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The Enlightenment

When the writers, philosophers and scientists of the eighteenth century referred to their activities as the "Enlightenment," they meant that they were breaking from the past and replacing the obscurity, darkness, and ignorance of European thought with the "light" of truth. Enlightenment is mans emergence from his self-imposed minority. () Minority is the lack of resolution and courage to use ones own understanding . () Dare to be wise! Have the courage to use your own understanding! This is the motto of the Enlightenment. (Immanuel Kant) the intellectual weapon chosen by the bourgeoisie to abolish established hierarchies in favour of freedom and equality the principles of the French Revolution (1789-1799)

The legacy of the seventeenth century: - The universe is fundamentally rational, that is, it can be understood through the use of reason alone; - Truth can be arrived at through empirical observation, the use of reason, and systematic doubt; - Human experience is the foundation of human understanding of truth; authority (Bacons idols of the theatre) is not to be preferred over experience; - All human life, both social and individual, can be understood in the same way the natural world can be understood; once understood, human life, both social and individual, can be manipulated or engineered in the same way the natural world can be manipulated or engineered; seventeenth century thinkers moved away from religious and moral explanations of human behavior and interactions and towards an empirical analysis and mechanistic explanation of the laws of human behavior and interaction.

- Human beings can be improved through education and the development of their rational capacities; - Religious doctrines have no place in the understanding of the physical and human worlds; - Human history is largely a history of progress; Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) - the first major thinker of the seventeenth century to apply new methods to the human sciences; Leviathan is one of the most revolutionary and influential works on political theory in European history; he arrived at two radical conclusions: 1. All human law derives from natural law; when human law departed from natural law, disaster followed; 2. All monarchs ruled not by the consent of heaven, but by the consent of the people democracy

John Locke (1632-1704) - the last important philosopher, besides Pascal and Descartes, of human sciences in the seventeenth century; by the end of the seventeenth century he wrote two massively influential works: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) and Two Treatises on Government (1690). Human mind = tabula rasa (an erased board with no pre-formed ideas); the senses fill the empty mind with objects of sensation human mind is completely empirical (relies exclusively on the information provided by the senses); the only knowledge is empirical knowledge. Consequences: 1) every human being enters the world with all the same capacities; all moral behavior arises from one's empirical experiences immoral behavior is primarily a product of the environment rather than the individual change the environment = change the individual; extension of education to every member of society

2) Since every human being walked into the world with the same capacities as every other human being inequality was an unnatural result of the environments that individuals are forced to live in; human beings have a natural inclination to preserve their equality and independence humans enter into social contracts only to help settle disputes between individuals or groups. Absolute power, then, is an unnatural development in human history and anarchy likewise is detrimental to human well-being. - the purpose of authority is to protect human equality and freedom; this is why social groups agree to a "social contract" that places an authority over them. When that authority ceases to care for the welfare, independence, and equality of individual humans, the social contract is broken and it is the duty of the members of society to overthrow that ruler.

British empiricism: John Locke, David Hume, George Barkeley


Empiricism - knowledge arises from sense experience there is no such thing as a priori knowledge; the mind is a tabula rasa (Locke used the words "white paper") on which experiences leave their marks denies the existence of innate ideas or the possibility of knowing without reference to experience Skepticism questioning the reliability of certain statements by subjecting them to a systematic investigation the scientific method of inquiry; Descartes applies global skepticism in his attempt to find absolute certainty; Hume applies extreme/radical skepticism: the mind is nothing else but a series of sensations and knowledge a matter of habit which may lead to unjustifiable beliefs

The aesthetics of the Enlightenment: Art should imitate Nature


Rococo (Late Baroque) = the art of the aristocracy a style associated mainly with the first half of the 18th century characterized by asymmetry, elegant, delicate decorations and a masterly use of mirrors, silks, brocades and stucco (Rom. tencuiala de gips) = highly ornate style; in contrast to the heavier themes and darker colors of the Baroque, the Rococo was characterized by opulence, grace, playfulness, and lightness (Rom. frivolitate); Rococo motifs focused on the carefree aristocratic life and on lighthearted romance rather than heroic battles or religious figures.

Neoclassicism the style of the latter part of the 18th century (showed a renewed interest in Classical antiquity); in architecture the English Palladian revival

"Palladian" normally refers to buildings in a style inspired by Palladio's work (Venetian architect 16th century); strong emphasis on symmetry and perspective