Epicurean Ideas and the Challenges of Modern Secular Life

Epicureanism competed with Stoicism to dominate Greek and Roman culture. By Temma Ehrenfeld ‘The pursuit of Happiness’ is a famous phrase in a famous document, the United States Declaration of Independence (1776). But few know that its author was inspired by an ancient Greek philosopher, Epicurus. Thomas Jefferson considered himself an Epicurean. He probably found[…]

Francis Bacon and the Scientific Revolution

Sir Francis Bacon developed a method for philosophers to use in weighing the truthfulness of knowledge. How Do We Know That Something Is True? The word science comes from the latin root scientia, meaning knowledge. But where does the knowledge that makes up science come from? How do you ever really know that something is true? For instance,[…]

“Such Fictitious Evil Spirits”: Adriaan Koerbagh’s Rejection of Biblical Demons and Demonic Possession, 1668

The devil, once a part of the sacred truth, could now be seen as a fragment of a human cultural heritage. Introduction This paper traces Adriaan Koerbagh’s interpretation of biblical devils and scriptural instances of demonic possession in his 1668 Een Ligt Schijnende in Duystere Plaatsen (A light shining in dark places). Koerbagh’s book is a radical[…]

Muhammad: An Anticlerical Hero of the European Enlightenment

During the European Enlightenment, a number of authors presented Muhammad as an anticlerical hero. Publishing the Quran and making it available in translation was a dangerous enterprise in the 16th century, apt to confuse or seduce the faithful Christian. This, at least, was the opinion of the Protestant city councillors of Basel in 1542, when[…]

Denis Diderot and Science: Enlightenment to Modernity

Diderot was not a practicing scientist, but was as close to one as he could be. A key Enlightenment figure, many of Diderot’s ideas were avant-garde and foreshadowed many concepts in modern science. Diderot was not a practising scientist, but was as close to one as he could be. His first major publication was a[…]

Antecedents to Modernity: The Enlightenment and Reactions to It

The foundation was laid for Modernity by the philosophies and theories of the Enlightenment. Antecedents to Modernity Media technologies, beginning with the printing press in the Early Modern period in Europe, have been instrumental in forging what we now call the Modern world. Yet as Maruca pointed out in her talk on “cyborg languages,” these[…]

Five Things to Know About French Enlightenment Genius Émilie du Châtelet

Here are five things to know about this groundbreaking, tragic figure. You probably haven’t heard of Émilie du Châtelet. But without her contributions, the French Enlightenment of the 1700s would have looked much different. Here are five things to know about this groundbreaking, tragic figure. She was a polymath who ignored the gender norms of her[…]

Voltaire: An Example of Enlightenment Censorship

Criticism of the monarchy in the press was suppressed during this period. By Jennifer Hight Introduction The Age of Reason, also known as the Enlightenment, emerged from the Protestant Reformation and emphasized reason and individualism, which was a new thought process.[6] This Enlightenment caused many new writers, philosophers, and artists to question the traditional authority.[…]