Talk:Age of Enlightenment/Archive 1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Please start new discussions at the end of the page.


Casseirer suggests that Leibniz was one of the founders of the enlightenment with his text 'on wisdom', but the article barely mentions leibniz or his importance. Any comments?

The article should, at the very least, briefly identify why Leibniz was of such importance to the enlightenment so a reader would have no need to pull up a page on Leibniz to get an accurate idea of why he is mentioned.Tipperman

Unclear Sentences

Both of these sentences are unclear and need to be translated and clarified:

John Locke wrote his Two Treatises on Government to argue that property was not a family right by tenure. But an individual right brought on by mixing labour with the object in question, and securing it from other use.
This focus on process and procedure would be honoured, at times, in the breach, as England's own "Star Chamber" court would attest to.


The sentence

"Some of its proponents attempted to demonstrate rationally the existence of a supreme being, such as George Berkeley."

Was edited for clarity. This phrasing could be interpeted to mean George Berkeley was the 'supreme being' who's existence was being demonstrated rationally.

The new phrasing is

"Some of its proponents, such as George Berkeley, attempted to demonstrate rationally the existence of a supreme being."

Better clarity. Rintrah 12:36, 21 September 2006 (UTC)


In the sentence

"It was also the basis for overthrowing the idea of a completely rational and comprehensible universe, and led, in turn, to the metaphysics of Hegel and Romanticism."

it's not clear what "It" refers to.


I think that this page needs quite a thorough proofreading. Given the importance of the topic from the perspectives of history, philosophy, and the organization of society, it is a pity to see such bad grammar throughout. I don't unfortunately have time to do it myself. Consider:

"The goal of the Enlightenment was to establish an authoritative ethics, aesthetics, and knowledge based on an "enlightened" rationality (also logocentric)." Which should almost certainly read "The goal of the Enlightenment was to establish authoritative systems of ethics, aesthetics and knowledge based on an "enlightened", logocentric rationality."

Or for another example: and proceded, in stages, to demand a rational and orderly organization of knowledge and the state, such as found in the idea of Deism." which should be: "The Enlightenment began then, from the belief in a rational, orderly and comprehensible universe - and proceeded, in stages, to demand a rational and orderly organization of knowledge and of the state, such as that found in the idea of Deism." (Not to say that this is incomplete - should probably read "of knowledge and of society", but that's a different matter).

The reason I don't make these couple of changes is that almost every sentence in the entire article suffers from bad grammar or spelling or both, so just making the changes above would be meaningless. Volunteers, anyone? The Ostrich

I have volunteered to do the task you have requested. This, however, is a huge undertaking. Some of the sentences are too confusing to amend; others require significant revision. Moreover, there are too many bad sentences which need editing.
Agreed that this is a mess. I've been working on it today, but it still needs considerable TLC. Historymike (talk) 00:06, 19 January 2008 (UTC)
These problems demand more patience than I have.
I am not familiar with the processes of editing Wiki pages, but perhaps the reason for a lot of the poor grammar and sentence structure is that some of the entry seems to be plagiarized. For instance:
    "The Enlightenment was less a set of ideas than it was a set of attitudes. At its core was a critical questioning of traditional institutions, customs, and morals."

These sentences appear in full in the text "A Brief History of Western Civilization" by Mark Kishlansky, Patrick Geary, and Patricia O'Brien. As I read this Wiki page, those sentences stood out because I had just read them in my History textbook for my History 113 class. The thing with plagiarism is that if you find a little, there is generally more. Sinister Ninja (talk) 04:17, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

POV title

The title should be "The age of Enlightenment" as it is a period when a certain set of philosophies came to the fore. To call it "The Enlightenment" supposes that it actually enlightened people, which some would take issue with. Fundie Chrisitans, for instance, would suggest that it led to a new kind of darkness. Mr. Jones 14:45, 8 May 2004 (UTC)

Agreed. Page is now named "The Age of Enlightenment" and "The Enlightenment" is a redirect to it. This also clears up some of the ambiguation between "elightenment" and "the enlightenment". Exigentsky

I strongly disagree. And think it should be changed back. (1) The article - as written - isn't about a period of time, it's about an intellectual movement. The title doesn't match the topic. (2) That movement is called "The Enlightenment", some people would argue about how enlightening it was, but that doesn't change its name. Even the movement that opposed it (the Counter-Enlightenment) called it "The Enlightenment". I don't think this is a NPOV issue - we wouldn't retitle the Christianity article, because some would take issue with how well it matches what Christ said. (3) I would recommend "The Enlightenment", but if the ambiguity between this and sundry other uses of "enlightenment" needs to be removed I'd recommend "The Enlightenment Project".Leederick

I concur with Leederick, the movement was called the enlightenment. At Wikipedia movements are titled as they are normally titled in the relevant domain of discourse ( I hate that word, but alas I must use it.) the relevant domain of discourse is history, in history the movement described on this page is called the enlightment, but critics and supporters alike. Therefore, the page should be entitled the enlightement.

Having studied for years now, I know that academics talk about "The Enlightenment" and never "Age of Enlightenment". -- Paxomen 14:51, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

I know for a fact that I had difficulty finding the page because I used the search term Enlightenment, and had never heard the term "Age of Enlightenment". I see no justification for inventing a new term to replace an established one just because "Fundie Christians" might take offense - which, by the way, in itself is a questionable assumption. Then again, the page is now so void of content on what The Enlightenment actually meant that perhaps it's a good thing this page is now hard to find. I don't know what pet peeves or muddled ideologies have influenced the editing of this page, but the result is a Wikipedia entry on The Enlightenment which doesn't contain the words "freedom" or "equality", and "liberty" only in a reference. (talk) 11:53, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

I am in agreement with Leederick as well. I have studied this general time period for a great deal, and it should be titled "The Enlightenment" not "The Age of Enlightenment." It is true this is a period in time in which philosophies came to be, and certain works of literature were posted, but that does not mean it should be titled "The Age of Enlightenment." Tipperman —Preceding comment was added at 23:23, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

Older discussion

This page has a link to the Protestant Reformation, but neither this article nor that one give any hint as to what the relationship between the two is. I think it would be very helpful to add something about this, though I don't think I know enough to do this right now. Wesley

I added the quote from Kant again because it adds more credibility to the article, provides an excellent perspective, and because Kant was a major driving force in the age of Enlightenment.

Please read his essay before dismissing him.

"What Is Enlightenment?"

By Immanuel Kant

Enlightenment is man’s leaving his self-caused immaturity. Immaturity is the incapacity to use one's intelligence without the guidance of another. Such immaturity is self-caused if it is not caused by lack of intelligence, but by lack of determination and courage to use one's intelligence without being guided by another. Sapere Aude! [Dare to know!] Have the courage to use your own intelligence! is therefore the motto of the enlightenment.

Through laziness and cowardice a large part of mankind, even after nature has freed them from alien guidance, gladly remain immature. It is because of laziness and cowardice that it is so easy for others to usurp the role of guardians. It is so comfortable to be a minor! If I have a book which provides meaning for me, a pastor who has conscience for me, a doctor who will judge my diet for me and so on, then I do not need to exert myself. I do not have any need to think; if I can pay, others will take over the tedious job for me. The guardians who have kindly undertaken the supervision will see to it that by far the largest part of mankind, including the entire "beautiful sex," should consider the step into maturity, not only as difficult but as very dangerous.

After having made their domestic animals dumb and having carefully prevented these quiet creatures from daring to take any step beyond the lead-strings to which they have fastened them, these guardians then show them the danger which threatens them, should they attempt to walk alone. Now this danger is not really so very great; for they would presumably learn to walk after some stumbling. However, an example of this kind intimidates and frightens people out of all further attempts.

It is difficult for the isolated individual to work himself out of the immaturity which has become almost natural for him. He has even become fond of it and for the time being is incapable of employing his own intelligence, because he has never been allowed to make the attempt. Statutes and formulas, these mechanical tools of a serviceable use, or rather misuse, of his natural faculties, are the ankle-chains of a continuous immaturity. Whoever threw it off would make an uncertain jump over the smallest trench because he is not accustomed to such free movement. Therefore there are only a few who have pursued a firm path and have succeeded in escaping from immaturity by their own cultivation of the mind.

But it is more nearly possible for a public to enlighten itself: this is even inescapable if only the public is given its freedom. For there will always be some people who think for themselves, even among the self-appointed guardians of the great mass who, after having thrown off the yoke of immaturity themselves, will spread about them the spirit of a reasonable estimate of their own value and of the need for every man to think for himself. It is strange that the very public, which had previously been put under this yoke by the guardians, forces the guardians thereafter to keep it there if it is stirred up by a few of its guardians who are themselves incapable of all enlightenment. It is thus very harmful to plant prejudices, because they come back to plague those very people who themselves (or whose predecessors) have been the originators of these prejudices. Therefore a public can only arrive at enlightenment slowly. Through revolution, the abandonment of personal despotism may be engendered and the end of profit-seeking and domineering oppression may occur, but never a true reform of the state of mind. Instead, new prejudices, just like the old ones, will serve as the guiding reins of the great, unthinking mass.

All that is required for this enlightenment is freedom; and particularly the least harmful of all that may be called freedom, namely, the freedom for man to make public use of his reason in all matters. But I hear people clamor on all sides: Don't argue! The officer says: Don't argue, drill! The tax collector: Don't argue, pay! The pastor: Don't argue, believe! (Only a single lord in the world says: Argue, as much as you want to and about what you please, but obey!) Here we have restrictions on freedom everywhere. Which restriction is hampering enlightenment, and which does not, or even promotes it? I answer: The public use of a man's reason must be free at all times, and this alone can bring enlightenment among men: while the private use of a man's reason may often be restricted rather narrowly without thereby unduly hampering the progress of enlightenment.

I mean by the public use of one's reason, the use which a scholar makes of it before the entire reading public. Private use I call the use which he may make of this reason in a civic post or office. For some affairs which are in the interest of the commonwealth a certain mechanism is necessary through which some members of the commonwealth must remain purely passive in order that an artificial agreement with the government for the public good be maintained or so that at least the destruction of the good be prevented. In such a situation it is not permitted to argue; one must obey. But in so far as this unit of the machine considers himself as a member of the entire commonwealth, in fact even of world society; in other words, he considers himself in the quality of a scholar who is addressing the true public through his writing, he may indeed argue without the affairs suffering for which he is employed partly as a passive member. Thus it would be very harmful if an officer who, given an order by his superior, should start, while in the service, to argue concerning the utility or appropriateness of that command. He must obey, but he cannot equitably be prevented from making observations as a scholar concerning the mistakes in the military service nor from submitting these to the public for its judgment. The citizen cannot refuse to pay the taxes imposed upon him. Indeed, a rash criticism of such taxes, if they are the ones to be paid by him, may be punished as a scandal which might cause general resistance. But the same man does not act contrary to the duty of a citizen if, as a scholar, he utters publicly his thoughts against the undesirability or even the injustice of such taxes. Likewise a clergyman is obliged to teach his pupils and his congregation according to the doctrine of the church which he serves, for he has been accepted on that condition. But as a scholar, he has full freedom, in fact, even the obligation, to communicate to the public all his diligently examined and well-intentioned thoughts concerning erroneous points in that doctrine and concerning proposals regarding the better institution of religious and ecclesiastical matters. There is nothing in this for which the conscience could be blamed. For what he teaches according to his office as one authorized by the church, he presents as something in regard to which he has no latitude to teach according to his own preference.… He will say: Our church teaches this or that, these are the proofs which are employed for it. In this way he derives all possible practical benefit for his congregation from rules which he would not himself subscribe to with full conviction. But he may nevertheless undertake the presentation of these rules because it is not entirely inconceivable that truth may be contained in them. In any case, there is nothing directly contrary to inner religion to be found in such doctrines. For, should he believe that the latter was not the case he could not administer his office in good conscience; he would have to resign it. Therefore the use which an employed teacher makes of his reason before his congregation is merely a private use since such a gathering is always only domestic, no matter how large. As a priest (a member of an organization) he is not free and ought not to be, since he is executing someone else's mandate. On the other hand, the scholar speaking through his writings to the true public which is the world, like the clergyman making public use of his reason, enjoys an unlimited freedom to employ his own reason and to speak in his own person. For to suggest that the guardians of the people in spiritual matters should always be immature minors is a nonsense which would mean perpetuating forever existing nonsense.

But should a society of clergymen, for instance an ecclesiastical assembly, be entitled to commit itself by oath to a certain unalterable doctrine in order to perpetuate an endless guardianship over each of its members and through them over the people? I answer that this is quite inconceivable. Such a contract which would be concluded in order to keep humanity forever from all further enlightenment is absolutely impossible, even should it be confirmed by the highest authority through parliaments and the most solemn peace treaties. An age cannot conclude a pact and take an oath upon it to commit the succeeding age to a situation in which it would be impossible for the latter to enlarge even its most important knowledge, to eliminate error and altogether to progress in enlightenment. Such a thing would be a crime against human nature, the original destiny of which consists in such progress. Succeeding generations are entirely justified in discarding such decisions as unauthorized and criminal. The touchstone of all this to be agreed upon as a law for people is to be found in the question whether a people could impose such a law upon itself. Now it might be possible to introduce a certain order for a definite short period as if in anticipation of a better order. This would be true if one permitted at the same time each citizen and especially the clergyman to make his criticisms in his quality as a scholar.… In the meantime, the provisional order might continue until the insight into the particular matter in hand has publicly progressed to the point where through a combination of voices (although not, perhaps, of all) a proposal may be brought to the crown. Thus those congregations would be protected which had agreed to (a changed religious institution) according to their own ideas and better understanding, without hindering those who desired to allow the old institutions to continue.…

A man may postpone for himself, but only for a short time, enlightening himself regarding what he ought to know. But to resign from such enlightenment altogether either for his own person or even more for his descendants means to violate and to trample underfoot the sacred rights of mankind. Whatever a people may not decide for themselves, a monarch may even less decide for the people, for his legislative reputation rests upon his uniting the entire people's will in his own. If the monarch will only see to it that every true or imagined reform (of religion) fits in with the civil order, he had best let his subjects do what they consider necessary for the sake of their salvation; that is not his affair. His only concern is to prevent one subject from hindering another by force, to work according to each subject's best ability to determine and to promote his salvation. In fact, it detracts from his majesty if he interferes in such matters and subjects to governmental supervision the writings by which his subjects seek to clarify their ideas (concerning religion). This is true whether he does it from his own highest insight, for in this case he exposes himself to the reproach: Caesar non est supra grammaticos [Caesar is not above the laws of grammar]; it is even more true when he debases his highest power to support the spiritual despotism of some tyrants in his state against the rest of his subjects.

The question may now be put: Do we live at present in an enlightened age? The answer is: No, but in an age of enlightenment. Much still prevents men from being placed in a position or even being placed into position to use their own minds securely and well in matters of religion. But we do have very definite indications that this field of endeavor is being opened up for men to work freely and reduce gradually the hindrances preventing a general enlightenment and an escape from self-caused immaturity. In this sense, this age is the age of enlightenment and the age of Frederick (the Great)[Frederick II of Prussia].

A prince should not consider it beneath him to declare that he believes it to be his duty not to prescribe anything to his subjects in matters of religion but to leave to them complete freedom in such things. In other words, a prince who refuses the conceited title of being "tolerant," is himself enlightened. He deserves to be praised by his grateful contemporaries and descendants as the man who first freed humankind of immaturity, at least as far as the government is concerned and who permitted everyone to use his own reason in all matters of conscience. Under his rule, venerable clergymen could, regardless of their official duty, set forth their opinions and views even though they differ from the accepted doctrine here and there; they could do so in the quality of scholars, freely and publicly. The same holds even more true of every other person who is not thus restricted by official duty. This spirit of freedom is spreading even outside (the country of Frederick the Great) to places where it has to struggle with the external hindrances imposed by a government which misunderstands its own position. For an example is illuminating them which shows that such freedom (public discussion) need not cause the slightest worry regarding public security and the unity of the commonwealth. Men raise themselves by and by out of backwardness if one does not purposely invent artifices to keep them down.

I have emphasized the main point of enlightenment, that is of man's release from his self-caused immaturity, primarily in matters of religion. I have done this because our rulers have no interest in playing the guardian of their subjects in matters of arts and sciences. Furthermore immaturity in matters of religion is not only most noxious but also most dishonorable. But the point of view of a head of state who favors freedom in the arts and sciences goes even farther; for he understands that there is no danger in legislation permitting his subjects to make public use of their own reason and to submit publicly their thoughts regarding a better framing of such laws together with a frank criticism of existing legislation. We have a shining example of this; no prince excels him whom we admire. Only he who is himself enlightened does not fear spectres when he at the same time has a well-disciplined army at his disposal as a guarantee of public peace. Only he can say what (the ruler of a) free state dare not say: Argue as much as you want and about whatever you want but obey! Thus we see here as elsewhere an unexpected turn in human affairs just as we observe that almost everything therein is paradoxical. A great degree of civic freedom seems to be advantageous for the freedom of the spirit of the people and yet it establishes impassable limits. A lesser degree of such civic freedom provides additional space in which the spirit of a people can develop to its full capacity. Therefore nature has cherished, within its hard shell, the germ of the inclination and need for free thought. This free thought gradually acts upon the mind of the people and they gradually become more capable of acting in freedom. Eventually, the government is also influenced by this free thought and thereby it treats man, who is now more than a machine, according to his dignity.

Removed link to democracy. The political theories of the Enlightenment weren't particularly democratic.

You must be joking. Please put the reference back again. And what's that about an enlightened Chinese despot? --KF 18:24 17 Jun 2003 (UTC)
I just realized that you added the sentence, "Enlightenment ideas were also strongly influential in the Constitution of the United States". Well then, is the American Constitution not democratic? --KF 18:27 17 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Neg, its a democratic republic (which according to some POVs isnt democratic at all). Pizza Puzzle

Agreed that too many folks assume that the term "democracy" and "republic" are interchangeable. Most Enlightenment thinkers feared pure democracy as mob rule. Historymike (talk) 00:09, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Thomas Hobbes is not listed here as important Enlightenment thinkers. Is that an oversight, or is there a specific reason? Kingturtle 17:31, 24 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Since when do Wikipedia article names include the "The" article? Should this page not be moved to, simply, "Enlightenment"? djmutex 12:31, 29 Aug 2003 (UTC)

I think that "The" naturally disambiguates this article on the period in history from the general idea of enlightenment (which is already a disambiguation page). Other article names include "The" when it is a common part of the name: The Beatles, The Americas, The Matrix, The Blitz, etc. --Mrwojo 15:18, 31 Aug 2003 (UTC)

"Enlightenment" could be anything, but probably a religious experience. "The Enlightenment" is a specific part of history. Tannin 15:39, 31 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Alright, I was just wondering. djmutex 21:10, 31 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Considering the fact that all references to Kant have been deliberately removed on two separate occasions from an article on the Enlightenment shows me that this text is beyond hope of ever turning into something useful. Some cryptic hint that somewhere there might be another article on more or less the same subject is not very helpful either. Please reconsider what you are doing or, to be more precise, reconsider the fact that all you are doing is reverting and preventing people from adding to this article without giving any explanations. <KF> 01:07, 31 Jan 2004 (UTC)

It's usually considered offensive to explain what most people find obvious.
No one but you has suggested that Kant doesn't belong in the article. IIRC, however, the only references to him that have been offered are a quote (questionable for that reason alone) about the personal enlightenment of the individual. Come up with something about Kant's role in the social process that is called The Enlightenment, and you'll hear no objection from Jerzy 05:28, 2004 Jan 31 (UTC).

[In his response, <KF> notes that the article says:]

"One of the influences on the Enlightenment consisted of reports of Catholic priests in China which served as a model for a secular enlightened despot."

Whatever that means, it is currently the second (!) paragraph of this article. And in a rather complacent way you seem to think this is a good introduction to the Enlightenment. I first asked this question on 17 June 2003, but it still hasn't been answered: What reports? Reports about what?

I did not contribute that, but since you consider response overdue, i can take a small crack at it.
Jesuits at some point visited China to enhance Catholic theological scholarship by studying oriental philosophy and religion. That is why the accepted Western name for Kung Fu-tze is the latinized Confucius (spelling?); they also came up with IIRC "Mencius"; i don't recall hearing whether they acknowledged Lao Tzu. I don't know when that was, but IMO it is plausible that the info attributed to Marco Polo was sufficient to get Jesuits to go east early enough to fit the time line implied here. If they did, Confucian training was almost certainly already the basis for the civil-service exams, and they would have been remiss if they failed to observe to what degree the emperors were the kind of philosopher kings that IIRC Frederick the Great (and perhaps in the right period?) Peter the Great aspired, or claimed to aspire, to be.
IMO, any such reports, if they came before the events discussed in the third 'graph, plausibly deserve mention in the second, until such time as someone brings forth earlier influences, and pushes every 'graph other than the introductory first one down further in the article.
(Actually, i have a presumably earlier candidate in mind, earlier than the Polish brethren and/or Socinianism: Magna Carta, 1215, which IMO was a crucial step in England in the undercutting of the concept of the divine right of kings, even tho it did not challenge the feudal system directly.) --Jerzy 17:03, 2004 Jan 31 (UTC)

Also, there is a list of people connected with the Enlightenment. You removed the quotation from Kant but didn't add him to the list. This is what I was referring to. ...

You will list any edicts, just like Magna Charta? There were similar edicts in Hungary, HRE etc, some earlier, some later... Magna Charta may be considered of a example, not as somehting unique. Szopen
I apologize for that slip, saying simply "in England" instead of what i had thot of including, acknowledging that that choice reflects the parochiality of the English speaking nations. (I perhaps counted that, unconsciously, as taken care of, when on Talk:Polish brethren, i made what i hope was perceived as a self-deprecating reference to the Revolutionary Etude -- a mistake, especially since it was on a different talk page.)
I share the concern i think i perceive that The Enlightenment probably has the center of gravity of its roots further east than the center of gravity of that part of the article. (For all i know, the same may be true of the Enlightnment's canonical period.)
(As to "edicts", funny, i've always pictured the Magna Carta as King John of England's surrender document, since it was IIRC extracted under quite emphatic duress, and including it among "edicts" offers a fascinating insight.)
I didn't add Magna Carta or even really mean to suggest it be on a list (IMO it belongs in something specific to the decline of monarchism), and i'd probably be happier with something vaguely resembling this:
Of course identifying one period as "The Enlightenment" distracts from the fact that that period is in many ways an outgrowth of more gradual trends in science and the relationship of church and state, epitomized by figures like Nicolas Copernicus and by XXX, to mention only two important examples among many important ones from outside the spotlight of Western Europe."
(I don't know which edict from Eastern Europe belongs where i put "XXX".) --Jerzy 21:38, 2004 Feb 3 (UTC)
[Jerzy broke KF's 'graph for this insertion, but deleted nothing.]
I know too little of Kant to judge whether he merits inclusion. I do note on one hand his interest in "reason" and on the other his writing stuff that i think of as the philosophical basis of the passage of the "Ode to Joy" that says "above this starry tent there must dwell a beloved Father" [amateur translation, quote at one's own risk], so i look forward to watching from the sidelines an interesting discussion of which side he was on in which writings.
I lack the basis for adding Kant to the list. I hope you will do so, if only to see if i really am an unwitting supporter of a plot to keep him off. --Jerzy 17:03, 2004 Jan 31 (UTC)

... And please stop those silly accusations or whatever they are ("No one but you has suggested that Kant doesn't belong in the article.") <KF> 11:03, 31 Jan 2004 (UTC)

In light of KF's resentment of my wording, i regret being vague about whether i might think he thinks Kant doesn't belong in the article. (Clearly he thinks Kant belongs in the article, even if he is unsure he has made that clear.) While i continue to be unaware of anyone enunciating opposition to that part of his position, better i should have said "It is you who suggests that someone might take that position." --Jerzy 17:03, 2004 Jan 31 (UTC)

Some POV language

Not sure what to do with the following language, which is quite POV:

Gradually many areas of knowledge and belief became revolutionised by the removal of what had been presumed to be universal truth, but which had only been based on historical precedent, and unexamined assumptions. There was a resurgence in the methods developed by Aristotle to apply logic and scientific method in all our thinking about the world and our place in it. Aristotle himself had famously proclaimed that 'the unexamined life is not worth living'.

--COGDEN 21:26, 5 Apr 2004 (UTC).

Unclear challenge

I don't understand what this is supposed to mean: The concept of a single, Europe-wide movement may of course be challenged in detail: it reflects a cultural dominance of French thought. One may also pursue the German, Scottish and other national movements.

Can someone explain this? Is someone claiming that there was some sort of parallel to the enlightenment that is purely German or Scottish, and which does not depend in large part on the writings of French and British enlightenment thinkers? Is someone holding that there were two different forms of enlightenment? I don't understand the challenge. RK 17:33, Jun 10, 2004 (UTC)

Section on Enlightenment values

Stirling Newberry keeps removing the entire section on Enlightenment values without any discussion. Recently he said this in an edit line: "this is a POV libertarian manifesto, not a good summary of the period." Well, of course not; this list, by itself, is not supposed to be a summary of the period; that purpose is served by the entire article. Rather, this list summarizes the views that many enlightenment thinkers had in common. In no way is its existence an NPOV violation. The article does not say that these values are absolutely true, or that people must accept them. Rather, it merely points out what many enlightenment thinkers believed. In accord with NPOV policy, it states that Group A held beliefs X, Y and Z, without any value judgements. You may find their views incorrect, but that is no reason not to report them. By the way, I am not claiming that the section is perfect, complete or without possibility of change. RK 14:25, Oct 3, 2004 (UTC)

On a parallel point, I do not see these enlightenment values as libertarian. Many people I know hold most of these values, and AFAIK none of them are libertarian. RK 14:25, Oct 3, 2004 (UTC)

I note that this entire section was removed again, without any discussion. I have thus restored it. RK 23:24, Feb 14, 2005 (UTC)

The section is worthless undocumented POV.Stirling Newberry 00:09, 15 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Stop inserting trash, and stop lying. Stirling Newberry 02:29, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Stirling, this is not how we operate around here. Unless you're prepared to engage in actual discussion instead of simply providing soundbites, you're going to find it difficult to get anywhere. -- nknight 04:45, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)
How you operate is a gang revert war and inserting uncited POV. Stirling Newberry 08:38, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)
The correct thing would be to ask for citations or references. Since we report here what experts say, and not our own interpretations. If references can not be produced, the text can be justifiably removed, or placed in the context of "So and so says.." --Stbalbach 06:11, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I removed the text ages ago since 1. There were no sources. 2. It is extremely bad summary of the Enlightenment either as period or as a movement in general. Stirling Newberry 08:38, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Nknight, I am at a loss as to how to deal with Stirling Newberry vis-a-vis The Age of Enlightenment. He totally refuses to bring forth any sources to back up his position; in fact he doesn't even try to explain his position. He just keeps making abusive comments and vandalizing the article by removing whole chunks of it. He then ends up by making a series of changes indicating that he wishes to take ownership of this entire article. I think we need to initiate a formal Request for Comment, soon. RK 18:54, Feb 16, 2005 (UTC)

Complete bad faith fabrication. Stirling Newberry 19:18, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Is this true?

Is this true? "The belief that democracy is the best form of government."

There were quite a few philosophers during The Age of Enlightenment that would believe otherwise.

I am keeping an open-mind! Could you provide some examples of Enlightenment thinkers who felt this way? RK

Which way? There were some thinkers of the enlightenment who were in favor of republicanism, some that were in favor of constitutional monarchy, and some that were in favor of "enlightened despotism". Stirling Newberry 19:15, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Please desist from making angry rhetorical remarks. Nknight, myself and others are willing to work with you, but you need to stop making massive deletions, and refusing to explain your edits. Instead of making vague remarks, could you provide some examples of Enlightenment thinkers who felt this way? Could you provide us with some references? I am not aware of any scholars who claim that most, let alone all, enlightenment scholars had such beliefs. I want to avoid a RFA in relation to you, but you need to start engaging us on a professional level. RK
I am going to try this carefully. First the accusation of "massive deletions" is false. An examination of the edit history shows that there is one block of disputed text that has been reinserted verbatim several times over several months. Each time without citing the sources for it, nor with any discussion.
Second the material removed is POV, uncited and inaccurate. To take just the "democracy" citation. Hume, for example, in the original social contract (1748) doubts a government based on consent is even possible, let alone "the best":
It is in vain to say, that all governments are, or should be, at first, founded on popular consent, as much as the necessity of human affairs will admit. This favours entirely my pretension. I maintain, that human affairs will never admit of this consent, seldom of the appearance of it; but that conquest or usurpation, that is, in plain terms, force, by dissolving the ancient governments, is the origin of almost all the new ones which were ever established in the world. And that in the few cases where consent may seem to have taken place, it was commonly so irregular, so confined, or so much intermixed either with fraud or violence, that it cannot have any great authority.

My intention here is not to exclude the consent of the people from being one just foundation of government where it has place. It is surely the best and most sacred of any. I only pretend, that it has very seldom had place in any degree, and never almost in its full extent; and that, therefore, some other foundation of government must also be admitted.

Burke's reflections on the revolution in france have this revealing passage:

On these ideas, instead of quarrelling with establishments, as some do who have made a philosophy and a religion of their hostility to such institutions, we cleave closely to them. We are resolved to keep an established church, an established monarchy, an established aristocracy, and an established democracy, each in the degree it exists, and in no greater. I shall show you presently how much of each of these we possess.

And later:

A perfect democracy is, therefore, the most shameless thing in the world. As it is the most shameless, it is also the most fearless. No man apprehends in his person that he can be made subject to punishment. Certainly the people at large never ought, for as all punishments are for example toward the conservation of the people at large, the people at large can never become the subject of punishment by any human hand. 20 It is therefore of infinite importance that they should not be suffered to imagine that their will, any more than that of kings, is the standard of right and wrong. They ought to be persuaded that they are full as little entitled, and far less qualified with safety to themselves, to use any arbitrary power whatsoever; that therefore they are not, under a false show of liberty, but in truth to exercise an unnatural, inverted domination, tyrannically to exact from those who officiate in the state not an entire devotion to their interest, which is their right, but an abject submission to their occasional will, extinguishing thereby in all those who serve them all moral principle, all sense of dignity, all use of judgment, and all consistency of character; whilst by the very same process they give themselves up a proper, a suitable, but a most contemptible prey to the servile ambition of popular sycophants or courtly flatterers.

         When the people have emptied themselves of all the lust of selfish will,
         which without religion it is utterly impossible they ever should, when
         they are conscious that they exercise, and exercise perhaps in a higher
         link of the order of delegation, the power, which to be legitimate must
         be according to that eternal, immutable law in which will and reason are
         the same, they will be more careful how they place power in base and
         incapable hands. In their nomination to office, they will not appoint to
         the exercise of authority as to a pitiful job, but as to a holy function,
         not according to their sordid, selfish interest, nor to their wanton caprice,
         nor to their arbitrary will, but they will confer that power (which any
         man may well tremble to give or to receive) on those only in whom they
         may discern that predominant proportion of active virtue and wisdom,
         taken together and fitted to the charge, such as in the great and
         inevitable mixed mass of human imperfections and infirmities is to be found.

and finally

Is it then a truth so universally acknowledged that a pure democracy is the only tolerable form into which human society can be thrown, that a man is not permitted to hesitate about its merits without the suspicion of being a friend to tyranny, that is, of being a foe to mankind?

I do not know under what description to class the present ruling authority in France. It affects to be a pure democracy, though I think it in a direct train of becoming shortly a mischievous and ignoble oligarchy. But for the present I admit it to be a contrivance of the nature and effect of what it pretends to. I reprobate no form of government merely upon abstract principles. There may be situations in which the purely democratic form will become necessary. There may be some (very few, and very particularly circumstanced) where it would be clearly desirable

Hardly that Democracy is best, but merely one element of his nation, one that is to be perserved, but not at the cost of established monarchy or established church.

Thus the accusation that there are no primary sources to support my position is, at best, false.

Further I will note that there are no original or primary sources in the disputed block of text. None. The accusation that I am not citing sources comes with the implication that the other side of this dispute is. So far, they have not produced one. Indeed the only source referenced when I started editing this page was Peter Gay's The Enlightenment, an Interpretation, and while i am a tremendous admirer of Dr. Gay's work, and his argues for the Enlightenment - by which he means more specifically the later philosophes as well as Hume and Smith - as a movement of liberation, it is not Democracy, yet. And as the title would tell you, it is his POV on the Enlightenment. There are numerous other POVs on the Enlightenment, many of the directly contradict his contention that boursgeoise spirit is at the root fo philistinism (a sentiment that he derrives from the Romantic) and his contention that the Enlightenment was fundamentally a revival of paganism. See philosophers cited in the text, including, for example Herder.

And this is just a refutation of one of the list of highly problematical, unsourced, uncited assertions in the disputed text. Stirling Newberry 21:30, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)


Mr. Newberry and others, please settle this without accusations of bad faith or vandalism. 172 19:28, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Disputed Text

Below is the disputed text interspersed with cited commentary. As can be seen the assertion of "massive" deletion is unfounded, the assertion that the text removed is primary sourced is unfounded, the assertion that the disputed text conforms to NPOV is unfounded.


Many values were common to enlightenment thinkers, including:

  • The belief that the nation exists to protect the rights of the individual, instead of the other way around.
Montesquieu believed the reverse, that democracy was love of a country and its laws. [1]. More over, not all of those who believed in the rights of individuals were republicans, consider Catherine the Great's Proposal for a new law code: [2] which, while it affirms the position of personal liberty, also affirms absolute monarchy. Joseph II, another "Enlightened Despot" stated "everything for the people, nothing by the people". The conflict between liberty and securty, between the importance of personal liberty and personal security was not a cut and dried point during the Enlightenment. There are, more over, conflicts between political and economic freedom. Smith, to take one example, advocates laissez-faire which presupposes limits on political freedom to pass laws that intervene in the economy.
The Body metaphor of the state, from Hobbe's Leviathan is also used: for example by Fredrick II of Prussia who stated [3] "He and his people form a single body. Ruler and ruled can be happy only if they are firmly united. The sovereign stands to his people in the same relation in which the head stands to the body. He must use his eyes and his brain for the whole community, and act on its behalf to the common advantage. If we wish to elevate monarchical above republican government, the duty of sovereigns is clear. They must be active, hard-working, upright and honest, and concentrate all their strength upon filling their office worthily. That is my idea of the duties of sovereigns."
  • The belief that each individual should be afforded dignity, and should be allowed to live one's life with the maximum amount of personal freedom.
Again Montesquieu believed otherwise, he believed that frugality should be instituted by law and that there should be censors to prevent individuals from violating this.
  • The belief that democracy is the best form of government.
Hume, Burke and Voltaire, among others, clearly did not believe this. citations above.
  • The belief in the equality of all humanity, all races, ethnicities, nationalities and religions.
If this were the case then Jefferson would not have withdrawn the section outlawing slavery from the Declaration of Independence. Racial and religious equality were still very controversial ideas, even among Enlightenment philosophers. Voltaire was an internationalist, but many others believed that the state of affairs of the world justified the inequalities found. Hence Humes imfamous statement in On National Characters:
I am apt to suspect the negroes and in general all the other species of men (for there are four or five different kinds) to be naturally inferior to the whites. There never was a civilized nation of any other complexion than white, nor even any individual eminent either in action or speculation. No ingenious manufactures amongst them, no arts, no sciences. On the other hand, the most rude and barbarous of the whites, such as the ancient GERMANS, the present TARTARS, have still something eminent about them, in their valour, form of government, or some other particular. Such a uniform and constant difference could not happen, in so many countries and ages, if nature had not made an original distinction betwixt these breeds of men. Not to mention our colonies, there are Negroe slaves dispersed all over EUROPE, of which none ever discovered any symptoms of ingenuity; tho’ low people, without education, will start up amongst us, and distinguish themselves in every profession. In JAMAICA indeed they talk of one negroe as a man of parts and learning; but ‘tis likely he is admired for very slender accomplishments, like a parrot, who speaks a few words plainly.
  • The belief that, in regards to the physical world in which we live. the scientific method is our only ally in helping us discern fact from fiction; further, the belief that science, properly used, is a positive force for the good of all humanity.
The scientific method did not exist yet, and materialism as a doctrine was not adhered to by major figures including Newton, who believed in an "intelligent agent" being necessary to create the solar system.
  • The belief that all people have a right to free speech and expression, the right to free association, the right to hold to any - or no - religion; the right to elect their own leaders.
This again is not universally the case: Voltaire believed in Free Speech, but not elections. Montesquieu believed in elections, but not free speech.
  • The belief that religious dogma and mystical experiences are inferior to logic and philosophy, and that much classical religious dogma has been harmful to much of humanity.
Inferior here is a distinct problem. Many enlightenment figures adhered to the teleological argument, that is that since the world could not have been produced by material causes as they understood them, there was, therefore a designer. Newton and Derham are two influential examples of this. Rousseau argued that sentiment, not reason, is the source of human virtue.
In summary, a set of sweeping generalizations to the point of misinformative oversimplification which is not born out by an examination even of the major figures of the period, let alone a host of minor ones which we spend less time. The whole is based on historical fallacy: exagerating those features of the 18th century which we, ourselves, place the greatest value in.
There is a section on the use of the Enlightenment in the present, let Gay, Rothbard and whoever else have their say on what the Enlightenment means in an NPOV manner, that is describing the the available points of view - but not stinting on the critics of the Enlightenment and the full range of expressed philosophy, pragmatic and theoretical, from the period.

Stirling Newberry 22:39, 16 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Structure of the Article

The article needs to be broken up further into sub-sections. Any volunteers? Rintrah 05:37, 21 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I see from the history that the Revision as of 22:29, 28 May 2005; added the cleanup notice which has sat at the top for a month. I pushed it to the footer for a more pleasant reading experience. Can the one who added the notice to the top also please participate in the cleanup? Ancheta Wis 1 July 2005 07:36 (UTC)

Requested move

The Age of EnlightenmentAge of Enlightenment, to be consistent the policy of Wikipedia:Naming conventions (definite and indefinite articles at beginning of name) and such articles as Age of Exploration. —Lowellian (talk) 03:18, July 21, 2005 (UTC)


  1. Move for reasons given above. —Lowellian (talk) 03:18, July 21, 2005 (UTC)
  2. Move. To be consistent with the "Wikipedia naming conventions" policy. – AxSkov (T) 13:59, 23 July 2005 (UTC)
  3. Move An annoying convention, but still consistently applied and not without its reasons. Stirling Newberry 04:46, 25 July 2005 (UTC)
  4. Move. The definite article is only used where it is part of a proper noun, eg, The Guardian. In this case the the is unnecessary and clearly breaks the relevant naming convention.

FearÉIREANNCoat of arms of Ireland.svg\(caint) 05:30, 25 July 2005 (UTC)

Do not move

  1. Do not move.Dejvid 20:02, 24 July 2005 (UTC)


  • The correct name is "The Enlightenment" Jooler 08:55, 6 August 2005 (UTC)

john locke,jean-jacques rousseau and baron de montesquieu are the main person(s) who gave their part in this topic but john had a veiw that people had natural rights

introduction and overview

Peer Review

I am unfamiliar with the peer-review process, so I do not know how to instigate it. Can someone recommend this article to the peer-review process? Rintrah 01:39, 22 October 2005 (UTC)

Title again

A discussion further up the page has brought this issue to the fore again. The title should be "The Englightenment" - if the naming comvention rules this out - then the naming convention is wrong. Jooler 12:24, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Semi-protection policy

This article is a good canidate for the new Wikipedia:Semi-protection policy. --Stbalbach 20:20, 17 December 2005 (UTC)

A request has been made at Wikipedia:Requests for page protection .. --Stbalbach 03:18, 13 January 2006 (UTC)
Protection status was denied. Archive of the discussion: User:Stbalbach/Age of Enlightenment protection discussion. --Stbalbach 05:51, 13 January 2006 (UTC)

Newton's Contributions

From _A Brief History of Science_, by A. Rupert Hall and Marie Boas Hall:

"Other general propositions that are still generally qualified as laws of nature -- the Snell-Descartes sine law of refraction, the law of inertia (first correctly formulated by Descartes) and Boyle's Law, for example -- had been enunciated before Newton wrote the Principia. None, however had served as the basis for a mathematically rigorous theory of the type which, coupling the three laws of motion and the law of gravitation, Newton constructed and applied to physics. Each of the earlier laws had been incorporated into, and in part justified by, mechanistic hypotheses. The outstanding distinction of Newton's theory was that it was both mathematical *and* mechancial -- a characteristic that all physical theory maintained into the twentieth century."

I agree with this view, that Newton was an intellectual genius, that subsequent philosophy and science owes a *lot* to him, and that no one before Newton was able to systematize all of science in such a unified whole as his mathematical underpinnings were able to provide. But the article presently says, "Newton was not alone in the "systematic revolution" in thinking; he was merely the most visible and famous example." That's not fair, especially the use of the word "merely".

The Failture of The Enlightenment Project

Has anyone considered putting some comments on the so called "Faulure of the Enlightenment Porject" as talked about by MacIntyre and many 20th century thinkers?



The comments are hardly objective; and they are peripheral to the subject matter. It would also be eerily alien to comment on a "Faul[ed]... Porject". Rintrah 12:34, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

Possible error

According to the google cache of a page from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Unity of Science movement was part of Logical Positivism. However, this article says the movement includes logical positivism, which is the other way round. Should I just change this? I guess it is possible that EB might be wrong. Eiler7 16:35, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

The Roman Catholic Church, Freemasons and the Illuminati

I believe that there are lots of connections between the "Illuminati" and "Freemasons" and this topic. At least whenever the Roman Catholic Church talks about the Illuminati it usually makes reference to the Age of Enlightenment. For example, I think there should be some more details about 'the Illuminati in relation to the RCC' in this article. I was thinking of writing a short bit about it, much like what is found on newadvent and some other sources. (Simonapro 23:03, 30 March 2006 (UTC))

Requested clarification on the FM issue, and it would be useful to identify where the conflation comes from. I'm no disputing that the enlightenment was a significant influence in the emergence of Freemasonry, but it wasn't that simple. The issue is both unclear and obfuscated by some very poor scholarship in the 18th and 19th Centuries.ALR 16:00, 3 May 2006 (UTC)

It is in the section below in reference to I was actually going to fill in your citation requestion with this [1] but it just looks so out of place within the rest of the document just to cite this one source. However I do feel as per above that the history itself is covered on the illuminati page in the section and makes reference to freemasons there. [[[User:Simonapro|Simonapro]] 23:05, 3 May 2006 (UTC)]

Unfortunately you fail to demonstrate your point. FM and the Illuminati are not the same thing and the contribution does not meaningfully substantiate the assertion. As such I will re-add the request.ALR 21:26, 4 May 2006 (UTC)

Well no one is saying they are the same thing. The illuminati was certainly a movement developed out of the Age of the Enlightenment demonstrated by so that is valid. However since FM probably preceeded the Age of Enlightenment it could be said that the Age of Enlightenment was not responsible for creating it. As you also noted above, this era was a significant influence on FM. So I have edited that bit again. Hopefully you will find it more accurate. [[[User:Simonapro|Simonapro]] 22:15, 4 May 2006 (UTC)]

How on earth is this relevant for the introduction: "However the Age of Enlightenment was the dawn of the radical movement of the Illuminati and heavily influenced the Freemasons." [User name not included, so adding brackets to make it clear that this was a separate message--Cyoung66]

Agreed. The sentence is out of place. Why a special reference to the Illuminati and Freemasons, except that the author of the comments is personally very interested in these subjects? I could add comments saying that the Enlightenment was very important in creating the thinking that led to Eugenics or the Theory of Relativity. One could cite evidence for both these things, but it still wouldn't make the points appropriate for the introduction to the article. The comment is simply out of place.

Furthermore, the previous discussion in the talk section hardly represents a consensus. The author of the sentence makes his point. Someone else disagreed, and that was the end of it.

So, in short, I don't object to some reference to freemasonry or the illuminati at the very end of the article, along with the other listed influences and personalities, though it strikes me as eccentric even there. But this is a non-starter for the introduction.

But if the original author continues to disagree, I would be happy to take this to mediation.

At the very least, we should try to avoid the continuing cycle of reverts.Cyoung66 11:51, 4 July 2006 (UTC)

I moved your discussion from the top of the discussion list to here. Please try to submit discussions on topic or at the bottom of the list, not the top. You can now read the topic here which answers your questions. (Simonapro 14:40, 5 July 2006 (UTC))

Actually, the topic here doesn't answer my questions at all. The editor whose comment I repsponded to (who was the person who put the comment at the very top, by the way) and I both felt that your sentence simply does not belong in the introduction. Instead of simply restoring your preferred version, and moving the talk question to this location, you really should have responded with an explanation of why specifically you believe that your comments on the Illuminati and the Freemasons are so critical to a discussion of the enlightenment that a proper introduction is incomplete without them. This gets back to my previous point about Eugenics and the Theory of Relativity. Again, the point is not whether there is a connection between the Enlightenment and Freemasonry (obviously, yes), or between the Enlightenment and the Illuminati (perhaps, but not necessarily relevant to a survey of intellectual history, especially given that the ongoing role of the Illuminati is to say the least a matter of dispute). The question is whether this particular point belongs in the introduction.

My concern is that most readers will respond in exactly the way that I did when I first saw the article. I was looking for an objective, reasoned survey of the enlightenment. But my first reaction was that it looked like someone who is of a conspiracy-theory bent had inserted a personal obsession into the very first part of an article that ought to be presenting an overview of one of the most important movements in intellectual history. I'm not suggesting that your views are those of a conspiracy-theorist, but the problem is that for me, and for the earlier commenter, this particular line seems out of place and very odd.

For these reasons, I'm going to remove it once more. As I said before, if you think that it is a vital point that absolutely belongs in the introduction, I would be more than happy to invite mediation or to take whatever action necessary to solicit the views of the wider community. I recognise that my own views aren't the final word on the matter, and I hope that you feel the same way about yours. But you need to do more than simply revert to your preferred version, without addressing the point directly in a way that the previous discussion didn't do.Cyoung66 15:53, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

  • "Removed reference to Illuminati and Freemasons from intro, as they don't fit in terms of relevance and importance. Also, word "however" implied a POV judgement."" Nowhere in WP:NOR does it say that the use of the word however implies a POV judgement. WP:NOR even uses the term however a number of times in its own wikipolicy article.
  • shows the cites and sources. They are also in the article. WP:CITE has not been violated. The reasons given for the removal are not valide as per WP:NOR above. You need to WP:CITE to show why it is invalid. For this reason I have reverted back to the original.
  • WP:NOR is violated when you suggest conspiracy-theory. Since WP:CITE has been given, there is no conspiracy. It is the historical record.
  • I don't think it is vital that it belongs in the commentary. This discussion has never said that. However removing it totally for the reasons given, where all violations of WP:NOR.

In short, WP:CITE is given in the article and this discussion. It does not violate WP:NOR. Calling it conspiracy theory does violate WP:NOR because WP:CITE has been given. However if someone feels that they can place it better in the article then they are welcome to it. But removing it altogther because of reasons that violate WP:NOR is wrong. You need to WP:CITE (Simonapro 16:30, 5 July 2006 (UTC)).

Please calm down. You don't need to throw the wikipedia policies at me. I'm perfectly well aware of them.

Again, I would like to understand why a references to the freemasons and the illuminati is so important to an encyclopedia article on the enlightenment that it must be the the introduction. I just don't see it. But you don't seem to have made any effort to answer this question.

As for the point about "however", you have used it in a way that suggests a contrast with the previous sentence. I assume that you don't have any problem with positivism (although there are people who do, I suppose), so the implication is that you are suggesting that freemasonry and the illuminati somehow offset or move against the trends in the previous paragraph. Hence, the POV issue. But if you didn't mean to do that, writing "The Age of the Enlightenment was ALSO..." would be more appropriate.

But this is just a quibble. The real question is why your point is so important that it needs to be in the introduction. This is not a question of citation or orginal research. This is a question of judgement and ability to appropriately structure an article.

If you want to move the point out of the introduction and find some appropriate place for it down in the article (or let me do this), that would be fine, as I suggested earlier. Otherwise, I think that it best that we either invite a third party to join us or send out a request for comments. Given that we are all just trying to create a well-written and well-balanced entry, I don't imagine that you object to that idea.

So let me know whether you would like to make a change, whether you will allow me to move the sentence to a place that seems more appropriate without reverting, or whether we need to get others involved.Cyoung66 18:57, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

Since the WP:CITE has not been contradicted by another WP:CITE, then the cite is good, which is why it should not be deleted. If you want to move it, where do you propose moving it? (Simonapro 20:11, 5 July 2006 (UTC))

I find your comment odd. What sort of cite would contradict yours? Surely you aren't looking for a cite that says that the Illuminati ISN'T related to the enlightenment. You are asking me to prove a negative, which you should understand to be something that is not possible to do.

Furthermore, your cite is not relevant. You are citing an article on the Illuminati. Again, as I said above, it is perfectly possible to find examples that tie eugenics to the scientific method or evolutionary theory, but that does not mean that an article covering the scientific method or evolutionary theory must mention eugenics. Your argument is fallacious, and your WP:CITE (see, I can write it too) is irrelevent.

HOWEVER, I do think that I see a compromise. In the section on key conflicts of the enlightenment, there is a discussion of the role of figures such as Jefferson. I will try putting a reference to freemasonry and (if you insist) the illuminati in that section. Have a look to see if this looks acceptable to you.Cyoung66 21:21, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

I have no problem with the mv. (Simonapro 22:14, 5 July 2006 (UTC))

enlightenment vs. scientific revolution

i think somebody should add this article, or add on either article - Bagel7


According to scholarly opinion

Why not just delete both these WEASEL words and the even more ridiculous {{fact}} tag that follows them? The following sentence is verifiable without them. Not every factoid requires a citation, and WP:VERIFY doesn't anywhere say it does. Andrewa 04:43, 28 April 2006 (UTC)

Restoring text on History of Enlightenment Philosophy

I have restored two sentences that became fragments during the drastic Revision as of 13:59, 4 April 2006. This Revision shortened the "History of Enlightenment Philosophy" section from 21 paragraphs to 4 paragraphs. The edit seems to be haphazardly done, and I fear that some good material was unjustifiably removed.

All I have done is restore the complete sentences, so the article is at least readable. I hope somebody can study whether it is worth restoring more of the deleted text.

Fbkintanar 12:50, 24 May 2006 (UTC)


I still don't like the introduction as it stands. The language could be more concise. Rintrah 21:56, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

I'm just wondering if the word "enlightenment" is supposed to be capitalized. As in "Enlightenment thought" it is both capitalized and not capitalized in the entry.

I agree, the prose is rather knotty and a large portion of the words are superfluous. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:17, 13 October 2007 (UTC)


This paragraph needs expansion:

Another important movement in eighteenth century philosophy, closely related to it, focused on belief and piety. Some of its proponents attempted to rationally demonstrate the existence of a supreme being. Piety and belief in this period were integral to the exploration of natural philosophy and ethics, in addition to political theories of the age. However, prominent Enlightenment philosophers such as Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and David Hume questioned and attacked the existing institutions of both Church and State.

What is this other important movement? How is it related to the Enlightenment? Rintrah 15:52, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

This paragraph needs further explanation and expansion:

Europe was ravaged by religious wars. When peace had been restored to the political situation after the Peace of Westphalia and the English Civil War, an intellectual upheaval overturned the accepted belief that mysticism and individual revelation are the primary sources of knowledge and wisdom—which was blamed for fomenting political instability.

It is too vague in its current form. Rintrah 16:26, 27 August 2006 (UTC)


This part should either be moved to the beginning of the section, or to its own separate section:

According to scholarly opinion [citation needed], the Enlightenment (if thought of as a short period) was preceded by the Age of Reason or (if thought of as a long period) by the Renaissance and the Reformation. It was followed by Romanticism.

The boundaries of the Enlightenment cover much of the seventeenth century as well, though others term the previous era "The Age of Reason." For the present purposes, these two eras are split; however, it is equally acceptable to think of them conjoined as one long period.

Rintrah 15:54, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Agreed. This article could also be considerably improved by including specific dates at the beginning. ~sangye

why hasn't this been done? (talk) 11:51, 14 May 2008 (UTC) R.E.D.

Societal Effects of Enlightenment Thought

Although the title "Age of Enlightenment" would seem to refer to the whole social period involved, this article is exclusively concerned with Enlightenment thought, and I do not find articles elsewhere that treat the application of that thought in the world. (Perhaps I am missing them?) May I suggest that this article include a section on the concrete applications of Enlightenment philosophy?--Tbook 15:37, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

History Section

I greatly prefer the language of this section as compared with how it was a few weeks ago. But I still believe the opening paragraph can be improved if the concurrent movement is named and the link between it and The Enlightenment is made clearer. Rintrah 13:16, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Empiricism vs rationalism

The history section focuses on rationalist ideas, but philosophers like Hume and Berkeley, who are mentioned as Enlightenment thinkers were empiricists. This is not mentioned, though. Overall I think the article doesn't discuss empiricist ideas enough. Perhaps one could say that both empiricism and rationalism are Enlightenment ideas, though they oppose each other.

Settembrini 15:22, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

Adding to Template

Can some more people contribute to the template at the bottom of the page? Much appreciated...--Jazzwick 11:56, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

Can we fix the template at the bottom?--CaptainPuppet 21:37, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

More External Links

Also, could we have more citations/external links/references and such?--Jazzwick 11:56, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

Spread the Template!

I've done a proper template now, please put it on the pages on those related to the Enlightenment!

May I suggest adding sapere aude to the template, in concepts? It is a fairly important one. --AVIosad 20:13, 23 February 2007 (UTC)

List of Major Works of the Enlightenment

Would it be worth it to start up a list of all the major works of the Enlightenment? Yes or no? Whatever the answer, can you state a reason? Loves... —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Jazzwick (talkcontribs) 22:16, 24 February 2007 (UTC).

I'd definitely say yes — after all, many of the ideas were spread by literary works, and in any case such works "exemplified the spirit", so to speak, of the Enlightenment. Please specify, however: do you mean works of or on? --AVIosad 22:21, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

Hmm, I'd probably say of. --Jazzwick 22:27, 24 February 2007 (UTC)

Right, I'm probably going to start tonight. I have quite a few works to list, but how am I going to ddo this? What type of list is it? etc...--Jazzwick 17:14, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

The article says that Leibniz's 'On Wisdom' was a Major Work - are there any web versions and links to such? Sholto Maud 23:55, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
Remember to include the works of David Hume, Adam Smith, and other members of The Select Society; The Select Society began the Enlightenment. Hume's "Treatise" and Smith's "The Wealth of Nations" are perhaps the most prolific texts of The Select Society. Also, you should include the works of Voltaire; Voltaire was a good friend of The Select Society, as well as one of the pioneers of deism. And perhaps you should include the American constitution; it was inspired by the Enlightenment. - R160K 13:16, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps include the works of Newton, Darwin and Galileo - these works helped inspire the Enlightenment - R160K 13:20, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

Table of contents and unclear time period

There is no table of contents and the time period of the enlightenment should be more explicitly stated. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 09:15, 10 May 2007 (UTC).

There was one but it was hidden on the right below the infobox - I have corrected this. Abtract 12:28, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

No citations

For such a learned seeming article there is an amazing absence of citations - there were some so called "references" but these were not linked to the text anywhere so I have moved them to "further reading".Abtract 12:28, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

Foucault: What is enlightenment?

@ConfuciusOrnis - I noticed you erased my addition of Foucault's conceptualization of enlightenment. Would you care to explain your removal, please? --Lynxmb 15:02, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

A better question would be, do the regular editors of this article feel foucault has anything meaningful to say about the enlightenment? ornis (t) 08:51, 5 August 2007 (UTC)
And who are the regular editors? I don't believe I've met them yet. How can I contact them?
Another matter: since it was you, who removed my link, I think you could tell me why you feel he has nothing meaningful to say about enlightenment. Thanks. :-) .....--Lynxmb 13:05, 6 August 2007 (UTC)
Now that you mention it, it has gone rather quiet, hasn't it? I simply meant that the matter isn't really up to you or I alone, but to general consensus. Anyway, I admit that my removal was a little reflexive, but after considering the matter a bit more, I tend to think that while foucault's work has a place in structuralism, post-structuralism or post-modernism, it's not relevant here, given his tendency to play fast and loose with the facts, and hostility to notions like empirical science or justice. For me it's a bit like tying to stick a book by Michael Behe into evolution. If you want to put it back in, I won't revert you again, we can see if anyone but me objects. ornis (t) 14:49, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

Fair enough!  : )

It seems to me you are poorly informed about what the article I linked was about. I wish you had read it, before stuffing Foucault into the category of "post-modernism". Quite the contrary, in the text he is trying to explicit some aspects of Enlightenment that he finds valuable for philosophy and for the way in which we view the world, clearly and explicitly distancing himself from the postmodern project. I also think you are a bit unprecise in criticizing Foucault's stance: are you talking about the notions of empirical science or justice or the things themselves: he was "hostile" to the (bourgeois) notion of justice (but not to justice itself); on the other hand, he might be seen as hostile to certain specific ways of pursuing of "empirical science", which would be in direct opposition to the principle of fairness and also to some basic enlightenment ideals - but in no way hostile to any empirical science, much less to the notion of it. Anyway, I would like to propose my reasons for including the link:

  • 1. You are partly right: The main issue is Foucault's own philosophy and the way that it relates to Kant's philosophical endeavor. BUT: the central ingredient that makes the two stick together here is... you guessed it! Enlightenment So, in a way, he tells us that enlightenment is central to the way he does philosophy.
  • 2. He is trying to establish a relation to or, to assume an attitude towards enlightenment. Rather than discard it as irrelevant to present day and to our world. Thus revealing the fragility of the various "post-whatever" stances.
  • 3. The text underscores the features of enlightenment that Foucault believes are valuable for us, for philosophy in general, for his work and for his specific explorations. Namely the idea of liberty, the idea of autonomy, reflection, the possibility or even the duty to critique the tradition, the world we live in, the institutions that surround us, the way we live etc. (including the tradion of enlightenment).
  • 4. If Foucault were as irrelevant to enlightenment as you would like to make him, he would not already be in the article. (The article that is meticulously nurtured by the "regular editors".) And if his position is relevant, why not let the man speak in his own words about what he feels enlightenment is?
  • 5. If for no other reason, the article is important because it depicts the modern (modernist) philosophy (to which Foucault sees himself a part of) as intimatly tied to enlightenment (Aufklärung) therefore pointing to the continuity between the 19th century philosophy and present day philosophy, stemming back to the enlightenment:
"From Hegel through Nietzsche or Max Weber to Horkheimer or Habermas, hardly any philosophy has failed to confront this same question, directly or indirectly. What, then, is this event that is called the Aufklärung and that has determined, at least in part, what we are, what we think, and what we do today?" --Lynxmb 20:40, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

Important contributors

There are two Polish entries that are disproportionately long. Since they are from the same country, I have a feeling a patriotic Polish editor might be behind them. Someone who frequents the article might like to trim it to something reasonable. Richard001 04:57, 30 August 2007 (UTC)


What the hell means "shifting world view from the arcane square to a diamond shape", on the 3rd paragraph? If it does have a meaning can someone please rewrite it to something more intelligible? (talk) 20:22, 29 November 2007 (UTC)


Does Chomsky really have anything important to say about the Enlightenment? He is neither a historian nor a philosopher. (talk) 06:14, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

True, Noam Chomsky was not employed in the capacity of philosopher or historian at a university, but to suggest that this respected intellectual is not capable of commenting on history or philosophy is to engage in a demand for unreasonably narrow specialization from cited sources. By this reasoning, should Juan Cole then be discredited as a source on contemporary Middle Eastern politics because his training is in history, or should Winston Churchill be ignored as a source on history because his primary careers were as a soldier and a politician? Historymike (talk) 23:22, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Removal of Citation and Cleanup Tags

After reviewing the page, and seeing that most of the major problems have been addressed, I took the liberty of removing the citation and cleanup tags. I created the References section and added ten citations to get the page started, and the article appears to be much improved from its earlier incarnations. I will continue to monitor and improve this page in the coming weeks. Historymike (talk) 00:17, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Remove social democracy box

The age of enlightenment was a far reaching movement. Social democracy is relatively insignificaNT To the article. At present it appears the the age of engligtenment was just some precursor to sd. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:01, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

I second that ( (talk) 22:10, 14 May 2008 (UTC))

Dutch: de Verlichting

I have added the Dutch name, since there are many Dutch important persons and some books in the Enlightment could only be sold in hte NL Mallerd (talk) 21:16, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

There should be no translations in the intro

If someone wants to know what The Enlightenment was called in another language, they can see that on the article about this topic on one the Wikipedia in the relevent language. No translations are needed for the read to understand this article or to recognise what is being talked about. I suggest they all be removed. --Gronky (talk) 14:33, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

  1. ^