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Lec #2. The Enlightenment

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Political Science
Course Code
Simone Chambers

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Sept. 19/13 The Enlightenment There has been a continuous intellectual line of books being read, we are in the process of figuring out what the story is. One way of telling the story is that rationality is born with Plato, and the dominant strand is the development of rationalism, the ancient form of reason is very different than the modern one. Machiavelli is the turning point that something happens and then builds to modernity. We put the division at Hobbes and then start POL320 with Rousseau. Rousseau is the beginning of the enlightenment. Modernity is the creation of a certain culture, when we use the term modern we are referring to a historic trajectory that happened in a specific place, and we are here today because of it. It is important to understand that it is not ‘world’ political thought, but rather specific to one culture and tradition. It happens to be our tradition, we live in the west and everything is the product of this tradition (education, culture, etc.,). This tradition has been hugely powerful, successful, dominant, hegemonic, which has led people to confuse the western narrative with the best. We also can choose or reject because our societies are quite different, we can study it and criticize it. Core rationalism expressed in the 18 and 19 century and look at various ways it is challenged with romanticism, and post-modernism. The Enlightenment Refers to a period, cultural, philosophical movement. The enlightenment is a self- conscious term that the people used during the term. Enlightenment themes- Reason, Religion, Public sphere, progress, politics Enlightenment values- Liberty, equality, fraternity, autonomy and authenticity (Essay in the final exam, one of these values or 2 will be in there). Rationalism to the age or Reason 17 Century rationalism: Descartes (1637), Hobbes (1658), Spinoza (1663), Newton (1687), Locke (1688). th 18 century as an age of reason: Voltaire (1759), Rousseau (1760), Adam Smith (1776), Kant (1785), Wollstonecraft (1792). The scientific and rational application is adopted and the Aristotelian way is rejected. A cultural attitude, a set of values that is shared by everybody Reason A way of doing philosophy, there is a central idea; reason is a faculty that all human beings posses. Its functions are universal and invariable, that is the starting point. The variations between people and cultures etc., are due to influences external to reason that shape our values and sometimes distort our reason. The model of this is science, clean away the debris of superstition and religion and focus on the application of reason. The enlightenment applies this to everything. You need to liberate reason, but various things are hindering us. We need to enlighten ourselves. In using one’s own reason, one is liberated Enlightenment is humans beings liberation from minority, minority is inability to make use of ones own understanding. (Pg. 1) We are not bound by anything, what we live in is the accumulation of ignorance, injustice, oppression and it developed irrationally to serve the interests of few. We will erase everything and come up with a rational plan. It is hard to do in politics and dangerous. This idea leads to the terror of the Fr
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