Writers and thinkers associated with the Enlightenment were certainly capable of Its relation to the two earlier stages in this process—Renaissance and . chief publishers of the Enlightenment, many of whom specialized in the printing of books Margaret Jacob explored the Enlightenment's direct relationship to " lived. In Diderot's writings on aesthetics, the question of connection is both an intellectual and a practical problem; his writing explores the connections as the mind. A scientific experiment conducted during the Enlightenment Enlightenment thinkers and writers challenged existing knowledge and assumptions, While scientists were exploring and questioning the natural world, others questioned the These views about the relationship between government power and individual.
The first source of his optimism lies in the research emerging from fields such as neuroscience and evolutionary psychology, showing how deeply social our brains are.
The perception of us as sovereign individuals, making independent and rational decisions, is a delusion; we are profoundly influenced by those around us, and prey to emotions which we only partly understand. Just as the scientific insights of the 17th century led to the Enlightenment's profound shifts in the understanding of the individual, and the idea that the social order could and should be changed, so Taylor hopes science can prompt dramatic shifts in self-awareness, in how we understand human behaviour so that we replace individualism with more socially connected relationships of solidarity.
The second source of his optimism relies on heavy borrowing from the recently published The Empathic Civilisation, in which Jeremy Rifkin argued that history is marked by human beings' increasing empathy for others — which can be briefly summarised as from family to tribe to nation. The question is whether our capacity for empathy can expand to the human species, the globe and the biosphere in time to prevent the destruction of the environmental resources on which we depend.
Empathy can save us, believes Taylor; it is vital to negotiations on how we share out natural resources, and vital to ensure harmonious co-existence on a crowded planet. An example often cited of growing empathy is the greater tolerance on race and sexual orientation showing dramatic progress in the course of just one generation. But, as Taylor concedes, over the same time period we have created a media culture of savage contempt for a range of public figures, from celebrities to politicians.
Does the stock of empathy increase or simply get redistributed from time to time? More disturbingly, is empathy always benign?
As John Gray pointed out in his Guardian review of Rifkin, it can lead to cruelty just as much as compassion. Empathy is not an easy recruit to this march of progress: Finally, the third element essential to the 21st-century Enlightenment is a "reassertion of the fundamentally ethical dimension of humanism", argues Taylor.
What kind of human beings we want to be, what kind of society we want, are always ethical questions, he insists. After Newton's death inpoems were composed in his honour for decades.
Age of Enlightenment - Wikipedia
Modern sociology largely originated from this movement  and Hume's philosophical concepts that directly influenced James Madison and thus the U. Constitution and as popularised by Dugald Stewartwould be the basis of classical liberalism. Smith acknowledged indebtedness and possibly was the original English translator. Another prominent intellectual was Francesco Mario Paganowho wrote important studies such as Saggi Politici Political Essays,one of the major works of the Enlightenment in Naples; and Considerazioni sul processo criminale Considerations on the criminal trial,which established him as an international authority on criminal law.
This thesis has been widely accepted by Anglophone scholars and has been reinforced by the large-scale studies by Robert DarntonRoy Porter and most recently by Jonathan Israel. The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes ushered in this new debate with his work Leviathan in Hobbes also developed some of the fundamentals of European liberal thought: While quite different works, Locke, Hobbes and Rousseau agreed that a social contract, in which the government's authority lies in the consent of the governed,  is necessary for man to live in civil society.
Locke defines the state of nature as a condition in which humans are rational and follow natural law, in which all men are born equal and with the right to life, liberty and property. However, when one citizen breaks the Law of Nature both the transgressor and the victim enter into a state of war, from which it is virtually impossible to break free. Therefore, Locke said that individuals enter into civil society to protect their natural rights via an "unbiased judge" or common authority, such as courts, to appeal to.
Contrastingly, Rousseau's conception relies on the supposition that "civil man" is corrupted, while "natural man" has no want he cannot fulfill himself. Natural man is only taken out of the state of nature when the inequality associated with private property is established.
This is embodied in the sovereignty of the general willthe moral and collective legislative body constituted by citizens. Locke is known for his statement that individuals have a right to "Life, Liberty and Property" and his belief that the natural right to property is derived from labor.
The philosophes argued that the establishment of a contractual basis of rights would lead to the market mechanism and capitalismthe scientific methodreligious tolerance and the organization of states into self-governing republics through democratic means. In this view, the tendency of the philosophes in particular to apply rationality to every problem is considered the essential change. Hume's essay Of the Original Contract argues that governments derived from consent are rarely seen and civil government is grounded in a ruler's habitual authority and force.
It is precisely because of the ruler's authority over-and-against the subject, that the subject tacitly consents and Hume says that the subjects would "never imagine that their consent made him sovereign", rather the authority did so.
In his An Essay on the History of Civil SocietyFerguson uses the four stages of progress, a theory that was very popular in Scotland at the time, to explain how humans advance from a hunting and gathering society to a commercial and civil society without "signing" a social contract.
Both Rousseau and Locke's social contract theories rest on the presupposition of natural rightswhich are not a result of law or custom, but are things that all men have in pre-political societies and are therefore universal and inalienable. The most famous natural right formulation comes from John Locke in his Second Treatise, when he introduces the state of nature.
For Locke, the law of nature is grounded on mutual security or the idea that one cannot infringe on another's natural rights, as every man is equal and has the same inalienable rights.
These natural rights include perfect equality and freedom, as well as the right to preserve life and property. Locke also argued against slavery on the basis that enslaving yourself goes against the law of nature because you cannot surrender your own rights, your freedom is absolute and no one can take it from you.
Additionally, Locke argues that one person cannot enslave another because it is morally reprehensible, although he introduces a caveat by saying that enslavement of a lawful captive in time of war would not go against one's natural rights.
As a spillover of the Enlightenment, nonsecular beliefs expressed first by Quakers and then by Protestant evangelicals in Britain and the United States emerged. At the same time, most Enlightenment thinkers regarded traditional churches, Catholic and Protestant, as engines of institutional exploitation and oppression.
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Hostility toward theism and a general anticlericalism did not, however, preclude an enormous variety of attitudes toward the supernatural and the "sacred" among followers of the Enlightenment. Forthright atheism did indeed make its public debut in Europe during the eighteenth century, in the works of figures such as Hume, Julien Offroy de La Mettrie, and Paul Thiry, baron d'Holbach.
But this was a minority position. The bulk of Enlightened opinion opted for the compromise of "deism" or "natural religion," which had the stamp of approval of Newton himself and which continued to attract a good deal of sincere devotion, in a wide variety of forms.
It is a commonplace that the demotion of religion by the Enlightenment went hand in hand with the promotion of science—indeed, the very notion of a generic "science," as a sphere of cognition distinct from religious "belief," was undoubtedly a gift of the eighteenth century.
The Enlightenment discovery or construction of science, in this sense, owed everything to the idea of a heroic age of scientific achievement just behind it, in the development of modern astronomy and physics from Nicolaus Copernicus to Newton.
For all of the prestige that now attached to science, however, it would be a mistake to exaggerate agreement during the Enlightenment with regard to either its methods or findings.
The philosophical heritage from the seventeenth century was far too various for that. Looking back at the eighteenth century, the last great philosopher of the Enlightenment, Kant, described an anarchic battlefield, divided ontologically between materialism and idealism and epistemologically between rationalism and empiricism.
Moreover, there was also profound disagreement as to the social consequences of scientific advance, however defined. For every Condorcet, celebrating the beneficent effects of cognitive "progress" for liberty and prosperity, there was a Rousseau, decrying the contribution that science made to technological violence and social inequality.
The seventeenth century had seen a profound revolution in political thought, with the emergence of the modern " natural rights " tradition of Grotius, Hobbes, Locke, and Pufendorf. One of the major achievements of the early Enlightenment was to popularize and disseminate this tradition, via an endless array of translations, summaries, and commentaries. By the mid-eighteenth century, the basic conceptual vocabulary of the natural rights tradition—"natural rights," "state of nature," "civil society," " social contract "—had entered the mainstream of Enlightenment political thought, which embraced, nearly unanimously, the belief that the only legitimate basis of political authority was consent.
The path toward the vindication of "inalienable natural rights" in the founding documents of the American and French Revolutions lay open. Still, beyond this basic agreement about legitimacy, the practical substance of Enlightenment political thought was extraordinarily various.
Only one major thinker, Rousseau, actually produced a theory of republican legitimacy—but in a form so radically democratic as to preclude its widespread acceptance prior to the era of the French Revolution. In terms of practical politics, the majority of Enlightenment thinkers accepted a pragmatic accommodation with monarchy—overwhelmingly still the dominant state-form in Europe—and instead pursued what might be termed a program of "proto-liberalism," concentrating on securing civil liberties of one kind or another—freedoms of religion, self-expression, and trade.
Meanwhile, the most influential work of political theory of the Enlightenment turned its back on natural rights theory altogether. In De l'esprit des lois ; The spirit of the lawsMontesquieu set forth a global taxonomy of state-forms, dividing the world into a West that had seen a transition from the martial republics of antiquity to the commercial monarchies of modern Europe, and an East dominated by unchanging "despotism.
One was the genre of "conjectural" or "stadial" history, which traced the historical development of societies through specific socioeconomic stages—huntergatherer, nomadic, agricultural, and commercial in the most famous of these, known retrospectively as the "four stages" theory. The other direction was toward an entirely new social sciencethat of economics or "political economy"—probably the most important single intellectual innovation of the Enlightenment.
Within the ranks of "conjectural" historians and political economists, however, there was significant disagreement about the political and moral upshot of their findings. Thinkers as close in outlook as Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson could disagree profoundly about the effects of economic progress on political life. The field of political economy itself was sharply divided between two quite different theoretical schools, French Physiocracy and the "system of liberty" set forth in Smith's Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations Finally, more conventional narrative historiography, which underwent a great flowering in the Enlightenment in the work of practitioners such as Voltaire, Hume, and Edward Gibbonshowed a not dissimilar variety.
In the face of every legend about the shallow optimism of the Enlightenment, it is worth noting that its historiographical masterpiece, Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire —recounted a tragedy of almost unimaginable proportions: From the start, poetry, fiction, and plays provided natural vehicles for the expression of Enlightenment ideas. Here, above all, the watchword is variety. It is very striking that the two most enduring works of imaginative literature of the French Enlightenment should be so dark in outlook.
Its earliest work, Montesquieu's Persian Letters, is a stark parable about the lethal dangers of the pursuit of knowledge and freedom. Voltaire's philosophical novella Candide —doubtless the most widely read eighteenth-century work today—is a caustic satire on the "optimism" of philosophical rationalism. In fact, The Marriage of Figaro can be regarded as an emblem of Enlightenment cosmopolitanism—the incendiary play on which it is based the work of a French Protestant admirer of the American Revolutionits libretto furnished by an Italian Jew, its composer an Austrian Freemason.
However, recent scholarship has devoted a steadily increasing amount of attention to what might be termed the "social history" of the Enlightenment—the form in which its ideas were expressed, the institutions by means of which they circulated, and the identities of the people who produced and consumed them.
Habermas's analysis laid special stress on the socioeconomic developments in the early modern period that made the "public sphere" in this sense possible.