HIST 111 - January 24, 2013
Enlightenment: Institutions and Ideas
“What is Enlightenment?”
- What is Enlightenment, according to Immanuel Kant?
- “Sapere Audere” / “Dare to Know”
- What conditions make it possible for one to be enlightened?
Characteristics of the Enlightenment
- Applying logic everywhere
- Attracted to reason because it was ‘universal’, unlike where religion;
you don’t have to agree to any specific thing in order to agree with it,
it’s a basic sense that everyone shares.
- Natural Law
- Discerning natural law
- Look to nature to understand humanity (instead of God)
- Newton says there’s laws that flow through nature, animals laws,
humans are animals, so we can be understood based off natural laws.
- John Locke: everyone has a blank slate (because what we know is
based on experiences) so we can’t persecute someone for not
knowing what we know (or believing something different)
- Most importantly: Optimism and Change
- That we’re going up / better, we’re increasing; different from the
Christian view of God will come and judge etc
- Reform and Progress
- Using their understanding of natural laws to change the world for the
- You can feel the intellectual change (vs. The Scientific revolution was much
slower, not noticed. Was not called Scientific revolution until much later,
whereas the Enlightenment was called that in its day)
- Optimistic view of humanity; keeps on going
People and Institutions
- People got together to discuss their new ideas
- England in particular was an important spot to talk about ideas
(learned that caffeine is a stimulant; work longer, think better
- Created; Britain they are free, totally revolutionary that they will
collect these things and anyone can read them.
- ‘Great Age of Masonic Lodges’ Everyone in a Masonic lodge is equal,
it knows no backgrounds. In some countries this even includes
women and actively participate in discussions HIST 111 - January 24, 2013
- Their ideas are everywhere
- Especially in France, often organised by women.
- Women kept conversation going and stopped men from “fighting”
- More important than many other meeting places in this time
- Represent a shift of where things happened: remember absolutism
and Louis XIV where anyone who mattered had to be at the court.
NOW court is less important, these important people are meeting in
homes at salons.
- These people are meeting in the public sphere separate from court
life: you know longer have to suck up to the King to be important
- Anyone who is anyone is found in salons, not with Kings.
E. Republic of Letters
F. Encyclopedie - Denis Diderot (1713-1784)
- Product of the Republic of Letters
- That ideas aren’t just for hoarding, they are for sharing so that they
can improve lives
- Contains all the new knowledge of the day (or a lot of it); by last one
theres 35 volumes, 11 volumes just with pictures
- More than just propaganda: it’s an important educational tool
G. Voltaire (1712-1778)
- He spans nearly exactly the Enlightenment
- Son of notary, educated at jesuit school
- Écrasons l’infâme (“let us crush the infamous one”)
- Critiques the church; hates the abuses of intolerant religion
- Wants to replace religion by this rational religion that everyone
can relate to
- Gets popular by people who frequent salons
- What can everyone agree on by looking at nature and
using reason (no matter where you go, what would they
agree on as religious truth)
- They decided that the truths would be that there is
a god and that everyone has a soul (someone had
to put it into motion)
- Their belief is that if they can take away the parts of
religion that not everyone can agree with they can get rid
of religious intolerance
- Libson Earth