The Enlightenment

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Modern thought begins with the scientific revolution inaugurated by Nicolaus Copernicus.

The Scientific Revolution

Nicolaus  Copernicus (19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543), a Polish monk and astronomer,  developed the  heliocentric theory of the solar system which replaced the geocentric theory of the cosmos developed by the Hellenistic astronomer Ptolemy.   Copernicus published On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres in 1543 just before his death,  It is often regarded as the starting point of modern astronomy and the beginning of the  scientific revolution.

The scientific revolution brought to an end the medieval world view and replaced it with our modern understanding of physics, nature, biology, and human beings. 

Tycho Brahe (b. 1546-1601) was a Danish astronomer who scanned the heavens with his naked eyes and kept accurate records of where the planets were in relation to the Zodiac.

Johannes Kepler (b 1571 – 1630) was a German astronomer who used the observations produced by Brahe to re-evaluate the Copernican theory.  Copernicus had assumed that the planets travel in circular motions around the sun.  In fact, we now know, they travel in ellipses with the sun as one focus.  Kepler was the first to propose elliptical orbiss.

Galileo Galilei (b. 1564 – 1642) was an Italian astronomer.  He popularized and supported the Copernican theory.  Using information about a Dutch telescope, he built his own telescope.  Galileo was the first to notice sunspots and the moons of Jupiter.  His work in ballistics led to the understanding that cannonballs travel in hyperbolic motions.  He also experimented with vacuums and showed that a feather and a led ball fall at the same rate.  He laid the foundation for the works on gravity produced by Newton.  The Catholic Church condemned his writings on the heliocentric theory, he was brought before the Roman Inquisition, and adjured his "false beliefs."  Galileo was no hero and did not wish to be executed as a heretic.

Isaac Newton  (b. 1643  – 1727) was an English scientist.  Worked out the theory of gravity to explain the motions of the planets.  His mechanistic view of nature had a major influence on thinking.  He more than any other man ushered in the scientific revolution, which is ongoing.

The scientific revolution produced the Age of Reason of the 17th, the Age of Enlightenment of the 18th, the Age of Ideology of the 19th, and the Age of Analysis of the 20th centuries.  These developments are a major threat of our course this semester.

 The Philosophical Revolution or the Age of Reason

 Rene Descartes 1596 - 1650

 Benedict Spinoza 1632 - 1677

Francis Bacon 1561 - 1626

 Thomas Hobbes 1588 - 1679

 John Locke 1632 - 1704

 David Hume 1711 - 1776

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712  – 1778

 Immanuel Kant 1724 - 1804

 

The Age of Reason was produced by a small number of intellectual giants who radically transformed Western thought.  Plato and Aristotle were replaced with a new conception of nature, man, and morality.  Instead of a universe governed by teleology and a striving to reach absolute perfection, nature is held to refer to the material world of our senses, which appears to be governed by mechanical laws, whose regularities our reason is able to discern.  Isaac Newton described a universe governed by force, mass, distance, and gravity.  From the laws of physics and astronomy, scientists moved to develop the laws of chemical reactions, the germ theory of disease, and the laws of genetic evolution.

The Newtonian universe has profound implications on man's understanding of himself.  It impacts on all of our moral and religious beliefs.  Modern philosophy is based on the findings and implications of modern science.  Or, put the other way, philosophers have been trying to reconcile many philosophical ideas with the implications of modern science.

Modern philosophy is divided into rationalists and empiricists.  Continental Philosophers tend to be rationalists; while the Anglo-Saxons prefer empiricism.  In the philosophy of Kant, these two strands of thought were brought together.

Rene Descartes (1596 - 1650 )  may be viewed as the beginning of modern, rationalist philosophy.  He based his philosophy on doubt.  How can I be sure that what I think is true is really true.  During his lifetime both the truths of religion and the truths of science had become uncertain.  The Protestants had successfully challenged the authority of the Catholic Church.  Copernicus and Galileo had challenged the geocentric view of nature.  If ideas that had been held by almost everyone to be true for over 1500 years could now be found to be in error, then how could one trust any authority? 

But Descartes also challenged the "authority" of our senses.  Our senses do not provide us with accurate information.  It looks like the sun rises in the East and sets in the West.  It travels around the earth according to our senses.  But actually, we are told, it is the earth that travels around the sun.  Common sense tells us that objects don't move unless pushed.  But objects in a vacuum once in motion remain in motion according to Newtown.  Have you ever seen an atom or an electron or a gravitron?  But modern physics tells us that these concepts describe the building blocks of nature.

Descartes answered his position of philosophical doubt with the famous maxim:  "I think, therefore I am."  Thought provides the starting point for his philosophy.  Descartes differentiates between mind and matter.  Thought is distinct from the physical world that our senses disclose to us.  It is thought, our mind, which provides us with the concepts that allows us to think and to come to understand the world.  Descartes is a dualist like Plato.  For Plato, the distinction was between the absolute forms and our sense impressions; for Descartes it is between mind and matter.

Descartes explores his mind and finds within his mind certain "clear and distinct ideas."  The most important of these "clear and distinct ideas" is his idea of God.  God is perfection.  God would not deceive us.  Therefore, the physical world is really out there (not just a dream or a figment of our imagination) and we can proceed with out scientific exploration of the the physical world and its laws. 

Descartes uses the ontological argument for the existence of God.  God is the concept that includes perfection.  Physical existence must be one of the attributes of an all perfect concept.  A God who exists only as an idea in my mind is not as perfect as a God who also physically exists.  Hence God must also have the attribute of physical existence.  This is a logical argument; it does not empirically prove His physical existence.

 

 Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679) may be viewed as the beginning of modern, empirical philosophy.  One could claim Francis Bacon but his writings are more diffuse.  Hobbes was a materialist.  Human beings are governed by desires and aversions.  We describe as good those things that we desire and bad those things that could harm us.  Before governments and civil society were created, humans lived in a state of nature.  Humans in the state of nature have natural rights.  The right of each person to seek to preserve his life is one of the fundamental natural rights that cannot be given up.  In the state of nature, there is as yet no private property and each person may take whatever he or she wants.  Each person is completely free to do whatever they desire.  Each person has complete liberty.  Each person has the natural rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of property (later changed to happiness by Thomas Jefferson).  In the state of nature according to Hobbes, each person is equal in that even "the weakest he" can kill "the strongest he" when he is sleeping.  In Hobbes state of nature, the life of man is "nasty, brutish, cruel, and short."  It is an entirely undesirable condition.

But Hobbes acknowledges that human beings do have reason.  They can perceive the undesirability of the state of nature and, through a social contract, they can create a government that will provide them with order.  Hobbes lived during the English Civil War that ended up executing King Charles I.  For Hobbes, even the most oppressive government is preferable to the wantonness of the state of nature.  Hobbes was a defender of absolute government, but he provided a modern "explanation" or justification for government as such.  Government is formed by a social contract.  In Hobbes this contract is indissoluble.  Once you give up your natural rights, you cannot get them back.
 

John Locke (1632 - 1704)  "humanized" the ideas of Hobbes.   Locke kept all the elements of the Hobbsian social contract theory, but postulated that life in the state of nature really wasn't as bad as Hobbes made it out to be.  Most humans are pretty decent.  The state of nature was OK.  But there are the proverbial "rotten apples."  The state of nature has certain inconveniences.  Creating a civil society and government are useful.  They improve our social life with each other.  It is useful to have roads, a property office to register titles to property, and even a militia for defense against outside invasion.  Locke has humans make a social contract to create a government for limited purposes.  When we create government, we don't give up our natural rights.  We even preserve a right of revolution if government becomes oppressive and oversteps the bounds of the contract whereby it was created.  It is the Lockean version of the social contract theory that has become the philosophical basis for the justification of limited, constitutional government.  Our American form of government derives from Locke's ideas.  Locke lived through the Glorious Revolution in England.  His writings justify this relatively peaceful change of government.  Locke is the father of modern democratic thought. 

 

Constitutional and Democratic Thought
 

 The Social Contract Theory of the State
        David Hume, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau
        State of Nature
        Human Nature
            "the life of man is nasty, brutish, cruel, and short"
            basically decent
            "man is born free and everywhere he is in chains"
        Social Contract
        Natural Rights
            Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Property (Happiness)

 Freedom of Religion and Conscience

 Limited, Constitutional Government

 Equality

 Democracy

The Enlightenment

The eighteenth century is the Age of Enlightenment.  The Enlightenment popularizes the ideas developed during the Age of Reason.  The Enlightenment is basically the view or belief that modern science and our understanding of the social world derived from modern science can help us to improve the living conditions on this planet.  War, poverty, and injustice are not God-given punishments for our sinfulness but bad management.  Oppressive governments can be reformed or overthrown.  Social inequality can be alleviated and, maybe, overcome.  Disease is not to be accepted stoically but to be fought with new medicines.  Poverty can be reduced through the productivity of new inventions and technologies.  Ignorance can be overcome through universal public education.  Human societies are perfectible if only we have the will and use our scientific knowledge to plan and socially engineer for a better future.  There is no limit to what human reason and ingenuity can achieve.

The French Enlightenment thinkers are known as the philosophes. They are not really philosophers but what we would today call journalists or popularizers.

One of the great achievements of the philosophes was the publication of the Encyclopédie.  All those who contributed articles are known as the Encyclopedists.  Philosophes and encyclopedists are often used as interchangeable terms when describing the French Enlightenment.

Important figures of the Enlightenment era include:
    Denis Diderot (1713 – 1784)
    Jean le Rond d'Alembert (1717 – 1783)
    Voltaire pseudonym for François-Marie Arouet (1694 – 1778)
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712  – 1778

     Gotthold Lessing
    Immanuel Kant 1724 - 1804


    Thomas Paine (1737 - 1809
    Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826)

Below are two articles from Wikipedia, with links, that further elaborate on this material.

 

 

The Enlightenment

 http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Enlightenment
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

"This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License, which means that you can copy and modify it as long as the entire work (including additions) remains under this license", and provide a link to http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html.

In the period known as The Enlightenment,   Eighteenth-century Europe saw remarkable cultural changes characterized by a loss of faith in traditional religious and political sources of authority and a turn toward democracy, human rights, and science.

In his famous 1784 essay "What Is Enlightenment?", Immanuel Kant defined it as "man's emergence from his self-incurred immaturity" ("der Ausgang des Menschen aus seiner selbstverschuldeten Unmündigkeit").

The upheavals of the Enlightenment led directly to the American Revolutionary War as well as the French Revolution and significantly influenced the Industrial Revolution.

The Enlightenment was also marked by the rise of capitalism and the wide availability of printed materials.

 

 

Encyclopédie

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encyclop%C3%A9die

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License, which means that you can copy and modify it as long as the entire work (including additions) remains under this license", and provide a link to http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html.

 

Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers (English: Encyclopedia, or a systematic dictionary of the sciences, arts, and crafts) was a general encyclopedia published in France between 1751 and 1772, with later supplements and revisions in 1772, 1777 and 1780 and numerous foreign editions and later derivatives.

Its introduction, the Preliminary Discourse, is considered an important exposition of Enlightenment ideals. The Encyclopédie's self-professed aim was "to change the way people think." It was hoped that the work would eventually encompass all of human knowledge; Denis Diderot explained the goal of the project as "All things must be examined, debated, investigated without exception and without regard for anyone's feelings."[1]

Origins

The Encyclopédie was originally meant to be simply a French translation of Ephraim Chambers's Cyclopaedia (1728).[2] The translation was commissioned by Paris book publisher André Le Breton in 1743 to John Mills, an English resident in France. In May 1745 Le Breton announced the work as available for sale - however to Le Breton's dismay, Mills had not done the work he was commissioned to do; in fact, he could barely read and write French and did not even own a copy of Cyclopaedia. Le Breton had been swindled, and so he physically beat Mills with a cane—Mills sued on assault charges, but Le Breton was acquitted in court as being justified.[3] Setting out to find a new editor, Le Breton engaged Jean Paul de Gua de Malves. Among those hired by Malves were the young Étienne Bonnot de Condillac, Jean le Rond d'Alembert and Denis Diderot. Within thirteen months, in August 1747, Malves was fired due to his rigid methods. Le Breton then hired Diderot and Jean d'Alembert as the new editors. Diderot would remain editor for the next 25 years, seeing the Encyclopédie through to completion.

Publication

The work comprised 35 volumes, with 71,818 articles, and 3,129 illustrations. The first 28 volumes were published between 1751 and 1766 and were edited by Diderot - although some of the later picture-only volumes were not actually printed until 1772. The remaining five volumes were completed by other editors in 1777, along with a two volume index in 1780. Many of the most noted figures of the French enlightenment contributed to the work including Voltaire, Rousseau, and Montesquieu.[2] The single greatest contributor was Louis de Jaucourt who wrote 17,266 articles, or about 8 per day between 1759 and 1765.

The writers of the encyclopedia saw it as a vehicle to covertly destroy superstitions while overtly providing access to human knowledge. It was a summary of thought and belief of the Enlightenment. In ancien régime France it caused a storm of controversy, due mostly to its tone of religious tolerance. The encyclopedia praised Protestant thinkers and challenged Catholic dogma, and classified religion as a branch of philosophy, not as the ultimate source of knowledge and moral advice. The entire work was banned by royal decree and officially closed down after the first seven volumes in 1759;[4] but because it had many highly placed supporters, notably Madame de Pompadour, work continued "in secret". In truth, secular authorities did not want to disrupt the commercial enterprise which employed hundreds of people. To appease the church's enemies of the project, the authorities had officially banned the enterprise, but they turned a blind eye to its continued existence.

It was also a vast compendium of the technologies of the period, describing the traditional craft tools and processes. Much information was taken from the Descriptions des Arts et Métiers.

In 1750 the full title was Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, par une société de gens de lettres, mis en ordre par M. Diderot de l'Académie des Sciences et Belles-Lettres de Prusse, et quant à la partie mathématique, par M. d'Alembert de l'Académie royale des Sciences de Paris, de celle de Prusse et de la Société royale de Londres. The title-page was amended as d'Alembert acquired more titles.

In 1775, Charles Joseph Panckoucke obtained the rights to reissue the work. He issued five volumes of supplementary material and a two volume index from 1776 to 1780. Some include these seven volumes as part of the first full issue of the Encyclopédie, for a total of 35 volumes, although they were not written or edited by the original famed authors.

From 1782 to 1832, Panckoucke and his successors published an expanded edition of the work in 166 volumes as the Encyclopédie méthodique. That work, enormous for the time, occupied a thousand workers in production and 2,250 contributors.

The Encyclopédie presented a taxonomy of human knowledge (See fig.3) which was inspired by Francis Bacon's Advancement of Knowledge. The three main branches of knowledge are: "Memory"/History, "Reason"/Philosophy, and "Imagination"/Poetry. Notable is the fact that theology is ordered under 'Philosophy'. Robert Darnton argues that this categorisation of religion as being subject to human reason and not a source of knowledge in and of itself, was a significant factor in the controversy surrounding the work. Additionally, notice that 'Knowledge of God' is only a few nodes away from 'Divination' and 'Black Magic'.

Influence

The Encyclopédie played an important role in the intellectual ferment leading to the French Revolution. "No encyclopaedia perhaps has been of such political importance, or has occupied so conspicuous a place in the civil and literary history of its century. It sought not only to give information, but to guide opinion," wrote the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica. In The Encyclopédie and the Age of Revolution, a work published in conjunction with a 1989 exhibition of the Encyclopédie at the University of California, Los Angeles, Clorinda Donato writes the following:

The encyclopedians successfully argued and marketed their belief in the potential of reason and unified knowledge to empower human will and thus helped to shape the social issues that the French Revolution would address. Although it is doubtful whether the many artisans, technicians, or laborers whose work and presence and interspersed throughout the Encyclopédie actually read it, the recognition of their work as equal to that of intellectuals, clerics, and rulers prepared the terrain for demands for increased representation. Thus the Encyclopédie served to recognize and galvanize a new power base, ultimately contributing to the destruction of old values and the creation of new ones (12).

But note Frank Kafker, who explains that the Encyclopedists were not a unified group[5]

despite their reputation, [the Encyclopedists] were not a close-knit group of radicals intent on subverting the Old Regime in France. Instead they were a disparate group of men of letters, physicians, scientists, craftsmen and scholars ... Even the small minority who were persecuted for writing articles belittling what they viewed as unreasonable customs—thus weakening the might of the Catholic Church and undermining that of the monarchy—did not envision that their ideas would encourage a revolution.

While it is debatable that the editors intended to have a radical influence on French society, it can hardly be denied that it did. The Encyclopédie denied that the teachings of the Catholic Church could be treated as authoritative in matters of science. The editors also refused to treat the decisions of political powers as definitive in intellectual or artistic questions. Given that Paris was the intellectual capital of Europe at the time and that many European leaders used French as their administrative language, these ideas had the capacity to spread.[4]

Contributors

Notable contributors to the Encyclopédie including their area of contribution (for a more detailed list, see French Encyclopédistes):

bullet Jean le Rond d'Alembert — editor; science (esp. mathematics), contemporary affairs, philosophy, religion, among others
bullet André Le Breton — chief publisher; printer's ink article
bullet Étienne Bonnot de Condillac — philosophy
bullet Daubenton — natural history
bullet Denis Diderot — chief editor; economics, mechanical arts, philosophy, politics, religion, among others
bullet Baron d'Holbach — science (chemistry, mineralogy), politics, religion, among others
bullet Chevalier Louis de Jaucourt — economics, literature, medicine, politics, among others
bullet Montesquieu — part of the "goût" article (English: concept of taste)
bullet François QuesnayFarmers and Grains article
bullet Jean-Jacques Rousseau — music, political theory
bullet Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, Baron de Laune — economics, etymology, philosophy, physics
bullet Voltaire — history, literature, philosophy

Statistics

Approximate size of the Encyclopédie:

bullet17 volumes of articles, issued from 1751 to 1765
bullet11 volumes of illustrations, issued from 1762 to 1772
bullet18,000 pages of text
bullet75,000 entries
bullet44,000 main articles
bullet28,000 secondary articles
bullet2,500 illustration indices
bullet20,000,000 words in total

Print run: 4,250 copies (note: even single-volume works in the 18th Century seldom had a print run of more than 1,500 copies)

Quotes

bullet"Reason is to the philosopher what grace is to the Christian... Other men walk in darkness; the philosopher, who has the same passions, acts only after reflection; he walks through the night, but it is preceded by a torch. The philosopher forms his principles on an infinity of particular observations. He does not confuse truth with plausibility; he takes for truth what is true, for forgery what is false, for doubtful what is doubtful, and probable what is probable. The philosophical spirit is thus a spirit of observation and accuracy." (Philosophers article, Dumarsais)
bullet"If exclusive privileges were not granted, and if the financial system would not tend to concentrate wealth, there would be few great fortunes and no quick wealth. When the means of growing rich is divided between a greater number of citizens, wealth will also be more evenly distributed; extreme poverty and extreme wealth would be also rare." (Wealth article, Diderot)

[edit] References

  1. ^ Denis Diderot as quoted in Lynn Hunt, R. Po-chia Hsia, Thomas R. Martin, Barbara H. Rosenwein, and Bonnie G. Smith, The Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures: A Concise History: Volume II: Since 1340, Second Edition (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2007), 611.
  2. ^ a b Bryan Magee. The Story of Philosophy. DK Publishing, Inc., New York: 1998. page 124
  3. ^ Philipp Blom (2005). Enlightening the World. pp. 35-37
  4. ^ a b Bryan Magee. The Story of Philosophy. DK Publishing, Inc., New York: 1998. page 125
  5. ^ The Camargo Foundation : Fellow Project Details

[edit] External links

bullet On-line version in original French
bullet On-line version with an English interface and the dates of publication
bullet Encyclopédie collaborative translation project, currently contains a rather small but growing collection of articles translated into English (654 articles as of May 26, 2009).
bullet The Encyclopedie, discussion on the BBC Radio 4 programme In Our Time, broadcast on 26 October 2006. With Judith Hawley, Senior Lecturer in English at Royal Holloway, University of London, Caroline Warman, Fellow and Tutor in French at Jesus College, Oxford, David Wootton, Anniversary Professor of History at the University of York, and presented by Melvyn Bragg.
bullet Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers on French Wikisource