Presentation on theme: "What is Enlightenment?. En-LIGHT-enment Lemonnier’s painting shows light streaming through the window to describe what is happening in the room: Enlightenment."— Presentation transcript:
What is Enlightenment?
En-LIGHT-enment Lemonnier’s painting shows light streaming through the window to describe what is happening in the room: Enlightenment. From Johnson’s dictionary, we can see the relationship between light and knowledge. Descartes, in describing his process of enlightenment, uses the metaphor of walking around in darkness, moving slowly so as not to fall.
A little literary/philosophical history 1637: Descartes’ Discourse on Method 1651: Hobbes’s Leviathan 1689: Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding : Hume’s Treatises on Human Nature 1751: Diderot’s Encyclopedia 1758: Voltaire’s Candide 1759: Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments 1762: Rousseau’s Social Contract 1784: Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason 1789: The beginning of the French Revolution 1792: Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman
How does one attain enlightenment? Some terms/ideas that came up in the reading: Reason/Judgment Education Making an effort Rejecting previously held assumptions Rejecting authority
Reason “Have courage to use your own reason” –Kant (105) “… rejecting any of the opinions which had formerly been able to slip into my belief without being introduced by reason…” [is essential to any project of Enlightenment] –Descartes (110) “every being may become virtuous by the exercise of its own reason…” –Wollstonecraft (134)
Education “It may then fairly be inferred, that, till society be differently constituted, much cannot be expected from education.” –Wollstonecraft (134) “…what they [women] learn is rather by snatches; and as learning is with them, in general, only a secondary thing, they do not pursue any one branch with that persevering ardour necessary to give vigor to the faculties, and clearness to the judgment.” – Wollstonecraft (135) “Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there wil be an end to blind obedience…” –Wollstonecraft (136)
Laziness and Cowardice “Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so great a portion of mankind […] remains under lifelong tutelage, and why it is so easy for others to set themselves up as their guardians.” –Kant (105)
Habit “…so they do to-day, what they did yesterday, merely because they did it yesterday.” – Wollstonecraft (135)
The forces of evil “After the guardians have first made their domestic cattle dumb and have made sure that these placid creatures will not dare take a single step without the harness of the cart to which they are confined, the guardians then show them the danger which threatens if they try to go alone.” –Kant (105) “…but as blind obedience is ever sought for by power, tyrants and sensualists are in the right when they endevour to keep women in the dark, because the former only want slaves, and the latter a plaything.” – Wollstonecraft (136)
Some Implications of Enlightenment Thinking Using individual reason isolation Questioning everything paralyzing doubt Enlightenment light/dark dichotomy “I think therefore I am” privileging mind over body Reason what happens to feelings?
Real world consequences of the Enlightenment American and French Revolutions Increased skepticism in matters of religion Separation of church and state Shift to democracy from monarchy Scientific discovery, scientific method Systems of ethics deriving from reason rather than belief