HIS109Y1 Lecture Notes - Madame De Pompadour, Philosophes, Persian Letters

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Published on 31 Jul 2011
School
UTSG
Department
History
Course
HIS109Y1
HIS109
Nov. 22/2010
The Philosophes
Age of Reason the coming together of what amounts to the Enlightenment
Established a new worldview a way to perceive the relationship between man
and nature
Began with Descartes Discourse on Method
What characterized the Enlightenment?
Education and learning seen in terms of secular needs and goals
Concept of systematic doubt exploited the belief that nothing could be accepted
without evidence and proof
The way to achieve human enlightenment is through reason
After Newton established basic law of nature - the society of mankind could be
understood
The application of human reason to any situation could produce better results
Change could happen because it would be in tune with nature, but change could
happen that could bring human society into concert with nature (would be good)
Through reason and intelligence humans can alter the circumstances of their own
lives (political situations could be changed for example)
Laws of the universe cannot be changed laws of nature absolute and immutable
Economic, political, & social systems are mutable because they are elements of
human discretion
Partly dependent on the scientific method
Principles, knowledge must be applied to the human condition to be given
validity and to make a difference in human lives
If men and women could alter their societies to be in tune with natural law, there
had to be a purpose
What is useful is determined by what promotes human happiness and welfare
Hierarchical structures questioned why should a single person have authority
over all based upon an accident of birth
Entire assumption of the world called into question
The idea of human welfare and the greatest number were based upon the idea of
utility how can we make the world better, happier, and ensure that basic human
rights are sustained?
Everything that had been previously accepted up until this point were questioned
Philosophes:
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Wrote about Enlightenment ideal, questioned ideals
Sought to apply principles of reason and rationalism to the human condition
Wanted to reduce anything that was irrational, based on superstition, or could
not be proven by fact
Challenged the ideas upon which society was built
Wanted to create a better place on Earth, the idea of suffering and obeying was
something inimical
Wanted to control the institutions of society
Constituted an intellectual elite
A new basis for human society was being made based on reason, natural laws
Reason will allow human to find institutions that are natural
War on the Ancien Regime represented by the Bourbon monarchy
This was NOT a good form of government; there are other more effective ways to
organize society
Francois Marie Arouet de VOLTAIRE (1694 -1778)
Represents the style and value structure of the age of reason and the problems
faced by those challenging the institutions of society
Experimented with literary expression during his youth
He had much wit that made him popular in the salons
The intervention of Madame de Pompadour allowed him to be released from
Bastille
Lived in England for some time and observed the constitutional monarchy
Used Newton as an example to demonstrate the differences between France and
England
Saw England as a model for an experiment with constitutional monarchy in
which the king could not act alone, and the church could not decide who was good and
who was bad
Saw religious toleration, free press & liberal politics
England was not egalitarian, but in comparison to the ancien regime of France it
was a paradise
Took ideas that developed in England and wrote books spreading these concepts
Seemingly idolized Louis the 14th ironic that the king who revoked the Edict of
Nantes would be idolized
In the area of religious toleration, and making the role of the church miniscule
Voltaire did not tire– focused most of energies against the abuses of the French church
Voltaire used two cases in which to criticize the church:
Calas
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Was a Protestant
Was executed because it was thought that he murdered his son because he
wanted to convert to Catholicism
Church used this to embarrass Protestantism
He was not given a trial
Raised consciousness of anti-clerical thinking
La Barre
Caught desecrating a shrine
He was sentenced to death, although this was not that serious
Voltaire worked tirelessly to get him released
One of the first acts of the revolution was disestablishing the church, and taking
all of the churchs land
This was done because men such as Voltaire turned the church into the enemy,
the church stands in your way just as much as the monarchy
Escracez linfame (Crush the infamy)
If he were going to destroy the church, what would Voltaire put in its place?
Rational, natural alternative to Christian beliefs was Deism the belief in a
supernatural being or God is rational and stem from human rationalism and not any
type of divine intervention
All we have to do as human beings is use our ability to reason
If we relied on our reason than the problems of the world would lessen, possibly
disappear
Human civilization completely dependent on causation the world has
progressed because people made the decision to do things
We can create our own civilization and world
Put together a method, but did not put forth an alternative example for human
happiness
Was not a democrat - had a very low opinion of the common man, despite the fact
that he believed strongly in Lockes Epistemology
Dominated the intellectual life of his time, works still define the contours of the
French mind
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Document Summary

Age of reason the coming together of what amounts to the enlightenment. Established a new worldview a way to perceive the relationship between man and nature. Education and learning seen in terms of secular needs and goals. Concept of systematic doubt exploited the belief that nothing could be accepted. The way to achieve human enlightenment is through reason. After newton established basic law of nature - the society of mankind could be without evidence and proof understood. The application of human reason to any situation could produce better results. Change could happen because it would be in tune with nature, but change could happen that could bring human society into concert with nature (would be good) lives (political situations could be changed for example) Through reason and intelligence humans can alter the circumstances of their own. Laws of the universe cannot be changed laws of nature absolute and immutable.