Definition: the Enlightenment (French Lumière, German Aufklärung, English Enlightenment) is a particular type of worldview and philosophy that characterizes the cultural life of Europe and America in the 18th century. It differs in its anti-feudal orientation, its desire to create a program of social transformations and to form a new ideal of man. The center for the development of such an outlook was the Encyclopedia, published in 1751-80 by Diderot (in the early years, together with d’Alembert). The advanced thinkers united around it wanted to implement the plan of the “great restoration of sciences” drawn by F. Bacon, linking social progress with scientific progress. The demands of political equality were recognized as flowing from the natural equality of people. The concept of nature, which was differently interpreted from the identification of nature with the material substance (Holbach) to understanding it as an object of aesthetic admiration and admiration (Rousseau), became the starting point for all enlighteners. The concept of upbringing played an important role in the system of educational ideas. It involves the installation of the common sense of each because he is naturally endowed with “the natural light of reason.” The Enlightenment sought to spread its ideals widely through literary works, philosophical treatises, historical works, theatrical plays, essays.
The French enlightenment of the 18th century is represented in the philosophical writings of Montesquieu and Lametrie, Voltaire and Diderot, Holbach and Helvetius, Rousseau and Condillac. The mechanistic worldview, developed from the concepts of Newtonian natural science, received a complete expression in the “System of Nature” Holbach. Despite the evolutionary ideas expressed by Diderot, the problems he posed in “Thoughts on the Explanation of Nature” and “Philosophical Principles on the Matter of Motion” generally did not go beyond mechanicism. The doctrine of man, developed by KA Helvetius in the works On the Mind and On a Man, in explaining the driving principle of people’s behavior proceeds from the utilitarian concept of rational egoism: according to Helvetius, the basis of all actions and feelings of a person is material interest. Starting from the theories of the social contract developed in the 17th century by Grotius, Puffendorf, and others, Rousseau develops his concept of the reorganization of society. The notions “common will”, “sovereign”, “sovereignty act”, “inalienable human rights” put forward by him became guidelines for democratic reforms and his work “On the social contract” – the banner of the American and French revolutions of the late 18th century. Rousseau’s revolutionary moods are opposed by Voltaire’s hopes for an enlightened monarch and the theory of enlightened absolutism contained in his writings, in the context of which Voltaire’s struggle with the church takes place: ignorant, fanatical and vicious clergymen should be removed from the education of the people. An anticlerical orientation is characteristic not only of deists (Voltaire) and atheists (Holbach, Diderot) but also for deeply believing thinkers (Rousseau). The initial contradiction between nature and upbringing conditioned various “paradoxes” in the thinking of the Enlightenment, which was revealed by Diderot.
American enlightenment was closely connected with the French as a result of the proliferation in America of the works of French philosophers, and thanks to the personal participation of some French (e.g. Lafayette) in the war for independence in North America. The American Enlightenment was formed in the form of two main, closely connected directions: one of them was oriented toward the development of a socio-political program, the other – to justify the natural properties of man. The former was based on social doctrines, the second on the scientific achievements of the then science. In his work “Human Rights”, T. Payne emphasized that all people are born equal and should have equal civil rights. Civil rights are those that can not be saved alone – it’s so-called. “Non-protected rights”. The third president of the United States T. Jefferson, who participated in the creation of the famous “Declaration of Independence”, proceeded from the inalienable natural rights of the individual (including life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness) and the unshakable principles of people’s sovereignty: all people are created equal, laws ceasing to meet the new conditions, must be changed, and the best state system is the republican government based on the separation of powers (legislative, executive and judicial) and the establishment enii universal and equal suffrage. The ideas of T. Payne’s treatise Common Sense reveal a similarity with the similar ideas of the Holbach treatise and echo the thoughts expressed by I. Allen in work “Reason is the only oracle of man”: a person can rely only on his mind. Deism in the American Enlightenment became more widespread than in French; the well-known physiologist B. Rash expressed the assumption about the eternity of matter precisely because of its creation by God.
Enlightenment in England. Although it is not customary to speak of the English Enlightenment in English literature (Joscoique J. Joseph Rouk and the English Enlightenment, Cambr., 1994), it should be recognized that it was in England that certain program ideas that initiated the enlightenment movement on the European continent were expressed and implemented. Here it is necessary to name the philosopher D. Locke, whose work “The Experience of Human Understanding”, “Thoughts on Education” and “Reasonableness of Christianity” together with the works of I. Newton were of fundamental importance for the cultural program of the Enlightenment. The encyclopedia of D. Harris (1704, withstood five editions), and especially the complete Encyclopedia of E. Chambers (1728, 2nd ed., 1738), became the basis for the French Encyclopaedia of D’Alembert and Diderot. Significant for the English Enlightenment were the works of E. Collins, especially his “Discourse on Freethinking” (1713). The educational and educational program of the Enlightenment in Europe was started by essayists D.Addison and R. Steel in the magazines “Spectator” (1709-11) and “Chatterbox” (1711-14).
Scottish enlightenment is a “white spot” in European enlightenment. The centuries-old rival of England Scotland in socio-cultural terms for a long time lagged behind it. Only in 1707, having concluded the Union with England, having lost political independence and exchanging its parliament for “free trade”, Scotland was able to take advantage of the fruits of democratic and economic reforms. By the mid-18th century, the economic and cultural upsurge had transformed Scotland. There is an exemplary agriculture, roads are being paved, channels are being built, bridges are being built. The first metal plant in Europe was built in Scotland, and there was created a “first-run” industrial revolution – the Watt machine. Ancient Edinburgh – the capital of Scotland – is called northern Athens, and the Scottish era undergoing is called “The Age of Pericles”. In Scotland, his homer – Ossian, his Herodotus – historian W. Robertson, his Aristotle – T. Rid, D. Yum, A. Smith, later R. Burns, V. Scott, no longer needed comparisons.
Universities played an outstanding role in the cultural rise of the country. Their courses on natural science and humanities were the most advanced; the curriculum included courses on the theoreticians of natural law G. Groot and Pufendorf, the works of D.Lock, and also the “Optics” of I.Newton. At this time in Cambridge the last word of science was still considered Cartesian whirlwinds, and in Oxford Locke was in a long disgrace.
Of great importance was the pedagogical activity of professor of moral philosophy of the University of Glasgow F.Hathcheson, who taught courses in natural religion, morality, jurisprudence, and “theory of government” (published posthumously under the title “System of moral philosophy”). The most popular were his Sunday lectures (they were attended by young A. Smith), where he interpreted the New Testament in the spirit of humanism, which completely disagreed with the Calvinist dogmas about the common sinfulness shared by the Scottish Presbyterian church.
The most famous of the philosophers of Scotland in the Age of Enlightenment was D.Yum, whose bold criticism of religious consciousness and church embarrassed even his friends (A.Smith, despite Hume’s request, refused to publish his “Dialogues on Natural Religion”). Hume’s essay and especially his Natural History of Religion (1757) and The History of England (in 8 volumes, 1754, 1757, 1759-78) proved to be very popular on the continent (Helvetius urged Hume to write the history of the Christian church). At the same time, Hume was the first critic of enlightenment rationalism. Wide popularity was enjoyed by G.Home, president of the Scottish Philosophical Society; his book “Foundations of Criticism” was sometimes negative (Voltaire, Winckelmann), but mostly approving reviews (Kant, Lessing, Herder). Contrary to the prevailing normative aesthetics of classicism, Houma’s book restored Shakespeare’s high reputation by combining Lockean empiricism with the aesthetics of realistic art. Smith is “the greatest Scottish thinker,” by definition of G. Bock, and Ferguson – one of the first moralistic critics of the commercial society and his political institutions – advanced fundamental ideas of political economy and sociology. The influence of both enlighteners can also be traced in the 19th century in utilitarianism and classical Marxism.
German enlightenment was formed in conditions of economic backwardness, political fragmentation, the domination of feudal order and religious ideology in Germany in the 18th century. This in many respects was the reason for the moderately conservative nature of the socio-political views of German enlighteners, their primary interest in philosophical speculation, and questions of education and moral education. Along with G.V. Leibniz, E.V. von Chirnhaus, the early Spinozists (FVShtosh, T.-L.Lau), pietists (F.Ya.Spener, G.Annold, A.G.Franke), a special role in the development of the Enlightenment philosophy was played by H.Tomasius and X. Wolf. The first laid the foundation for her empirical-psychological line, oriented toward the principles of common sense and the worldly “usefulness” of philosophy, the second – created the so-called. Wolff school of metaphysics, whose representatives tried to build a coherent and universal system of philosophical knowledge, suitable for education and training. These attempts resulted in the transformation of traditional rationalism into dogmatic scholasticism and the convergence of Wolffianism with the Tomasian line and the eclectic popular philosophy of the late Berlin enlightenment (M.Mendelson, Fr.Nikolai). Nevertheless, the merit of some Wolves (AG Baumgarten, GF Meier, IG Zultser, II Vinkelman) was the development of their aesthetics as a special science of fine and artistic taste, questions of theory and history of art, classification of its types and genres, etc. In the polemic with the Wolffian and enlightening rationalism, the original epistemological approaches of Chr.A.Krusia, I.G. Lambert, I.Tetens, I.Kant, the ideas of I.G. Gaman, the literary movement “Storm and the onslaught”, romanticism, “Philosophy of feeling and faith” FG Jacobi. An important contribution to the formation of the principles of historicism, the idea of evolution and development of inanimate and living nature, human society, culture, language, etc. made by GE Lessing, KF Wolf, IG Gerder, KL Knebel, IV Goethe, V. Humboldt and other philosophers and thinkers.