Week 7.docx

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Department
Sociology and Anthropology
Course
SOAN 2111
Professor
Linda Hunter
Semester
Fall

Description
Week 7: Zeitlin Chapter 1The EnlightenmentPhilosophical Foundations -Enlightenment refers to the intellectual movement that developed within the hundred- year span beginning with the English Revolution and culminating in the French Revolution -movements leading representatives were religious skeptics, political reformers, cultural critics, historians, and social theorists who exercised considerable influence -committed to the rational pursuit of truth, but also had their philosophical and political differences -The British thinkers were relatively content with their social and political institutions - Germans were almost entirely unpolitical -French Philosophes who most vehemently (strongly) criticized both church and state campaigned unrelentingly for the basic freedomsfreedom from arbitrary power, freedom of speech.... -it was in 18th century France that the conflict of the Enlightenment with the Establishment became the most intense and dramatic -Enlightenment has its roots in the past several centuries earlier a secular mode of thought had been slowly developing (between 1300 and 1700) -the medieval mind was dominated by the Church, literally, emotionally, and intellectually A revolution was necessary to bring men back to common sense Rousseau -in contrast to the medieval era, the men of the Enlightenment regarded all aspects of human life and works as subject to critical examination (the various sciences, religious beliefs, metaphysics...) self-examination, a scrutiny of their own actions and their own society, was an essential function of thought - ^ human beings could determine their direction and control their consequences -though reason and science, humanity could attain ever greater degrees of freedom and, hence, ever greater degrees of perfection -Philosophes waged an unceasing war against superstition, bigotry, and intolerance (fought against censorship and demanded freedom of thought) attacked the privileges of the feudal classes and their restraints upon the commercial and industrial classes -philosophy was no longer merely a matter of abstract thinking -Enlightenment thinking has a negative-critical as well as positive side -Philosophes constructed their ideal of explanation on the model of the contemporary natural scienceslooked to Newton (Order is immanent in the universe, Newton believed, and is discovered not by abstract reasoning alone, but by observation) became the methodological premise of the 18th century thought -Condillac (philosopher)Treatise on Systemsexplicitly defends the empirical method and criticizes the great rationalists of the 17th for having failed to adhere to it - Condillac argues the necessity of a new method that unites the empirical with the rational -what is new and original about the Enlightenment thought is the whole-hearted adoption of the methodological patterns of Newtons physics, and that immediately with its adoption it was generalized and employed in realms other than the mathematical and physical it became an indispensable tool in the study of all phenomenon -reason bows neither to the merely factual, the simple data of experience, nor to the evidence of revelation, tradition, or authority reason together with observation is a facility for the acquisition of truth -one way of viewing the special contribution of the Enlightenment is to see its sustained effort at bringing together these distinct philosophical approaches into one unified methodology -Locke asserted in opposition to certain of his contemporaries, that ideas are not innate in the human mind at birth the mind is a tabula rasa (blank state) only through experiences do ideas enter the mind -saw the function of the mind is to collect the impressions and materials provided by the senses role of the mind is a passive one, with little to no creative or organizing function -Locke further supported the scientists method of focusing on measurable qualities, and ignoring the other aspects of the things they were investigating, by advancing a classificationof the qualities of matter into primary and secondary extension, number, and motion could be directly and immediately experienced on the other hand, colour and sound has not existence outside the observers mind -subsequently, Lockes epistemology led to idealism and skepticism among English philosophers and to materialism among the French -David Hume thought that the mind could know nothing outside itself; all human knowledge of the external world is therefore impossible -among many French philosophers, Lockes ideas were translated into scientific materialism Materialism appeared as an effective ideological weapon against Church dogma -It is (period of Enlightenment) in that period that one may see more consistently than before the emergence of the scientific method -reason in itself will not yield a knowledge of reality, neither will observation and experimentation alone yield such knowledge -knowledge of reality, whether natural or social, depends on the unity of reason and observation in the scientific method -Enlightenment thinkers were as interested in society and history as they were in nature, and these were treated as an invisible unity -by studying natureincluding the nature of manone could learn not only what is, but also what is possible; likewise, by studying society and history, one could learn not only about the workings of the existing factual order, but its inherent possibilities -^these thinkers were negative in that they were critical of the existing order which stifled the human potential and did not allow the possible to emerge from the is. Chapter 2Montesquieu -(With exception to Vico), Montesquieu made the first attempt in modern times at constructing a philosophy of society and history -the central ideas of the Enlightenment are nowhere expressed in Vicos writings he remained essentially medieval and theological in his outlook and viewed improvement and salvation as dependent on the grace of God -Montesquieu was a true son of his age, for he had thoroughly emancipated himself from the medieval heritage -his concern with regularities was more in keeping with the modern conception; he sought the laws of social and historical development, his main purpose in studying the social facts -facts are studied not for their own sake but for the laws that become manifest through them -His major work, Spirit of the Laws, and all his other writing to a somewhat lesser extent, is an analysis based on political and sociological types the ideal type was an indispensible intellectual tool by means of which one could make sense out of an otherwise incomprehensible welter of facts -there are forms of government called republic, aristocracy, monarchy, and despotism -the republic rests on civic virtue; monarchy depends on honour, and despotism on fear- Montesquieu views all the institutions making up a society as having an interdependent and correlative relationship to one another and as depending on the form of the whole education and justice, forms of marriage and the family, and political institutions have not only a reciprocal influence but also depend on the basic form of the state, and the character of the state in turn rests upon these aspects of society -if the study of a society discloses a certain interdependence among its elements, and id a number of societies have so much in common that they may be classed under the same type, then the functioning processes of such societies may also reveal certain similar, characteristic tendencies. social processes and the fate of peoples are not determined by accidents There are cultural and physical causes that bring about the rise, maintenance and fall of systems of power/civilizations. -Montesquieu, despite his attention to them, sees physical conditions like climate, soil, etc., as primarily limiting factors (giving them much less importance)sociolcultural variables are of more importance when determining forms of government ,laws and other institutions. -Montesquieu was perhaps the most objective of all the Philosophes. -because he was so interested in facts he would have done better had he not been more occupied with finding the reason for that which is than with seeking that which ought to be (according to Condorcet) -Montesquieu didnt hesitate to point out virtues and faults in all forms of governmentprovided all political parties with arguments that supported their respective positions. -Montesquieu was less critical than his contemporaries but human freedom was still an ideal for him. he had major concerns with power and its relation to fr
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