What is the Enlightenment?. Circa 1650 – 1780 Also called the Neo-classical Period. “The Enlightenment” begins with a rejection the values and beliefs of the preceding “Renaissance P eriod”. . . . Of dogma Of superstition Of traditional religion Of factionalism
What is the Enlightenment?
Circa 1650 – 1780
Also called the Neo-classicalPeriod
“The Enlightenment” begins with a rejection the values and beliefs of the preceding “Renaissance Period”. . . .
Of traditional religion
Of (in some cases) monarchy
The 1600s had a different ideology--one steeped in supernatural politics.
Alchemy, Angelology, Demonology
The Great Chain of Being
Divine Right of Kings
The Great Chain of Being…
Divine Right of Kings…
The War of the Roses
. . .but that led to dire political schisms when a monarch died without a clear
The Renaissance saw many countries become Protestant, shattering the fifteen-hundred-year-old spiritual monopoly of Catholicism.
In Eastern Europe
Henry VIII in Britain (created Protestant Church of England)
Factionalism lead toreligious wars --some continuing (off-and-on) for a century…
England, Germany, and Holland became Protestants allies.
They fought repeatedly against Catholic France, Spain, and
Italy. Later, Protestant groups turned on each other--with Anglican persecutions against Jansenists, Anabaptists, Quakers--and in America, Puritans against Quakers, etc.
. . . And to heresy trials
And to the auto-da-fé
That is the execution of individuals who dissented from standard scriptural
interpretations--usually by public burning. The practice began in 1215 in medieval Catholicism, but Protestants picked it up in Geneva and London in the mid-1500s. John Calvin oversaw the public burnings of Michael Servetus and other theological dissidents. Martin Luther moved away from toleration of
Jews early in his career to increasing
anti-semiticism later in his preaching.
…and to ever increasing numbers of witchburnings
Witch trials were actually
higher in number during
the Renaissance reign of
King James I than in any
decade of the medieval
period in Britain.
And the Inquisition’s growth.
The Inquisition received official Church sanction in 1215, but the height of its activity in Spain and France actually peaked in the 1500s and 1600s-- i.e. Renaissance times.
The church arrested Galileo
For heretical ideas such as heliocentricism. Threatened with torture, he publicly recanted his science and lived his last days under permanent house arrest.
Not even Galileo was safe.
Western Christian biblical references Psalm 93:1, Psalm 96:10, and Chronicles 16:30 include text stating that "the world is firmly established, it cannot be moved." In the same tradition, Psalm 104:5 says, "[the LORD] set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved." Further, Ecclesiastes 1:5 states that "the sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.” This meant that the Idea the earth spun on its axis or revolved around the sun was incompatible with literalist readings of scripture--and many medieval and Renaissance church authorities forbade such teachings.
Before “The Enlightenment”
The Enlightenment! 1650 – 1760 (approx.)
What were the values and attitudes of The Enlightenment?
(1) A desire for rationality, logic, consistency.
(2) A rejection of emotionalism
(3) A preference for evidence, not faith
(4) Increased interest in science, mathematics, geometry
(5) An admiration for Greece and Rome and an abhorrence for everything medieval.
(6) A preference for the artificial over the natural,
technology over wilderness.
What is the Enlightenment socially?
A disdain of “messiness” and “chaos” as being unharmonious.
A preference for democracy.
A preference for civilized, polite discussion of ideas. Conclusions reached by intelligent debate--not force.
A desire to create social standards based on reason--not tradition.
An embrace of monotheistic Deism rather than traditional Trinitarian doctrines.
What were the social values of “The Enlightenment”? Aesthetically…
1. A desire for geometric shapes, orderly
repetition in mathematical patterns.
2. A disdain of “messiness” and “chaos” in art and clothing and hairstyles as being unharmonious.
3. Greco-Roman architecture
4. Endless Heroic Couplets
5. Satire as a means of social critique
See for instance: Enlightenment gardens.
Here, the “messiness” of the natural world must bow before pure geometry. In such a garden, the chaos of nature is tamed to match the orderly design of human intellect.
Straight lines, 90 degree corners, the stuff to warm the heart of an Enlightenment thinker. Thus, hedge--mazes appear across Europe.
Even the untidiness of natural hair disturbs Enlightenment society. Thus, the tradition of the perfectly coiffed wig appears in the age of Washington and Jefferson and Marie Antoinette. Powdered porcelain make-up and other cosmetics become fashionable and artificial “beauty” patches (bits of black cloth with adhesive) are used to create artificial moles or freckles (or to hide natural ones.) It is an age of absolute artifice.
The Enlightenment is so devoted to Greco-Roman logic and philosophy it is thus also called the “Neo-classic Period.” A similar taste appears in their architecture,their plays and drama. . . .
Take a look at the Arch of Emperor
Constantine, built c. 312-315 CE.
Then look at the French Arc de Triomph du
Carrousel. Note any similarities?
the Parthenon of the
c. 447-438 BCE.
Planned in the 1790s
And built 1830 CE.
Obsessive and rigorous in
The French Academy
Samuel Johnson working
on his dictionary of 1755.
…and artificial grammar rules
based on Latin, or Greek,
or even rules of algebra!
How do these tendencies
affect the Enlightenment’s
In both poetry and prose, a focus on satire --the use of mockery to point out social stupidities.
AFTER THE ENLIGHTENMENT… came
In 1818, German artist Caspar David Friedrich painted Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, in which a man props his foot up on a wind-whipped mountaintop, looking out over a wild, foggy landscape