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