Monday, December 04, 2006


Your final paper, a critical book review of Becker's The Heavenly City of the 18th Century Philosophers is due 1:00 pm Tuesday, 12/12. If it is at all possible to have them done by our last class, 12/5, I would love to be able to read them on the plane, but better you should do a good job on it than turn to it in early for my sake. Please place finished papers in my mailbox in the faculty building. Steve will be coming by to pick them up that afternoon.

What is Becker's thesis? How does he support it? Does he succeed in making his case, or do you have reservations and/or qualifications? I value clarity, conciseness and completeness.

Websites such as can give you a better idea of how to write a philosophy paper.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

For the Aymara, the Future is "Then"

Here's a quick and dirty way of describing the difference between the premodern and modern/postmodern worldviews:

According to Ken Olson, for one South American tribe, the future is behind you, the past is in front of you. This is a distinctly teleological understanding of the world: premodernism in a nutshell. We do not lead the way, but follow in a shared pilgrimage toward some End. This is the path of faith and reason within the bounds of religion: it is the way of the faithful, toward the City of God.

The Enlightenment reversed the story, so that it is now second nature to speak of the future laying ahead of us, and the past behind us. Where there is no common goal, anyone can press to the front of the line by dint of wit or muscle, while others are left to follow in their wake. It is up to the Leader to determine the direction, so that it becomes at best an expedition and at worst a death march. This is the path of rhetoric and unbridled reason. It is the way of the State.

Weekend Edition Saturday, August 12, 2006 ·

Most cultures see the future as something ahead. The past is behind. The Aymara of the Andean highlands reverse the perspective, and they're not alone. Ken Olson, a linguistics professor at the University of North Dakota, fills Scott Simon in on the details.

Someone might protest: this is too pessimistic! Why can't the Enlightenment be read as a pilgrimage toward an End, which is the truth of life, liberty and happiness? But to do this,it seems to me that:

1) you cannot reject the premodern notion of an end, and so are dependent upon a concept beyond the bounds of (or even contradicting ) modernist thought; and

2) You must face the fact that modernist autonomy dictates that each individual should be free to dictate his/her own End, which may or may not be life, liberty and happiness, for that individual or for the group. Indeed, the Truth is much more than just life, liberty and happiness.

3) Finally, history shows that human leaders alone are not up to the tasks of creating heavenly cities on earth. The French and the Russian Revolutions stand as stark reminders of what happens when the past is seen as something to be overcome.

But perhaps I am being too harsh. T.S.Eliot's verse, "Little Gidding," from his Four Quartets affirms how Christ stands at the start and end of all our wanderings, and that ultimately, what matters is Him, not us. Pilgrims and genuine explorers: both will find rest with Him who is the Alpha and Omega.

"With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Schedule for remainder of term

Tuesday, Nov. 21

Cassirer, Chapter 6: Law State and Society, continued

Enquiry concerning Political Justice - Godwin
Declaration of Rights of Man and the Citizen
Declaration of the Rights of Man -Paine
Common Sense -Paine
Federalist #10 - Madison

Thursday Nov. 23


Tuesday Nov. 28

Cassirer, Ch. 6: Social Contract and Method of the Social Sciences
Social Contract --Rousseau
Discourse on the Origin of Inequality --Rousseau

Thursday, Nov. 30

Enlightenment Economics

Franklin, Industry the Way to Wealth
Quesnay, The Physiocratic Formula
Smith, The Wealth of Nations


Tuesday December 5

Final Discussion:

Evaluate the effect of the Enlightenment on the West
1) what are its negative consequences?
2) What are its positive consequences?

How do we relate to cultures that never experienced the Enlightenment?

Thursday, December 7

NO CLASS: Writing Day
Use this time to put finishing touches on your Becker paper

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

For Thursday, Oct. 26

I haven't heard anything from Joe so let's go ahead with

Cassirer: Ch. IV: Tolerance and the Foundation of Natural Religion

On Superstition and Tolerance –Bayle
A Letter Concerning Toleration—Locke
The Argument for a Deity—Newton

Nathan the Wise will now be an optional reading.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Squashed Philosophers

This is a very interesting site...


There is no taking-part in the 'Great Debate' of Western civilisation, the debate about who we are, how we should be governed, how we think and how we ought to behave, without some familiarity with the, remarkably few, thinkers in whose language and idiom the talk is conducted.

Unfortunately, life is rather short, the little storeroom of the brain doesn't have extensible walls and the greatest of thinkers seem to also be among the worst, and the lengthiest, of writers. So, most knowledge of Plato or Hume or Aristotle tends to come second-hand, unfortunately too often through masters more filled with pompous pleasure in their own mastery of complexity than with knowledge of their subject. Which is a pity, because your Prince, whether they call themselves President or King or Prime Minister, has almost certainly read Machiavelli. Your therapist is steeped in Freud, your divines in Augustine. Lawmakers take their cues still from Paine, Rousseau and Hobbes. Science looks yet to Bacon, Copernicus and Darwin.

So, here are the most used, most quoted, the most given, sources of the West. The books that have defined the way the West thinks now, in their author's own words, but condensed and abridged into something readable.

I'd like to say that the selection was far from arbitrary; that thousands of papers and essays and articles were scanned to find which great works were most commonly cited, which prescribed to students, which have the most published editions. The shades of these authors were invoked no less than 588 times in the last decade in the British parliament. Plato's Republic, and assorted commentaries, has 1722 editions, and that's just in English, and just in print at the moment. Machiavelli gets mention in just over a quarter of a million websites. Thomas Paine's name has appeared 186,526 times to the US House of Representatives. And so on. It is true that all this research has been done, but, the choice has, ultimately, to be a personal one.

There's nothing new in making condensed versions of the classics. What is different here is that these are neither the opinion of one person nor mere extracts. Instead, each has begun with a very wide analysis of quotations, citations and, especially, past examination papers (including UK A-Levels back to 1976), to establish which passages, which phrases, which lines, which words and which ideas, are generally considered the most important. Those essential parts have, as far as is reasonable, been left complete and untouched in the authors' or translators' original words. It is just the stuff between which has been squashed up, except when it is really interesting- like St Augustine's mother's alcoholism, Hobbes on Angels or Adam Smith on why Irish prostitutes are so very beautiful.

And there's something more. By compressing these books to a tenth or so of their original size it becomes possible to read the whole thing as a single narrative, as the story of Western Thought, the story of how we got where we are now, the last chapter still waiting to be written. Is it cheating? Perhaps, but if it is, then so is reading Plato in anything other than unical Attic on papyrus.

Glyn Hughes
October 2003

Monday, October 16, 2006

Print Bibliography for PHL205

Enlightenment History and Philosophy

Strongly Recommended

Ernst Cassirer, The Philosophy of the Enlightenment
Carl L. Becker, The Heavenly City of the 18th Century Philosophers
Paul Hazard, The European Mind 1680-1715
Peter Gay, The Enlightenment: An Interpretation 2 v.
Vol. 1: The Rise of Modern Paganism
Vol. 2 The Science of Freedom
The Portable Age of Reason Reader, edited by Crane Brinton
Robert Anchor, The Enlightenment Tradition
J.F. Lively, The Enlightenment (Problems and Perspectives in History)
Louis Dupre, The Enlightenment and the Intellectual Foundations of Modern Culture
Edwin A. Burtt, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science

Also recommended

Peter Gay, Voltaire's Politics
Dorinda Outram, The Enlightenment
Jonathan Israel, Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity, 1650-1750
Roy Porter, Creation of the Modern World: The Untold Story of the British Enlightenment
Roy Porter, Flesh in the Age of Reason: The Modern Foundations of Body and Soul
W.R. Ward, Christianity under the Ancien Régime 1648-1789
Nigel Aston, Christianity and Revolutionary Europe c. 1750-1830
Daniel Roche, France in the Enlightenment
Isaiah Berlin, Three Critics of the Enlightenment: Vico, Hamann, Herder
Darrin M. McMahon, Enemies of the Enlightenment: The French Counter-Enlightenment and the Making of Modernity

Internet Bibliography for PHL 407

Enlightenment History and Philosophy

Primary Sources

Descarte’s Regulae (Rules for Philosophizing)

Newton, Regulae Philosophandi (Rules for Philosophizing)

Diderot, Rameau’s Nephew

Voltaire, Candide

Voltaire, Extracts from The Philosophical Dictionary

Voltaire, Treatise on Tolerance

The Encyclopedia of Diderot and D’Alembert

Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws

Montesquieu, from The Persian Letters, Letters 11 and 12:;
Letter 24:

Rousseau, The Social Contract

General Resources

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Garth Kemmerling’s Philosophy Pages and

Internet Modern History Sourcebook

18th Century Resources- Philosophy
This site is a portal to a wealth of full text sources. Scroll down to the Enlightenment.

Specific Resources

The European Enlightenment: a module by Richard Hooker at WSU includes:

Pre-enlightenment Europe:

The Case of England:

17th century Enlightenment thought:

Rene Descartes:

Blaise Pascal:

The Scientific Revolution:

The 18th century:

The Philosophes:


Women: Communities, economies, opportunities:

Absolute Monarchy and Enlightened Absolutism

The Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century

A Gallery of 17th and 18th Century Visual Culture

Enlightenment Reader:

Glossary of Enlightenment Terms and concepts

“What is Enlightenment?” by Immanuel Kant

RADICAL ACADEMY: Adventures in Philosophy/Modern Philosophy

1. Overview of 17th Century Philosophy: A Study and Critique

2. Overview of 18th and 19th Century Philosophy: A Study and Critique

3. Prelude to Modern Philosophy

4. The Philosophy of Rationalism

5. The Philosophy of Empiricism

6. The Philosophy of Illuminism (Enlightenment)

“What is Enlightenment?” By Michel Foucault

Philosophy Chronology: Timeline of Events, 1700-1799

Philosophy Timelines: Wadsworth Philosophy Shoppe

Christianity and the Enlightenment

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Great Voltaire Quotes

In 1761 Voltaire wrote to Rousseau: "One feels like crawling on all fours after reading your work."

"Liberty of thought is the life of the soul." (from Essay on Epic Poetry, 1727)