The ENLIGHTENMENT (also known as the AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT or the AGE
OF REASON; in French : le Siècle des Lumières, lit. 'the Century of
Lights'; and in German : Aufklärung, 'Enlightenment') was an
intellectual and philosophical movement which dominated the world of
ideas in Europe during the 18th century, The Century of Philosophy.
The Enlightenment included a range of ideas centered on reason as the
primary source of authority and legitimacy, and came to advance ideals
like liberty , progress , tolerance , fraternity , constitutional
government , and separation of church and state . In France, the
central doctrines of les Lumières were individual liberty and
religious tolerance in opposition to an absolute monarchy and the
fixed dogmas of the
Roman Catholic Church
French historians traditionally place the Enlightenment between 1715, the year that Louis XIV died, and 1789, the beginning of the French Revolution . Some recent historians begin the period in the 1620s, with the start of the scientific revolution . Les philosophes (French for 'the philosophers') of the period widely circulated their ideas through meetings at scientific academies, Masonic lodges , literary salons, coffee houses, and printed books and pamphlets. The ideas of the Enlightenment undermined the authority of the monarchy and the Church, and paved the way for the political revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries. A variety of 19th-century movements, including liberalism and neo-classicism , trace their intellectual heritage back to the Enlightenment.
Age of Enlightenment
The most influential publication of the Enlightenment was the
Other landmark publications were Voltaire's Dictionnaire
philosophique (Philosophical Dictionary; 1764) and Letters on the
English (1733); Rousseau's
Discourse on Inequality (1754) and The
Social Contract (1762); Adam Smith's
The Wealth of Nations
* 4 Politics
* 5 Religion
* 6 National variations
* 7 Historiography
* 7.1 Definition * 7.2 Time span * 7.3 Modern study
* 8 Society and culture
* 8.1 Social and cultural implications in the arts
* 9 Dissemination of ideas
* 9.1 The Republic of Letters * 9.2 The book industry * 9.3 Natural history * 9.4 Scientific and literary journals * 9.5 Encyclopedias and dictionaries * 9.6 Popularization of science * 9.7 Schools and universities * 9.8 Learned academies * 9.9 Salons * 9.10 Coffeehouses * 9.11 Debating societies * 9.12 Masonic lodges
* 10 Important intellectuals * 11 See also * 12 References
* 13 Further reading
* 13.1 Reference and surveys * 13.2 Specialty studies * 13.3 Primary sources
* 14 External links
These laid down two distinct lines of Enlightenment thought: the
moderate variety, following Descartes, Locke and Christian Wolff which
sought accommodation between reform and the traditional systems of
power and faith and the radical enlightenment, inspired by the
In the mid-18th century, Paris became the center of an explosion of
philosophic and scientific activity challenging traditional doctrines
and dogmas. The philosophic movement was led by
Francis Hutcheson , a moral philosopher, described the utilitarian
and consequentialist principle that virtue is that which provides, in
his words, "the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers". Much of
what is incorporated in the scientific method (the nature of
knowledge, evidence, experience, and causation) and some modern
attitudes towards the relationship between science and religion were
developed by his protégés
Main article: Science in the Age of Enlightenment
Broadly speaking, Enlightenment science greatly valued empiricism and
rational thought, and was embedded with the Enlightenment ideal of
advancement and progress. The study of science, under the heading of
natural philosophy , was divided into physics and a conglomerate
grouping of chemistry and natural history , which included anatomy ,
biology, geology , mineralogy , and zoology . As with most
Enlightenment views, the benefits of science were not seen
Scientific academies and societies grew out of the Scientific Revolution as the creators of scientific knowledge in contrast to the scholasticism of the university. During the Enlightenment, some societies created or retained links to universities. However, contemporary sources distinguished universities from scientific societies by claiming that the university's utility was in the transmission of knowledge, while societies functioned to create knowledge. As the role of universities in institutionalized science began to diminish, learned societies became the cornerstone of organized science. Official scientific societies were chartered by the state in order to provide technical expertise. Most societies were granted permission to oversee their own publications, control the election of new members, and the administration of the society. After 1700, a tremendous number of official academies and societies were founded in Europe, and by 1789 there were over seventy official scientific societies. In reference to this growth, Bernard de Fontenelle coined the term "the Age of Academies" to describe the 18th century.
The influence of science also began appearing more commonly in poetry and literature during the Enlightenment. Some poetry became infused with scientific metaphor and imagery, while other poems were written directly about scientific topics. Sir Richard Blackmore committed the Newtonian system to verse in Creation, a Philosophical Poem in Seven Books (1712). After Newton's death in 1727, poems were composed in his honour for decades. James Thomson (1700–1748) penned his "Poem to the Memory of Newton," which mourned the loss of Newton, but also praised his science and legacy.
SOCIOLOGY, ECONOMICS AND LAW
Cesare Beccaria , father of classical criminal theory (1738–1794)
Hume and other
Adam Smith published
The Wealth of Nations
Cesare Beccaria , a jurist, criminologist, philosopher, and politician and one of the great Enlightenment writers, became famous for his masterpiece Of Crimes and Punishments (1764), later translated into 22 languages, which condemned torture and the death penalty, and was a founding work in the field of penology and the Classical School of criminology by promoting criminal justice. Another prominent intellectual was Francesco Mario Pagano , who wrote important studies such as Saggi Politici (Political Essays, 1783), one of the major works of the Enlightenment in Naples, and Considerazioni sul processo criminale (Considerations on the criminal trial, 1787), which established him as an international authority on criminal law.
The Enlightenment has long been hailed as the foundation of modern Western political and intellectual culture. The Enlightenment brought political modernization to the West, in terms of introducing democratic values and institutions and the creation of modern, liberal democracies. This thesis has been widely accepted by Anglophone scholars and has been reinforced by the large-scale studies by Robert Darnton , Roy Porter and most recently by Jonathan Israel.
THEORIES OF GOVERNMENT
Denmark's minister Johann Struensee , a social reformer, was publicly executed in 1772
John Locke, one of the most influential Enlightenment thinkers,
based his governance philosophy in social contract theory , a subject
that permeated Enlightenment political thought. The English
Both Locke and
Locke is known for his statement that individuals have a right to
The philosophes argued that the establishment of a contractual basis of rights would lead to the market mechanism and capitalism , the scientific method , religious tolerance , and the organization of states into self-governing republics through democratic means. In this view, the tendency of the philosophes in particular to apply rationality to every problem is considered the essential change.
Though much of Enlightenment political thought was dominated by
social contract theorists, both
Main article: Enlightened absolutism The Marquis of Pombal , as the head of the government of Portugal, implemented sweeping socio-economic reforms (abolished slavery , significantly weakened the Inquisition , created the basis for secular public schools, restructured the tax system), effectively ruling as a powerful, progressive dictator.
In several nations, rulers welcomed leaders of the Enlightenment at court and asked them to help design laws and programs to reform the system, typically to build stronger national states . These rulers are called "enlightened despots" by historians. They included Frederick the Great of Prussia, Catherine the Great of Russia, Leopold II of Tuscany , and Joseph II of Austria. Joseph was over-enthusiastic, announcing many reforms that had little support, so that revolts broke out and his regime became a comedy of errors, and nearly all his programs were reversed. Senior ministers Pombal in Portugal and Struensee in Denmark also governed according to Enlightenment ideals. In Poland, the model constitution of 1791 expressed Enlightenment ideals, but was in effect for only one year before the nation was partitioned among its neighbors. More enduring were the cultural achievements, which created a nationalist spirit in Poland.
Frederick the Great , the king of
THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
The Enlightenment has been frequently linked to the French Revolution of 1789. One view of the political changes that occurred during the Enlightenment is that the "consent of the governed " philosophy as delineated by Locke in Two Treatises of Government (1689) represented a paradigm shift from the old governance paradigm under feudalism known as the "divine right of kings ." In this view, the revolutions of the late 1700s and early 1800s were caused by the fact that this governance paradigm shift often could not be resolved peacefully, and therefore violent revolution was the result. Clearly a governance philosophy where the king was never wrong was in direct conflict with one whereby citizens by natural law had to consent to the acts and rulings of their government.
Alexis de Tocqueville
Jonathan Israel asserts that "The prevailing view about the French
Revolution not being caused by books and ideas in the first place may
be very widely influential, but it is also, on the basis of the
detailed evidence, totally indefensible. Indeed, without referring to
Radical Enlightenment nothing about the
Enlightenment era religious commentary was a response to the
preceding century of religious conflict in Europe, especially the
Thirty Years\' War . Theologians of the Enlightenment wanted to
reform their faith to its generally non-confrontational roots and to
limit the capacity for religious controversy to spill over into
politics and warfare while still maintaining a true faith in
Enlightenment scholars sought to curtail the political power of
organized religion and thereby prevent another age of intolerant
A number of novel ideas about religion developed with the
Deism and talk of atheism . Deism, according
SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
Main articles: Separation of church and state and Separation of church and state in the United States
The "Radical Enlightenment" promoted the concept of separating church and state, an idea that is often credited to English philosopher John Locke (1632–1704). According to his principle of the social contract , Locke said that the government lacked authority in the realm of individual conscience, as this was something rational people could not cede to the government for it or others to control. For Locke, this created a natural right in the liberty of conscience, which he said must therefore remain protected from any government authority.
These views on religious tolerance and the importance of individual
conscience, along with the social contract, became particularly
influential in the American colonies and the drafting of the United
The Enlightenment took hold in most European countries, often with a
specific local emphasis. For example, in France it became associated
with anti-government and anti-Church radicalism while in Germany it
reached deep into the middle classes and where it expressed a
spiritualistic and nationalistic tone without threatening governments
or established churches. Government responses varied widely. In
France, the government was hostile, and the philosophes fought against
its censorship, sometimes being imprisoned or hounded into exile. The
British government for the most part ignored the Enlightenment's
leaders in England and Scotland, although it did give
In Italy, parts of society also dramatically changed during the
Enlightenment, with rulers such as
Leopold II of Tuscany abolishing
the death penalty in Tuscany. The significant reduction in the
Church's power led to a period of great thought and invention, with
scientists such as
In Russia, the government began to actively encourage the
proliferation of arts and sciences in the mid-18th century. This era
produced the first Russian university, library, theatre, public
museum, and independent press. Like other enlightened despots ,
Catherine the Great played a key role in fostering the arts, sciences,
and education. She used her own interpretation of Enlightenment
ideals, assisted by notable international experts such as
Several Americans, especially
The Enlightenment has always been contested territory. According to
Keith Thomas, its supporters "hail it as the source of everything that
is progressive about the modern world. For them, it stands for freedom
of thought, rational inquiry, critical thinking, religious tolerance,
political liberty, scientific achievement, the pursuit of happiness,
and hope for the future." Thomas adds that its detractors accuse it
of 'shallow' rationalism, naïve optimism, unrealistic universalism,
and moral darkness. From the start, conservative and clerical
defenders of traditional religion attacked materialism and skepticism
as evil forces that encouraged immorality. By 1794, they pointed to
the Terror during the
The term "Enlightenment" emerged in English in the later part of the
19th century, with particular reference to French philosophy, as the
equivalent of the French term 'Lumières' (used first by Dubos in 1733
and already well established by 1751). From
Enlightenment historiography began in the period itself, from what
Enlightenment figures said about their work. A dominant element was
the intellectual angle they took. D\'Alembert\'s Preliminary Discourse
Jonathan Israel rejects the attempts of postmodern and Marxian historians to understand the revolutionary ideas of the period purely as by-products of social and economic transformations. He instead focuses on the history of ideas in the period from 1650 to the end of the 18th century, and claims that it was the ideas themselves that caused the change that eventually led to the revolutions of the latter half of the 18th century and the early 19th century. Israel argues that until the 1650s Western civilization "was based on a largely shared core of faith, tradition and authority".
There is little consensus on the precise beginning of the Age of
Enlightenment; the beginning of the 18th century (1701) or the middle
of the 17th century (1650) are often used as epochs . French
historians usually place the period, called the Siècle des Lumières
(Century of Enlightenments), between 1715 and 1789, from the beginning
of the reign of
Louis XV until the
Enlightenment, understood in the widest sense as the advance of thought, has always aimed at liberating human beings from fear and installing them as masters. Yet the wholly enlightened earth radiates under the sign of disaster triumphant.
In the 1970s, study of the Enlightenment expanded to include the ways Enlightenment ideas spread to European colonies and how they interacted with indigenous cultures, and how the Enlightenment took place in formerly unstudied areas such as Italy, Greece, the Balkans, Poland, Hungary, and Russia.
Intellectuals such as
Robert Darnton and
SOCIETY AND CULTURE
In contrast to the intellectual historiographical approach of the Enlightenment, which examines the various currents or discourses of intellectual thought within the European context during the 17th and 18th centuries, the cultural (or social) approach examines the changes that occurred in European society and culture. This approach studies the process of changing sociabilities and cultural practices during the Enlightenment.
One of the primary elements of the culture of the Enlightenment was the rise of the public sphere , a "realm of communication marked by new arenas of debate, more open and accessible forms of urban public space and sociability, and an explosion of print culture," in the late 17th century and 18th century. Elements of the public sphere included: it was egalitarian, it discussed the domain of "common concern," and argument was founded on reason. Habermas uses the term "common concern" to describe those areas of political/social knowledge and discussion that were previously the exclusive territory of the state and religious authorities, now open to critical examination by the public sphere. The values of this bourgeois public sphere included holding reason to be supreme, considering everything to be open to criticism (the public sphere is critical ), and the opposition of secrecy of all sorts. German explorer Alexander von Humboldt showed his disgust for slavery and often criticized the colonial policies. He always acted out of a deeply humanistic conviction, borne by the ideas of the Enlightenment.
The creation of the public sphere has been associated with two
long-term historical trends: the rise of the modern nation state and
the rise of capitalism . The modern nation state, in its consolidation
of public power, created by counterpoint a private realm of society
independent of the state, which allowed for the public sphere.
The context for the rise of the public sphere was the economic and
social change commonly associated with the
The word "public" implies the highest level of inclusivity – the public sphere by definition should be open to all. However, this sphere was only public to relative degrees. Enlightenment thinkers frequently contrasted their conception of the "public" with that of the people: Condorcet contrasted "opinion" with populace, Marmontel "the opinion of men of letters" with "the opinion of the multitude," and d\'Alembert the "truly enlightened public" with "the blind and noisy multitude". Additionally, most institutions of the public sphere excluded both women and the lower classes. Cross-class influences occurred through noble and lower class participation in areas such as the coffeehouses and the Masonic lodges.
SOCIAL AND CULTURAL IMPLICATIONS IN THE ARTS
Because of the focus on reason over superstition, the Enlightenment
cultivated the arts. Emphasis on learning, art and music became more
widespread, especially with the growing middle class. Areas of study
such as literature, philosophy, science, and the fine arts
increasingly explored subject matter that the general public in
addition to the previously more segregated professionals and patrons
could relate to.
George Frideric Handel
As musicians depended more and more on public support, public
concerts became increasingly popular and helped supplement performers'
and composers' incomes. The concerts also helped them to reach a wider
The desire to explore, record and systematize knowledge had a
meaningful impact on music publications.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau 's
Dictionnaire de musique (published 1767 in Geneva and 1768 in Paris)
was a leading text in the late 18th century. This widely available
dictionary gave short definitions of words like genius and taste, and
was clearly influenced by the Enlightenment movement. Another text
influenced by Enlightenment values was
As the economy and the middle class expanded, there was an increasing number of amateur musicians. One manifestation of this involved women, who became more involved with music on a social level. Women were already engaged in professional roles as singers, and increased their presence in the amateur performers' scene, especially with keyboard music. Music publishers begin to print music that amateurs could understand and play. The majority of the works that were published were for keyboard, voice and keyboard, and chamber ensemble. After these initial genres were popularized, from the mid-century on, amateur groups sang choral music, which then became a new trend for publishers to capitalize on. The increasing study of the fine arts, as well as access to amateur-friendly published works, led to more people becoming interested in reading and discussing music. Music magazines, reviews, and critical works which suited amateurs as well as connoisseurs began to surface.
DISSEMINATION OF IDEAS
The philosophes spent a great deal of energy disseminating their ideas among educated men and women in cosmopolitan cities. They used many venues, some of them quite new.
THE REPUBLIC OF LETTERS
Main article: Republic of Letters French philosopher Pierre Bayle
The term "Republic of Letters" was coined by Pierre Bayle in 1664, in his journal Nouvelles de la Republique des Lettres. Towards the end of the 18th century, the editor of Histoire de la République des Lettres en France, a literary survey, described the Republic of Letters as being:
In the midst of all the governments that decide the fate of men; in the bosom of so many states, the majority of them despotic ... there exists a certain realm which holds sway only over the mind ... that we honour with the name Republic, because it preserves a measure of independence, and because it is almost its essence to be free. It is the realm of talent and of thought.
Republic of Letters was the sum of a number of Enlightenment
ideals: an egalitarian realm governed by knowledge that could act
across political boundaries and rival state power. It was a forum
that supported "free public examination of questions regarding
religion or legislation".
Many women played an essential part in the French Enlightenment, due
to the role they played as salonnières in Parisian salons, as the
contrast to the male philosophes. The salon was the principal social
institution of the republic, and "became the civil working spaces of
the project of Enlightenment." Women, as salonnières, were "the
legitimate governors of potentially unruly discourse" that took place
within. While women were marginalized in the public culture of the
Ancien Régime, the
In France, the established men of letters (gens de lettres) had fused
with the elites (les grands) of French society by the mid-18th
century. This led to the creation of an oppositional literary sphere,
Grub Street , the domain of a "multitude of versifiers and would-be
authors". These men came to
The writers of Grub Street, the
Grub Street Hacks, were left feeling
bitter about the relative success of the men of letters, and found an
outlet for their literature which was typified by the libelle. Written
mostly in the form of pamphlets, the libelles "slandered the court,
the Church, the aristocracy, the academies, the salons, everything
elevated and respectable, including the monarchy itself". Le Gazetier
cuirassé by Charles Théveneau de Morande was a prototype of the
genre. It was
Grub Street literature that was most read by the public
during the Enlightenment. More importantly, according to Darnton, the
Grub Street hacks inherited the "revolutionary spirit" once displayed
by the philosophes, and paved the way for the
THE BOOK INDUSTRY
ESTC data 1477–1799 by decade given with a regional differentiation.
The increased consumption of reading materials of all sorts was one
of the key features of the "social" Enlightenment. Developments in the
Reading underwent serious changes in the 18th century. In particular, Rolf Engelsing has argued for the existence of a Reading Revolution . Until 1750, reading was done "intensively: people tended to own a small number of books and read them repeatedly, often to small audience. After 1750, people began to read "extensively", finding as many books as they could, increasingly reading them alone. This is supported by increasing literacy rates, particularly among women.
The vast majority of the reading public could not afford to own a
private library, and while most of the state-run "universal libraries"
set up in the 17th and 18th centuries were open to the public, they
were not the only sources of reading material. On one end of the
spectrum was the Bibliothèque Bleue, a collection of cheaply produced
books published in Troyes, France. Intended for a largely rural and
semi-literate audience these books included almanacs, retellings of
medieval romances and condensed versions of popular novels, among
other things. While some historians have argued against the
Enlightenment's penetration into the lower classes, the Bibliothèque
Bleue represents at least a desire to participate in Enlightenment
sociability. Moving up the classes, a variety of institutions offered
readers access to material without needing to buy anything. Libraries
that lent out their material for a small price started to appear, and
occasionally bookstores would offer a small lending library to their
patrons. Coffee houses commonly offered books, journals and sometimes
even popular novels to their customers. The Tatler and
It is extremely difficult to determine what people actually read during the Enlightenment. For example, examining the catalogs of private libraries gives an image skewed in favor of the classes wealthy enough to afford libraries, and also ignores censured works unlikely to be publicly acknowledged. For this reason, a study of publishing would be much more fruitful for discerning reading habits.
Across continental Europe, but in France especially, booksellers and publishers had to negotiate censorship laws of varying strictness. The Encyclopédie, for example, narrowly escaped seizure and had to be saved by Malesherbes , the man in charge of the French censure. Indeed, many publishing companies were conveniently located outside France so as to avoid overzealous French censors. They would smuggle their merchandise across the border, where it would then be transported to clandestine booksellers or small-time peddlers. The records of clandestine booksellers may give a better representation of what literate Frenchmen might have truly read, since their clandestine nature provided a less restrictive product choice. In one case, political books were the most popular category, primarily libels and pamphlets. Readers were more interested in sensationalist stories about criminals and political corruption than they were in political theory itself. The second most popular category, "general works" (those books "that did not have a dominant motif and that contained something to offend almost everyone in authority") demonstrated a high demand for generally low-brow subversive literature. However, these works never became part of literary canon, and are largely forgotten today as a result.
A healthy, and legal, publishing industry existed throughout Europe, although established publishers and book sellers occasionally ran afoul of the law. The Encyclopédie, for example, condemned not only by the King but also by Clement XII, nevertheless found its way into print with the help of the aforementioned Malesherbes and creative use of French censorship law. But many works were sold without running into any legal trouble at all. Borrowing records from libraries in England, Germany and North America indicate that more than 70 percent of books borrowed were novels. Less than 1 percent of the books were of a religious nature, indicating the general trend of declining religiosity.
Main article: Natural History Georges Buffon is best remembered for his Histoire naturelle, a 44 volume encyclopedia describing everything known about the natural world.
A genre that greatly rose in importance was that of scientific literature. Natural history in particular became increasingly popular among the upper classes. Works of natural history include René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur 's Histoire naturelle des insectes and Jacques Gautier d\'Agoty 's La Myologie complète, ou description de tous les muscles du corps humain (1746). Outside ancien régime France, natural history was an important part of medicine and industry, encompassing the fields of botany, zoology, meteorology, hydrology and mineralogy. Students in Enlightenment universities and academies were taught these subjects to prepare them for careers as diverse as medicine and theology. As shown by M D Eddy, natural history in this context was a very middle class pursuit and operated as a fertile trading zone for the interdisciplinary exchange of diverse scientific ideas.
The target audience of natural history was French polite society, evidenced more by the specific discourse of the genre than by the generally high prices of its works. Naturalists catered to polite society's desire for erudition – many texts had an explicit instructive purpose. However, natural history was often a political affair. As E. C. Spary writes, the classifications used by naturalists "slipped between the natural world and the social ... to establish not only the expertise of the naturalists over the natural, but also the dominance of the natural over the social". The idea of taste (le goût) was a social indicator: to truly be able to categorize nature, one had to have the proper taste, an ability of discretion shared by all members of polite society. In this way natural history spread many of the scientific developments of the time, but also provided a new source of legitimacy for the dominant class. From this basis, naturalists could then develop their own social ideals based on their scientific works.
SCIENTIFIC AND LITERARY JOURNALS
Journal des sçavans
The first scientific and literary journals were established during
the Enlightenment. The first journal, the Parisian Journal des
Sçavans , appeared in 1665. However, it was not until 1682 that
periodicals began to be more widely produced. French and Latin were
the dominant languages of publication, but there was also a steady
demand for material in German and Dutch. There was generally low
demand for English publications on the Continent, which was echoed by
England's similar lack of desire for French works. Languages
commanding less of an international market—such as Danish, Spanish
and Portuguese—found journal success more difficult, and more often
than not, a more international language was used instead. French
slowly took over Latin's status as the lingua franca of learned
circles. This in turn gave precedence to the publishing industry in
Holland, where the vast majority of these
Jonathan Israel called the journals the most influential cultural innovation of European intellectual culture. They shifted the attention of the "cultivated public" away from established authorities to novelty and innovation, and promoted the "enlightened" ideals of toleration and intellectual objectivity. Being a source of knowledge derived from science and reason, they were an implicit critique of existing notions of universal truth monopolized by monarchies, parliaments, and religious authorities. They also advanced Christian enlightenment that upheld "the legitimacy of God-ordained authority"—the Bible—in which there had to be agreement between the biblical and natural theories.
ENCYCLOPEDIAS AND DICTIONARIES
First page of the
Although the existence of dictionaries and encyclopedias spanned into ancient times, the texts changed from simply defining words in a long running list to far more detailed discussions of those words in 18th-century encyclopedic dictionaries . The works were part of an Enlightenment movement to systematize knowledge and provide education to a wider audience than the elite. As the 18th century progressed, the content of encyclopedias also changed according to readers' tastes. Volumes tended to focus more strongly on secular affairs, particularly science and technology, rather than matters of theology .
Along with secular matters, readers also favoured an alphabetical
ordering scheme over cumbersome works arranged along thematic lines.
Charles Porset , commenting on alphabetization, has said
that "as the zero degree of taxonomy, alphabetical order authorizes
all reading strategies; in this respect it could be considered an
emblem of the Enlightenment." For Porset, the avoidance of thematic
and hierarchical systems thus allows free interpretation of the works
and becomes an example of egalitarianism . Encyclopedias and
dictionaries also became more popular during the Age of Enlightenment
as the number of educated consumers who could afford such texts began
to multiply. In the later half of the 18th century, the number of
dictionaries and encyclopedias published by decade increased from 63
between 1760 and 1769 to approximately 148 in the decade proceeding
The first technical dictionary was drafted by John Harris and
entitled Lexicon Technicum: Or, An Universal English Dictionary of
Arts and Sciences . Harris' book avoided theological and biographical
entries; instead it concentrated on science and technology. Published
in 1704, the
Lexicon technicum was the first book to be written in
English that took a methodical approach to describing mathematics and
commercial arithmetic along with the physical sciences and navigation
. Other technical dictionaries followed Harris' model, including
Ephraim Chambers ' Cyclopaedia (1728), which included five editions,
and was a substantially larger work than Harris'. The folio edition of
the work even included foldout engravings. The Cyclopaedia emphasized
Newtonian theories, Lockean philosophy, and contained thorough
examinations of technologies, such as engraving , brewing , and dyeing
Figurative system of human knowledge ", the structure that the
In Germany, practical reference works intended for the uneducated majority became popular in the 18th century. The Marperger Curieuses Natur-, Kunst-, Berg-, Gewerkund Handlungs-Lexicon (1712) explained terms that usefully described the trades and scientific and commercial education. Jablonksi Allgemeines Lexicon (1721) was better known than the Handlungs-Lexicon, and underscored technical subjects rather than scientific theory. For example, over five columns of text were dedicated to wine, while geometry and logic were allocated only twenty-two and seventeen lines, respectively. The first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica (1771) was modelled along the same lines as the German lexicons.
However, the prime example of reference works that systematized
scientific knowledge in the age of Enlightenment were universal
encyclopedias rather than technical dictionaries. It was the goal of
universal encyclopedias to record all human knowledge in a
comprehensive reference work. The most well-known of these works is
“ As an Encyclopédie, it is to set forth as well as possible the order and connection of the parts of human knowledge. As a Reasoned Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Trades, it is to contain the general principles that form the basis of each science and each art, liberal or mechanical, and the most essential facts that make up the body and substance of each. ”
The massive work was arranged according to a "tree of knowledge." The
tree reflected the marked division between the arts and sciences,
which was largely a result of the rise of empiricism. Both areas of
knowledge were united by philosophy, or the trunk of the tree of
knowledge. The Enlightenment's desacrilization of religion was
pronounced in the tree's design, particularly where theology accounted
for a peripheral branch, with black magic as a close neighbour. As
POPULARIZATION OF SCIENCE
One of the most important developments that the Enlightenment era brought to the discipline of science was its popularization. An increasingly literate population seeking knowledge and education in both the arts and the sciences drove the expansion of print culture and the dissemination of scientific learning. The new literate population was due to a high rise in the availability of food. This enabled many people to rise out of poverty, and instead of paying more for food, they had money for education. Popularization was generally part of an overarching Enlightenment ideal that endeavoured "to make information available to the greatest number of people." As public interest in natural philosophy grew during the 18th century, public lecture courses and the publication of popular texts opened up new roads to money and fame for amateurs and scientists who remained on the periphery of universities and academies. More formal works included explanations of scientific theories for individuals lacking the educational background to comprehend the original scientific text. Sir Isaac Newton\'s celebrated Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica was published in Latin and remained inaccessible to readers without education in the classics until Enlightenment writers began to translate and analyze the text in the vernacular. A portrait of Bernard de Fontenelle .
The first significant work that expressed scientific theory and
knowledge expressly for the laity, in the vernacular, and with the
entertainment of readers in mind, was
Bernard de Fontenelle 's
Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds (1686). The book was produced
specifically for women with an interest in scientific writing and
inspired a variety of similar works. These popular works were written
in a discursive style, which was laid out much more clearly for the
reader than the complicated articles, treatises, and books published
by the academies and scientists. Charles Leadbetter\'s Astronomy
(1727) was advertised as "a Work entirely New" that would include
"short and easie Rules and Astronomical Tables." The first French
Newtonianism and the Principia was Eléments de la
philosophie de Newton, published by
SCHOOLS AND UNIVERSITIES
Most work on the Enlightenment emphasizes the ideals discussed by
intellectuals, rather than the actual state of education at the time.
Leading educational theorists like England's
John Locke and
Switzerland's Jean Jacques
The predominant educational psychology from the 1750s onward, especially in northern European countries was associationism, the notion that the mind associates or dissociates ideas through repeated routines. In addition to being conducive to Enlightenment ideologies of liberty, self-determination and personal responsibility, it offered a practical theory of the mind that allowed teachers to transform longstanding forms of print and manuscript culture into effective graphic tools of learning for the lower and middle orders of society. Children were taught to memorize facts through oral and graphic methods that originated during the Renaissance.
Many of the leading universities associated with Enlightenment progressive principles were located in northern Europe, with the most renowned being the universities of Leiden, Göttingen, Halle, Montpellier, Uppsala and Edinburgh. These universities, especially Edinburgh, produced professors whose ideas had a significant impact on Britain's North American colonies and, later, the American Republic. Within the natural sciences, Edinburgh's medical also led the way in chemistry, anatomy and pharmacology. In other parts of Europe, the universities and schools of France and most of Europe were bastions of traditionalism and were not hospitable to the Enlightenment. In France, the major exception was the medical university at Montpellier.
Louis XIV visiting the Académie des sciences in 1671. "It is widely accepted that 'modern science' arose in the Europe of the 17th century, introducing a new understanding of the natural world." —Peter Barrett
The history of Academies in France during the Enlightenment begins
The strongest contribution of the French Academies to the public sphere comes from the concours académiques (roughly translated as 'academic contests') they sponsored throughout France. These academic contests were perhaps the most public of any institution during the Enlightenment. The practice of contests dated back to the Middle Ages, and was revived in the mid-17th century. The subject matter had previously been generally religious and/or monarchical, featuring essays, poetry, and painting. By roughly 1725, however, this subject matter had radically expanded and diversified, including "royal propaganda, philosophical battles, and critical ruminations on the social and political institutions of the Old Regime." Topics of public controversy were also discussed such as the theories of Newton and Descartes, the slave trade, women's education, and justice in France. Antoine Lavoisier conducting an experiment related to combustion generated by amplified sun light.
More importantly, the contests were open to all, and the enforced anonymity of each submission guaranteed that neither gender nor social rank would determine the judging. Indeed, although the "vast majority" of participants belonged to the wealthier strata of society ("the liberal arts, the clergy, the judiciary, and the medical profession"), there were some cases of the popular classes submitting essays, and even winning. Similarly, a significant number of women participated—and won—the competitions. Of a total of 2300 prize competitions offered in France, women won 49—perhaps a small number by modern standards, but very significant in an age in which most women did not have any academic training. Indeed, the majority of the winning entries were for poetry competitions, a genre commonly stressed in women's education.
In England, the Royal Society of
Main article: Historiography of the salon
Main articles: coffeehouse and English coffeehouses in the 17th and 18th centuries
Coffeehouses were especially important to the spread of knowledge during the Enlightenment because they created a unique environment in which people from many different walks of life gathered and shared ideas. They were frequently criticized by nobles who feared the possibility of an environment in which class and its accompanying titles and privileges were disregarded. Such an environment was especially intimidating to monarchs who derived much of their power from the disparity between classes of people. If classes were to join together under the influence of Enlightenment thinking, they might recognize the all-encompassing oppression and abuses of their monarchs and, because of their size, might be able to carry out successful revolts. Monarchs also resented the idea of their subjects convening as one to discuss political matters, especially those concerning foreign affairs - rulers thought political affairs to be their business only, a result of their supposed divine right to rule.
Coffeehouses represent a turning point in history during which people
discovered that they could have enjoyable social lives within their
communities. Coffeeshops became homes away from home for many who
sought, for the first time, to engage in discourse with their
neighbors and discuss intriguing and thought-provoking matters,
especially those regarding philosophy to politics. Coffeehouses were
essential to the Enlightenment, for they were centers of free-thinking
and self-discovery. Although many coffeehouse patrons were scholars, a
great deal were not. Coffeehouses attracted a diverse set of people,
including not only the educated wealthy but also members of the
bourgeoisie and the lower class. While it may seem positive that
patrons, being doctors, lawyers, merchants, etc. represented almost
all classes, the coffeeshop environment sparked fear in those who
sought to preserve class distinction. One of the most popular
critiques of the coffeehouse claimed that it "allowed promiscuous
association among people from different rungs of the social ladder,
from the artisan to the aristocrat" and was therefore compared to
Noah's Ark, receiving all types of animals, clean or unclean. This
unique culture served as a catalyst for journalism when Joseph Addison
The first English coffeehouse opened in Oxford in 1650. Brian Cowan said that Oxford coffeehouses developed into "penny universities ", offering a locus of learning that was less formal than structured institutions. These penny universities occupied a significant position in Oxford academic life, as they were frequented by those consequently referred to as the "virtuosi", who conducted their research on some of the resulting premises. According to Cowan, "the coffeehouse was a place for like-minded scholars to congregate, to read, as well as learn from and to debate with each other, but was emphatically not a university institution, and the discourse there was of a far different order than any university tutorial."
Café Procope was established in Paris in 1686; by the 1720s
there were around 400 cafés in the city. The
Café Procope in
particular became a center of Enlightenment, welcoming such
The debating societies are an example of the public sphere during the Enlightenment. Their origins include:
* Clubs of fifty or more men who, at the beginning of the 18th century, met in pubs to discuss religious issues and affairs of state. * Mooting clubs, set up by law students to practice rhetoric. * Spouting clubs, established to help actors train for theatrical roles. * John Henley 's Oratory, which mixed outrageous sermons with even more absurd questions, like "Whether Scotland be anywhere in the world?"
An example of a French salon
In the late 1770s, popular debating societies began to move into more "genteel" rooms, a change which helped establish a new standard of sociability. The backdrop to these developments was "an explosion of interest in the theory and practice of public elocution". The debating societies were commercial enterprises that responded to this demand, sometimes very successfully. Some societies welcomed from 800 to 1200 spectators a night.
The debating societies discussed an extremely wide range of topics. Before the Enlightenment, most intellectual debates revolved around "confessional" – that is, Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed (Calvinist), or Anglican issues, and the main aim of these debates was to establish which bloc of faith ought to have the "monopoly of truth and a God-given title to authority". After this date everything thus previously rooted in tradition was questioned and often replaced by new concepts in the light of philosophical reason. After the second half of the 17th century and during the 18th century, a "general process of rationalization and secularization set in," and confessional disputes were reduced to a secondary status in favor of the "escalating contest between faith and incredulity".
In addition to debates on religion, societies discussed issues such as politics and the role of women. It is important to note, however, that the critical subject matter of these debates did not necessarily translate into opposition to the government. In other words, the results of the debate quite frequently upheld the status quo. From a historical standpoint, one of the most important features of the debating society was their openness to the public; women attended and even participated in almost every debating society, which were likewise open to all classes providing they could pay the entrance fee. Once inside, spectators were able to participate in a largely egalitarian form of sociability that helped spread Enlightenment ideas.
Masonic initiation ceremony
Historians have long debated the extent to which the secret network of Freemasonry was a main factor in the Enlightenment. The leaders of the Enlightenment included Freemasons such as Diderot, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Lessing, Pope, Horace Walpole, Sir Robert Walpole, Mozart, Goethe, Frederick the Great, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington. Norman Davies said that Freemasonry was a powerful force on behalf of Liberalism in Europe, from about 1700 to the twentieth century. It expanded rapidly during the Age of Enlightenment, reaching practically every country in Europe. It was especially attractive to powerful aristocrats and politicians as well as intellectuals, artists and political activists.
During the Age of Enlightenment, Freemasons comprised an international network of like-minded men, often meeting in secret in ritualistic programs at their lodges. They promoted the ideals of the Enlightenment, and helped diffuse these values across Britain and France and other places. Freemasonry as a systematic creed with its own myths, values and set of rituals originated in Scotland around 1600 and spread first to England and then across the Continent in the eighteenth century. They fostered new codes of conduct—including a communal understanding of liberty and equality inherited from guild sociability—"liberty, fraternity, and equality" Scottish soldiers and Jacobite Scots brought to the Continent ideals of fraternity which reflected not the local system of Scottish customs but the institutions and ideals originating in the English Revolution against royal absolutism. Freemasonry was particularly prevalent in France—by 1789, there were perhaps as many as 100,000 French Masons, making Freemasonry the most popular of all Enlightenment associations. The Freemasons displayed a passion for secrecy and created new degrees and ceremonies. Similar societies, partially imitating Freemasonry, emerged in France, Germany, Sweden and Russia. One example was the " Illuminati " founded in Bavaria in 1776, which was copied after the Freemasons but was never part of the movement. The Illuminati was an overtly political group, which most Masonic lodges decidedly were not.
Masonic lodges created a private model for public affairs. They "reconstituted the polity and established a constitutional form of self-government, complete with constitutions and laws, elections and representatives." In other words, the micro-society set up within the lodges constituted a normative model for society as a whole. This was especially true on the Continent: when the first lodges began to appear in the 1730s, their embodiment of British values was often seen as threatening by state authorities. For example, the Parisian lodge that met in the mid 1720s was composed of English Jacobite exiles. Furthermore, freemasons all across Europe explicitly linked themselves to the Enlightenment as a whole. In French lodges, for example, the line "As the means to be enlightened I search for the enlightened" was a part of their initiation rites. British lodges assigned themselves the duty to "initiate the unenlightened". This did not necessarily link lodges to the irreligious, but neither did this exclude them from the occasional heresy. In fact, many lodges praised the Grand Architect, the masonic terminology for the deistic divine being who created a scientifically ordered universe.
German historian Reinhart Koselleck claimed that "On the Continent
there were two social structures that left a decisive imprint on the
Age of Enlightenment: the
Republic of Letters and the Masonic lodges."
Scottish professor Thomas Munck argues that "although the Masons did
promote international and cross-social contacts which were essentially
non-religious and broadly in agreement with enlightened values, they
can hardly be described as a major radical or reformist network in
their own right." Many of the Masons values seemed to greatly appeal
to Enlightenment values and thinkers.
The major opponent of
Freemasonry was the Roman Catholic Church, so
that in countries with a large Catholic element, such as France,
Italy, Spain, and Mexico, much of the ferocity of the political
battles involve the confrontation between what Davies calls the
reactionary Church and enlightened Freemasonry. Even in France,
Masons did not act as a group. American historians, while noting that
1755 Lisbon earthquake
* Regional Enlightenments:
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* ^ Israel 2010 , pp. vii–viii, 19.
* ^ Israel 2010 , p. 11.
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* ^ A B "The Scottish enlightenment and the challenges for Europe
in the 21st century; climate change and energy", The New Yorker, 11
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* ^ Gillispie, (1980), p. xix.
* ^ James E. McClellan III, "Learned Societies," in
* ^ Martin Heidegger (2002) The Age of the World Picture quotation:
For up to Descartes ... a particular sub-iectum ... lies at the foundation of its own fixed qualities and changing circumstances. The superiority of a sub-iectum ... arises out of the claim of man to a ... self-supported, unshakeable foundation of truth, in the sense of certainty. Why and how does this claim acquire its decisive authority? The claim originates in that emancipation of man in which he frees himself from obligation to Christian revelational truth and Church doctrine to a legislating for himself that takes its stand upon itself. * ^ Ingraffia, Brian D. (1995) Postmodern theory and biblical theology: vanquishing God\'s shadow p. 126 * ^ Norman K. Swazo (2002) Crisis theory and world order: Heideggerian reflections pp. 97–99 * ^ Frost, Martin (2008), The age of Enlightenment, archived from the original on 2007-10-10, retrieved 2008-01-18 * ^ Theodor W. Adorno; Max Horkheimer (1947). "The Concept of Enlightenment". In G. S. Noerr. Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments. Translated by E. Jephcott. Stanford: Stanford University Press. p. 3. * ^ Outram, 6. See also, A. Owen Alridge (ed.), The Ibero-American Enlightenment (1971)., Franco Venturi, The End of the Old Regime in Europe 1768–1776: The First Crisis. * ^ For example, Robert Darnton, Roger Chartier, Brian Cowan, Donna T. Andrew. * ^ James Van Horn Melton, The Rise of the Public in Enlightenment Europe (2001), p. 4. * ^ Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, (1989), pp. 36, 37. * ^ Melton, 8. * ^ Nicolaas A. Rupke (2008). "Alexander Von Humboldt: A Metabiography". University of Chicago Press. p. 138 ISBN 0-226-73149-9
* ^ Melton, 4, 5. Habermas, 14–26.
* ^ Daniel Brewer, ed. (2014). The Cambridge Companion to the
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* ^ Outram, Dorinda. The Enlightenment (2nd ed.). Cambridge
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* ^ Outram 2005, p. 13.
* ^ Chartier, 27.
* ^ Mona Ozouf, "'Public Opinion' at the End of the Old Regime
* ^ David Beard and Kenneth Gloag, Musicology, The Key Concepts
(New York: Routledge, 2005), 58.
* ^ J. Peter Burkholder, Donald J. Grout and Claude V. Palisca, A
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* ^ A B Beard and Gloag, Musicology, 59.
* ^ A B Beard and Gloag, Musicology, 60.
* ^ A B C Burkholder, Grout and Palisca, A History of Western
* ^ A B C Outram, 21.
* ^ Chartier, 26.
* ^ Chartier, 26, 26. Kant, "What is Enlightenment?"
* ^ Outram, 23.
* ^ Goodman, 3.
* ^ Dena Goodman, The Republic of Letters: A Cultural History of
the French Enlightenment (1994), 53.
* ^ Carla Hesse, The Other Enlightenment: How French Women Became
Modern (2001), 42.
* ^ Crébillon fils, quoted from Darnton, The Literary Underground,
* ^ Darnton, The Literary Underground, 19, 20.
* ^ Darnton, "The Literary Underground", 21, 23.
* ^ Darnton, The Literary Underground, 29
* ^ Outram, 22.
* ^ Darnton, The Literary Underground, 35–40.
* ^ Outram, 17, 20.
* ^ Darnton, "The Literary Underground", 16.
* ^ from Outram, 19. See Rolf Engelsing, "Die Perioden der
Lesergeschichte in der Neuzeit. Das statische Ausmass und die
soziokulturelle Bedeutung der Lektüre", Archiv für Geschichte des
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* ^ Erin Mackie, The Commerce of Everyday Life: Selections from The
REFERENCE AND SURVEYS
* Becker, Carl L. The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century
Philosophers. (1932), a famous short classic
* Bronner, Stephen . The Great Divide: The Enlightenment and its
* Burns, William.
* Aldridge, A. Owen (ed.). The Ibero-
* Broadie, Alexander, ed. The Scottish Enlightenment: An Anthology
(2001) excerpt and text search
* Diderot, Denis. Rameau's Nephew and other Works" (2008) excerpt
and text search.
* Diderot, Denis. "Letter on the Blind" in Tunstall, Kate E.
Blindness and Enlightenment. An Essay. With a new translation of
Diderot's Letter on the Blind (Continuum, 2011)
* Diderot, Denis. The
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