On the Origin of Inequality Among Men”
1. Humanity is happiest in the savage state
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