Enlightenment – 18 century th
There existed two different sources for man’s
paragon of behavior – both similar in that they look
backwards in time for answers:
• A Guideline for mankind – moral standard by which others can measure
• Civic virtue.
• Looked to the scriptures.
o Dictation of God guided their behavior.
How ordinary people and leaders of the Catholic Church view natural disasters and
tragedies – God’s hand is in everything:
– 1755 All Saints Day.
Earthquake strikes Lisbon, Portugal (very urban society/ prosperous)
o Followed by fire
o Followed by tsunami
What caused it? Debated heavily
o Archbishop: Relying on absolutism, he said it was God’s punishment for
Portugal’s sinful behavior (Sodom and Gomorrah style)
We are well into the 18 century, here. They are still taking quotes
from olden days.
He particularly noted, “Those philosophers (scientists) who think
that earthquakes are caused by fires beneath the Earth had better
take another look at Lisbon as an example of God’s ire.”
Defending the idea that God controls all events
Very old thinking.
o Thomas Gordon’s (Scotsman) rebuttal:
Woah woah woah, plate tectonics are a real thing.
Also, religious people were not spared.
Also, in CT, USA, militiamen were drinking and having a good old time in a bar,
when a musket was accidentally fired.
o Argument made that musket didn’t fall. It was felled by God.
These ideas were challenged by 18 century philosophers ^^^ Montesquieu (French political thinker). Politics are controlled by men and
men should be able to therefore control their own destiny.
• Espoused the experiential argument (more dynamic):
o (Runs counter to the absolutism (static perception of the world))
o The Earth is heterogeneous, not homogenous.
• Geography, politics, economics, law – everything comes together and
shape any given society.
• AND the outcomes are different from state to state because variables
differ (geography, political goals, economic structure, etc.)
• These multiple variables account for differences in the world.
(Absolutist vs. counties like England, which is growing more
prosperous and more democratic.)
Cesar Beccaria (?) wrote On Crimes and Punishments in 1768
• In many societies, the way punishment was doled out was not about deterring
crime, but about terrifying the populous for state domination.
o Kind of reminiscent of Utopia, were thieves are killed just because they
have to steal to survive.
• Opposed to brutal punishments. Punishments should be proportionate to the
• At the time, there were 350 criminal acts punishable by death.
o Allen Roger’s favorite – kicking over a drying rack gets you hanged.
Didero, editor and author of 17volume Encyclopedia in 1760
• We are now at the point in history that we must compile all of our technological
information so as to make further change possible.
• Prereq for making changes is knowledge.
• Consolidating this knowledge will cause rapid tech expansion beneficial to
o Why? Men are capable of reas