English Coffeehouses, French Salons, and the Age of Enlightenment

A heterogeneous group of people came together to engage in rational debate without regard to rank. Abstract In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the London coffeehouse and the Parisian salon functioned as what Jürgen Habermas has identified as the public sphere: a place for social interaction outside the private sphere (the home) and the sphere[…]

The Scottish Enlightenment and the Matter of Ancient Troy

The Scottish Enlightenment played a dominant part in the late-18th and early-19th century debate about the location of Troy. Abstract The modern world knows the Scottish Enlightenment as the nursery of today’s social sciences, when the outlines of economics, sociology and anthropology first became apparent in the works of Adam Smith and his contemporaries. However,[…]

The Rise of Renaissance Humanism in the 14th Century

Humanists believed in the importance of an education in classical literature and the promotion of civic virtue. Introduction Renaissance Humanism was a movement in thought, literature, and art, typified by a revival in interest in the classical world and studies which focussed not on religion but on what it is to be human. With its origins in 14th-century CE Italy and such authors as Petrarch (1304-1374 CE) who[…]

The Enlightenment, Reason, and Natural Law: Choosing the Beggar Over the Monster

“Enlightenment is the human being’s emancipation from its self-incurred immaturity.” By Santana Juache Introduction The Enlightenment stemmed out of a vast array of political and social changes in Europe. It was a period of radical reformation, of privilege and secular authority. Law and morality were believed to have been bred into the blood of kings[…]

Empire in the Age of Enlightenment: The Curious Case of Baron Benyowszky

Enlightenment debates about colonialism had very little to do with what actually happened on the ground. While the period between the Seven Years’ War and the French Revolution marked an ebb tide for the fortunes of French imperialism, colonial issues loomed large in the political and philosophical discourse of the age. Statesmen such as the[…]

The Age of Enlightenment: Establishing Reason as an Authoritative System

The Enlightenment advocated reason as a means to establishing an authoritative system of aesthetics, ethics, government, and even religion. Introduction The Age of Enlightenment, sometimes called the Age of Reason, refers to the time of the guiding intellectual movement, called The Enlightenment. It covers about a century and a half in Europe, beginning with the[…]

Denis Diderot and Science: Enlightenment to Modernity

Diderot produced an impressive, unfinished work over at least 15 years. Introduction Today (October 5) is 300 years since the birth of Denis Diderot, a prominent Enlightenment philosopher, art critic, and writer, who died on July 31, 1784, aged 70. A key Enlightenment figure, many of Diderot’s ideas were avant-garde and foreshadowed many concepts in[…]

Enlightenment and Enlightened Absolutism in Early Modern Eastern Europe

The Enlightenment directly involved only the educated spheres of society. After Pietism and the Moravian movement, the next spiritual trend to arrive in Estonia in the mid-18th century was the Enlightenment. Its ideas were propagated in the Baltic provinces by the German Enlightenment movement which sought support from absolutism and relied heavily on the Protestant[…]

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.[…]