The Enlightenment: The Age of Reason
Couple of designations such as the age of reason. Rigor should be applied to branches such as political
science. Rational capabilities of humans.
Civil society under Absolutism:
General discouragement of dissent. Public assemblies and press subjection to suppression. The
ways of controlling society were covert and focused on discipline. Other measures involved if
not able to self-discipline. No option of open debate. Celebrations subject to authority.
State control and censorship over books.
Scientific and literary periodicals: had to go through governments and bureaucracies to be
The first newspapers arose. (Relation in Germany) Politics in neighbouring states were
interesting. Spread vastly.
Literacy the rise of alternative “public spheres”: Pamphleteers. Specialized trade.
The Republic of Letters: Philosophers corresponding.
Scholarship under Absolutism:
Learned Societies: The Royal Society of London and Academie Francaise. Groups that had access to
funds and were recognized.
The core of the movement was located in Italy and moved definitely.
Fredrick the Great/Catherine the Great to Voltaire:
Other absolutist rulers.
As long as they applied reason to their rule, they thought there was an improvement. The fact that
they’re an absolute ruler does not matter in this case. The point that matters is that it doesn’t matter
how good the dictator is. Can also be perceived as a transitional state.
Englightened Absolutism: Benevolent Despotism
Coeval with Enlightenment culture in France and German states due to the growing influence of
Enlightenment ideas across Europe. New ideas and old institution.
The Enlightened monarch would apply some principles especially rationality in their realms. They would
emphasise they were making decisions with reason.
The tended to allow some religious toleration, freedom of speech and the right to hold property.
Paris is the centre of Enlightenment.
Voices of the Enlightenment: Les philosophes Centred in France
Most were pro-monarchy with the proviso that the institution must be subject to rational reform.
Implication of the Salon Culture/Enlightenment Proto-Feminism
Hosted usually in a private residence and usually by women.
A key issue in the Enlightenment is the public versus the private.
At least 250 salons in 1661.
1652 (Coffee House established in London)
Important thinkers. People would discuss ideas of the time. Didn’t matter to who and how you were
These women were very literate and contributed ideas but were not designated as philosophers. They
were facilitators and only discussed philosophy.
Mme. De Pompadour
Olympe de Gouges
Rousseau did not see the point of the salons. Voices of dissent within the enlightenment as well. A
testing ground and was seen as a way to hasten the progress of ideas.
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804):
What is Enlightenment?
Tutelage: immaturity. The restrictions that limit our free thoughts and ability to use reason. Foregrounds
boundaries. Kant focuses on the process of Enlightenment. Designated as an age where the process is
still in progress. Curiosity for more knowledge. Question authority.
Not an enlightened age but an Age of Enlightenment. Benefits of absolute government
Autonomy, self-determination through the use of reason
Public versus Private use of reason and their appropriate spheres
Chief institutions: the press and the education system
Ethos and practice of self-critique as an index of modernity
Cosmopolitanism and Perpetual Peace
Wrote the entry on “Natural Law” ( Hunt 35-7)
Man is an “animal that reasons”
The general will
“The laws shoul