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European Enlightenment | Wikipedia audio article


The Age of Enlightenment (also known as the
Age of Reason or simply the Enlightenment) was an intellectual and philosophical movement
that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century, the “Century of Philosophy”.Some
consider the publication of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica (1687) as the first
major enlightenment work. French historians traditionally date the Enlightenment
from 1715 to 1789, from the beginning of the reign of Louis XV until the French Revolution. Most end it with the turn of the 19th century. Philosophers and scientists of the period
widely circulated their ideas through meetings at scientific academies, Masonic lodges, literary
salons, coffeehouses and in printed books, journals, and pamphlets. The ideas of the Enlightenment undermined
the authority of the monarchy and the Church and paved the way for the political revolutions
of the 18th and 19th centuries. A variety of 19th-century movements, including
liberalism and neo-classicism, trace their intellectual heritage to the Enlightenment.The
Enlightenment included a range of ideas centered on reason as the primary source of knowledge
and advanced ideals such as liberty, progress, toleration, fraternity, constitutional government
and separation of church and state. In France, the central doctrines of the Enlightenment
philosophers were individual liberty and religious tolerance, in opposition to an absolute monarchy
and the fixed dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church. The Enlightenment was marked by an emphasis
on the scientific method and reductionism, along with increased questioning of religious
orthodoxy—an attitude captured by the phrase Sapere aude (Dare to know).==Significant people and publications==The Age of Enlightenment was preceded by and
closely associated with the scientific revolution. Earlier philosophers whose work influenced
the Enlightenment included Bacon and Descartes. The major figures of the Enlightenment included
Beccaria, Diderot, Hume, Kant, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Adam Smith, and Voltaire. Some European rulers, including Catherine
II of Russia, Joseph II of Austria and Frederick II of Prussia, tried to apply Enlightenment
thought on religious and political tolerance, which became known as enlightened absolutism. Benjamin Franklin visited Europe repeatedly
and contributed actively to the scientific and political debates there and brought the
newest ideas back to Philadelphia. Thomas Jefferson closely followed European
ideas and later incorporated some of the ideals of the Enlightenment into the Declaration
of Independence (1776). One of his peers, James Madison, incorporated
these ideals into the United States Constitution during its framing in 1787.The most influential
publication of the Enlightenment was the Encyclopédie (Encyclopaedia). Published between 1751 and 1772 in thirty-five
volumes, it was compiled by Diderot, d’Alembert (until 1759) and a team of 150 scientists
and philosophers. It helped spread the ideas of the Enlightenment
across Europe and beyond. Other landmark publications were Voltaire’s
Dictionnaire philosophique (Philosophical Dictionary; 1764) and Letters on the English
(1733); Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality (1754) and The Social Contract (1762); Adam
Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and The Wealth of Nations (1776); and Montesquieu’s
The Spirit of the Laws (1748). The ideas of the Enlightenment played a major
role in inspiring the French Revolution, which began in 1789. After the Revolution, the Enlightenment was
followed by the intellectual movement known as Romanticism.==Philosophy==
René Descartes’ rationalist philosophy laid the foundation for enlightenment thinking. His attempt to construct the sciences on a
secure metaphysical foundation was not as successful as his method of doubt applied
in philosophic areas leading to a dualistic doctrine of mind and matter. His skepticism was refined by John Locke’s
Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) and David Hume’s writings in the 1740s. His dualism was challenged by Spinoza’s uncompromising
assertion of the unity of matter in his Tractatus (1670) and Ethics (1677). These laid down two distinct lines of Enlightenment
thought: first, the moderate variety, following Descartes, Locke and Christian Wolff, which
sought accommodation between reform and the traditional systems of power and faith, and
second, the radical enlightenment, inspired by the philosophy of Spinoza, advocating democracy,
individual liberty, freedom of expression and eradication of religious authority. The moderate variety tended to be deistic,
whereas the radical tendency separated the basis of morality entirely from theology. Both lines of thought were eventually opposed
by a conservative Counter-Enlightenment, which sought a return to faith. In the mid-18th century, Paris became the
center of an explosion of philosophic and scientific activity challenging traditional
doctrines and dogmas. The philosophic movement was led by Voltaire
and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who argued for a society based upon reason as in ancient
Greece rather than faith and Catholic doctrine, for a new civil order based on natural law,
and for science based on experiments and observation. The political philosopher Montesquieu introduced
the idea of a separation of powers in a government, a concept which was enthusiastically adopted
by the authors of the United States Constitution. While the Philosophes of the French Enlightenment
were not revolutionaries and many were members of the nobility, their ideas played an important
part in undermining the legitimacy of the Old Regime and shaping the French Revolution.Francis
Hutcheson, a moral philosopher, described the utilitarian and consequentialist principle
that virtue is that which provides, in his words, “the greatest happiness for the greatest
numbers”. Much of what is incorporated in the scientific
method (the nature of knowledge, evidence, experience and causation) and some modern
attitudes towards the relationship between science and religion were developed by his
protégés David Hume and Adam Smith. Hume became a major figure in the skeptical
philosophical and empiricist traditions of philosophy. Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) tried to reconcile
rationalism and religious belief, individual freedom and political authority, as well as
map out a view of the public sphere through private and public reason. Kant’s work continued to shape German thought
and indeed all of European philosophy, well into the 20th century.Mary Wollstonecraft
was one of England’s earliest feminist philosophers. She argued for a society based on reason and
that women as well as men should be treated as rational beings. She is best known for her work A Vindication
of the Rights of Woman (1791).==Science==Science played an important role in Enlightenment
discourse and thought. Many Enlightenment writers and thinkers had
backgrounds in the sciences and associated scientific advancement with the overthrow
of religion and traditional authority in favour of the development of free speech and thought. Scientific progress during the Enlightenment
included the discovery of carbon dioxide (fixed air) by the chemist Joseph Black, the argument
for deep time by the geologist James Hutton and the invention of the condensing steam
engine by James Watt. The experiments of Lavoisier were used to
create the first modern chemical plants in Paris and the experiments of the Montgolfier
Brothers enabled them to launch the first manned flight in a hot-air balloon on 21 November
1783 from the Château de la Muette, near the Bois de Boulogne.Broadly speaking, Enlightenment
science greatly valued empiricism and rational thought and was embedded with the Enlightenment
ideal of advancement and progress. The study of science, under the heading of
natural philosophy, was divided into physics and a conglomerate grouping of chemistry and
natural history, which included anatomy, biology, geology, mineralogy and zoology. As with most Enlightenment views, the benefits
of science were not seen universally: Rousseau criticized the sciences for distancing man
from nature and not operating to make people happier. Science during the Enlightenment was dominated
by scientific societies and academies, which had largely replaced universities as centres
of scientific research and development. Societies and academies were also the backbone
of the maturation of the scientific profession. Another important development was the popularization
of science among an increasingly literate population. Philosophes introduced the public to many
scientific theories, most notably through the Encyclopédie and the popularization of
Newtonianism by Voltaire and Émilie du Châtelet. Some historians have marked the 18th century
as a drab period in the history of science. However, the century saw significant advancements
in the practice of medicine, mathematics and physics; the development of biological taxonomy;
a new understanding of magnetism and electricity; and the maturation of chemistry as a discipline,
which established the foundations of modern chemistry. Scientific academies and societies grew out
of the Scientific Revolution as the creators of scientific knowledge in contrast to the
scholasticism of the university. During the Enlightenment, some societies created
or retained links to universities, but contemporary sources distinguished universities from scientific
societies by claiming that the university’s utility was in the transmission of knowledge
while societies functioned to create knowledge. As the role of universities in institutionalized
science began to diminish, learned societies became the cornerstone of organized science. Official scientific societies were chartered
by the state in order to provide technical expertise. Most societies were granted permission to
oversee their own publications, control the election of new members and the administration
of the society. After 1700, a tremendous number of official
academies and societies were founded in Europe and by 1789 there were over seventy official
scientific societies. In reference to this growth, Bernard de Fontenelle
coined the term “the Age of Academies” to describe the 18th century.The influence of
science also began appearing more commonly in poetry and literature during the Enlightenment. Some poetry became infused with scientific
metaphor and imagery, while other poems were written directly about scientific topics. Sir Richard Blackmore committed the Newtonian
system to verse in Creation, a Philosophical Poem in Seven Books (1712). After Newton’s death in 1727, poems were composed
in his honour for decades. James Thomson (1700–1748) penned his “Poem
to the Memory of Newton”, which mourned the loss of Newton, but also praised his science
and legacy.==Sociology, economics and law==Hume and other Scottish Enlightenment thinkers
developed a “science of man”, which was expressed historically in works by authors including
James Burnett, Adam Ferguson, John Millar and William Robertson, all of whom merged
a scientific study of how humans behaved in ancient and primitive cultures with a strong
awareness of the determining forces of modernity. Modern sociology largely originated from this
movement and Hume’s philosophical concepts that directly influenced James Madison (and
thus the U.S. Constitution) and as popularised by Dugald Stewart, would be the basis of classical
liberalism.In 1776, Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations, often considered the first
work on modern economics as it had an immediate impact on British economic policy that continues
into the 21st century. It was immediately preceded and influenced
by Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot, Baron de Laune drafts of Reflections on the Formation and
Distribution of Wealth (Paris, 1766). Smith acknowledged indebtedness and possibly
was the original English translator.Cesare Beccaria, a jurist, criminologist, philosopher
and politician and one of the great Enlightenment writers, became famous for his masterpiece
Of Crimes and Punishments (1764), later translated into 22 languages, which condemned torture
and the death penalty and was a founding work in the field of penology and the Classical
School of criminology by promoting criminal justice. Another prominent intellectual was Francesco
Mario Pagano, who wrote important studies such as Saggi Politici (Political Essays,
1783), one of the major works of the Enlightenment in Naples; and Considerazioni sul processo
criminale (Considerations on the criminal trial, 1787), which established him as an
international authority on criminal law.==Politics==
The Enlightenment has long been hailed as the foundation of modern Western political
and intellectual culture. The Enlightenment brought political modernization
to the West, in terms of introducing democratic values and institutions and the creation of
modern, liberal democracies. This thesis has been widely accepted by Anglophone
scholars and has been reinforced by the large-scale studies by Robert Darnton, Roy Porter and
most recently by Jonathan Israel.===Theories of government===
John Locke, one of the most influential Enlightenment thinkers, based his governance philosophy
in social contract theory, a subject that permeated Enlightenment political thought. The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes ushered
in this new debate with his work Leviathan in 1651. Hobbes also developed some of the fundamentals
of European liberal thought: the right of the individual; the natural equality of all
men; the artificial character of the political order (which led to the later distinction
between civil society and the state); the view that all legitimate political power must
be “representative” and based on the consent of the people; and a liberal interpretation
of law which leaves people free to do whatever the law does not explicitly forbid. Both Locke and Rousseau developed social contract
theories in Two Treatises of Government and Discourse on Inequality, respectively. While quite different works, Locke, Hobbes
and Rousseau agreed that a social contract, in which the government’s authority lies in
the consent of the governed, is necessary for man to live in civil society. Locke defines the state of nature as a condition
in which humans are rational and follow natural law, in which all men are born equal and with
the right to life, liberty and property. However, when one citizen breaks the Law of
Nature both the transgressor and the victim enter into a state of war, from which it is
virtually impossible to break free. Therefore, Locke said that individuals enter
into civil society to protect their natural rights via an “unbiased judge” or common authority,
such as courts, to appeal to. Contrastingly, Rousseau’s conception relies
on the supposition that “civil man” is corrupted, while “natural man” has no want he cannot
fulfill himself. Natural man is only taken out of the state
of nature when the inequality associated with private property is established. Rousseau said that people join into civil
society via the social contract to achieve unity while preserving individual freedom. This is embodied in the sovereignty of the
general will, the moral and collective legislative body constituted by citizens. Locke is known for his statement that individuals
have a right to “Life, Liberty and Property” and his belief that the natural right to property
is derived from labor. Tutored by Locke, Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 3rd
Earl of Shaftesbury wrote in 1706: “There is a mighty Light which spreads its self over
the world especially in those two free Nations of England and Holland; on whom the Affairs
of Europe now turn”. Locke’s theory of natural rights has influenced
many political documents, including the United States Declaration of Independence and the
French National Constituent Assembly’s Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The philosophes argued that the establishment
of a contractual basis of rights would lead to the market mechanism and capitalism, the
scientific method, religious tolerance and the organization of states into self-governing
republics through democratic means. In this view, the tendency of the philosophes
in particular to apply rationality to every problem is considered the essential change.Although
much of Enlightenment political thought was dominated by social contract theorists, both
David Hume and Adam Ferguson criticized this camp. Hume’s essay Of the Original Contract argues
that governments derived from consent are rarely seen and civil government is grounded
in a ruler’s habitual authority and force. It is precisely because of the ruler’s authority
over-and-against the subject, that the subject tacitly consents and Hume says that the subjects
would “never imagine that their consent made him sovereign”, rather the authority did so. Similarly, Ferguson did not believe citizens
built the state, rather polities grew out of social development. In his 1767 An Essay on the History of Civil
Society, Ferguson uses the four stages of progress, a theory that was very popular in
Scotland at the time, to explain how humans advance from a hunting and gathering society
to a commercial and civil society without “signing” a social contract. Both Rousseau and Locke’s social contract
theories rest on the presupposition of natural rights, which are not a result of law or custom,
but are things that all men have in pre-political societies and are therefore universal and
inalienable. The most famous natural right formulation
comes from John Locke in his Second Treatise, when he introduces the state of nature. For Locke, the law of nature is grounded on
mutual security or the idea that one cannot infringe on another’s natural rights, as every
man is equal and has the same inalienable rights. These natural rights include perfect equality
and freedom, as well as the right to preserve life and property. Locke also argued against slavery on the basis
that enslaving yourself goes against the law of nature because you cannot surrender your
own rights, your freedom is absolute and no one can take it from you. Additionally, Locke argues that one person
cannot enslave another because it is morally reprehensible, although he introduces a caveat
by saying that enslavement of a lawful captive in time of war would not go against one’s
natural rights. As a spillover of the Enlightenment, nonsecular
beliefs expressed first by Quakers and then by Protestant evangelicals in Britain and
the United States emerged. To these groups, slavery became “repugnant
to our religion” and a “crime in the sight of God.” These ideas added to those expressed by Enlightenment
thinkers, leading many in Britain to believe that slavery was “not only morally wrong and
economically inefficient, but also politically unwise.” As these notions gained more adherents, Britain
was forced to end its participation in the slave trade.===Enlightened absolutism===The leaders of the Enlightenment were not
especially democratic, as they more often look to absolute monarchs as the key to imposing
reforms designed by the intellectuals. Voltaire despised democracy and said the absolute
monarch must be enlightened and must act as dictated by reason and justice – in other
words, be a “philosopher-king”. In several nations, rulers welcomed leaders
of the Enlightenment at court and asked them to help design laws and programs to reform
the system, typically to build stronger states. These rulers are called “enlightened despots”
by historians. They included Frederick the Great of Prussia,
Catherine the Great of Russia, Leopold II of Tuscany and Joseph II of Austria. Joseph was over-enthusiastic, announcing many
reforms that had little support so that revolts broke out and his regime became a comedy of
errors and nearly all his programs were reversed. Senior ministers Pombal in Portugal and Johann
Friedrich Struensee in Denmark also governed according to Enlightenment ideals. In Poland, the model constitution of 1791
expressed Enlightenment ideals, but was in effect for only one year before the nation
was partitioned among its neighbors. More enduring were the cultural achievements,
which created a nationalist spirit in Poland.Frederick the Great, the king of Prussia from 1740 to
1786, saw himself as a leader of the Enlightenment and patronized philosophers and scientists
at his court in Berlin. Voltaire, who had been imprisoned and maltreated
by the French government, was eager to accept Frederick’s invitation to live at his palace. Frederick explained: “My principal occupation
is to combat ignorance and prejudice … to enlighten minds, cultivate morality, and to
make people as happy as it suits human nature, and as the means at my disposal permit”.===French Revolution===
The Enlightenment has been frequently linked to the French Revolution of 1789. One view of the political changes that occurred
during the Enlightenment is that the “consent of the governed” philosophy as delineated
by Locke in Two Treatises of Government (1689) represented a paradigm shift from the old
governance paradigm under feudalism known as the “divine right of kings”. In this view, the revolutions of the late
1700s and early 1800s were caused by the fact that this governance paradigm shift often
could not be resolved peacefully and therefore violent revolution was the result. Clearly a governance philosophy where the
king was never wrong was in direct conflict with one whereby citizens by natural law had
to consent to the acts and rulings of their government. Alexis de Tocqueville proposed the French
Revolution as the inevitable result of the radical opposition created in the 18th century
between the monarchy and the men of letters of the Enlightenment. These men of letters constituted a sort of
“substitute aristocracy that was both all-powerful and without real power”. This illusory power came from the rise of
“public opinion”, born when absolutist centralization removed the nobility and the bourgeoisie from
the political sphere. The “literary politics” that resulted promoted
a discourse of equality and was hence in fundamental opposition to the monarchical regime. De Tocqueville “clearly designates … the
cultural effects of transformation in the forms of the exercise of power”.==Religion==
Enlightenment era religious commentary was a response to the preceding century of religious
conflict in Europe, especially the Thirty Years’ War. Theologians of the Enlightenment wanted to
reform their faith to its generally non-confrontational roots and to limit the capacity for religious
controversy to spill over into politics and warfare while still maintaining a true faith
in God. For moderate Christians, this meant a return
to simple Scripture. John Locke abandoned the corpus of theological
commentary in favor of an “unprejudiced examination” of the Word of God alone. He determined the essence of Christianity
to be a belief in Christ the redeemer and recommended avoiding more detailed debate. In the Jefferson Bible, Thomas Jefferson went
further and dropped any passages dealing with miracles, visitations of angels and the resurrection
of Jesus after his death, as he tried to extract the practical Christian moral code of the
New Testament.Enlightenment scholars sought to curtail the political power of organized
religion and thereby prevent another age of intolerant religious war. Spinoza determined to remove politics from
contemporary and historical theology (e.g., disregarding Judaic law). Moses Mendelssohn advised affording no political
weight to any organized religion, but instead recommended that each person follow what they
found most convincing. They believed a good religion based in instinctive
morals and a belief in God should not theoretically need force to maintain order in its believers,
and both Mendelssohn and Spinoza judged religion on its moral fruits, not the logic of its
theology.A number of novel ideas about religion developed with the Enlightenment, including
deism and talk of atheism. According to Thomas Paine, deism is the simple
belief in God the Creator, with no reference to the Bible or any other miraculous source. Instead, the deist relies solely on personal
reason to guide his creed, which was eminently agreeable to many thinkers of the time. Atheism was much discussed, but there were
few proponents. Wilson and Reill note: “In fact, very few
enlightened intellectuals, even when they were vocal critics of Christianity, were true
atheists. Rather, they were critics of orthodox belief,
wedded rather to skepticism, deism, vitalism, or perhaps pantheism”. Some followed Pierre Bayle and argued that
atheists could indeed be moral men. Many others like Voltaire held that without
belief in a God who punishes evil, the moral order of society was undermined. That is, since atheists gave themselves to
no Supreme Authority and no law and had no fear of eternal consequences, they were far
more likely to disrupt society. Bayle (1647–1706) observed that, in his
day, “prudent persons will always maintain an appearance of [religion],” and he believed
that even atheists could hold concepts of honor and go beyond their own self-interest
to create and interact in society. Locke said that if there were no God and no
divine law, the result would be moral anarchy: every individual “could have no law but his
own will, no end but himself. He would be a god to himself, and the satisfaction
of his own will the sole measure and end of all his actions.”===
Separation of church and state===The “Radical Enlightenment” promoted the concept
of separating church and state, an idea that is often credited to English philosopher John
Locke (1632–1704). According to his principle of the social contract,
Locke said that the government lacked authority in the realm of individual conscience, as
this was something rational people could not cede to the government for it or others to
control. For Locke, this created a natural right in
the liberty of conscience, which he said must therefore remain protected from any government
authority. These views on religious tolerance and the
importance of individual conscience, along with the social contract, became particularly
influential in the American colonies and the drafting of the United States Constitution. Thomas Jefferson called for a “wall of separation
between church and state” at the federal level. He previously had supported successful efforts
to disestablish the Church of England in Virginia and authored the Virginia Statute for Religious
Freedom. Jefferson’s political ideals were greatly
influenced by the writings of John Locke, Francis Bacon, and Isaac Newton, whom he considered
the three greatest men that ever lived.==National variations==The Enlightenment took hold in most European
countries, often with a specific local emphasis. For example, in France it became associated
with anti-government and anti-Church radicalism, while in Germany it reached deep into the
middle classes, where it expressed a spiritualistic and nationalistic tone without threatening
governments or established churches. Government responses varied widely. In France, the government was hostile, and
the philosophes fought against its censorship, sometimes being imprisoned or hounded into
exile. The British government, for the most part,
ignored the Enlightenment’s leaders in England and Scotland, although it did give Isaac Newton
a knighthood and a very lucrative government office.===Great Britain=======England====The very existence of an English Enlightenment
has been hotly debated by scholars. The majority of textbooks on British history
make little or no mention of an English Enlightenment. Some surveys of the entire Enlightenment include
England and others ignore it, although they do include coverage of such major intellectuals
as Joseph Addison, Edward Gibbon, John Locke, Isaac Newton, Alexander Pope, Joshua Reynolds
and Jonathan Swift. Roy Porter argues that the reasons for this
neglect were the assumptions that the movement was primarily French-inspired, that it was
largely a-religious or anti-clerical, and that it stood in outspoken defiance to the
established order. Porter admits that, after the 1720s, England
could claim thinkers to equal Diderot, Voltaire or Rousseau. However, its leading intellectuals such as
Edward Gibbon, Edmund Burke and Samuel Johnson were all quite conservative and supportive
of the standing order. Porter says the reason was that Enlightenment
had come early to England and had succeeded so that the culture had accepted political
liberalism, philosophical empiricism, and religious toleration of the sort that intellectuals
on the continent had to fight for against powerful odds. Furthermore, England rejected the collectivism
of the continent and emphasized the improvement of individuals as the main goal of enlightenment.====Scotland====In the Scottish Enlightenment, Scotland’s
major cities created an intellectual infrastructure of mutually supporting institutions such as
universities, reading societies, libraries, periodicals, museums and masonic lodges. The Scottish network was “predominantly liberal
Calvinist, Newtonian, and ‘design’ oriented in character which played a major role in
the further development of the transatlantic Enlightenment”. In France, Voltaire said that “we look to
Scotland for all our ideas of civilization”. The focus of the Scottish Enlightenment ranged
from intellectual and economic matters to the specifically scientific as in the work
of William Cullen, physician and chemist; James Anderson, an agronomist; Joseph Black,
physicist and chemist; and James Hutton, the first modern geologist.====American colonies====Several Americans, especially Benjamin Franklin
and Thomas Jefferson, played a major role in bringing Enlightenment ideas to the New
World and in influencing British and French thinkers. Franklin was influential for his political
activism and for his advances in physics. The cultural exchange during the Age of Enlightenment
ran in both directions across the Atlantic. Thinkers such as Paine, Locke and Rousseau
all take Native American cultural practices as examples of natural freedom. The Americans closely followed English and
Scottish political ideas, as well as some French thinkers such as Montesquieu. As deists, they were influenced by ideas of
John Toland (1670–1722) and Matthew Tindal (1656–1733). During the Enlightenment there was a great
emphasis upon liberty, republicanism and religious tolerance. There was no respect for monarchy or inherited
political power. Deists reconciled science and religion by
rejecting prophecies, miracles and Biblical theology. Leading deists included Thomas Paine in The
Age of Reason and by Thomas Jefferson in his short Jefferson Bible – from which all supernatural
aspects were removed.===German states===
Prussia took the lead among the German states in sponsoring the political reforms that Enlightenment
thinkers urged absolute rulers to adopt. There were important movements as well in
the smaller states of Bavaria, Saxony, Hanover and the Palatinate. In each case, Enlightenment values became
accepted and led to significant political and administrative reforms that laid the groundwork
for the creation of modern states. The princes of Saxony, for example, carried
out an impressive series of fundamental fiscal, administrative, judicial, educational, cultural
and general economic reforms. The reforms were aided by the country’s strong
urban structure and influential commercial groups and modernized pre-1789 Saxony along
the lines of classic Enlightenment principles.. Before 1750, the German upper classes looked
to France for intellectual, cultural and architectural leadership, as French was the language of
high society. By the mid-18th century, the Aufklärung (The
Enlightenment) had transformed German high culture in music, philosophy, science and
literature. Christian Wolff (1679–1754) was the pioneer
as a writer who expounded the Enlightenment to German readers and legitimized German as
a philosophic language.Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744–1803) broke new ground in philosophy
and poetry, as a leader of the Sturm und Drang movement of proto-Romanticism. Weimar Classicism (Weimarer Klassik) was a
cultural and literary movement based in Weimar that sought to establish a new humanism by
synthesizing Romantic, classical and Enlightenment ideas. The movement (from 1772 until 1805) involved
Herder as well as polymath Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) and Friedrich Schiller
(1759–1805), a poet and historian. Herder argued that every folk had its own
particular identity, which was expressed in its language and culture. This legitimized the promotion of German language
and culture and helped shape the development of German nationalism. Schiller’s plays expressed the restless spirit
of his generation, depicting the hero’s struggle against social pressures and the force of
destiny.German music, sponsored by the upper classes, came of age under composers Johann
Sebastian Bach (1685–1750), Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
(1756–1791).In remote Königsberg, philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) tried to reconcile
rationalism and religious belief, individual freedom and political authority. Kant’s work contained basic tensions that
would continue to shape German thought – and indeed all of European philosophy – well
into the 20th century.The German Enlightenment won the support of princes, aristocrats and
the middle classes and it permanently reshaped the culture. However, there was a conservatism among the
elites that warned against going too far.In the 1780s, Lutheran ministers Johann Heinrich
Schulz and Karl Wilhelm Brumbey got in trouble with their preaching as they were attacked
and ridiculed by Immanuel Kant, Wilhelm Abraham Teller and others. In 1788, Prussia issued an “Edict on Religion”
that forbade preaching any sermon that undermined popular belief in the Holy Trinity and the
Bible. The goal was to avoid skepticism, deism and
theological disputes that might impinge on domestic tranquility. Men who doubted the value of Enlightenment
favoured the measure, but so too did many supporters. German universities had created a closed elite
that could debate controversial issues among themselves, but spreading them to the public
was seen as too risky. This intellectual elite was favoured by the
state, but that might be reversed if the process of the Enlightenment proved politically or
socially destabilizing.===Italy===
The Enlightenment played a distinctive, if small, role in the history of Italy. Although most of Italy was controlled by conservative
Habsburgs or the pope, Tuscany had some opportunities for reform. Leopold II of Tuscany abolished the death
penalty in Tuscany and reduced censorship. From Naples, Antonio Genovesi (1713–1769)
influenced a generation of southern Italian intellectuals and university students. His textbook “Diceosina, o Sia della Filosofia
del Giusto e dell’Onesto” (1766) was a controversial attempt to mediate between the history of
moral philosophy on the one hand and the specific problems encountered by 18th-century commercial
society on the other. It contained the greater part of Genovesi’s
political, philosophical and economic thought – guidebook for Neapolitan economic and
social development. Science flourished as Alessandro Volta and
Luigi Galvani made break-through discoveries in electricity. Pietro Verri was a leading economist in Lombardy. Historian Joseph Schumpeter states he was
“the most important pre-Smithian authority on Cheapness-and-Plenty”. The most influential scholar on the Italian
Enlightenment has been Franco Venturi. Italy also produced some of the Enlightenment’s
greatest legal theorists, including Cesare Beccaria, Giambattista Vico and Francesco
Mario Pagano. Beccaria in particular is now considered one
of the fathers of classical criminal theory as well as modern penology. Beccaria is famous for his masterpiece On
Crimes and Punishments (1764), a treatise (later translated into 22 languages) that
served as one of the earliest prominent condemnations of torture and the death penalty and thus
a landmark work in anti-death penalty philosophy.===Russia===
In Russia, the government began to actively encourage the proliferation of arts and sciences
in the mid-18th century. This era produced the first Russian university,
library, theatre, public museum and independent press. Like other enlightened despots, Catherine
the Great played a key role in fostering the arts, sciences and education. She used her own interpretation of Enlightenment
ideals, assisted by notable international experts such as Voltaire (by correspondence)
and in residence world class scientists such as Leonhard Euler and Peter Simon Pallas. The national Enlightenment differed from its
Western European counterpart in that it promoted further modernization of all aspects of Russian
life and was concerned with attacking the institution of serfdom in Russia. The Russian enlightenment centered on the
individual instead of societal enlightenment and encouraged the living of an enlightened
life. A powerful element was prosveshchenie which
combined religious piety, erudition and commitment to the spread of learning. However, it lacked the skeptical and critical
spirit of the European Enlightenment.===Portugal===The enlightenment in Portugal (iluminismo)
was marked by the rule of the Prime Minister Marquis of Pombal under King Joseph I of Portugal
from 1756 to 1777. Following the 1755 Lisbon earthquake which
destroyed great part of Lisbon, the Marquis of Pombal implemented important economic policies
to regulate commercial activity (in particular with Brazil and England), and to standardise
quality throughout the country (for example by introducing the first integrated industries
in Portugal). His reconstruction of Lisbon’s riverside district
in straight and perpendicular streets, methodically organized to facilitate commerce and exchange
(for example by assigning to each street a different product or service), can be seen
as a direct application of the Enlightenment ideas to governance and urbanism. His urbanistic ideas, also being the first
large-scale example of earthquake engineering, became collectively known as Pombaline style,
and were implemented throughout the kingdom during his stay in office. His governance was as enlightened as ruthless,
see for example the Távora affair. In literature, the first Enlightenment ideas
in Portugal can be traced back to the diplomat, philosopher, and writer António Vieira (1608-1697),
who spent a considerable amount of his life in colonial Brazil denouncing discriminations
against New Christians and the Indigenous peoples in Brazil. His works remain today as one of the best
pieces of Portuguese literature. During the 18th century, enlightened literary
movements such as the Arcádia Lusitana (lasting from 1756 until 1776, then replaced by the
Nova Arcádia in 1790 until 1794) surfaced in the academic medium, in particular involving
former students of the University of Coimbra. A distinct member of this group was the poet
Manuel Maria Barbosa du Bocage. The ideas of the enlightenment also influenced
various economists and anti-colonial intellectuals throughout the Portuguese Empire, such as
José de Azeredo Coutinho, José da Silva Lisboa, Cláudio Manoel da Costa, and Tomás
de Antônio Gonzaga.===Poland===Enlightenment ideas (oświecenie) emerged
late in Poland, as the Polish middle class was weaker and szlachta (nobility) culture
(Sarmatism) together with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth political system (Golden Liberty)
were in deep crisis. The political system was built on republicanism,
but was unable to defend itself against powerful neighbors Russia, Prussia and Austria as they
repeatedly sliced off regions until nothing was left of independent Poland. The period of Polish Enlightenment began in
the 1730s–1740s and especially in theatre and the arts peaked in the reign of King Stanisław
August Poniatowski (second half of the 18th century). Warsaw was a main centre after 1750, with
an expansion of schools and educational institutions and the arts patronage held at the Royal Castle. Leaders promoted tolerance and more education. They included King Stanislaw II Poniatowski
and reformers Piotr Switkowski, Antoni Poplawski, Josef Niemcewicz and Jósef Pawlinkowski,
as well as Baudouin de Cortenay, a Polonized dramatist. Opponents included Florian Jaroszewicz, Gracjan
Piotrowski, Karol Wyrwicz and Wojciech Skarszewski.The movement went into decline with the Third
Partition of Poland (1795) – a national tragedy inspiring a short period of sentimental
writing – and ended in 1822, replaced by Romanticism.==Historiography==
The Enlightenment has always been contested territory. According to Keith Thomas, its supporters
“hail it as the source of everything that is progressive about the modern world. For them, it stands for freedom of thought,
rational inquiry, critical thinking, religious tolerance, political liberty, scientific achievement,
the pursuit of happiness, and hope for the future.” Thomas adds that its detractors accuse it
of shallow rationalism, naïve optimism, unrealistic universalism and moral darkness. From the start, conservative and clerical
defenders of traditional religion attacked materialism and skepticism as evil forces
that encouraged immorality. By 1794, they pointed to the Terror during
the French Revolution as confirmation of their predictions. As the Enlightenment was ending, Romantic
philosophers argued that excessive dependence on reason was a mistake perpetuated by the
Enlightenment because it disregarded the bonds of history, myth, faith, and tradition that
were necessary to hold society together.===Definition===
The term “Enlightenment” emerged in English in the later part of the 19th century, with
particular reference to French philosophy, as the equivalent of the French term Lumières
(used first by Dubos in 1733 and already well established by 1751). From Immanuel Kant’s 1784 essay “Beantwortung
der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung?” (“Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment?”),
the German term became Aufklärung (aufklären=to illuminate; sich aufklären=to
clear up). However, scholars have never agreed on a definition
of the Enlightenment, or on its chronological or geographical extent. Terms like les Lumières (French), illuminismo
(Italian), ilustración (Spanish) and Aufklärung (German) referred to partly overlapping movements. Not until the late nineteenth century did
English scholars agree they were talking about “the Enlightenment”. Enlightenment historiography began in the
period itself, from what Enlightenment figures said about their work. A dominant element was the intellectual angle
they took. D’Alembert’s Preliminary Discourse of l’Encyclopédie
provides a history of the Enlightenment which comprises a chronological list of developments
in the realm of knowledge – of which the Encyclopédie forms the pinnacle. In 1783, Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn
referred to Enlightenment as a process by which man was educated in the use of reason. Immanuel Kant called Enlightenment “man’s
release from his self-incurred tutelage”, tutelage being “man’s inability to make use
of his understanding without direction from another”. “For Kant, Enlightenment was mankind’s final
coming of age, the emancipation of the human consciousness from an immature state of ignorance”. The German scholar Ernst Cassirer called the
Enlightenment “a part and a special phase of that whole intellectual development through
which modern philosophic thought gained its characteristic self-confidence and self-consciousness”. According to historian Roy Porter, the liberation
of the human mind from a dogmatic state of ignorance, is the epitome of what the Age
of Enlightenment was trying to capture.Bertrand Russell saw the Enlightenment as a phase in
a progressive development which began in antiquity and that reason and challenges to the established
order were constant ideals throughout that time. Russell said that the Enlightenment was ultimately
born out of the Protestant reaction against the Catholic counter-reformation and that
philosophical views such as affinity for democracy against monarchy originated among 16th-century
Protestants to justify their desire to break away from the Catholic Church. Although many of these philosophical ideals
were picked up by Catholics, Russell argues that by the 18th century the Enlightenment
was the principal manifestation of the schism that began with Martin Luther.Jonathan Israel
rejects the attempts of postmodern and Marxian historians to understand the revolutionary
ideas of the period purely as by-products of social and economic transformations. He instead focuses on the history of ideas
in the period from 1650 to the end of the 18th century and claims that it was the ideas
themselves that caused the change that eventually led to the revolutions of the latter half
of the 18th century and the early 19th century. Israel argues that until the 1650s Western
civilization “was based on a largely shared core of faith, tradition and authority”.===Time span===
There is little consensus on the precise beginning of the Age of Enlightenment, though several
historians and philosophers argue that it was marked by Descartes’ 1637 philosophy of
Cogito, ergo sum (“I think, therefore I Am”), which shifted the epistemological basis from
external authority to internal certainty. In France, many cited the publication of Isaac
Newton’s Principia Mathematica (1687). The middle of the 17th century (1650) or the
beginning of the 18th century (1701) are often used as epochs. French historians usually place the Siècle
des Lumières (“Century of Enlightenments”) between 1715 and 1789: from the beginning
of the reign of Louis XV until the French Revolution. Most scholars use the last years of the century,
often choosing the French Revolution of 1789 or the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars (1804–1815)
as a convenient point in time with which to date the end of the Enlightenment.===Modern study===
In the 1944 book Dialectic of Enlightenment, Frankfurt School philosophers Max Horkheimer
and Theodor W. Adorno argued: Enlightenment, understood in the widest sense as the advance
of thought, has always aimed at liberating human beings from fear and installing them
as masters. Yet the wholly enlightened earth radiates
under the sign of disaster triumphant. Extending Horkheimer and Adorno’s argument,
intellectual historian Jason Josephson-Storm has argued that any idea of the Age of Enlightenment
as a clearly defined period that is separate from the earlier Renaissance and later Romanticism
or Counter-Enlightenment constitutes a myth. Josephson-Storm points out that there are
vastly different and mutually contradictory periodizations of the Enlightenment depending
on nation, field of study, and school of thought; that the term and category of “Enlightenment”
referring to the scientific revolution was actually applied after the fact; that the
Enlightenment did not see an increase in disenchantment or the dominance of the mechanistic worldview;
and that a blur in the early modern ideas of the Humanities and natural sciences makes
it hard to circumscribe a Scientific Revolution. Josephson-Storm defends his categorization
of the Enlightenment as “myth” by noting the regulative role ideas of a period of Enlightenment
and disenchantment play in modern Western culture, such that belief in magic, spiritualism,
and even religion appears somewhat taboo in intellectual strata.In the 1970s, study of
the Enlightenment expanded to include the ways Enlightenment ideas spread to European
colonies and how they interacted with indigenous cultures and how the Enlightenment took place
in formerly unstudied areas such as Italy, Greece, the Balkans, Poland, Hungary and Russia.Intellectuals
such as Robert Darnton and Jürgen Habermas have focused on the social conditions of the
Enlightenment. Habermas described the creation of the “bourgeois
public sphere” in 18th-century Europe, containing the new venues and modes of communication
allowing for rational exchange. Habermas said that the public sphere was bourgeois,
egalitarian, rational and independent from the state, making it the ideal venue for intellectuals
to critically examine contemporary politics and society, away from the interference of
established authority. While the public sphere is generally an integral
component of the social study of the Enlightenment, other historians have questioned whether the
public sphere had these characteristics.==Society and culture==In contrast to the intellectual historiographical
approach of the Enlightenment, which examines the various currents or discourses of intellectual
thought within the European context during the 17th and 18th centuries, the cultural
(or social) approach examines the changes that occurred in European society and culture. This approach studies the process of changing
sociabilities and cultural practices during the Enlightenment. One of the primary elements of the culture
of the Enlightenment was the rise of the public sphere, a “realm of communication marked by
new arenas of debate, more open and accessible forms of urban public space and sociability,
and an explosion of print culture”, in the late 17th century and 18th century. Elements of the public sphere included that
it was egalitarian, that it discussed the domain of “common concern,” and that argument
was founded on reason. Habermas uses the term “common concern” to
describe those areas of political/social knowledge and discussion that were previously the exclusive
territory of the state and religious authorities, now open to critical examination by the public
sphere. The values of this bourgeois public sphere
included holding reason to be supreme, considering everything to be open to criticism (the public
sphere is critical), and the opposition of secrecy of all sorts. The creation of the public sphere has been
associated with two long-term historical trends: the rise of the modern nation state and the
rise of capitalism. The modern nation state, in its consolidation
of public power, created by counterpoint a private realm of society independent of the
state, which allowed for the public sphere. Capitalism also increased society’s autonomy
and self-awareness, as well as an increasing need for the exchange of information. As the nascent public sphere expanded, it
embraced a large variety of institutions and the most commonly cited were coffee houses
and cafés, salons and the literary public sphere, figuratively localized in the Republic
of Letters. In France, the creation of the public sphere
was helped by the aristocracy’s move from the King’s palace at Versailles to Paris in
about 1720, since their rich spending stimulated the trade in luxuries and artistic creations,
especially fine paintings.The context for the rise of the public sphere was the economic
and social change commonly associated with the Industrial Revolution: “Economic expansion,
increasing urbanization, rising population and improving communications in comparison
to the stagnation of the previous century”. Rising efficiency in production techniques
and communication lowered the prices of consumer goods and increased the amount and variety
of goods available to consumers (including the literature essential to the public sphere). Meanwhile, the colonial experience (most European
states had colonial empires in the 18th century) began to expose European society to extremely
heterogeneous cultures, leading to the breaking down of “barriers between cultural systems,
religious divides, gender differences and geographical areas”.The word “public” implies
the highest level of inclusivity – the public sphere by definition should be open to all. However, this sphere was only public to relative
degrees. Enlightenment thinkers frequently contrasted
their conception of the “public” with that of the people: Condorcet contrasted “opinion”
with populace, Marmontel “the opinion of men of letters” with “the opinion of the multitude”
and d’Alembert the “truly enlightened public” with “the blind and noisy multitude”. Additionally, most institutions of the public
sphere excluded both women and the lower classes. Cross-class influences occurred through noble
and lower class participation in areas such as the coffeehouses and the Masonic lodges.===Social and cultural implications in the
arts===Because of the focus on reason over superstition,
the Enlightenment cultivated the arts. Emphasis on learning, art and music became
more widespread, especially with the growing middle class. Areas of study such as literature, philosophy,
science, and the fine arts increasingly explored subject matter to which the general public,
in addition to the previously more segregated professionals and patrons, could relate. As musicians depended more and more on public
support, public concerts became increasingly popular and helped supplement performers’
and composers’ incomes. The concerts also helped them to reach a wider
audience. Handel, for example, epitomized this with
his highly public musical activities in London. He gained considerable fame there with performances
of his operas and oratorios. The music of Haydn and Mozart, with their
Viennese Classical styles, are usually regarded as being the most in line with the Enlightenment
ideals.The desire to explore, record and systematize knowledge had a meaningful impact on music
publications. Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Dictionnaire de musique
(published 1767 in Geneva and 1768 in Paris) was a leading text in the late 18th century. This widely available dictionary gave short
definitions of words like genius and taste and was clearly influenced by the Enlightenment
movement. Another text influenced by Enlightenment values
was Charles Burney’s A General History of Music: From the Earliest Ages to the Present
Period (1776), which was a historical survey and an attempt to rationalize elements in
music systematically over time. Recently, musicologists have shown renewed
interest in the ideas and consequences of the Enlightenment. For example, Rose Rosengard Subotnik’s Deconstructive
Variations (subtitled Music and Reason in Western Society) compares Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte
(1791) using the Enlightenment and Romantic perspectives and concludes that the work is
“an ideal musical representation of the Enlightenment”.As the economy and the middle class expanded,
there was an increasing number of amateur musicians. One manifestation of this involved women,
who became more involved with music on a social level. Women were already engaged in professional
roles as singers and increased their presence in the amateur performers’ scene, especially
with keyboard music. Music publishers begin to print music that
amateurs could understand and play. The majority of the works that were published
were for keyboard, voice and keyboard and chamber ensemble. After these initial genres were popularized,
from the mid-century on, amateur groups sang choral music, which then became a new trend
for publishers to capitalize on. The increasing study of the fine arts, as
well as access to amateur-friendly published works, led to more people becoming interested
in reading and discussing music. Music magazines, reviews and critical works
which suited amateurs as well as connoisseurs began to surface.==Dissemination of ideas==
The philosophes spent a great deal of energy disseminating their ideas among educated men
and women in cosmopolitan cities. They used many venues, some of them quite
new.===The Republic of Letters===The term “Republic of Letters” was coined
in 1664 by Pierre Bayle in his journal Nouvelles de la Republique des Lettres. Towards the end of the 18th century, the editor
of Histoire de la République des Lettres en France, a literary survey, described the
Republic of Letters as being: In the midst of all the governments that decide the fate
of men; in the bosom of so many states, the majority of them despotic … there exists
a certain realm which holds sway only over the mind … that we honour with the name
Republic, because it preserves a measure of independence, and because it is almost its
essence to be free. It is the realm of talent and of thought. The Republic of Letters was the sum of a number
of Enlightenment ideals: an egalitarian realm governed by knowledge that could act across
political boundaries and rival state power. It was a forum that supported “free public
examination of questions regarding religion or legislation”. Immanuel Kant considered written communication
essential to his conception of the public sphere; once everyone was a part of the “reading
public”, then society could be said to be enlightened. The people who participated in the Republic
of Letters, such as Diderot and Voltaire, are frequently known today as important Enlightenment
figures. Indeed, the men who wrote Diderot’s Encyclopédie
arguably formed a microcosm of the larger “republic”. Many women played an essential part in the
French Enlightenment, due to the role they played as salonnières in Parisian salons,
as the contrast to the male philosophes. The salon was the principal social institution
of the republic and “became the civil working spaces of the project of Enlightenment”. Women, as salonnières, were “the legitimate
governors of [the] potentially unruly discourse” that took place within. While women were marginalized in the public
culture of the Old Regime, the French Revolution destroyed the old cultural and economic restraints
of patronage and corporatism (guilds), opening French society to female participation, particularly
in the literary sphere.In France, the established men of letters (gens de lettres) had fused
with the elites (les grands) of French society by the mid-18th century. This led to the creation of an oppositional
literary sphere, Grub Street, the domain of a “multitude of versifiers and would-be authors”. These men came to London to become authors,
only to discover that the literary market simply could not support large numbers of
writers, who in any case were very poorly remunerated by the publishing-bookselling
guilds.The writers of Grub Street, the Grub Street Hacks, were left feeling bitter about
the relative success of the men of letters and found an outlet for their literature which
was typified by the libelle. Written mostly in the form of pamphlets, the
libelles “slandered the court, the Church, the aristocracy, the academies, the salons,
everything elevated and respectable, including the monarchy itself”. Le Gazetier cuirassé by Charles Théveneau
de Morande was a prototype of the genre. It was Grub Street literature that was most
read by the public during the Enlightenment. According to Darnton, more importantly the
Grub Street hacks inherited the “revolutionary spirit” once displayed by the philosophes
and paved the way for the French Revolution by desacralizing figures of political, moral
and religious authority in France.===The book industry===The increased consumption of reading materials
of all sorts was one of the key features of the “social” Enlightenment. Developments in the Industrial Revolution
allowed consumer goods to be produced in greater quantities at lower prices, encouraging the
spread of books, pamphlets, newspapers and journals – “media of the transmission of
ideas and attitudes”. Commercial development likewise increased
the demand for information, along with rising populations and increased urbanisation. However, demand for reading material extended
outside of the realm of the commercial and outside the realm of the upper and middle
classes, as evidenced by the Bibliothèque Bleue. Literacy rates are difficult to gauge, but
in France the rates doubled over the course of the 18th century. Reflecting the decreasing influence of religion,
the number of books about science and art published in Paris doubled from 1720 to 1780,
while the number of books about religion dropped to just one-tenth of the total.Reading underwent
serious changes in the 18th century. In particular, Rolf Engelsing has argued for
the existence of a Reading Revolution. Until 1750, reading was done intensively:
people tended to own a small number of books and read them repeatedly, often to small audience. After 1750, people began to read “extensively”,
finding as many books as they could, increasingly reading them alone. This is supported by increasing literacy rates,
particularly among women.The vast majority of the reading public could not afford to
own a private library and while most of the state-run “universal libraries” set up in
the 17th and 18th centuries were open to the public, they were not the only sources of
reading material. On one end of the spectrum was the Bibliothèque
Bleue, a collection of cheaply produced books published in Troyes, France. Intended for a largely rural and semi-literate
audience these books included almanacs, retellings of medieval romances and condensed versions
of popular novels, among other things. While some historians have argued against
the Enlightenment’s penetration into the lower classes, the Bibliothèque Bleue represents
at least a desire to participate in Enlightenment sociability. Moving up the classes, a variety of institutions
offered readers access to material without needing to buy anything. Libraries that lent out their material for
a small price started to appear and occasionally bookstores would offer a small lending library
to their patrons. Coffee houses commonly offered books, journals
and sometimes even popular novels to their customers. The Tatler and The Spectator, two influential
periodicals sold from 1709 to 1714, were closely associated with coffee house culture in London,
being both read and produced in various establishments in the city. This is an example of the triple or even quadruple
function of the coffee house: reading material was often obtained, read, discussed and even
produced on the premises. It is extremely difficult to determine what
people actually read during the Enlightenment. For example, examining the catalogs of private
libraries gives an image skewed in favor of the classes wealthy enough to afford libraries
and also ignores censored works unlikely to be publicly acknowledged. For this reason, a study of publishing would
be much more fruitful for discerning reading habits.Across continental Europe, but in France
especially, booksellers and publishers had to negotiate censorship laws of varying strictness. For example, the Encyclopédie narrowly escaped
seizure and had to be saved by Malesherbes, the man in charge of the French censor. Indeed, many publishing companies were conveniently
located outside France so as to avoid overzealous French censors. They would smuggle their merchandise across
the border, where it would then be transported to clandestine booksellers or small-time peddlers. The records of clandestine booksellers may
give a better representation of what literate Frenchmen might have truly read, since their
clandestine nature provided a less restrictive product choice. In one case, political books were the most
popular category, primarily libels and pamphlets. Readers were more interested in sensationalist
stories about criminals and political corruption than they were in political theory itself. The second most popular category, “general
works” (those books “that did not have a dominant motif and that contained something to offend
almost everyone in authority”), demonstrated a high demand for generally low-brow subversive
literature. However, these works never became part of
literary canon and are largely forgotten today as a result.A healthy, legal publishing industry
existed throughout Europe, although established publishers and book sellers occasionally ran
afoul of the law. For example, the Encyclopédie condemned not
only by the King, but also by Clement XII, nevertheless found its way into print with
the help of the aforementioned Malesherbes and creative use of French censorship law. However, many works were sold without running
into any legal trouble at all. Borrowing records from libraries in England,
Germany, and North America indicate that more than 70 percent of books borrowed were novels. Less than 1 percent of the books were of a
religious nature, indicating the general trend of declining religiosity.===Natural history===A genre that greatly rose in importance was
that of scientific literature. Natural history in particular became increasingly
popular among the upper classes. Works of natural history include René-Antoine
Ferchault de Réaumur’s Histoire naturelle des insectes and Jacques Gautier d’Agoty’s
La Myologie complète, ou description de tous les muscles du corps humain (1746). Outside ancien régime France, natural history
was an important part of medicine and industry, encompassing the fields of botany, zoology,
meteorology, hydrology and mineralogy. Students in Enlightenment universities and
academies were taught these subjects to prepare them for careers as diverse as medicine and
theology. As shown by Matthew Daniel Eddy, natural history
in this context was a very middle class pursuit and operated as a fertile trading zone for
the interdisciplinary exchange of diverse scientific ideas.The target audience of natural
history was French polite society, evidenced more by the specific discourse of the genre
than by the generally high prices of its works. Naturalists catered to polite society’s desire
for erudition – many texts had an explicit instructive purpose. However, natural history was often a political
affair. As Emma Spary writes, the classifications
used by naturalists “slipped between the natural world and the social … to establish not
only the expertise of the naturalists over the natural, but also the dominance of the
natural over the social”. The idea of taste (le goût) was a social
indicator: to truly be able to categorize nature, one had to have the proper taste,
an ability of discretion shared by all members of polite society. In this way natural history spread many of
the scientific developments of the time, but also provided a new source of legitimacy for
the dominant class. From this basis, naturalists could then develop
their own social ideals based on their scientific works.===Scientific and literary journals===The first scientific and literary journals
were established during the Enlightenment. The first journal, the Parisian Journal des
Sçavans, appeared in 1665. However, it was not until 1682 that periodicals
began to be more widely produced. French and Latin were the dominant languages
of publication, but there was also a steady demand for material in German and Dutch. There was generally low demand for English
publications on the Continent, which was echoed by England’s similar lack of desire for French
works. Languages commanding less of an international
market—such as Danish, Spanish and Portuguese—found journal success more difficult and more often
than not a more international language was used instead. French slowly took over Latin’s status as
the lingua franca of learned circles. This in turn gave precedence to the publishing
industry in Holland, where the vast majority of these French language periodicals were
produced.Jonathan Israel called the journals the most influential cultural innovation of
European intellectual culture. They shifted the attention of the “cultivated
public” away from established authorities to novelty and innovation and instead promoted
the “enlightened” ideals of toleration and intellectual objectivity. Being a source of knowledge derived from science
and reason, they were an implicit critique of existing notions of universal truth monopolized
by monarchies, parliaments and religious authorities. They also advanced Christian enlightenment
that upheld “the legitimacy of God-ordained authority”—the Bible—in which there had
to be agreement between the biblical and natural theories.===Encyclopedias and dictionaries===Although the existence of dictionaries and
encyclopedias spanned into ancient times, the texts changed from simply defining words
in a long running list to far more detailed discussions of those words in 18th-century
encyclopedic dictionaries. The works were part of an Enlightenment movement
to systematize knowledge and provide education to a wider audience than the elite. As the 18th century progressed, the content
of encyclopedias also changed according to readers’ tastes. Volumes tended to focus more strongly on secular
affairs, particularly science and technology, rather than matters of theology. Along with secular matters, readers also favoured
an alphabetical ordering scheme over cumbersome works arranged along thematic lines. Commenting on alphabetization, the historian
Charles Porset has said that “as the zero degree of taxonomy, alphabetical order authorizes
all reading strategies; in this respect it could be considered an emblem of the Enlightenment”. For Porset, the avoidance of thematic and
hierarchical systems thus allows free interpretation of the works and becomes an example of egalitarianism. Encyclopedias and dictionaries also became
more popular during the Age of Enlightenment as the number of educated consumers who could
afford such texts began to multiply. In the later half of the 18th century, the
number of dictionaries and encyclopedias published by decade increased from 63 between 1760 and
1769 to approximately 148 in the decade proceeding the French Revolution (1780–1789). Along with growth in numbers, dictionaries
and encyclopedias also grew in length, often having multiple print runs that sometimes
included in supplemented editions. The first technical dictionary was drafted
by John Harris and entitled Lexicon Technicum: Or, An Universal English Dictionary of Arts
and Sciences. Harris’ book avoided theological and biographical
entries and instead it concentrated on science and technology. Published in 1704, the Lexicon technicum was
the first book to be written in English that took a methodical approach to describing mathematics
and commercial arithmetic along with the physical sciences and navigation. Other technical dictionaries followed Harris’
model, including Ephraim Chambers’ Cyclopaedia (1728), which included five editions and was
a substantially larger work than Harris’. The folio edition of the work even included
foldout engravings. The Cyclopaedia emphasized Newtonian theories,
Lockean philosophy and contained thorough examinations of technologies, such as engraving,
brewing and dyeing. In Germany, practical reference works intended
for the uneducated majority became popular in the 18th century. The Marperger Curieuses Natur-, Kunst-, Berg-,
Gewerkund Handlungs-Lexicon (1712) explained terms that usefully described the trades and
scientific and commercial education. Jablonksi Allgemeines Lexicon (1721) was better
known than the Handlungs-Lexicon and underscored technical subjects rather than scientific
theory. For example, over five columns of text were
dedicated to wine while geometry and logic were allocated only twenty-two and seventeen
lines, respectively. The first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica
(1771) was modelled along the same lines as the German lexicons.However, the prime example
of reference works that systematized scientific knowledge in the age of Enlightenment were
universal encyclopedias rather than technical dictionaries. It was the goal of universal encyclopedias
to record all human knowledge in a comprehensive reference work. The most well-known of these works is Denis
Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert’s Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des
arts et des métiers. The work, which began publication in 1751,
was composed of thirty-five volumes and over 71 000 separate entries. A great number of the entries were dedicated
to describing the sciences and crafts in detail and provided intellectuals across Europe with
a high-quality survey of human knowledge. In d’Alembert’s Preliminary Discourse to the
Encyclopedia of Diderot, the work’s goal to record the extent of human knowledge in the
arts and sciences is outlined: As an Encyclopédie, it is to set forth as
well as possible the order and connection of the parts of human knowledge. As a Reasoned Dictionary of the Sciences,
Arts, and Trades, it is to contain the general principles that form the basis of each science
and each art, liberal or mechanical, and the most essential facts that make up the body
and substance of each. The massive work was arranged according to
a “tree of knowledge”. The tree reflected the marked division between
the arts and sciences, which was largely a result of the rise of empiricism. Both areas of knowledge were united by philosophy,
or the trunk of the tree of knowledge. The Enlightenment’s desacrilization of religion
was pronounced in the tree’s design, particularly where theology accounted for a peripheral
branch, with black magic as a close neighbour. As the Encyclopédie gained popularity, it
was published in quarto and octavo editions after 1777. The quarto and octavo editions were much less
expensive than previous editions, making the Encyclopédie more accessible to the non-elite. Robert Darnton estimates that there were approximately
25 000 copies of the Encyclopédie in circulation throughout France and Europe before the French
Revolution. The extensive, yet affordable encyclopedia
came to represent the transmission of Enlightenment and scientific education to an expanding audience.===Popularization of science===
One of the most important developments that the Enlightenment era brought to the discipline
of science was its popularization. An increasingly literate population seeking
knowledge and education in both the arts and the sciences drove the expansion of print
culture and the dissemination of scientific learning. The new literate population was due to a high
rise in the availability of food. This enabled many people to rise out of poverty,
and instead of paying more for food, they had money for education. Popularization was generally part of an overarching
Enlightenment ideal that endeavoured “to make information available to the greatest number
of people”. As public interest in natural philosophy grew
during the 18th century, public lecture courses and the publication of popular texts opened
up new roads to money and fame for amateurs and scientists who remained on the periphery
of universities and academies. More formal works included explanations of
scientific theories for individuals lacking the educational background to comprehend the
original scientific text. Sir Isaac Newton’s celebrated Philosophiae
Naturalis Principia Mathematica was published in Latin and remained inaccessible to readers
without education in the classics until Enlightenment writers began to translate and analyze the
text in the vernacular. The first significant work that expressed
scientific theory and knowledge expressly for the laity, in the vernacular and with
the entertainment of readers in mind, was Bernard de Fontenelle’s Conversations on the
Plurality of Worlds (1686). The book was produced specifically for women
with an interest in scientific writing and inspired a variety of similar works. These popular works were written in a discursive
style, which was laid out much more clearly for the reader than the complicated articles,
treatises and books published by the academies and scientists. Charles Leadbetter’s Astronomy (1727) was
advertised as “a Work entirely New” that would include “short and easie [sic] Rules and Astronomical
Tables”. The first French introduction to Newtonianism
and the Principia was Eléments de la philosophie de Newton, published by Voltaire in 1738. Émilie du Châtelet’s translation of the
Principia, published after her death in 1756, also helped to spread Newton’s theories beyond
scientific academies and the university. Writing for a growing female audience, Francesco
Algarotti published Il Newtonianism per le dame, which was a tremendously popular work
and was translated from Italian into English by Elizabeth Carter. A similar introduction to Newtonianism for
women was produced by Henry Pemberton. His A View of Sir Isaac Newton’s Philosophy
was published by subscription. Extant records of subscribers show that women
from a wide range of social standings purchased the book, indicating the growing number of
scientifically inclined female readers among the middling class. During the Enlightenment, women also began
producing popular scientific works themselves. Sarah Trimmer wrote a successful natural history
textbook for children titled The Easy Introduction to the Knowledge of Nature (1782), which was
published for many years after in eleven editions.===Schools and universities===Most work on the Enlightenment emphasizes
the ideals discussed by intellectuals, rather than the actual state of education at the
time. Leading educational theorists like England’s
John Locke and Switzerland’s Jean Jacques Rousseau both emphasized the importance of
shaping young minds early. By the late Enlightenment, there was a rising
demand for a more universal approach to education, particularly after the American and French
Revolutions. The predominant educational psychology from
the 1750s onward, especially in northern European countries was associationism, the notion that
the mind associates or dissociates ideas through repeated routines. In addition to being conducive to Enlightenment
ideologies of liberty, self-determination and personal responsibility, it offered a
practical theory of the mind that allowed teachers to transform longstanding forms of
print and manuscript culture into effective graphic tools of learning for the lower and
middle orders of society. Children were taught to memorize facts through
oral and graphic methods that originated during the Renaissance.Many of the leading universities
associated with Enlightenment progressive principles were located in northern Europe,
with the most renowned being the universities of Leiden, Göttingen, Halle, Montpellier,
Uppsala and Edinburgh. These universities, especially Edinburgh,
produced professors whose ideas had a significant impact on Britain’s North American colonies
and later the American Republic. Within the natural sciences, Edinburgh’s medical
school also led the way in chemistry, anatomy and pharmacology. In other parts of Europe, the universities
and schools of France and most of Europe were bastions of traditionalism and were not hospitable
to the Enlightenment. In France, the major exception was the medical
university at Montpellier.===Learned academies===The history of Academies in France during
the Enlightenment begins with the Academy of Science, founded in 1635 in Paris. It was closely tied to the French state, acting
as an extension of a government seriously lacking in scientists. It helped promote and organize new disciplines
and it trained new scientists. It also contributed to the enhancement of
scientists’ social status, considering them to be the “most useful of all citizens”. Academies demonstrate the rising interest
in science along with its increasing secularization, as evidenced by the small number of clerics
who were members (13 percent). The presence of the French academies in the
public sphere cannot be attributed to their membership, as although the majority of their
members were bourgeois, the exclusive institution was only open to elite Parisian scholars. They perceived themselves as “interpreters
of the sciences for the people”. For example, it was with this in mind that
academicians took it upon themselves to disprove the popular pseudo-science of mesmerism.The
strongest contribution of the French Academies to the public sphere comes from the concours
académiques (roughly translated as “academic contests”) they sponsored throughout France. These academic contests were perhaps the most
public of any institution during the Enlightenment. The practice of contests dated back to the
Middle Ages and was revived in the mid-17th century. The subject matter had previously been generally
religious and/or monarchical, featuring essays, poetry and painting. However, by roughly 1725 this subject matter
had radically expanded and diversified, including “royal propaganda, philosophical battles,
and critical ruminations on the social and political institutions of the Old Regime”. Topics of public controversy were also discussed
such as the theories of Newton and Descartes, the slave trade, women’s education and justice
in France. More importantly, the contests were open to
all and the enforced anonymity of each submission guaranteed that neither gender nor social
rank would determine the judging. Indeed, although the “vast majority” of participants
belonged to the wealthier strata of society (“the liberal arts, the clergy, the judiciary
and the medical profession”), there were some cases of the popular classes submitting essays
and even winning. Similarly, a significant number of women participated—and
won—the competitions. Of a total of 2,300 prize competitions offered
in France, women won 49—perhaps a small number by modern standards, but very significant
in an age in which most women did not have any academic training. Indeed, the majority of the winning entries
were for poetry competitions, a genre commonly stressed in women’s education.In England,
the Royal Society of London also played a significant role in the public sphere and
the spread of Enlightenment ideas. It was founded by a group of independent scientists
and given a royal charter in 1662. The Society played a large role in spreading
Robert Boyle’s experimental philosophy around Europe and acted as a clearinghouse for intellectual
correspondence and exchange. Boyle was “a founder of the experimental world
in which scientists now live and operate” and his method based knowledge on experimentation,
which had to be witnessed to provide proper empirical legitimacy. This is where the Royal Society came into
play: witnessing had to be a “collective act” and the Royal Society’s assembly rooms were
ideal locations for relatively public demonstrations. However, not just any witness was considered
to be credible: “Oxford professors were accounted more reliable witnesses than Oxfordshire peasants”. Two factors were taken into account: a witness’s
knowledge in the area and a witness’s “moral constitution”. In other words, only civil society were considered
for Boyle’s public.===Salons===It was the place in which philosophes got
reunited and talked about old, actual or new ideas. Salons were the place where intellectual and
enlightened ideas were built.===Coffeehouses===Coffeehouses were especially important to
the spread of knowledge during the Enlightenment because they created a unique environment
in which people from many different walks of life gathered and shared ideas. They were frequently criticized by nobles
who feared the possibility of an environment in which class and its accompanying titles
and privileges were disregarded. Such an environment was especially intimidating
to monarchs who derived much of their power from the disparity between classes of people. If classes were to join together under the
influence of Enlightenment thinking, they might recognize the all-encompassing oppression
and abuses of their monarchs and because of their size might be able to carry out successful
revolts. Monarchs also resented the idea of their subjects
convening as one to discuss political matters, especially those concerning foreign affairs—rulers
thought political affairs to be their business only, a result of their supposed divine right
to rule.Coffeehouses represent a turning point in history during which people discovered
that they could have enjoyable social lives within their communities. Coffeeshops became homes away from home for
many who sought, for the first time, to engage in discourse with their neighbors and discuss
intriguing and thought-provoking matters, especially those regarding philosophy to politics. Coffeehouses were essential to the Enlightenment,
for they were centers of free-thinking and self-discovery. Although many coffeehouse patrons were scholars,
a great deal were not. Coffeehouses attracted a diverse set of people,
including not only the educated wealthy but also members of the bourgeoisie and the lower
class. While it may seem positive that patrons, being
doctors, lawyers, merchants, etc. represented almost all classes, the coffeeshop environment
sparked fear in those who sought to preserve class distinction. One of the most popular critiques of the coffeehouse
claimed that it “allowed promiscuous association among people from different rungs of the social
ladder, from the artisan to the aristocrat” and was therefore compared to Noah’s Ark,
receiving all types of animals, clean or unclean. This unique culture served as a catalyst for
journalism when Joseph Addison and Richard Steele recognized its potential as an audience. Together, Steele and Addison published The
Spectator (1711), a daily publication which aimed, through fictional narrator Mr. Spectator,
both to entertain and to provoke discussion regarding serious philosophical matters. The first English coffeehouse opened in Oxford
in 1650. Brian Cowan said that Oxford coffeehouses
developed into “penny universities”, offering a locus of learning that was less formal than
structured institutions. These penny universities occupied a significant
position in Oxford academic life, as they were frequented by those consequently referred
to as the virtuosi, who conducted their research on some of the resulting premises. According to Cowan, “the coffeehouse was a
place for like-minded scholars to congregate, to read, as well as learn from and to debate
with each other, but was emphatically not a university institution, and the discourse
there was of a far different order than any university tutorial”.The Café Procope was
established in Paris in 1686 and by the 1720s there were around 400 cafés in the city. The Café Procope in particular became a center
of Enlightenment, welcoming such celebrities as Voltaire and Rousseau. The Café Procope was where Diderot and D’Alembert
decided to create the Encyclopédie. The cafés were one of the various “nerve
centers” for bruits publics, public noise or rumour. These bruits were allegedly a much better
source of information than were the actual newspapers available at the time.===Debating societies===The debating societies are an example of the
public sphere during the Enlightenment. Their origins include: Clubs of fifty or more men who, at the beginning
of the 18th century, met in pubs to discuss religious issues and affairs of state. Mooting clubs, set up by law students to practice
rhetoric. Spouting clubs, established to help actors
train for theatrical roles. John Henley’s Oratory, which mixed outrageous
sermons with even more absurd questions, like “Whether Scotland be anywhere in the world?”. In the late 1770s, popular debating societies
began to move into more “genteel” rooms, a change which helped establish a new standard
of sociability. The backdrop to these developments was “an
explosion of interest in the theory and practice of public elocution”. The debating societies were commercial enterprises
that responded to this demand, sometimes very successfully. Some societies welcomed from 800 to 1,200
spectators a night.The debating societies discussed an extremely wide range of topics. Before the Enlightenment, most intellectual
debates revolved around “confessional” – that is, Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed (Calvinist)
or Anglican issues and the main aim of these debates was to establish which bloc of faith
ought to have the “monopoly of truth and a God-given title to authority”. After this date, everything thus previously
rooted in tradition was questioned and often replaced by new concepts in the light of philosophical
reason. After the second half of the 17th century
and during the 18th century, a “general process of rationalization and secularization set
in” and confessional disputes were reduced to a secondary status in favor of the “escalating
contest between faith and incredulity”.In addition to debates on religion, societies
discussed issues such as politics and the role of women. However, it is important to note that the
critical subject matter of these debates did not necessarily translate into opposition
to the government. In other words, the results of the debate
quite frequently upheld the status quo. From a historical standpoint, one of the most
important features of the debating society was their openness to the public, as women
attended and even participated in almost every debating society, which were likewise open
to all classes providing they could pay the entrance fee. Once inside, spectators were able to participate
in a largely egalitarian form of sociability that helped spread Enlightenment ideas.===Masonic lodges===Historians have long debated the extent to
which the secret network of Freemasonry was a main factor in the Enlightenment. The leaders of the Enlightenment included
Freemasons such as Diderot, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Lessing, Pope, Horace Walpole, Sir Robert
Walpole, Mozart, Goethe, Frederick the Great, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. Norman Davies said that Freemasonry was a
powerful force on behalf of liberalism in Europe from about 1700 to the twentieth century. It expanded rapidly during the Age of Enlightenment,
reaching practically every country in Europe. It was especially attractive to powerful aristocrats
and politicians as well as intellectuals, artists and political activists.During the
Age of Enlightenment, Freemasons comprised an international network of like-minded men,
often meeting in secret in ritualistic programs at their lodges. They promoted the ideals of the Enlightenment
and helped diffuse these values across Britain and France and other places. Freemasonry as a systematic creed with its
own myths, values and set of rituals originated in Scotland around 1600 and spread first to
England and then across the Continent in the eighteenth century. They fostered new codes of conduct—including
a communal understanding of liberty and equality inherited from guild sociability—”liberty,
fraternity and equality”. Scottish soldiers and Jacobite Scots brought
to the Continent ideals of fraternity which reflected not the local system of Scottish
customs but the institutions and ideals originating in the English Revolution against royal absolutism. Freemasonry was particularly prevalent in
France—by 1789, there were perhaps as many as 100,000 French Masons, making Freemasonry
the most popular of all Enlightenment associations. The Freemasons displayed a passion for secrecy
and created new degrees and ceremonies. Similar societies, partially imitating Freemasonry,
emerged in France, Germany, Sweden and Russia. One example was the Illuminati founded in
Bavaria in 1776, which was copied after the Freemasons, but was never part of the movement. The Illuminati was an overtly political group,
which most Masonic lodges decidedly were not.Masonic lodges created a private model for public
affairs. They “reconstituted the polity and established
a constitutional form of self-government, complete with constitutions and laws, elections
and representatives”. In other words, the micro-society set up within
the lodges constituted a normative model for society as a whole. This was especially true on the continent:
when the first lodges began to appear in the 1730s, their embodiment of British values
was often seen as threatening by state authorities. For example, the Parisian lodge that met in
the mid 1720s was composed of English Jacobite exiles. Furthermore, freemasons all across Europe
explicitly linked themselves to the Enlightenment as a whole. For example, in French lodges the line “As
the means to be enlightened I search for the enlightened” was a part of their initiation
rites. British lodges assigned themselves the duty
to “initiate the unenlightened”. This did not necessarily link lodges to the
irreligious, but neither did this exclude them from the occasional heresy. In fact, many lodges praised the Grand Architect,
the masonic terminology for the deistic divine being who created a scientifically ordered
universe.German historian Reinhart Koselleck claimed: “On the Continent there were two
social structures that left a decisive imprint on the Age of Enlightenment: the Republic
of Letters and the Masonic lodges”. Scottish professor Thomas Munck argues that
“although the Masons did promote international and cross-social contacts which were essentially
non-religious and broadly in agreement with enlightened values, they can hardly be described
as a major radical or reformist network in their own right”. Many of the Masons values seemed to greatly
appeal to Enlightenment values and thinkers. Diderot discusses the link between Freemason
ideals and the enlightenment in D’Alembert’s Dream, exploring masonry as a way of spreading
enlightenment beliefs. Historian Margaret Jacob stresses the importance
of the Masons in indirectly inspiring enlightened political thought. On the negative side, Daniel Roche contests
claims that Masonry promoted egalitarianism and he argues that the lodges only attracted
men of similar social backgrounds. The presence of noble women in the French
“lodges of adoption” that formed in the 1780s was largely due to the close ties shared between
these lodges and aristocratic society.The major opponent of Freemasonry was the Roman
Catholic Church so that in countries with a large Catholic element, such as France,
Italy, Spain and Mexico, much of the ferocity of the political battles involve the confrontation
between what Davies calls the reactionary Church and enlightened Freemasonry. Even in France, Masons did not act as a group. American historians, while noting that Benjamin
Franklin and George Washington were indeed active Masons, have downplayed the importance
of Freemasonry in causing the American Revolution because the Masonic order was non-political
and included both Patriots and their enemy the Loyalists.===Art===
The art produced during the Enlightenment was about a search for morality that was absent
from previous art. At the same time, the Classical art of Greece
and Rome became interesting to people again, since archaeological teams discovered Pompeii
and Herculaneum. People took inspiration from it and revived
the classical art into neo-classical art. This can be especially seen in early American
art, where, throughout their art and architecture, they used arches, goddesses, and other classical
architectural designs.==Important intellectuals====See also==1755 Lisbon earthquake
Atlantic Revolutions (American Revolution, French Revolution, Latin American Revolutions,
etc.) Chapbook
Education in the Age of Enlightenment Early modern philosophy
European and American voyages of scientific exploration
Regional Enlightenments: American Enlightenment
Haskalah, Jewish Enlightenment Modern Greek Enlightenment
Polish Enlightenment Russian Enlightenment
Scottish Enlightenment Spanish Enlightenment

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