• The roots of enlightenment
1. Popularizing science: de Fontanelle
2. John Locke and his implications
3. Skepticism, cultural relativism, and the new world
• The early French Enlightenment
1. Montesquieu and government
2. The encyclopedia as a means to enlightenment
• The mechanics of enlightenment
1. The Salon
2. Booksellers and censors
• A more human world?
1. Judicial torture and the enlightenment
• The later enlightenment criticizes the earlier
1. Rousseau the outsider
2. Hume and the limits of skepticism
3. d’Holbach and religion
• a new worldview; progress
• Bernard de Fontanelle
• Mary Wortley Montagu
• Essay Concerning Human Understanding (Locke)
• Pierre Bayle
• Historical and Critical Dictionary
• Charles de Secondat, Baron Montesquieu
• The Spirit of the Laws
• The Persian Letters
• Francois-Marie Arouet (Voltaire)
• Denis Diderot
• Jean-Jacques Rousseau
• The Social Contract
• Cesare Beccaaria • On Crime and Punishment
• David Hume
• Immanuel Kant
• What is Enlightenment?
• Marie-Jean Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet
• The Progress of the Human Mind
• De Fontanelle writes a book explaining the revolution of the previous century
in astronomy. He’s very interested in the science world even though he
himself is not a scientist. He makes the work of scientists accessible to the
common people who don’t understand exactly what the scientists are saying.
He takes scientific understanding and moves it into the broader public
sphere. Newton’s “the world is understandable, controllable, and something
• John Locke was an educator and was part of a massive debate on the role of
corporal punishment in education who believed children should only get
beaten when they answer a question wrong instead of just getting beaten
when they were bad. Locke’s essay on human understanding he argued
against the philosophical idea of innate ideas. Locke says humans are born
knowing we don’t want to be hungry and we don’t want to be hurt, anything
else comes later. We are blank slates. Locke and Newton together is by
understanding the world and teaching humans you can control the world and
make human kind better. Therefore this makes the world a better place.
• Skepticism: 1690’s Pierre Bayle wrote the historical and critical dictionary.
He is a French protestant who then converted to Catholicism and then
reconverted to Protestantism and therefore had to flee France. Bayle writes
this dictionary which assumes the reader is already familiar with things. Says
everyone is alike, stupid and protestants and Catholics are similar.
Philosophers are still trying to decipher what Bayle was saying. He
introduced cultural skepticism. Maybe the way you grow up is not the only
way to go about things, there are other things out there.
• Baron Montesquieu in 1719 writes a book called the Persian letters. It is an
inversion of what mary montague is writing. It’s about a couple of Persian’s
traveling through France who are pretending to be baffled by things the
French consider normal. This is to ruffle the thoughts of the French and
therefore cause them to think that there are ways to do things differently.
• All of this produces an era of social critic and the outsider perspective. The
goal of this is to enlighten European society and broaden their views.
• Montesquieu writes Spirit of the Laws. He comes up with axioms of
government. He comes up with the idea that there is the power to make,
interpret and carry out laws. He also suggests that if you want freedom for
the public (the relatively educated middle class) the best way to do that is to divide the powers. Except that only works in small relatively homogenous
countries. Switzerland could because they are relatively similar and it is a
small country. He basically says you can divide the powers and there is peace
and liberty. However this doesn’t work for France because it has too many
parts and everyone is too different. It needs a king. His book talks about
everyone but France because he wants to continue to live there. His idea that
if we just understood government we could create one that works.
• Dennis Diderot with John collects the ideas of human knowledge into a series
of books called the Encyclopedia. They invite scholars to write articles on
religion, government, etc. and publish them out of ….. it was not okay with the
Catholics so it was a subscription sent out. They think bring enough
knowledge together and things will get better.
• Voltaire is a deep skeptic, middle class and not very wealthy. He writes nasty
plays making fun of noblemen for other noblemen. While he’s in England he
gets to the concept of religious toleration. He says if you have one religion in
a country and everyone has to follow it then that’s tyranny. He pings back
and forth between England and France and writes his master work Cindeed.
It’s about a young man who grows up in a tiny little castle (poor nobility). He
is tutored by a doctor and this doctor is very rationalist and every effect has a
cause and therefore this is the best of all possible worlds – h