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James Sambrook- “the 18th Century”

Chapter 1- science (SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION)
• The term science began to be understood in the way that we know it nowadays, people began
to think about the capacities of the human mind, science gave new freedom and new hopes
• The increasing knowledge of the universe provided for some the demonstration of the power
of God, for others the demonstration that god was unnecessary
Isaac Newton:

• Even if the scientific revolution began before Newton, he’s seen as the intellectual hero of
the century, even by poets and philosophers (Pope said that he personified
enlightenment, after Newton discovered that all colors are contained in white light)
• He ascended gradually from observation and experimentation of general theories
• He analyzed the laws of motion, so he discovered the concept of gravitation
• But he admitted the presence of God because there were some irregularities that he
couldn’t explain
• In opposition to Newton some philosophers supported Descartes ideology (France) he said
that bodies could move only when pushed by smth, for him the planets were pushed by solar
• Other important discoveries:
• Development of a calculus method
• Science of optics: Theories concerning light, experiment in the camera obscura with
the prism through which the light was reflected in different colors. (“Opticks”, 1704)
• Newtons discoveries seems to offer rational grounds for a belief in God, he saw the universe
as a finite world surrounded by infinite spaceinfinite space is an attribute of God
• Addison was a popularize of Newton, and Desaguliers another Newton follower was the 1
give scientific lectures even to the non-academic public from this time onwards the popular
interest towards science was too satisfied by lectures
• 1700 Graham designed the 1
scientific instrument a portable planetarium, also called
• Steele’s essay reflects the delight in ordinary people towards science
• Trinity college: was a center of scientific excellence, were the Newtonians methods were
studied, there was also an observatory
• Oxford and Cambridge were places where Newton’s disciples could develop his methods
about astronomy and mathematic
• Astronomy had a practical value expansion of the trade trough the improvement of navigation
• The post of Astronomer-Royal was created in order to create tables of the motions of the
• Every country began to organize expeditions, in order to understand how the world is made,
the distance of the sun from the earth, measure the earths meridians, this research proved
that Newton hypothesis that the earth is an ellipsoid was right
• 1730-1740, the 3 systems of calibration were devised: Réaumur, Fahrenheit and Celsius (also
the names of their inventors)
• William Herschel discovered Uranus
Other discoveries:
• Storage of electricity became possible
• Benjamin Franklin demonstrated that lightning is electricity
• Also chemistry was well advanced
• Joseph Priestley became the inventor of electroconvulsive therapy
• he discovered in 1775 9 kinds of “air”, later called hydrogen
• 1774 he succeeded in the isolation of this gas

Chapter 7- Models

• Before the 18
century the idea of Augustan Rome had maintained a strong presence in
English cultural life, but after 1688 a hostile attitude towards Augustus is more evident in
England, Swift, Gibbon and Bolingbroke said that Augustus was a cruel tyrant and no friend of
• Even the role of Augustus poets, Virgil and Horace, was discussed they were seen by some
as nothing more then Augustus slaves and by others persons who teached mankind
• Pope asserts his moral superiority over the Augustan poets, nevertheless he’s seen like a
modern Horace, and judged by some no less hypocrite than Horace.
• The idea of the Augustan Rome aroused complicating and conflicting reactions in the 18

• The English for the most part venerated Cato of Utica, Cicero and Marcus Brutus, the men
who defended the republic against Caesarism. Cicero was applauded as a martyr for liberty
and Cato was praised in Swift’s work.
• The Roman ideas and values influenced the most rural life and labour Catos “De agri
cultura” is a practical treatise on agriculture. The most admired works about rural life were
those of Horace and Virgil, the modern poets followed their ideas.
• Some believed that the Roman agrarian law would establish the balance of the
Commonwealth, but at the same time people feared that England would go in ruin like Rome

• The majority of English authors never set foot in Athen, because Greece was under Turkish
domination so they received few English visitors, but 18 century philosophy study tended to
see the Greeks far ahead of the Romans in intellectually fields.
• Homer was the 1st writer of epic poetry, Socrates was seen by Thomson as the wisest of
• Shaftesbury is the major Grecian follower and was against the Roman taste and said threat
the Roman arts were influenced by the Grecians. He was of the idea that art could flourish
only in free societies because arbitrary government is barbarous and can produce only
barbarous art.
• In the 18
century Greek was seen by the English as a ruined spirit and the Athenians
completely indifferent, it reigned intellectual degradation
• In the mid-18
century poets try to reintroduce Grecian subjects and the ancient Grecian
style(before Turkish domination)
• Grecian style was identified with simplicity Pope praised it and Collins wrote the Ode on
• Through the admiration of Homer it came to the study of nature of myth
• The Greek myths are felt to convey our sense of mystery , myths are natural
imaginative bridges betw human nature and external nature
• 1732 the Society od Dilettanti was founded and they began the study of archeological
remains in Greek by archeological expeditions. Stuart and Revett wrote Antiquities of Athens
by which the Athenians monuments became familiar to Englishmen
• Grecian art was admired but wasn’t examined in deep, but the German thinker Johann
Winckelmann did. And his thought was brought in England by the translation of his works

• Blake mixed Grecian and Gothic influences, Thomas Warton combined Gothic spirit and
Grecian grace. Also in Gray’s and Collins’s works we see a Grecian influence. Goths and
Greeks were put together in the English mind by the concept of political liberty
• Englishmen believed that the principle of liberty was embodied in certain institutions of
ancient Germanic tribes which developed in England to become the “Gothic constitution”
• Alfred the Great supported this constitution which balanced the power betw king, lord and
commons, so he was praised by everybody
• Some kind of gothic liberty appealed to the 18
century imagination
• Temple began to write about the fearless Northernmen (even without knowing
anything about them)
• About the British Druids, northern ancestors there was even more speculation, poets
and writers began to make suggestions of all kind, druids were enlightened religious
and natural poets, druids had links with Pythagoras and others claimed that Greek
mythology is the invention of the druids. Important exponents of this idea are Blake
an Worsdworth
• All this suggestions contributed to feed Blake’s imaginative conviction that Britain was the
primitive seat of the patriarchal religion
• 1760 some writer described the beautiful Celtic wildness, Grey described Scotlands
mountains as ecstatic
• Gothic poets had different influences, Popo likened Shakespeare’s work to a great piece of
gothic architecture, Warton believed that Gothic style originated among the Arabs
• Warton asserts that the most ancient poetry, wisdom and religion came from the near East.
Blackwell said that Homer studied in Egypt. Also Pope remarks that Homer’s poem is written
in the spirit of the Orientals.
• Also the prophets of the Old Testaments (eastern authors) were seen under those of most
heat and life in their imagination
• Blake’s prophetic style was modeled directly upon the Bible
• Other said that the oriental qualities of Homer can be best understood by reference to the
• The work “Arabian nights Entertainment” published in 1708 had a great success, a collection
of Arabian tales, for example Aladdin and his wonderful lamp
• There was also Oriental learning at Oxford, it was Oxford that improved the historians
knowledge of the Arabs, Persians and Tartars
• Oriental tradition, language, religion was studied and praised by many (Hindu culture, India),
Hindu religion was studied also by Blake and Wilkins)
• Also Chinese religion was studied, Voltaire confronted the rational religious principles of the
Chinese with the fanaticism of the Christian Church
• Chinese stories figured prominently among the oriental fables of the period Goldsmith’s
Citizen of the world
• Chinese household objects were imported (textiles, porcelain), Chinese garden buildings
appeared in 1750
• The English obtained Chinese knowledge from the Jesuits missionaries, they showed that
Confucius had much in common with the philosophers of Greek
• At the end of the 18
Century the idea of China had begun to lose its respectability

• George Sevlocke who visited the Americas (whose journal influenced Coleridge’s albatross),
said that the Indians are full of humanity more then some “civilized” nations, they seem to
pass their lives in pure simplicity
• The arts absorbed the figure of the New-World noble savage Aphra Behn, Steele, Voltaire
• The Jesuits said that Indian social organizations are very like those of the Greeks
• There was even a darker tradition, were Indians were seen like savages who do atrocities and
act like animals
• In the 18
Century it began an exploration of the Pacific ocean and publication of many
popular accounts of voyages Robinson Crusoe 1719
• A significant European discover was Tahiti, James Cook was sent there in 1769 to observe
the transit of Venus
• People, like James Boswell began to travel to Tahiti in order to obtain a full acquaintance
with people so different from them
• In 1774 a Tahitian named Omai was brought to London and his natural grace was much

Chapter 8- Conclusion

Exploration, empiricism, and evolution
• Cook was a man who could be regarded as sort of national hero, his great voyages were
undertaken in order to spread the benefits of civilization. He sailed for scientific reasons. His
seamanship served to widen the horizons of imagination (his description of the icebergs
influenced Coleridge)
• What was more significant is that the new scientific ideas settled into general public
• The successes of science inspired thinkers in other fields to employ the inductive method in
search for “natural laws”
• Hume introduced the experimental method of reasoning, he claims that association of ideas is
an effective force. Locke and Descartes thought it would be possible to devise a science of
• Man’s body is regarded as a particular elaborated clock kept in motion by a spiritual
• There were also more organic views of the world: Shaftesbury said that all things in this world
are united as the branch is united with the three, he thinks that the world has a soul
metaphysical world-view
• The effect of science upon religion was
• To force supernaturalism
• Distrust towards the biblical system
• Through navigation, little unknown societies were discovered, this widened the knowledge of
human nature
• Cultural evolution: At the end of the 17
century through fossils scientist realized that some
species had become extinct and others had come into existence. So Leibniz said that the
chain of being was still in process of completion.

Perception and imagination
• Doctrine of moral perfectibility, means that trough the improvement of man upon earth it
could be possible for man to reach a state of felicity by his own powers
• Locke explored humans mind, he investigated identity, perception, understanding and
imagination. His theory was that all ideas are delivered from sense impression perception.
Senses and nerves are like conduits which convey ideas.
• According to Addison, Newton’s and Locke’s discovery of “the colors as only Ideas of the
mind ”, means that, in our ordinary perception of the world we are enchanted by what we see,
but the enchantment is a way in which God communicated with men.
• Locke’s and Shaftesbury doctrines (vedi sopra) influenced a lot 18
century imaginative
• Also Berkely and Hume contributed in developing awareness of the central importance of
imagination in the act of perception. Berkely said that the external world is wholly mind
dependent: it exists only as it is perceived.
• Hume said that the only world that we have any knowledge of is the universe of imagination.
He also asserts that the truths of religion are apparitions of the imagination.
• Also perception of arts was seen as an act of the imagination, a work of art is not to be
apprehended by reason but by passion and imagination. Poetry and paintings are addressed to
the desires of the mind.
• Coleridge:
• Primary imagination: perceived images of the world are united with the desires of the
• Secondary imagination: the creative faculty, the artist can recreate another world, a
self sufficient mental region

Age of reason and others “clichés”
• By 1740 Hume was able to show that reason is the slave of passions
• When applied to 18
century prose the term “age of reason” is really inappropriate, because
Dryden, Swift, Pope, Addison were all cautious in thinking that the reason is the agency of the
• The later European movement called the “Enlightenment” is a sufficient prove that the “Age
of reason” isn’t a suitable label for this period.
• The period between 1660 and 1820, is called “Augustan Age”, but even this is an inadequate
label for this period, because Augustus wasn’t at all object of admiration. For great part of
the century Greek literature was valued more highly than Roman the right term for this time
should be “classical or neo-classical”, but this term covers more than our period (it begins in
• A right suggestion is that it would make more sense to call the “classical period” the
Romantic period”, because Addison and Shaftesbury’s philosophy already contained some
romantic seeds
• Some critics introduced the “Age of sensibility”, into a supposed gab between the cold
Classical age and the warm Romantic age
• The problem is that some important figures cannot find room in anyone of this labels, so there
must be some inadequacy. Greene says that the only right way to refer to this period is “the