Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Enlightenment

  • Enlightenment thinkers based their choices on reasoning
  • thought that religious wars were completely farce and obscene 
  • reason to figure out what made the most sense-based on being practical
  • orderly
  • Denis Diderot (171301784)-first French encyclopedia writer and one of the first enlightenment thinkers
    • goes back to aristotle, came up with the first idea for an encyclopedia
    • Diderot fired off ideas of not having a bias, categorizes information, making information scientific, taking scientific attitude towards information, systematic
    • first attempt at information technology
  • Montesquie (1689-1755)-wrote the first personal essay
    • also structured the personal essays
    • wrote on the spirit of laws-idea of what laws look like when their written and what their meant to do
  • Ruso-most important write of 18th century
    • Second Discourse on the Origins of Inequality-findemental documents of the enlightenment and a foundational document on which our own democracies were built
    • social contract
    • we create laws and those laws are made so that each of us has the maximum freedom and maximum protection.
    • Laws make us free and Laws protect
    • between populous and government 
  • Jonathon Swift-problem of not having food in ireland
    • solution-british should force irish to have more babies so that we will have something to eat
    • case of satire-pointing out the ludicrousy of the situation that was occurring
    • in such a way that got a horrific reaction
    • 18th century is the height of satire-using it to form public opinion
  • Adam Smith-founder of capitalism
    • substitute for mercantilism
    • anyone could gain wealth in a freemarket
  • in enlightenment-getting away from idea of kinds having authority; rather, it is an open market and anyone can have the potential to make or lose a fortune
    • not definite winners or losers
    • no more fatalism
  • rational approach rather than mercantilism approach 
  • public sphere-opinion of the people themselves
    • writers of enlightenment 
    • many ways to think of different things
  • Ruso-looking at nature of inequality-why are people on the top and people on the bottom and what can be done about it
  • through enlightenment there is a shift in attitudes towards how things were-
    • public sphere is vital to this 
  • after french revolution-people did not have a king-democracy
  • processes used to govern change 
  • the king and the state were the same thing with absolutism
    • enlightenment thinkers completely break with that tradition
    • ruso is opposite of Thomas Hobbes who was a monarchist-becasue life is brutal and short, we need a monarch to create order and guide
    • Ruso says monarchy and absolutism creates inequality which is bad for a country
  • Adam Smith and David Hume are from England
  • The categorical Imperrative - by Immanuel Kant- a philosophy of ethics that says-
    • if you create a rule for one person, then it applies to all
    • ex. if you say do not lie, then in no situation should anyone lie
  • Jeremy Bentham, enlgish thinker who argues against Kant -
    • Bentham finds a problem with Kant's ideas-if you say, you should not lie 
    • but you have been out partying and you drive your car home and you hit a pedestrian then you keep driving. under categorical imperative you have to tell the truth
    • 1942-you live in netherlands and nazi's ask you if there are any jews living in the house, you know there are jews in the house but you must tell the truth according to categorical imperative. 
  • imperative does not allow for choice which is a pre-enlightenment-like idea
  • if you know those situations could happen when you make the law then you won't make the law.
  • imperative forces legislaters to makes lawmakers think more about making laws-have to consider how a blanket statement will come back to bite you-will it create more harm than good?
    • Kant's ethical idea-german enlightenment
  • Bentham -english
    • situation-you are standing on a bridge over looking a railroad track and you see that the track splits and uses a switch to change direction of train. YOu see that there is one worker off on the curve working on the rail. If you follow the rail straight there are five workers talking. suddenly a train comes and is out of control, the track is set up to go straight. you have to pull the switch so that only one guy gets killed
    • Utilitarian choice- idea that you have to do what is best for the most people
    • either five guys will die or one guy will die.
  • Categoriaal Imperative-Kant
  • Utilitarian Choice-Bentham
  • women in Enlightenment-much more is known about them from 18th century and on
  • you can tell whether a society is capable of democratic rule by how it treats women
    • not until passage of suffrage in early 20th century were women allowed to vote
    • not until 1970's and feminist movement were women paid the same for the same job
    • even today, egypt is going through a revolution in Cairo and they are all men-not true democracy
  • women do begin to play into real debate in Enlightenment-not just women like Queen Elizabeth but women who are equal in class to  men
    • great question-should women have an education?
  • had hang ups and problems on the issue of slavery and treatment of women
    • find in history that history is much more complicated than what is in a text book-full of problems that should make up oncomfortable

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