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The notion of an emerging "science" of poetry or painting, in an age when the sister arts were so filially construed, was not improbable. Direct applications are made in all ages, as in literary theory in our time: post-structuralist or deconstructionist. The difference then was their civil and Utopian edge.

More recent applications appear to be generated today in the name of detached truth rather than ethical or social advancement. Progress as utopian-based has largely fallen off in our century, except in medicine and technology, and even here there is abundant evidence that the "disease- ification of everything" has downsides. The reconstruction of the universes of literature and science I have been attempting here - i.

Individual discourses or disciplines - the arts and sciences as practiced in today's universities - had not yet become fragmented in our postmodern sense. Egypt was thought to have been the first great civilized nation in.

A Beginner's Guide to the Enlightenment

As the Industrial Revolution developed at mid-century, much literature dedicated itself to celebrating its technological triumphs; this was not merely wonderment that such feats had been accomplished but congratulation that society would be happier and more progressive as a result. In the s Diderot had prognosticated the development in The Dream of d'Alembert when gazing into the future of the technology of the age.

By the s all the arts - painting no less than literature and music - were at least glancing at the miracle of progress within their realm: the true Newtonian legacy. Thinkers as diverse as the philosopher David Hume and the painter and theorist of aesthetics Allan Ramsay, in then- discourses, Of the Standard of Taste and A Dialogue on Taste respectively, examined the proposition that taste progresses in conjunction with society, Ramsay in particular seeing a close correlation between the two: " Both induced a sense that their culture of optimism was justified rather than a chimera eventually to be aborted or disenfranchised by political change or revolution.

None of these writers, long since canonical in our literary pantheons, was contra science; all partook of its wonderment and celebrated it, even the quasi-mystical English poet Christopher Smart. Yet such poets fiercely doubted science's optimism: the sense that science could solve society's fundamental social ills or transform the individual self from the Miltonic hell it normally was.

The magisterial authority of Locke, who extended some of Newton's optimism for discovering virtually everything that could be known, endured.


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Mandeville, Hume, Fergusson, and Adam Smith, later claimed that human nature no less than other natural realms could be studied as "science": that is, collected as data, classified into logical and rational categories, and extrapolated into categories of explanation based on corollaries and first principles. Extend the process and you have - by. Superimpose systematic comparisons with other societies, primitive and civilized, and microcosmic social groups within the larger fabric and you have developed sciences of man.

Historically, one crucial moment for this development it was merely one entailed the extended authority of Locke, who applied some of Newton's optimism for discovering everything about human nature that could be known. Others less famous than Locke did so later in the eighteenth century. All these figures thrived in some fundamental sense on the various shades of optimism. Stated negatively, remove the doctrines of optimism and much of the fabric of the sciences of man evaporates, not least as the result of what can and cannot be known.

These developments and overlaps were bound to raise profound questions about progress in an epoch when sunny optimism about the future abounded.

Enlightenment Philosophy

Au fond and in hindsight it had been this cheerful optimism about the prospects for human progress and social perfection that energized much eighteenth-century thought. Yet clouds of doubt and dissent were forming. The sun would not continue to shine. Even in Newton's day the rays of despair cast shadows over such inflated currents of optimism. In literature the shadows concealed all the mystics leading up to Smart and Blake.

As the eighteenth century progressed the sky altogether changed its composition and thunder claps continued to be heard.

But rain poured down only a century later, long after the French Revolution erupted and its effects subsided on the other side of the Channel. Only in the next generation when the German and English Romantics unraveled earlier optimism and tucked it into the nether corner of their supernaturalism; as Beethoven put his last touch to the ninth symphony and blotted the final phrases of his last quartet. By the European sky had irrevocably altered.

Never again would the sun shine so vividly - so miraculously - as it had approximately a hundred years earlier. It may never again. George S. William Rutherford, A View of Antient History; including the progress of literature and fine arts London, v. Only the barest traces of Flemyng's life remain: whatever papers and manuscripts existed in he eighteenth century have disappeared, and nothing remains to be discovered about him anywhere.

Kuzniar, ed. London, entry on "science. Society of Gentlemen in Scotland. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 3 vols. Edinburgh, entry on "science. Robert Watt, Bibliotheca Britannica, 4 vols.

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Edinburgh, vol. As well as in Mande ville's other extended work, A Treatise of Hysterick and Hypochondriack Passions London, , perhaps the premier dialogic example in the. But pastoral and landscape poems were not the only ones to refer to exterior Newtonian spaces; for discussion of the diffusion of Newtonian space see Rousseau, "To Thee, whose Temple is all Space': Varieties of Space in The Dunciad" Modern Language Studies 9 : See J.

PHILOSOPHY - Michel Foucault

As they were the first civilised nation in the world, and had no examples to imitate, they are entitled to the praise of genius and invention. Their particular situation urged their application to some arts, and favoured the cultivation of others.

Nietzsche as Critic and Captive of Enlightenment

Agriculture, the mother of the arts, originated in Egypt" Rutherford See n. See Kuhn H psychology of character often built on the chain of nervous arousal, followed by sympathy based on this nervous sensibility, and culminating in the empathy that formed the true mark of the educated person. But even before then he had written his most famous treatise - Solitude considered with respect to its dangerous influence upon the mind and heart - a bible of Romanticism he published in German in , which created a sensation 3 12 GEORGE S.

ROUSSEAU The French novel especially cultivated nervous sensibility because its philosophic concerns turned so prominently to the springs of romantic intrigue and pangs of the erotic heart, while the English which could be romantic and sentimental nevertheless foregrounded marriage, a grassroots morality, and the family. ROUSSEAU suggested that science's intrinsic morality necessarily lay in the truthfulness of its findings; but also in the honest intentions of those discovering its secrets; and - par excellence - in the utility of its agendas.

Similarly Benjamin Franklin , the brilliant colonial "Renaissance Man" and avid pursuer of electricity,22 and, in middle Europe, the prolific Protestant Swiss naturalist-doctor Samuel Tissot , who capitalized on medicine as economic commodity and pioneered a new medical 9 18 GEORGE S. Notes 1. Allan Ramsay, A Dialogue on Taste, 2nd ed. London, History of Enlightenment philosophy Another important movement in 18th century philosophy, closely related to it, focused on belief and piety.

Some of its proponents, such as George Berkeley, attempted to demonstrate rationally the existence of a supreme being. Piety and belief in this period were integral to the exploration of natural philosophy and ethics , in addition to political theories of the age. The 19th century also saw a continued rise of empirical philosophical ideas and their application to political economy , government and sciences such as physics , chemistry and biology.

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Aspects of Enlightenment: Social Theory and the Ethics of Truth

The Enlightenment if thought of as a short period was preceded by the Age of Reason or if thought of as a long period by the Renaissance and the Reformation. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again.


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Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Aspects of Enlightenment by Thomas Osborne. This is an introductory account of social theory and the central role of enlightenment within it. Tom Osborne argues that: contemporary social theory can only fail when viewed as a "science of society," and rather than focusing upon the question of society or even "modernity" should focus on the question of human nature. The most immediate and central topic of such a socia This is an introductory account of social theory and the central role of enlightenment within it.

The most immediate and central topic of such a social theory should be the question of enlightenment. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published September 3rd by Routledge first published January 1st More Details Original Title. Other Editions 9. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.