An introduction to the philosophes of the enlightenment era

He holds the inference from the phenomenon of the curious adaptation of means to ends in nature to the existence of an intelligent and beneficent author to be so natural as to be impervious to the philosophical cavils raised by Philo.

Existing political and social authority is shrouded in religious myth and mystery and founded on obscure traditions. The metaphysical doctrines of the Ethics lay the groundwork for his influence on the age. The special significance of the Enlightenment lies in its combination of principle and pragmatism.

It is significant that both Shaftesbury and Hutcheson, the two founders of modern moral sense theory, articulate their ethical theory in conjunction with an aesthetic theory. Christian thinkers gradually found uses for their Greco-Roman heritage.

But Cleanthes is not moved. Consequently, when established political power violates that law, the people are justified in overthrowing it.

The Age of Enlightenment, an introduction

The original Protestants assert a sort of individual liberty with respect to questions of faith against the paternalistic authority of the Church. Descartes — undertakes to establish the sciences upon a secure metaphysical foundation.

This principle exemplifies the characteristic conviction of the Enlightenment that the universe is thoroughly rationally intelligible. The generalized epistemological problem Kant addresses in the Critique of Pure Reason is: In a darker vein, Thomas Hobbes portrayed humans as moved solely by considerations of their own pleasure and pain.

The enthusiasm for reason in the Enlightenment is primarily not for the faculty of reason as an independent source of knowledge, which is embattled in the period, but rather for the human cognitive faculties generally; the Age of Reason contrasts with an age of religious faith, not with an age of sense experience.

For full treatment, see Europe, history of: Inevitably, the method of reason was applied to religion itself. He describes the threat of factions to which Madison and Rousseau respond in different indeed opposite ways.

The rise of modern science in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries proceeds through its separation from the presuppositions, doctrines and methodology of theology; natural science in the eighteenth century proceeds to separate itself from metaphysics as well.

According to Descartes, the investigator in foundational philosophical research ought to doubt all propositions that can be doubted. Though not a deist himself, Isaac Newton provides fuel for deism with his argument in his Opticks that we must infer from the order and beauty in the world to the existence of an intelligent supreme being as the cause of this order and beauty.

In his main political work, Tractatus Theologico-PoliticusSpinoza, building on his rationalist naturalism, opposes superstition, argues for toleration and the subordination of religion to the state, and pronounces in favor of qualified democracy.

According to Locke, we rationally quit this natural condition by contracting together to set over ourselves a political authority, charged with promulgating and enforcing a single, clear set of laws, for the sake of guaranteeing our natural rights, liberties and possessions. The skeptical cast of mind is one prominent manifestation of the Enlightenment spirit.

As Rousseau describes it, the capacity for individual self-determination puts us in a problematic relation to our natural desires and inclinations and to the realm of nature generally, insofar as that realm is constituted by mechanistic causation.

Locke and Jeremy Bentham in England, MontesquieuVoltaireJean-Jacques RousseauDenis Diderotand Condorcet in France, and Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson in colonial America all contributed to an evolving critique of the arbitrary, authoritarian state and to sketching the outline of a higher form of social organization, based on natural rights and functioning as a political democracy.

But it deserves separate mention, because of its grounding in natural human sentiments, rather than in reason or in metaphysical or natural scientific problems of cosmology.

Voltaire carries deism across the channel to France and advocates for it there over his long literary career. The work aims to provide a compendium of existing human knowledge to be transmitted to subsequent generations, a transmission intended to contribute to the progress and dissemination of human knowledge and to a positive transformation of human society.The Enlightenment was the era of history which really produced the modern, secular age, and which set the scene for the good and bad to come.

A Beginner's Guide to the Enlightenment Search the site GO. History of Europe - The Enlightenment: The Enlightenment was both a movement and a state of mind.


The term represents a phase in the intellectual history of Europe, but it also serves to define programs of reform in which influential literati, inspired by a common faith in the possibility of a better world, outlined specific targets for criticism and.

The Age of Enlightenment: The 18th Century Philosophers, selected, with Introduction and Commentary (The Mentor Philosophers) [Isaiah Berlin] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.

Vintage Paperback/5(5). The idea of “artistic freedom” is an outgrowth of the Enlightenment introduction of the concept of the “individual.” The idea of the defiant artist, challenging the establishment and shocking the conservative public is an Enlightenment concept.

European politics, philosophy, science and communications were radically reoriented during the course of the “long 18th century” () as part of a movement referred to by its participants as the Age of Reason, or simply the Enlightenment.

The powers and uses of reason had first been explored by the philosophers of ancient Greece. The Romans adopted and preserved much of Greek culture, notably including the ideas of a rational natural order and natural law.

Italy: The era of Enlightenment .

An introduction to the philosophes of the enlightenment era
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