7. Philosophy of the Period

A new philosophy, opposed both to the Aristotelianism of the Church and to the rehabilitation of ancient philosophic systems, now assumes to outline the fundamental principles of scientific thought in the theoretical and practical disciplines. Abandoning the old belief in the Fall and the con sequent degeneration of the human intellect, it grounded itself on the capacities of the human mind and dared to be as of the creative in basic principles as the new

Period. sciences had been in their respective fields. Philosophy was no longer the handmaid of theology, but ruled an independent realm. The creation of a new philosophy was the work of the great minds of the seventeenth century; its consequences partly destroyed theology and partly transformed it. These consequences were developed in the eighteenth century by the less original thinkers and littérateurs; for though the great men of the eighteenth century, Hume, Berkeley, Kant, belonged in part to the Enlightenment, their original work first bore fruit in the nine teenth. Yet the influence exercised by the great philosophers on the history of philosophy is dif ferent from that they exerted on the history of the Enlightenment. Their essentially philosophic problems were too abstruse and subtle to affect greatly a popular movement, and it was rather their secondary contributions that furthered the progress of the Enlightenment. Thus Spinoza and Malebranche exercised practically no influence at all; the influence exercised by Hobbes and Leib nitz was indirect; while that of Shaftesbury and others was only partial. Of greater importance, after Descartes, was the work of Bayle, Locks, Wolff, Voltaire, and the Encyclopedists. Service was also rendered by the Deists who directed their criticism against positive religion, and the ethical writers who sought in the new philosophy a basis for natural morality. There came finally the real philosophers of the Enlightenment, the eclectics and popularizers, the exponents of common sense and natural law, whose philosophical importance is small indeed, but whose historical influence was great.

Nevertheless the philosophy of the Enlightenment, in the last analysis, may be traced back to the great philosophic systems. (1) Cartesianism applied the mechanical method to the study of the physical world and the axiomatic process of mathematics to the spiritual. It found ontologic unity in a God who combined in himself physical substance and soul substance. It abandoned everything that was not clear or demonstrable. (2) The sensualism of Hobbes and Locks broke more abruptly with the old metaphysics by discarding self-evident truths and innate ideas and founding all knowledge on the experience of the senses, and its recasting in the soul; yet they found the idea of God necessary for the working of their world machine. From them proceeded the phyaicotheological arguments for the wisdom and the goodness of an architectonic deity and the treatment of morality on the basis of an empirical psychology which attained to the greatest importance. (3) In reaction against sensualism, Leibnitz, by a method analogous to that of Descartes, established a mechanical world of bodies and a dynamic world of spirits, transforming the old ontology of substances into one of monads. (4) Materialism carried the tenets of sensualism to the extreme by denying the existence of the soul and combating the physicotheological arguments for the existence of God. In Hume and Kant, it is true, the materialism of the new natural philosophy brought forth profound epistemological theories, but the natural sciences on the whole rendered greater services to the revolutionary thought, which attempted, on the basis of the observation of nature and certain elementary data of psychology empirically derived, to create a new metaphysical and ethical system, destined to constitute the precondition for a complete reconstruction of society. Yet to all these contrasting or opposed systems there were common the spirit of antagonism to the theological method, the miraculous and the exceptional, and an undoubting confidence in the power of the intellect to attain knowledge and in power of will to apply it. Especially in the field of ethics the independence of the human conscience was upheld against all supernatural authority, against all revealed systems of sanctions, rewards, and punishments.

It was literature, however, and not philosophy, that really insured the triumph of the Enlightenment. The great fact here to be recognized is the cooperation of three forces, a rising bourgeoisie, a growing independence of thought, and the highly developed literatures of England and France. It was literature that finally overthrew theology and created the vocabulary, the battle-cries and the very name of the Enlightenment. Holland was the first home of the militant literature of the age.



There Bayle published his dictionary and edited his journal (Nouvelles de la r6publiques des lettres,

1884--87), and Le Clerc published his

8. Liters- Bibliothkque universelle (1686-1726). tore of the The real origin of the literature of the Enlighten- Enlightenment, however, was in Eng- i

meat. land after the Whig Revolution and

the establishment of the freedom i of the press in 1693. Locks (d. 1'704) and Shaftesbury (d. 1713) were writers of elegance. Pope's Essay ore Man (1733) is a theodicy in the spirit of Shaftesbury. The publication of periodicals dealing with contemporary manners and morals prepared the way for the realistic study of life which Fielding (d. 1754), Smollett (d. 1771), ', Goldsmith (d. 1774), and Sterns (d. 1768) were to carry on with splendid psychological power and absolute freedom from theological predispositions. Defoe (d. 1731) pictured man in a state of nature, and exercised a profound influence on Rousseau and German pedagogy. Bolingbroke (d. 1751) was the first to write philosophic history. The moral theories of the Deists were expounded by Hutcheson (d. 1747), Ferguson (d. 1816), Adam Smith (d. 1790), Wollaston (d. 1724), Price (d. 1791), and Tucker (d. 1799), and the esthetic theories of Shaftesbury were developed by Burke (d. 1797), Gerard (d. 1795), and Hume (d. 1776) who studied the relations between the beautiful and the useful and greatly influenced the German Enlightenment. Richardson's (d. 1761) novels of middle class sentimentality and morals produced an important effect on Voltaire, Diderot, HIopetock, Leasing, and Wieland. The Enlightenment literature in England was not radical, however; extremists, like Toha,nd (d. 1722) among Deists, exercised no great influence, while materialism found in Hartley (d. 1757) and Priestley (d. 1804) only solitary champions. The decline of the Enlightenment in England may be dated from the reaction following the outbreak of the French Revolution.

In France the Enlightenment first gained strength among the dilettante nobility of the court of Louis XIV. from whom it passed to the members of the higher bourgeoisie and the literary class, and then to the great mesa of the Third Estate. From the classic literature which it found ready to its hand it derived precision, elegance, and wit, but also something of the shallowness that goes with these qualities. Newton and Locks were introduced to the French public by Maupertuis (d. 1759) and D'Ar· Benson (d. 1757). The novel and drama of English citizen life were copied by Prwoat (d. 1763) and Deatouches (d. 1754). But the highest development of the Enlightenment literature came toward the middle of the century when in a spirit of extreme radicalism it assailed everything in society, Church, and State. The exponents of the Enlightenment may be divided into three groups which differed appreciably in character and succeeded each other in prominence, though united in aim. (1) English liberalism and deism were advocated with remarkable success by Voltaire (d. 1778) in almost every literary form; his inter eats were predominantly religious, Monteaquieu (d. 1753) gave his time to history and politics and became the father of pragmatic history and conatitutionalism. (2) The succeeding scientific and materialistic movement was originated by La Mettrie (d. 1751), found its most celebrated exponent in Diderot (d. 1784), and its classic formulation inthe "Encyclopedia" (1751-80). More purely scientific were Holbach (Systkme de la nature, 1770), Condillac (d. 1780) and his theories of knowledge, Cabania (d. 1808), and Bufion (d. 1788), whose literary charm made him one of the most influential of popularizers of science. (3) A new spirit and tone appears in Rousseau (d. 1778) who expressed the economic theories of the Enlightenment in their deepest and moat abstract form and on the other hand lent to its cold intelligence a romantic warmth and a depth of feeling that widened immensely its range of appeal. Through Mirabeau and Sieyca the ideas of the Enlightenment entered the Revolution.

From England and France the elements of the Enlightenment came to Germany, where, owing to peculiar conditions, its political manifestations were of far less importance than its influence in the fields of religion, ethics and esthetics. Two distinct literary movements marked

9. The the eighteenth century: (1) The real German literature of the Enlightenment pro-

Enlighten- seeded from the popularized teachings meat. of Leibnitz, through Wolff and Gottsched, and developed on the one hand into theological and legal rationalism, and on the other into the novel and play of middle class morals. (2) The revived humanistic or classic=romantic movement, proceeding from English sources and from the more essential teachings of Leibnitz, passed through leasing to Herder, Winekehnana, Goethe, Schiller, and Humboldt and found expression also in the newer schools of philosophy and the historical and psychological sciences. Leibnitz, Leasing, and Kant belong to both movements; to the Enlightenment, through their practical interests and the results of their popularized teachings; to the second, through the deep and original content of their philosophy which was appreciated only by the minority. Only the former movement is here to be considered, a movement through which Germany assumed its place in the literary world, last, because the theological influence had longest maintained itself in the small German principalities, because science was still subject to scholasticism, and finally because of peculiar political conditions. The first change to be noticed occurred in the sphere of learning where PufendorF (d. 1694) and Leibnitz (d. 1716) ushered in a broad, cosmopolitan treatment of the sciences. The first to gain a wide hearing for the new ideas was Thomasius (d. 1728), who sought to reorganize education after the French model and in 1688 established a periodical similar to those published in Holland at the time. Wolff (d. 1754) slowly drove scholasticism from the universities. The real founders of the literature of the German Enlightenment, however, were Gottsched (d. 1766) who combined the Wolfflan philosophy with French classicism sail translated Bayle, and Gellert (d. 1769) who, writing under


English influences, in poems, lectures, fables, and novels, laid the basis for the moral culture of Germany for many decades. There appeared also imitations of the English periodicals (after 1721) which, though largely theological in tone, continued the connection between literature and the bourgeoisie and sang of the justness of God after the manner of Pope and Thomson. How all-pervading the theological atmosphere was appears in Klopatock (d 1803) and his imitators, though it is indeed a softened theology expressed in humanistic and poetic form. The break with theology was initiated by Leasing (d. 1781), who found the step essential in his endeavor to create a new culture and a new literature upon the basis of a new attitude toward life. In revelation Leasing discerned only a manifestation of the human mind striving toward truth, which is attainable only by reason, and this theory he elaborated with the assistance of deistic theologians like Spalding (d. 1804) and Jerusalem (d. 1789). At Berlin arose the group under Nicolai (d. 1811) and Mendelsaohn (d. 1786). Their organ was the Allgemeine deutsche Bibliothek, around which sprang up a group of popular philosophers who promulgated theories of natural morals, theology, and esthetics on the basis of Locks, Leibnitz, and Wolff. Wieland (d. 1813) in his philosophical romances contrasted the light French view of life with the heavy idealism of the Germans and thus gained over the Gallicized higher classes to the use of the German tongue. Of the other great figures of literature only the youthful Schiller (d. 1805) had connection with the Enlightenment. Kant (d. 1804), in his practical philosophy, in his morals, law and theology, approached the Enlightenment and lent to its ideas a more formal character. But while Goethe (d. 1832) and Schiller had little to do with the movement, the favor of the public went out to Iffland, Kotzebue and the charm of Jean Paul.

So mighty a development as the Enlightenment could not fail to produce a profound effect on the practical affairs of life. Its double io. Practi- result was (1) to strengthen the boureal Results. geoisie and inspire them to demand a share in government and administration and (2) to drive the governments themselves to concession. In England and France the first movement made itself predominant; in the rest of Europe the second was the more conspicuous. Philosophic kings and ministers now appear of the type of Frederick II. of Prussia,, and the espousal of the ideas of reform by the monarchs led in turn to the complete triumph of such ideas. The French Revolution came because the French government lacked the courage and decision to adopt the new ideas. After the Revolution the ideas persisted.. and in the subsequent political reorganization played a prominent part.

In the spiritual realm the most important effects of the Enlightenment appeared in the fields of education and public instruction. Universities were freed from the away of the old theological humanism, citizens' schools and popular schools were established or reorganized, and public instruction was freed from clerical supervision. Other influences


like Pietism tended toward the same result, but it was from the Enlightenment that the inspiration came toward the creation of an educational system that, with the supreme confidence of the period, was expected to lead to a higher, happier, more prosperous, and more moral age. The great educational programs of the age emanated from Locke (Some Thoughts Concerning Education, 1693) and Rousseau (mile, 1762), the one outlining the education of a man of the world through experience and reflection, the other the development of man through the unrestrained unfolding of natural powers. The smile, in France, was only a success of the hour, but in Germany it gave the impetus to the great philanthropiniatic movement. Basedow (Metlzodenbuck für Yitter and Matter der Familien and Yolker, 1770) was followed by Bahrdt, Rochow, Camps, Stuve, and others. Through Zedlitz, minister of Frederick II., the new ideas shaped the policy of the Prussian government. But as early as the middle of the seventeenth century, the needs of the bureaucracy and the nobility had led to the erection of institutions intended to furnish a new education, not Greek and theological, but modern and practical. Halls (1694) was the type of the new institutions and it influenced greatly the development of philosophic and juristic studies. By the middle of the eighteenth century the theological education had suffered a further loss of prestige as indicated in the erection of the University of Göttingen (1736), where humanism is found independent of theology. The Yolksschule created by Pietism fell ultimately under the away of the ideas of the Enlightenment, and even Peatalozzi recognized them in part.

Of the influence exerted by theology on the prog ress of the Enlightenment mention has already been made; it was an influence exerted, however, under compulsion and it advanced the interests of the Enlightenment without adding anything to its content. As a result of the

ii. Its Re- subjection in which the Enlightenlation to went was held by theology for a long

Theology. time and the necessity for violent action on the part of the latter to achieve its independence, it assumed that negative and destructive character by which it was so strongly marked. Even in its affirmative theories the En lightenment, in its struggles with theology, was brought to assume the existence of as rigid a truth as that of its rival. The break between the two was sharpest in France where the unyielding at titude of the Church made the Enlightenment perforce a movement of thorough negation. In England and Germany, on the contrary, there was a rapprochement between the two. In the former country there arose out of the deistic controversy an apologetic theology (Clarks, Butler, Warburton, and Palsy) which may be designated as rational supernaturalism, which here as well as in Germany carried the spirit of the Enlightenment into the very heart of the enemy's position. In Germany, especially, the course of the development was decided by a compromise between Enlightenment and theology which was effectual in disseminating the principles of the former, not only among the


learned classes, but among the great masses of the population. But as its principles were embraced by members of the higher clergy and by the theo logical faculties, it became in turn conservative. Slowly, however, the inherent contradiction between its principles and the theological dualism of reason and revelation came to the front. With time the germ of dissolution entered into the body of dogma and the new spirit of the times attacked both the logical substructure and the imposed superstructure of doctrine. The followers of Wolff had attempted a compromise without departing from the paths of orthodoxy, but the Neologues, under the influence of the popular philosophy, broke entirely with dogma and sought to restrict revelation to the Bible, whose contents seemed more in harmony with natural theology than the scholastic subtleties of the Church. Only at the end of the century, however, and primarily under the inspiration of Kent's Religion innerhalb der Grerezett der blossen Yernun f t (1793) did the more radical theologians advance to the position of identifying completely the religion of ethical rationalism with Biblical revelation, though still with purely apolo getic purposes. But through this apologetic lit erature the subjective, analytic, and utilitarian spirit of the Enlightenment penetrated to the very heart of Christian belief, and inevitably led to reactionary movements which made common cause with other forms of reaction aroused by the spirit of the Enlightenment. The theology of the Enlight enment was, therefore, a thoroughly apologetic compromise on the basis of the principles of the Enlightenment. It was a question of the suprem acy of the dogma of reason, of the dogma of revelation, or of the identification of the two, and it was the last solution that theology was driven to adopt. The end of the period of the Enlightenment began in different countries at different times. The mightiest influences that contributed toward its downfall were the political reac :a. Close tions amused in England by the of the American Revolution and that in Period. Europe by the French Revolution. At the same time the revolutionary movement finally destroyed the political structure of the medieval ages and cleared the ground for s new political and social organization. The wars of the Revolution called into being a new factor, the principle of nationality, which came into oppo sition both with the spirit of enlightened cosmo politanism and with the spirit of enlightened absolutism of the preceding period. There entered into play at the same time the influence of the new German culture which emancipated itself from the ideas of the Enlightenment in literature, philosophy, and science, created a new attitude toward life, and soon came to cooperate with similar tendencies in other countries. Fancy and sentiment, a love for the humane culture, sympathy for all that is psychologically real, characterized this new con ception of life which was at one with the Enlighten ment in its opposition to supernaturalism, but differed from it m its positive appreciation of the worth of things. Science, too, lost its character of abstract subjectivism and militant reform, and restricted itself to the interpretation of reality. Finally reaction entered also the field of economic thought, destroying the individualistic principles of the Enlightenment. Nevertheless the Enlight enment has remained an appreciable influence to the present day, to a minor degree in Germany, to an important extent in France and the Anglo Saxon world, where the separation between En lightenment and supernaturalism is as sharp as it was a century ago.

(E. Troeltsch.)

Bibliography: E. B. Pussy, Historical Enquiry into . . the Rationalist Character . . . in the Theology of Germany, London, 1828; B. Dauer, Geschichte der Podilik, Rudtur and Aufklttrrsng les 18. Jahrhunderfa, Charlottenburg, 1843-44; F. A. Saintee, Critical History of Rationalism in Germany, London, 1849; L. Noaek, hreidsnker in der Religion, Bern, 185355; A. F. Gfrarer, Geschichte des 18. Jahrhundarte, Schaffhausen, 1862-84; F. C. Schlosser, Geschichte des 18. Jahrhunderts, 8 vols., Heidelberg, 18b8-1884; K. R. Aagenbaeh, German Rationalism in its Rise, Progress and Decline, Edinburgh, 1865; H. T. Buckle, Hist. of Civilization is England, London, 1878 (ef. L. ttienne, Le Positivism Bans l'Aiatoirs, Paris, 186$, a criticism of Buckle); J. Tulloch, Rational Theology .

in England in iTth Century, Edinburgh, 1872; Kohn, AufkidrunoaP, Potsdam, 1873; J. W. Draper, Hiet, of the Conflict between Religion and Science, New York, 1874; idem, Haet, of the Intellectual Development of Europe, 2 vols., ib., 1876; J. Cairns, Unbelief in 18th Century, London, 1881; L. Stephen, Hist. of English Thought in 18th Cenhsry, ib., 1881; A. Sorel, L'Europa at to rEroolotion, Paris, 1886-92; R. Eueken, Gruri$s der Gegenwart, Leipsic. 1893; A. D. White, HiaR of the Warfare of Science udtiW'heology, New York, 1898; W. E. H. Lecky, HisE. of Rise and In$uerice of the Spirit of Ratianaiiarrv in Europe, London, 1899; 3. F. Hurst, H%at, of Rationalism, New York, 1901; R. Qtto, Naturadistische and redigilke Weltanaieht, TVbinQen, 1904, Eng. transl., Naturalism and Religion, New York, 1907.


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