"In this volume I am analyzing the philosophes' environment - the economic and cultural changes that made the philosophy of the Enlightenment relevant and in fact inevitable, the position of writers and artists which gave substance to the philosophes' demands and to their expectations - and the philosophes' program, their view of progress, science, art, society, and politics."(ix)
Gay wil niet gaan moraliseren in dit boek, maar:
"If there is an age that desperately needs the human aims and the critical methods of the Enlightenment, it is certainly our age."(xi)
"In the century of the Enlightenment, educated Europeans awoke to a new sense of life. They experienced an expansive sense of power over nature and themselves: the pitiless cycles of epidemics, famines, risky life and early death, devastating war and uneasy peace - the treadmill of human existence - seemed to be yielding at last to the application of critical intelligence. Fear of change, up to that time nearly universal, was giving way to fear of stagnation; the word innovation, traditionally an effective term of abuse, became a word of praise. The very emergence of conservative ideas was a tribute to the general obsession with improvement: a stationary society does not need conservatives. There seemed to be little doubt that in the struggle of man against nature the balance of power was shifting in favor of man."(3)
Niet dat alles meteen rozegeur en maneschijn was: ook de 18e eeuw kende zijn ellende. Bovendien was het slechts een kleine groep die kon profiteren van de verbeterde leefomstandigheden.
"The new style of thought was in the main reserved to the well-born, the articulate, and the lucky: the rural and the urban masses had little share in the new dispensation. As in ideas, so in styles of life, Western society existed in several centuries at once."(4)
Er was armoede alom, de bezittende klasse buitte de andere klasse nog steeds uit, TBC werd de nieuwe plaag, en zo verder.
"Practically all progress in the eighteenth century, wether in industry, agriculture, education, or government, was a doubtful blessing. Yet it was a blessing, and while passivity and pessimism survived, even among philosophes, those placed favorably enough to profit from the currents of the age were buoyed up by pleasing and unprecedented prospects."(5)
[Hm, ik vind dat Gay de klasseverschillen hier toch iets te gemakkelijk afserveert. Kun je zeggen dat de ontwikkelingen van die tijd een zegen waren? Kun je zeggen dat de 'enclosure movement' uiteindelijk in het belang van de verdreven bewoners was? Ik ben skeptisch. Misschien wil Gay het toch te mooi hebben.]
Het zelfvertrouwen groeide na eeuwen weer, het geloof in eigen kunnen, de gedachte dat mensen iets van deze wereld kunnen maken. Mensen hadden weer de zin en de moed ('the nerve') om zaken aan te pakken.
"The age of Enlightenment was an age of academies - academies of medicine, of agriculture, of literature, each with its prizes, its journals, and its well-attended meetings. In the academies and outside them, in factories and workshops and coffeehouses, intelligence, liberated from the bonds of tradition, often heedless of aesthetic scruples or religious restraints, devoted itself to practical results; it kept in touch with scientists and contributed to technological refinements."(9-10)
"This prosaic rhapsody neatly captures the new spirit, with its emotional commitment to the mundane, its abundant love of life, and its sense of power."(11)
Uiteraard speelde de wetenschappelijke revolutie een grote rol in die vernieuwde activiteit. Maar vooral de ontwikkelingen in de medische wetenschap gaven hoop.
""I love life," Diderot wrote to the famous surgeon Sauveur-François de Morand in 1748, "hence I want to live, at least as long as I continue to be happy; but there is no true happiness for the man who is not well.""(13)
Alle philosophes hadden belangstelling voor de medische wetenschap. Vandaar ook de typische medische metaforen die ze vaak gebruikten om de 'zieke samenleving' te beschrijven of om het Christendom als 'een infectie' neer te zetten en uiteraard ook om 'een kuur' voor alles te bedenken die iedereen zou 'genezen' van die ellende.
De nadruk lag dus op ervaring en waarneming en klinische experimenten. Over Herman Boerhaave, de Leidse professor-arts-filosoof die een enorme invloed uitoefende en enorm veel bezoekers trok:
"Boerhaave taught medical Newtonianism; he lectured on Newton and tried to embody Newton's empirical method in his theoretical work and clinical practice."(18)
"All this stress on experience, on clinical study and experimentation revolutionized medicine. Still, it is safe to speculate that in the eighteenth century a sick man who did not consult a physician had a better chance of surviving than one who did."(19)
De conservatieve medische stand verzette zich namelijk hevig tegen alle vernieuwing, ook tegen thermometers en bloeddrukmeters. Wat dan ook illustreerde dat de medische beroepsuitoefening dringend aan vernieuwing toe was. Vandaar het enthousiasme van de philosophes daarvoor. De kindersterfte was enorm hoog en de meeste artsen werden niet serieus genomen.
"Infanticide, cruelty to orphans or illegitimate children, disease, and above all destitution, remained ravenous killers.(...) The poor died freely, in unrecorded numbers, but even men of means thought long life a stroke of unexpected luck."(21)
Desondanks was de bevolkingsgroei opvallend. De medische beroepsuitoefening begon met name opvallend te veranderen en successen te boeken na het mmidden van de 18e eeuw.
Engeland - met zijn levendige handel en zijn toenemende rijkdom - gold voor de philosophes als voorbeeld van hoe de dingen zich zouden ontwikkelen wanneer mensen zouden stoppen met hun bijgeloof en hun verstand zouden gaan gebruiken.
"It seemed that in law courts, in politics, and on fields of battle alike, reason begot humanity.
Men had been charitable before this time, obviously. They had given alms to the poor and felt pity for the unfortunate. What was new about eighteenth-century humanity was that it formed part of the general recovery of nerve: its optimistic decency was grounded in the rational foundations of scientific improvement as much as in religious prescriptions. Generosity was a luxury a progressive society could afford.
Like reason, humanity had strenuous partisans among devout Christians. It was on the ground of decency that philosophes and Christians could meet: they agreed, though from divergent motives, that slavery should be abolished, illegitimate babies rescued, ferocious punishments repealed, and the miserable relieved."(30)
"Eighteenth-century humanitarianism was afflicted with contradictions and disfigured by cant. Effusions went hand in hand with exploitation; men who piously lamented the lot of slaves abroad coolly sent children to the mines at home. Yet cynicism is unhistorical, at least here: this myopic humanity was the fumbling response to unprecedented social changes; it was the piecemeal, often painful attempt to construct a coherent attitude appropriate to a new society struggling to be born.
While humanity was incomplete and often illogical, it was nevertheless widespread."(31)
Een en ander had invloed op het gezinsleven, de posities van man en vrouw, de vrijheid van de kinderen om hun eigen toekomst te kiezen. Liefde moest iets rationeels zijn, verliefdheid en passie vormden geen goede leidraad voor het kiezen van een partner.
"And so, in the delicate matter of love, as in other matters, an increased confidence in reason led to increasing humanity.
In consequence, marriage which through the seventeenth century had been regarded as a sacred institution and as a legal device for the management of property and the regulation of inheritance, came to be spoken of in the age of the Enlightenment as a partnership, a contract, honorable and grave but secular in nature. Monogamy, long a Christian ideal, became for many a comfortable reality, and even those philosophes whose own marital experience was unhappy felt that they owed it to their philosphy to praise marriage as an institution."(32-33)
[Ik geloof dat hier toch onuitgesproken waardeoordelen beginnen op te spelen. Waarom bijvoorbeeld zou rationele liefde of het monogame huwelijk als een redelijk contract tot toenemende humaniteit leiden? Dat moet nog aangetoond worden.]
"In this atmosphere, which was clearer and less oppressive than the atmosphere of preceding centuries, women and children secured new respect and new rights."(33)
De philosophes waren natuurlijk gewend aan intelligente vrouwen (zoals in de salons) en dachten in principe aan gelijkwaardigheid van de sexen, al konden ze zich in de praktijk niet altijd losmaken van de aloude vooroordelen over vrouwen. En wat kinderen betreft mocht de praktijk nog hard zijn, het beeld van kinderen en van wat goed voor hun was veranderde in de 18e eeuw aanmerkelijk en niet alleen door Rousseau's Émile.
Ook de gevoeligheid voor wreedheid nam toe. Openbare terechtstellingen werden afgeschaft bijvoorbeeld.
"It became possible, and even stylish, to seek the causes of drunkenness and crime in social circumstances and to explain poverty neither as a divine dispensation nor as a just punishment for laziness, but as a stroke of misfortune or a failure of society. Still, such humane, utilitarian sociology remained controversial: in France, the abbé de Saint-Pierre, an indefatigable projector, invented the term bienfaissance and was praised for it by Voltaire, but pious conservatives, who disliked the secularization of charity, shook their heads."(37)
"Even the laboring poor came to be regarded as human beings with real feelings and a right to subsistence."(39)
[Al bleek daar dan weinig van ... Dit is zo'n uitspraak van Gay waarbij ik alleen maar skepsis voel.]
"Since the humanitarians were convinced that knowledge produced humanity, they took instances of callousness as evidence not of innate cruelty but of surviving ignorance."(39-40)
[Belangrijk als 'de feiten kennen en daarnaar handelen', 'meten is weten' en dat soort dingen voor beleidsmakers. Heel gevaarlijk natuurlijk, wanneer dat in machtsverhoudingen een rol gaat spelen. Je zou je eigen kennis wel eens kunnen overschatten en - nog erger - wel eens kunnen denken dat de anderen heropgevoed moeten worden in 'instituten'.]
"pacifism remained a utopian ideal, but hatred of war became a respectable sentiment."(40)
Ook sociaal gedrag (manieren, beleefdheid, beschaafde omgangsvormen) werden minder grof in alle lagen der bevolking.
"Sensibility all too often degenerated into sentimentality, and easy tears conveniently blinded the eyes of men and women reluctant to confront the realities of their times or their own lives.
The sentimentality and melodrama of the age deserve much of the criticism they have received, both on the aesthetic and on social grounds. Yet even the sentimental productions of the time were agents in the humanization of man."(44)
"In his famous essay on the Protestant ethic, Max Weber argues that the spirit of capitalism (in which we may recognize Hume’s 'industry'), with its tight-lipped asceticism, its concentration on material things, its often rascally and usually ruthless search for proﬁts, and its single-minded philistinism, was inimical to the smiling hedonism of the Enlightenment. Whatever the permanent value of Weber’s thesis, which has been subjected to some telling criticism, it is true that the modes of life that characterized leading capitalists were far removed from the rococo grace of Wieland, the unbuttoned literary inventiveness of Diderot, or the serene classical learning of David Hume. At the same time, Benjamin Franklin, who is Max Weber’s favorite exemplar of the eighteenth-century capitalist mentality, was Voltaire’s brother in the masonic lodge, Les trois soeurs, and the two were brothers in much else besides. The spirit of capitalism questioned customary ways, despised tradition, and thus, precisely like the Encyclopédie, helped to change the general way of thinking and to point it, if not directly toward humanitarianism, at least toward the rationalization of life.
All over the West, in London as in Philadelphia, philosophers joined articulate businessmen in commending ceaseless activity and preached the postponement of immediate gratiﬁcation for the sake of some higher and more enduring satisfaction. As preachers of practicality, the philosophes resorted to the virtue of action as a favorite text: it is signiﬁcant that Locke, and Condillac after him, should regard restlessness or inquiétude as the mainspring of life. Other philosophes followed their lead. Hume regarded activity as essential to felicity: "There is no happiness without occupation." Diderot exalted Hercules, the man of action, over Antinoüis, the pretty aesthetic object, and wryly called his Encyclopédie, the favorite among his Herculean labors and his claim to immortality, "a labor that has been the torment of my life for twenty years." Voltaire polemicized against the profusion of religious holidays, which kept men from productive labor, preached the philosophy of energy - "we do not want enough" — and told his mistress and niece that his life was "to work and think of you."
This doctrine has been sharply criticized as the ideology of a rising bourgeoisie complacently presiding over the exploitation of labor. There is some truth in this criticism. While facile allusions to 'the rising bourgeoisie' have fallen into disfavor, it is undeniable that merchants, industrialists, bankers, attorneys, physicians, men of letters, respectable shopkeepers, and rentiers — that social congeries making up what we call, for short, the bourgeoisie — supplied the new industriousness with its most zealous troops and most singleminded advocates. Still, the term remains unsatisfactory: the philosophes applied the doctrine to themselves, and worked as hard as anyone. Furthermore, enterprising aristocrats and energetic members of the lower orders strove for success side by side with the most compulsive manufacturer. Just as there were Roman Catholics who practiced the Protestant ethic, so men either beyond or beneath the bourgeoisie held bourgeois values and led bourgeois lives. And, just as not all industrious men were bourgeois, so not all bourgeois were industrious. Large segments of the European middle classes were as torpid as peasants, as wedded to tradition as aristocrats, too snobbish and too anxious for social advancement to destroy the status ladder they themselves hoped to climb. The eighteenth century was the age of the ossifying, as much as the age of the awakening, bourgeoisie."(45-46)
[Humanisme kun je niet zo maar gelijkschakelen met de rationalisering van het leven. En dat er geen sprake was van een keiharde klassenverdeling betekent niet dat de bezittende klasse niet de hoofdrol speelde. Bovendien had die klasse ook de macht om de bedoelde arbeidsethiek, de strenge attitude, op te leggen aan de andere klasse. Ook hier heb ik het gevoel dat Gay het te mooi wil zien. Ik begrijp ook niet hoe dit zich verhoudt met wat volgt. Want hierna heeft hij het over de toenemende rigiditeit in de verhoudingen tussen de klassen.]
"The dynamism that is the capitalist spirit was, therefore, the property of a minority and to an impressive extent of outsiders. In England, the industrial revolution was almost proverbially in the hands of Protestant Dissenters and Scots in search of their fortune. In France, financial and industrial innovations were largely the work of foreign Protestants - Scots and Genevans - and Huguenot families who had survived the great purges of the 1680's."(47)
"By glorifying work, the bearers of the Protestant Ethic substituted commercial for heroic, modern for medieval - bourgeois for aristocratic - ideals, which were, precisely, the ideals of the philosophes.
The celebration of industry, which is so prominent in eighteenth-century writings on morals and economic affairs, thus represents a radical criticism of the traditional ethical hierarchy."(48)
[Dit zijn dan de waarden en normen van de philosophes en de Verlichting, met een duidelijke relatie tussen die protestantse arbeidsethiek en het Verlichtingsdenken. Maar de vraag is natuurlijk of we dat zo geweldig moeten vinden. Waren de gevolgen uiteindelijk niet desastreus?]
"In 1734 Voltaire appropriated this ideal [de commercie, de handel - GdG] for the Continent. The Lettres philosophiques is filled with tributes to the commercial spirit, which prefers peace to glory, opens high posts to men of talent, and converts the world into a market in which all traders tolerate one another."(49-50)
[Dat is niet meer dan een ideaalbeeld. Een beeld dat erg naïef aandoet. Ik denk niet dat Voltaire erg tevreden zou zijn wanneer hij vandaag in de wereld zou rondkijken.]
"One of the most eloquent expressions of the new spirit at work, of reason, humanity, and industry celebrated by and for respectable Christians, was the periodical literature that began to flourish, first in Britain and then on the Continent, at the beginning of the eighteenth cntury."(51)
Hoe oefenden de philosophes hun invloed uit? Allereerst door literaire werk (Gay spreekt van de 'Republic of Letters'). En gelezen werden ze. In de 18e eeuw namen het alfabetisme en de geletterdheid (literacy) snel toe. Boeken, goedkope literaire uitgaven, bibliotheken, kranten, tijdschriften, letterkundige genootschappen, het aantal mogelijkheden voor het grote publiek groeide. Natuurlijk las nog lang niet iedereen, zeker niet bij de arme bevolkingsgroepen, maar het aantal nam snel toe. Er werd steeds minder geschreven in het Latijn en het gebruik van de nationale talen werd verfijnd en vereenvoudigd. Ook dat hielp natuurlijk.
"What doubtless irritated the philosophes most was the undiminished popularity of religious literature on all levels, from abstruse theology and literate sermons to crude catechisms or brightly illustrated saints' lives."(61)
Schrijvers werden ook langzamerhand respectabel en sommigen zelfs financieel onafhankelijk van rijke mecenassen en beschermheren (patrons), omdat ze zelf geld verdienden met hun uitgaven.
"While escape from poverty and dependence was essential to a writer's freedom, it was by itself not enough. The republic of letters subsisted in a world of oligarchies that protected their position of privilege and power by controlling the flow of new ideas and the latitude of critical comment. In many places, the authorities choked off meaningful public discussion altogether. (...) censors harassed, humiliated, and intimidated writers everywhere (...) Most European states regarded politics, religion, and the ruling house as forbidden subjects."(69-70)
"For the most part, the republic of letters was a casual association, held together by friendly suppers, informal club meetings in taverns and coffeehouses, and extensive correspondence. But in France, it was severely and rationally organized into the Académie Française, and its control was therefore a political question of some importance."(79)
Geleidelijk aan kregen de philosophes de overhand in de AcFr en na 1749 sloeg de sfeer in heel West-Europa om naar meer vrijheid en radicalisme.
"It [het midden van de eeuw - GdG] marked an epoch because the growing radicalism and increasing freedom of the Enlightenment reﬂected and produced irreversible, if often subterranean, changes in Western politics, economy, and society. As democrats and atheists took the lead in the family of philosophes, radicals rebelled against constituted authority all over the Western World; as the industrial discipline and the invention of new techniques in manufacturing, in agriculture, in medicine, and in government grew at an accelerating pace, Voltaire came out into the open with his campaign to écraser l’infâme, Rousseau brought out his two revolutionary books, Contrat social and its companion piece, Émile, Diderot completed his Encyclopédie and composed, even if he did not publish, some of his most subversive dialogues, Lessing published his literary criticism, Beccaria his Dei delitti e delle pene, Holbach his first materialist broadsides. If midcentury marked an epoch in the history of ideas, it was the philosophes’ ideas that marked it, and the philosophes, anxious or not, were happy to note the fact. The Enlightenment and its world moved toward modernity together, with the philosophes, goading and guiding, a single but decisive step ahead."(83)
"In incorporating the recovery of nerve into their program, the philosophes resolved their ambivalence toward antiquity and accomplished their emancipation. The ancients had felt helpless before the forces of nature and man's irrationality, and the philosophers of antiquity had rationalized this impotence in systems pervaded by a profound pessimism. To philosophize was to learn how to die; to study history was to trace the decline of mankind from some golden age of innocence, honor, and virility. Even the ambitious political constructions of Plato and Aristotle, which rested on the assumption that man can manage his own affairs, were largely designed as measures of defense against the ubiquitous threat of tyranny or the savage power of the passions. With all their admiration for classical thought, the philosophes could not remain content with such resigned philosophizing; instead, with their activism and their practicality, they completed the great reorientation in man's view of life under way since the Reanaissance."(84)
"The Enlightenment's concentration on the future as a realm of unrealized possibilities invited a corresponding depreciation of the past. The philosophes did not repudiate history; they found it amusing, instructive, and intensely interesting. But they could not take it as an authoritative guide."(90)
Nostalgie, primitivisme kwamen ook voor bij de philosophes, maar nooit als doel op zichzelf, nooit als een vorm van escapisme, altijd als een manier om te hervormen.
De philosophes geloofden in vooruitgang, in een betere toekomst, waren in de kern optimistisch. al waren ze het zeker niet altijd eens over wat als vooruitgang mocht gelden en wat niet. Van de andere kant was hun programma voor de toekomst heel wat anders dan de vooruitgangstheorieën (gezien als heilsgeschiedenis) die Christelijke denkers propageerden.
"A program for progress, it is worth insisting, is not a theory of progress. Theologians, historians, and philosophers developed true theories of progress, before, during, and after the age of the Enlightenment, but despite exceptions like Turgot, the philosophes' mentality was not hospitable to them. For centuries, Christian optimists had described man's pilgrimage on earth as the education of humanity from sin to purity - we see traces of it in the secular ecstasy of Lessing's Erziehung des Menschengeschlechts. For centuries, Christian enthusiasts had preached an apocalyptic version of the theory of progress in their predictions for the millennium. After the Enlightenment, Hegel, Ranke, and their vulgarizers were to offer modern versions of these Christian speculations; they viewed improvement as constituent of the universe, indispensable in its very nature and thus inevitable, whether realized through the workings of biological Evolution, engineered by the cunning of History, or decreed by divine Providence. There were rationalists among these prophets of progress, but at least until the nineteenth century it was easier for a Christian than for a philosophe to construct a theory of progress. Christians could call on the millennial utopianism that was never far below the level of their consciousness, but the philosophes were, for all their lapses into optimistic fantasies, bound by the exigencies of this world. The pilgrim's progress was rather more direct, it seems, than the philosophes' progress. Far from basking in cheerful certainty, then, the philosophes qualified their hopes with reservations."(100)
Ze dachten in zekere zin te cyclisch over natuur en cultuur om een dom ongenuanceerd vooruitgangsgeloof te hebben, ze zagen ook de risico's die met de vooruitgang gepaard gingen.
"The mixture - grim, programmatic optimism controlled by frank pessimism - that dominated the British century of philosophy and the French siècle des lumières also dominated the German Aufklärung."(105)
"The belief in progress, Kant rightly saw, was a modern belief, and applied most accurately to the progress of civilization. Moral progress was another matter altogether: if a man should claim that moral progress has in fact taken place, one must reply he has not deduced his claim from experience."(105)
"Man's viciousness, foolishness, childish vanity, and sheer destructiveness are an antidote to conceit and easy self-confidence."(106)
Aldus Kant. En andere philosophes dachter er net zo over. Ook Turgot (Discours sur les progrès successifs de l'esprit humain) en Condorcet (Esquisse d'un tableau historique des progrès de l'esprit humain) schreven op die manier over de vooruitgang.
"Progress, then, exacts its tribute - it is an idea familiar to the philosophes, but it is startling here, in a discourse on inevitable progress. Progress is slow, costly, uncertain. Evil often produces good, but it remains evil just the same; the miserable instruments of general progress are not the less miserable for that. In fact, in the great combat of truth and error, it is often the error that survives and the truth that is crushed. Even science sometimes resists progress by developing an institutional conservatism."(110)
"It was a commonplace among philosophic historians that the world had always been divided between critics and believers, philosophy and superstition, and that the combat of reason and unreason had provided at once the ground of conflict and the impetus for progress. But, strongly tempted as they were, the philosophes had not simply identified the clergy as the supreme obstacle to reason. Turgot whom Condorcet admired as much as he admired anyone, Lessing as well, had assigned to Christianity a progressive role in the drama of man's evolution. (...)
Gibbon and Voltaire and Hume were as anticlerical and anti-Christian as Condorcet, and their histories suffer from a narrowing of sympathy, a distortion of perspective whenever they deal with religious matters. But these three historians had the historians' sense for the variety, the complexity, the sheer value of the past, and in consequence their histories are richer, more detached, and more objective than their political stance might have led one to expect. Gibbon and Voltaire and Hume did not scruple to exploit history for polemical purposes, but they controlled their spleen; they wrote history.
Condorcet did not follow his masters in this, certainly not in the Esquisse. He wrote polemics, not history, and, since the Esquisse purports to be a historical essay and an ambitious one, the flaw is fatal. Condorcet simply elevated his anticlericalism into his philosophy of history. He concedes that castes of philosophers and other secular elites may set their faces against human advancement, but his ideal type of the true reactionary, the great enemy, is the religious man operating from the protected sanctuary of a sacred institution."(113-114)
"Everything could be abused, even science. But while. there was much about progress that remained shrouded in uncertainty, there were two things of which the philosophes remained confident: if there was one area of human experience in which progress was reliable it was science, and if there was any real hope for man, it was science that would realize it."(124)
"In the age of the Enlightenment, that great time of discovery, consolidation, and triumphant popularizing, it did not take unusual perspicacity to recognize the scientific revolution as an extraordinary event. It was plain that this revolution was the most far-reaching upheaval the West had experienced since the Protestant Reformation, indeed more far-reaching: the discoveries of Galileo and Boyle and Newton were changing the world more drastically than it had been changed by the doctrines of Luther and Calvin. The spectacular intellectual conquests of astronomers and physicists made science interesting to many, and not to philosophes alone: the philosophes might think themselves privileged admirers, but in fact science had many other courtiers in the age of the Enlightenment; indeed, when Rousseau denigrated the sciences in his first Discours, it was the Jesuit Journal de Trevoux that defended them against this eloquent slanderer."(126)
De philosophes zagen ook de nadelen, de nieuwe problemen.
Newton werd door de philosophes gezien als een held.
"In the deification of Newton, the Enlightenment of the philosophes and the age of the Enlightenment were at one. Devout literary men and philosophers who would have little to do with the philosophes' radical notions shared, and in fact anticipated, the philosophes' worship of Newton."(130)
"With Voltaire as its chief propagator, the mystique of Newton traveled from England to the Continent with little delay."(131)
"From country to country and decade to decade, the tributes to Newton changed little. They were always fervent, usually sincere, but in the long run mechanical and monotonous. But then it was precisely this monotony - one poet, usually more well-intentioned than well-informed, rewriting another poet - that gave the literary deification its cultural significance."(133)
"A center - for years, the center for the assimilation and propagation of Newtonianism on the Continent. was the University of Leyden. Boerhaave, the great chemist, botanist, philosopher, and physician who presided over the school of medicine there, was one of Newton's most faithful and most effective allies."(135)
"But whatever the scientific complexities, one thing was perfectly clear to Voltaire, and he did not hesitate for a moment to point it out to his French readers: while Descartes was reviled, intimidated, and hounded from his country, Newton was left in peace, honored, and rewarded. Here was one use of Newton for the Enlightenment: he was a demonstration of the advantages of freedom, and, conversely, of the stupidity of repression."(138)
"From such general approval it was only a short distance to a firm commitment to Newton, and, encouraged by years of research, reflection, and conversations with persuasive Newtonians like Maupertuis, Voltaire made this commitment in his Éléments de la philosophie de Newton. There are no evasions in this book, and few anecdotes."(139)
"Few scientists in the time of Boyle and Newton predicted that true religion and true science would some day be at war; few of them so much as acknowledged that religion and science might belong to two potentially hostile camps."(140)
"In an age and in a country sensitive to the threat of infidelity, Newton kept his fellowship at Cambridge and enjoyed profitable preferment in the government service. He was a Unitarian, but not a deist: no deist, no matter how brilliant, could have had Newton's public career."(142)
"Doubtless Voltaire contributed to this complex development by pitting science agamst Christianity, though not against religion. Whatever scientists themselves might believe, as Newtonian physics secured its hold in the age of the Enlightenment, the philosophes found much cause for satisfaction: for them at least, the developments in science offered confirmation for their secular philosophy. The scientific community itself long kept a religious cast; while there were some tensions between science and religion in the eighteenth century, the conflict did not reach the stage of war to the death until a hundred years later, with Darwin."(144)
"The work of scientists and the ideology of philosophes were by no means the same thing, but at the very least the direction of science could give deists and atheists great comfort and supply them with what they wanted - Newton's physics without Newton's God."(145)
De philosophes waren niet bepaald gek op Descartes.
"His [Descartes] fame in France, on the other hand, was almost wholly posthumous [Descartes stierf in 1650 - GdG]; it had to await the assimilation of his philosophy to Catholic orthodoxy, for from the beginning there had been critics like Pascal who feared Descartes as a glib tempter who would seduce men away from belief in the active Christian God. But Descartes became fashionable in high society and valuable to highly placed apologists; gradually, in the hands of philosophers like Malebranche and Fénelon and biographers like Baillet, there emerged a pious, safe, modern but wholly reliable Descartes, young Henry More's Descartes - not an invitation to, but a bulwark against, atheism."(147)
"Newton's prestige was untouched. If effusions about him grew rarer It was simply because poets had said as much about him as could be said about any man. Newton's name remained as magical and his ideas as commanding as ever, and the sciences peculiarly associated with him continued to advance on a broad front of agreement. The newer sciences, on the other hand - geology, biology, chemistry - continued to generate new puzzles; they compensated for their lack of authority with sheer excitement."(151)
Voorbeelden: Maupertuis, Buffon.
"This commitment to clarity was of great importance in a time of dizzyng advances in the natural sciences. As Buffon saw - and, as the vagaries of romantic scientists after his death would demonstrate, saw rightly - the gravest menace to correct scientific understanding was the failure to separate objective inquiry from subjective wishes, the insistence on importing ethical or aesthetic considerations into scientific inquiry."(154)
"It [het werk van Buffon] was also subversive of established Christian belief. Buffon himself might have demurred at being called a philosophe: his relations with Voltaire, d'Alembert, and Diderot, though generally amiable, were rather reserved. But the Encyclopedists had no hesitation in claiming him for the good cause, and foreign visitors like Horace Walpole and David Hume included him among the philosophes without hesitation and with perfect justification. Buffon, for his part, made obeisances to established authority - he wanted, above all, to get his work done."(155)
"Whatever his private religious views, Buffon's temper was the temper of the Enlightenment: his explanation of astronomical, geological, archaeological, and biological phenomena was wholly naturalistic, his style of thinking wholly secular."(156)
Wetenschap begon te professionaliseren, de toepassing van abstracte wiskundige methoden speelde daar een hoofdrol in.
"The philosophes should not have been surprised to see that scientific progress exacted its price. But surprised or not, some of them did not like to pay it. Scientists were coming to rely increasingly on the language of mathematics - exact and objective but abstract - and to discover the advantages of the division of labor, which made intelligent participation in the scientific process increasingly difficult."(157)
"The age of universal knowledge was over; and the philosophes, for all their scientific bent, could not help but lament its passing."(158)
"The irresistible propulsion of modern scientific inquiry was toward positivism, toward the elimination of metaphysics, and the clean separation of facts and values, foreshadowed by Bacon, implied by Newton, triumphantly announced by Hume, taken for granted by the leading scientists of the late eighteenth century. Scientific thinking exacted the stripping away of theological, metaphysical, aesthetic, and ethical admixtures that had been a constituent part of science since the Greeks; scientific philosophers of the eighteenth century, with justice, treated these admixtures as impurities, as survivals from earlier stages of consciousness. Every scientific discovery weakened the hold of theological explanation, metaphysical entities, and aesthetic considerations: the orbits of planets were neither beautiful nor ugly; the law of gravitation was neither cruel nor kind; observed irregularities in the skies proved nothing about divine activity. And every improvement in scientific terminology or mathematical formulation further liberated scientists from old anthropomorphic conceptions of the world and reduced to irrelevance many of the old questions that philosophers had addressed to nature."(159-160)
"Having made man master in his own house, some of the philosophes felt like strangers in it, and they could not quite suppress their longing for ancient simplicities. This nostalgia was by no means universal among them; on the whole one can say that the philosophes who knew science best feared it least. Hume, d'Alembert, and Kant are the fathers of three divergent modern philosophies of science - the first of empiricism, the second of positivism, the third of critical idealism - but their general attitude toward science was one of warm wellcome.
Diderot found it impossible to live with the teaching, implied by Newton and elaborated by eighteenth-century scientists, that science discloses what is and says nothing about what should be, that truth and beauty, truth and goodness, are wholly distinct."(162)
Maar wat de bezwaren ook waren: alle philosophes zagen de wetenschappelijke methode als misschien wel de belangrijkste uitvinding van de 18e eeuw.
"Even if he did not always say what he meant, Hume always meant what he said: the science of man was possible and would be immensely useful. That is why the men of the Enlightenment were ultimately not afraid of science; it was not merely their best, but their only, hope for the knowledge that would give man both abundance and freedom."(166)
Christelijke ideeën over de menselijke natuur - bv. de radicale slechtheid ervan door de erfzonde - werden door de philosophes verworpen. Dat stimuleerde nieuwe gedachten over die menselijke natuur en over de plaats van mensen in de natuur. En die waren niet als vanzelfsprekend positief en optimistisch.
"It was in this spirit that the philosophes inquired into human nature, and asked whether it was uniform through time and space, the same in ancient and modern man. For all their loose terminology, all their inclination for burdening their conjectures with fantastic travelers' reports, the philosophes on the whole thought that there was such a nature, and that, although individual character and differences in environment produced wide, often astounding variations, nature had built a certain uniformity into man's basic patterns of growth and behavior."(168)
"The philosophes were certain that man is born innocent - "No, dear friend," Diderot exclaimed to Sophie Volland, "nature has not made us evil; it is bad education, bad models, bad legislation that corrupt us" - but they were inclined to dwell on his capacity for evil."(170)
"But the philosophes, including those philosophes who punctuated their writings with despairing witticisms on man's stupidity and cruelty, found Christian assertions of human dignity to be worthless cant - insignificant concessions that did nothing to correct the Christian hatred of this world and of nature and the Christian doctrine of man's abjectness and servility."(171)
"Whatever the Christians thought of man-capable or incapable of participating in his salvation, likely to be doomed or likely to be saved - the point of Christian anthropology was that man is a son, dependent on God. Whatever the philosophes thought of man-innately decent or innately power-hungry, easy or hard to educate to virtue - the point of the Enlightenment's anthropology was that man is an adult, dependent on himself."(174)
"In constructing their secular philosophy of man, the philosophes did not wholly abandon 'romance' for science; or, rather, they often took for science what was really romance. Diligently, sometimes credulously, they studied travelers' reports about savage tribes, or accounts of lost creatures roaming the forests in Europe, to discover essential man. Like others in their time - for this was by no means characteristic of the philosophes alone - the men of the Enlightenment sought clues to the universal in the unique, the typical in the extraordinary."(174-175)
De psychologen van de 18e eeuw zochten naar een nieuwe insteek, naar een omslag in de psychologie zoals Newton die in de natuurwetenschappen had teweeg gebracht. Voorbeeld: David Hartley en zijn fysiologische psychologie (associatietheorie, bijvoorbeeld van invloed op Hume).
"In its treatment of the passions, as in its treatment of metaphysics, the Enlightenment was not an age of reason but a revolt against rationalism.
This revolt was at once substantive and methodological. It opposed not merely excessive claims for man's power to control his emotions but also the arid, schematic, often unworldly classifications of earlier philosophers of the mind. But the philosophes' revolt in psychology was also - and there its delicacy lies - a revolt against antirationalism, against that devout psychology which meekly served Christian theology by denying man's capacity to find his own unaided way in life. It is no accident that the philosophes chose as their intellectual ancestors, in the study of man as elsewhere, those modern writers who had distrusted reason without exalting unreason: Montaigne, Hobbes, Spinoza - and Locke. The pious Christian, the Enlightenment conceded, had been right to explore the limits of reason and the range of passion, but he had misconceived them both. In response, the philosophes saw psychology as a dual escape - from unreasonable rationalism and superstitious antirationalism."(189)
"For most of the philosophes, the analysis of passion became a celebration. (...) Yet the philosophes' celebration of passion inevitably had its wry aspect. Wieland and Voltaire, David Hume and John Adams joined in regretting man's susceptibility to irrational impulse; they were complacently amused by his love of wonder, sardonic about the ease with which his noble philosophizing was subverted by appeals to baser passions, and horrified by his inclination to violence."(190-191)
"Revolutionary for all its hesitancy and equivocations, the Enlightenment's rehabilitation of the passions was essential to its rehabilitation of man as a natural creature. Two sentiments in particular - pride and lust - which Christians for centuries had condemned as mortal sins, acquired in the philosophy of the philosophes a new, high, and, to the devout, offensive status."(192)
"The philosophes' 'rescue' of sensuality was, if anything, more daring than their rescue of pride, though less conclusive."(194)
"After all, he was certain that religions - all religions, not Christianity alone - demand, practice, and impose some form of self-mutilation. And he was equally certain that the philosophes must rescue the body from the castrating zeal of pious men."(195)
"It was not the philosophes' intention to deny that sexual intercourse, or sexual enjoyment, had been widespread before they came on the scene, or that erotic literature had been stifled by piety until their century: they had read Chaucer and Boccaccio, Aretino and Bembo, and. for all their tendentiousness, they were men of sense. Their intention was, rather, to reassert the innocence of sexuality, and to celebrate it as an integral and praiseworthy part of man's nature."(196)
"It is this intention that controls one of the most striking polemics of the Enlightenment, Diderot's Supplément au Voyage de Bougainville. Its procedure is perfectly simple: it is to contrast, invidiously, Christian sexual morality with Tahitian sexual morality by contrasting corrupt, superstitious, and above all hypocritical Christian civilization with pure, free, honest Tahitian civilization. Diderot's Tahitians, though noble, are not savages, and the contrast Diderot wishes to draw is the more effective for it."(196)
"Tahitian indignation is aroused by Western greed and bellicosity, but it is aroused most fiercely by the Christian sexual code."(197)
"But for Diderot, even in this Tahitian fantasy, sexual liberty is not sexual license: Diderot scoffs at celibacy, monogamy, and the fear of incest, and insists that the sexual impulse, being natural, is as innocent as it is essential for the survival of society. But Diderot defines 'natural' not as primitive- or animal-like, or as everything that is possible; the natural, for him, is the appropriate. He places distinct limits on permissible sexual activity: Diderot's Tahitians impose strict taboos on intercourse before maturity has been reached, and the enforcement of these taboos "is the principal object of domestic education, and the most important point in public morality." Bigamy, fornication, adultery, incest are imaginary crimes foisted on a supine humanity by religion, but nature itself sets boundaries which, since they emerge from nature rather than violate it, are truly sacred."(199)
Niet dat de 18e eeuwers, of zelfs maar de philosophes, nu zo open waren over seksualiteit. Het meeste werd nog steeds toegedekt. De rol van vrouwen verbeterde wel iets, maar de dubbele moraal was alom te vinden.
"Prostitution was widespread and open - another tribute the lower orders paid to their betters - while moralists extolled rational love, the mature, sober affection of two reasonable adults superior to the seductions of unreasoning erotic attractions. A few set sensible rules by distinguishing between private indulgence and public reserve."(202)
"With its impudent disregard of law, convention, and that greatest of tyrants, good taste, and with its advocacy of the forbidden, pornography was doubtless liberating; but with its monotonous subliterate style, its brazen appeal to adolescent fantasies, its endless repetitiveness, its lack of realism and hence lack of relevance to the world, it was less an ally than an enemy of Enlightenment, an inducement to conformism and apathy."(203)
"Obviously even for Diderot, sexual gratification was not the highest of all goods, though all of it that was within the bounds set by nature was good. For Diderot, and with him for the Enlightenment in generel, the passions were coming into their own, but they remained a touchy problem."(207)
"Blake's assertion that the creative imagination had atrophied in the eighteenth century implied essentially three things: that religion had decayed, that art had declined, and that the new philosophy, especially its epistemology and psychology, had been responsible for this lamentable state of affairs."(208)
"The imagination is valuable and troublesome, infinitely varied and therefore in appearance a creator. But only in appearance: the imagination - this was the firm majority view of the Enlightenment - was a builder, not a god. ... From the perspective of the Romantics, this sort of faculty seemed a receptive, essentially passive thing. The philosophes did not see it that way: just as their conception of a uniform human nature did not prevent them from seeing enormous variety among human actions, so their conception of the imagination as dependent on given materials did not prevent them from reshaping those materials with astounding vigor."(213)
Enig wantrouwen tegenover de fantasie was er desondanks, dat voelden de Romantici goed aan, en dat had alles te maken met de speculaties die religies er mee tot stand brachten.
"It was behind this multiple misreading of man's nature and possibilities, the philosophes thought, that the imagination had luxuriated, constructing those monstrous lies that had so long governed the world."(214)
"Enthusiasm, that much-despised ebullition of religious sentiment unchecked by reason or decorum, was one fruit of diseased imagination; theology was another. The poetic mentality, indeed - with its logic not of argument but of intoxication, a logic in which beauty is taken for truth, and proof offered through images and metaphors rather than demonstration - was therefore nothing other than the religious mentality. Hence it became the task of the critical philosopher to keep poetry from contaminating philosophy, to enjoy pleasing fictions without taking them for truths."(215)
Er was geen specifieke Verlichtingsstijl in de kunsten. De philosophes hielden er heel verschillende opvattingen op na over wat smaakvol was en wat niet. Wel vonden ze allemaal dat kunst een morele en civiliserende rol had te vervullen.
"The connection between art and enlightenment was close, the relevance of enlightenment to art enormous. Artists, art criticism, and art theory were, like the civilization of the eighteenth century and its philosophy, under great strain; they were in search of self-awareness, of new ground on which to stand. This was the century in which philosophers first undertook really systematic inquiries into the philosophy of art; the very word 'aesthetics' entered the language in the age of the Enlightenment, with Baumgarten's writings. It was the century that, although it lived in the shadow of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century masters, found it necessary to question what it admired."(219)
"At the same time, the philosophes, many of them artists and friends of artists, found themselves by and large in Falconer's camp: the artist's claim to dignity as well as artistic freedom was a kind of test case for their ideal of an open society, in which low birth did not matter and talent was rewarded for its own sake."(222)
De beeldende kunstenaars moesten manoevreren tussen de afhankelijkheid van geldschieters en klanten en de vrijheid om hun eigen ideeën door te voeren. Door musea en exposities en een toenemend aantal klanten werden beeldend kunstenaars langzaamaan zichtbaarder terwijl hun status verbeterde.
"Whatever the artists' preference in style of life - and they varied in the age of the Enlightenment as they had varied before - the realities of the century pointed, ambiguously yet firmly enough, toward independence. Much unlike writers, to whom the advantages of freedom were almost self-evident, many painters, sculptors, and architects had to be dragged into the marketplace of modernity."(228)
Veel kunstenaars vestigden zich in het liberale Engeland en maakten daar hun fortuin, terwijl de Engelsen de kunst afkeken. Hume wees er echter op dat een bloeiende kunst vaak ontstond onder onderdrukkende omstandigheden. De stabiliteit in Engeland van de 18e eeuw leidde op een andere manier tot de bloei van de kunsten: doordat er veel geld was.
"This oligarchy; immensely wealthy and ready to pour its wealth into houses, gardens, paintings, and sculpture, assumed leadership in guiding taste, and produced a cultural revolution - less by design than by default."(231)
"The affinity between Lessing and Diderot is very close and highly instructive. Both were intent upon independence and dignity for the estate of letters, both were contentious and inquisitive, both were learned and cultivated critics of Christianity and modern lovers of antiquity."(256)
"Even Voltaire, who believed in the simplicity and objectivity of moral values, was compelled to concede that the search for objective laws in aesthetics was metaphysical, that is to say, pointless."(293)
[Dat is eigenlijk al heel lang ook mijn overtuiging. Daarom heb ik dit onderdeel alleen maar snel doorgenomen.]
"In aesthetics, the philosophes wrote brilliant and fertile essays; in the social sciences they did more - they laid the foundations and wrote the classics. They were the pioneers in sociology, political economy, and history; we can still read Montesquieu's De l'esprit des lois, Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, and Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire with real pleasure, and more than pleasure, with the sense that they are part of our world. With them, and with other classics like Voltaire's Essai sur les moeurs and Ferguson's Essay on the History of Civil Society, the prehistory of the social sciences gives way to its history."(319)
Aanleiding was het culturele relativisme dat ontstond door het toenemende reizen.
"It led to the attempt on the part of Western man to discover the position of his own civilization and the nature of humanity by pitting his own against other cultures. The essence of social science, like that of any science, is objectivity, and in the study of society, the search for objectivity was materially aided by the conviction, at first tentative and timid but growing more confident with time, that no culture, not even Christian culture - and, in the philosophes' view, especially not Christian culture - was the privileged standard of perfection by which other, lesser cultures could be measured and patronized."(319)
"They [de philosophes] delighted in the new, and found the steady enlargement of their world nothing less than exhilarating. But they could rest content with private pleasure as little as with scientific detachment; in this engagement with reform, they were different from many social scientists in our own day."(321)
"The philosophes were relativists to a degree unthinkable before them, but neither their professional situation nor their philosophical convictions permitted them to erect their relativism into an absolute principle. Their absolutes were freedom, tolerance, reason, and humanity."(322)
"The harmony between knowledge and improvement was not automatic, or inevitable; it was a demand that runs through the philosophes' conception of what social science must be. In their eyes, scientific detachment and reformist involvement belonged together; the application of reason to society meant that knowledge and welfare, knowledge and freedom, knowledge and happiness must be made into inseparable allies. The philosophes were the ancestors of modern positivism, but their positivism, as Herbert Marcuse has rightly said, was "militant and revolutionary"; it was, on principle and in practice, critical."(322-323)
Over Montesquieu - de eerste grote socioloog - die noch methodisch schreef noch onbevooroordeeld.
"Yet whatever his ambiguous role in French politics, whatever the limitations on his vision and the defects in his scholarship - and I make this assertion after due deliberation and with due consideration for the claims of potential rivals - Montesquieu was the most influential writer of the eighteenth century."(325)
"To judge from the response of his contemporary readers, much of Montesquieu's immediate appeal lay in the quality that Horace Walpole had listed last - his humanity. The polemic against the slave trade in De l'esprit des lois, for one, struck Walpole as "glorious"; and Voltaire found the same glory in the same polemic: "The chapters on the Inquisition," he wrote, "and on Negro slaves, are far better than Callot. Throughout he battles despotism, makes financiers hateful, courtiers contemptible, monks ridiculous." The book was, for the philosophes, a feast of reason and decency."(326)
"Like another French philosophe - Diderot - Montesquieu was more influential abroad than at home. I have indicated the range of his empire - from America to Russia, from the Scotland of Ferguson to the Naples of Filangieri - but among all his dependencies Scotland must rank first."(332)
"There was good reason for Scotland's receptivity to Montesquieu: his particular mixture of philosophy and science was wholly congenial to the Scottish Enlightenment, which had been developing its own tradition of secular sociological inquiry since the beginning of the eighteenth century. Francis Hutcheson, moral philosopher and student of society, had many disciples, a brilliant assembly of intellectuals - David Hume, John Millar, Adam Ferguson, Lord Kames, Lord Monboddo, William Robertson - followed, in the next generation, by Adam Smith and Dugald Stewart. All were to a degree moral philosophers, all turned under the pressure of their inquiries to the scientific study of society. The problems these Scots addressed became the classical problems of sociology: the origins of civilization, man's place in society, the development of language, the relations of classes, the rise and fall of population and their interplay with cultivation and prosperity, and the forms of government."(332)
Over Hume en verderop Adam Ferguson (An Essay on the History of Civil Society met name).
[Die Ferguson bevalt me op veel punten heel erg. De nuances, het begrip dat de ene verbetering tegelijkertijd een verslechtering met zich mee kan brengen, en zo verder. Ik lees dat ook Marx hem bewonderde. Dat zegt toch ook iets. Interessant!]
"I need hardly add that as a man of the Enlightenment, Hume, for all his skepticism and for all his inclination toward positivism, was never the merely neutral observer. Hume was not the man to get excited about social reform; if (to paraphrase Lessing) he had been offered a choice between truth and improvement, he would have chosen truth. Yet he made no secret of his preferences for cultivation, cosmopolitanism, and decency, his distaste for superstition, enthusiasm, and barbarism, and his hopes that his philosophizing would aid the one and oppose the other."(335)
"Ferguson was an independent disciple; he distilled his principles from Montesquieu's and Hume's sociological ideas, but he was more severe, more chaste in its pursuit of ascertainable fact, that Montesquieu and even Hume had been."(337-338)
"The study of man and the study of society are thus wholly interdependent. What they show at the outset - here Ferguson turns to Hume - is both the unity and the diversity of man's nature.(...) The claim that man has changed fundamentally by moving from the state of nature to the civil state is a total misreading of his history."(338)
"Civilization is natural; all civilizations are natural. But - and here we seem to hear the language of Freud's Civilization and its Discontents - all civilizations exact their price, all are a mixture of cooperation and conflict, of decay implicit in progress. To condemn all conflict indiscriminately is to read out of court half of human nature - "He who has never struggled with his fellow-creatures, is a stranger to half the sentiments of mankind." - and to misunderstand, and misunderstand disastrously, the positive function of conflict in culture."(339)
"Ferguson is a minority voice in the pacific consensus of the Enlightenment, but his admiration of heroic virtues is more than a reminiscence of classical ways of thinking or a personal prejudice; it is grounded, at least to his satisfaction, in his observation and his anthropological reading."(340)
"Luxury, like every other aspect of highly civilized nations, must be seen as an ambiguous gift: "The boasted refinements, then, of the polished age, are not divested of danger. They open a door, perhaps, to disaster, as wide and accessible as any of those they have shut." A cure may bring a new disease, an advance in one field a retreat in another. The city that builds ramparts and walls protects itself but at the same time saps the martial energy of its citizens; the nation that forms disciplined armies may be safe from external aggression, but at the same time it prepares the way for a military dictatorship at home. Efficient administration may bring personal security and public honesty, but, by killing public spirit, it makes subjects "unworthy of the freedom they possess". Again, the pursuit of wealth produces the kind of civilized refinement that makes life pleasant, advances politeness, and helps the arts to flourish, but it also turns citizens into selfish hunters after wealth, destroys all sense of community, introduces false values - "we transfer the idea of perfection from the character to the equipage" - and, in deed, spawn the kind of moral confusion that is both sign and cause of decay."(341-342)
"But just as the division of labor in public affairs brings efficiency in administration and alienation from politics, the division of labor in industrial or mercantile or artistic matters brings skill and prosperity - and alienation as well. Man (as Ferguson's admirer Karl Marx would put it) is alienated from his community, his labor, and himself; he is fragmented and mechanized: the community falls apart, divided between lowly mechanics and proud practitioners of the liberal arts, and the general increase in wealth is unevenly distributed, to the benefit of an elite and at the expense of the mass: "In every commercial state, notwithstanding any pretension to equal rights, the exaltation of a few must depress the many." Thus the division of labor produces conceit and selfishness in some, envy and servility in most; it is a blessing and a curse, creating vast possibilities and great dangers. The economic problem is, for Ferguson, a social and, even more, a political problem."(342)
De politieke economen van toen slaagden er beter dan de sociologen in om hun vakgebied te kwantificeren: ze verzamelden bijvoorbeeld gegevens uit elk parochieregister en konden zo vrij exact een aantal uitspraken doen.
"Among the sciences of man and society, political economy was doubtless the first to deserve the name of science, quick to leave its pioneers behind. By 1776, Adam Smith could coolly dismiss the work of a century: "I have no great faith in political arithmetic," he announced in The Wealth of Nations. He, and with him the science of economics, had moved beyond it.
The ascendancy of economics over other disciplines is anything but mysterious: the raising of taxes, the value of money, the relation of trade to power were supremely practical matters that had exercised the ingenuity of statesmen for centuries."(345)
"In economic thought as elsewhere, the ideas of the Enlightenment were firmly anchored in contemporary realities."(347)
Beschrijving van de overgang van het 17e eeuwse mercantilisme naar de economische theorie uit de tijd van de Verlichting.
"The shift from the mercantilism of the seventeenth century to the subtler economics of the Enlightenment came in slow, deliberate steps, and on a wide front; it enlisted the abbé Galiani and Pietro Verri in Italy, the school of Physiocrats in France, the Cameralists in Vienna, David Hume and Adam Smith in Scotland. Much as they differed among each other on matters of theory and of policy - there were severe protectionists among them - all contributed to making economics at once more humane and more scientific."(347)
"The celebrated slogans of the Physiocrats, laissez faire, laissez aller, were demands on statesmen to liberate the economy from protection - that host of outworn, long-lived taxes, regulations, and monopolies that crippled individual initiative and social growth. Laissez faire would permit agricultural prices to find their natural level, and individuals to follow their own interest, which, after all, they know better than anyone else. "(351)
De fysiocraten werden van alle kanten bekritiseerd om hun dogmatisme, o.a. door Hume en Adam Smith, en Galiani. Van de andere kant hadden ze ideeën die Smith bevestigden in wat hij zelf had uitgedacht. In 1776 publiceerde hij zijn An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations en hij had meteen succes.
"The reasons for this power are not far to seek. The Wealth of Nations, part analysis, part prophecy, came at a supremely opportune moment; it told men what they wanted to hear and needed to know about nascent industrial society. Moreover, as Adam Smith himself candidly acknowledged with his parade of footnotes: his predecessors had done much valuable work. But this is not all. The Wealth of Nations is a thoroughly satisfying book in its own right; it is a triumph of reason and clarity, of systematized humanity."(360)
Sociologie en politieke economie waren nieuw in de 18e eeuw, maar de geschiedeniswetenschap bestond toen al. De philosophes creëerden een totaal nieuw beeld van de geschiedenis en baseerden zich daarbij liefst op ijverig verzamelde en bestudeerde bronnen.
"Works of history, like all of men's works, are part of history and must be judged as such; whatever defects subsequently emerged, Voltaire's Siècle de Louis XIV, Hume's History of England, Roberston's History of America, and Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire were monumental achievements in their day and for their discipline; they stand, if not as proof, at least in support, of Hume's claim that his was the historical age."(371)
"History, the philosophes thought, could become a science be cause it was now subject to philosophy - that is, to method - and because it sought for the truth alone. Of course, the claim that history is a search for pure truth was an ancient commonplace, endlessly reiterated and rarely credited; the philosophes said it again, with honest conviction and a good deal of confidence."(378)
"The scientific ideal - the historian who studies his material with out praise or reproach - was in the philosophes' mind not a utopian wish but a reality."(378)
"The philosophes were serious historians and read the érudits to better purpose than they themselves admitted, but precisely because they were serious craftsmen, their disdain for what they called pedantry prevented them from applying the kind of open-minded self-criticism they needed to detect and correct their own biases."(379)
"The philosophes' capacity to appreciate historical individuality mirrored and produced a relativist conception of the past, a certain willingness to suspend judgment and to see other epochs from the inside. In 1751, David Hume put the still fairly rudimentary relativism of the little flock into an amusing dialogue."(381)
"Yet, while the philosophes advocated the ideal of relativism, they generally neglected it. They were in fact uneasy about their own performance."(383)
Bovendien hadden ze de neiging om absoluut te zijn in hun oordelen over historische fenomenen wanneer het christendom daar een rol in speelde. Vandaar dat hun werken ook wel propaganda bevatten.
"Unfortunately, in dissipating the parochialism of Christian historians, the philosophes reintroduced a parochialism of their own, for familiar reasons: their relativism was not disinterested but in the service of absolutes. In this sense at least the widespread charge against the Enlightenment, that it took the ideology of Christianity and turned it upside down, is justified; as Christians had used non-Christian nations to make a case for Christianity, the philosophes used them to make a case against Christianity."(392)
"The men of the Enlightenment had no doubts about their political aims. With few hesitations and only marginal disagreements, they called for a social and political order that would be secular, reasonable, humane, pacific, open, and free, and their firm consensus gives sturdy support to the idea of a philosophic family, sometimes divided and contentious, but essentially united in its view of the world and perception of its ideals. It was different with political methods; as I shall show, the road to the realization of their political demands was difficult and devious, and often seemed impassable: the problems of politics were intractable and led the philosophes into agonizing perplexities. Yet, however divergent and difficult these problems turned out to be, the philosophes faced them with the same spirit and the same program; they agreed that it was essential to give humanitarianism organized form and effective force."(397)
Niet dat de christelijke politieke opvattingen daarvooir niet humaan waren, maar ze waren het om heel andere redenen. De philosophes zagen mensen als autonoom, als verantwoordelijk voor zichzelf en andere mensen, en als van nature goed, en niet als zondaren die verlost moesten worden om toegang te krijgen tot het hiernamaals.
"The most prominent casualty of this attack on tradition was the idea of hierarchy, the idea that society is divinely, eternally ordered in ranks. To be sure, few of the philosophes ventured to adopt a full-fledged democratic position in which hierarchies are purely functional and wholly temporary; but the preponderant political thought of the Enlightenment, a kind of snobbish liberalism, at least envisioned the possibility, and proclaimed the desirability, of a society open to talents, in which commoners, even from poor circumstances (especially if they were men of letters) might rise to positions of influence, wealth, and status. Reason, ability, even luck, rather than birth, were the criteria by which the philosophes wanted men to be judged in society.
The demand for the toleration of religious minorities, philosophical dissenters, and sexual deviants was the practical correlative of these propositions about man and society, reinforced by the philosophes' characteristic view of philosophy - skeptical, empiricist, a little cynical, and heavily concentrated on social ethics."(399)
"Since philosophy, for the philosophes, was constructive as well as critical, they had good humanitarian, ethical, and even religious reasons for toleration: it is distasteful to expose men to constraint, compel them to silence, or condemn them to death for their political, social, or religious opinions, since all men are brothers."(399-400)
"The philosophes' revulsion against the traditional heroic code of aristocratic societies, a revulsion that placed Newton above Louis XIV and merchants above generals, splendidly complemented this shift toward service, decency, and peace."(401)
"The philosophes' writings on peace - the extension of tolerance to the international stage - testifies to their struggle, on the whole successful, in behalf of humane realism against utopian fantasies. These writings are crowded with denunciations of war: war is, for the philosophes, the most devastating of disasters, which only irresponsible kings can initiate, fanatical priests can encourage, cruel soldiers can love, and the foolish rabble can admire."(401)
"Christian pacifists like the Quakers had argued and continued to argue that war was probable because men were not Christians; Voltaire, far more pessimistic, argued that war was probable precisely because they were."(402)
"Pacific as they were in their inclinations, the philosophes were not pacifists in the modern sense: they neither advocated resistance to war nor expressed confidence that war would ever disappear. Their analysis of the causes of war - economic rivalry, the inherently unstable state system, and the aggressive aspects of human nature - inclined them to pessimism, and therefore many of them preached peace in the candid expectation that their preachments would go unheard; like other pessimists, they expressed their views less to convert the world than to soothe their disquiet."(404)
Over de (afschaffing van de) slavernij. Natuurlijk waren de philosophes tegen de slavernij, al bleef het voornamelijk bij woorden.
"Montesquieu's polemical virtuosity and his shrewd conflation of two arguments, moral and legal, made the other philosophes into his disciples: most later antislavery writings in the Enlightenment added detail and vehemence, but little that was new."(413)
"I have suggested that after Montesquieu the Enlightenment's denunciations of slavery yield little that is new. But there was at least one other argument, the utilitarian, that gained prominence, fittingly enough, in the second half of the eighteenth century, in tune with the Enlightenment's shift of temper from natural law to utility. Like war, the argument runs in brief, slavery is, in addition to all its other palpable and irreparable vices, a bad bargain."(416)
Hun verontwaardiging over mistoestanden dichter bij huis was minder ambivalent en effectiever. De philosophes zetten zich in voor hervorming van de wet, vooral ook van het strafrecht.
"In the age of the Enlightenment, the criminal law of civilized countries everywhere was ferocious, and, in direct conflict with new notions of philanthropy, humanity, and good sense, generally grew more ferocious decade by decade. "(424)
"These instances of humanity, though, common as they were, were like flashes of lightning that illuminated, for a few dazzling moments, the bleak landscape of criminal procedure. In most civilized countries - Prussia was a notable exception - laws became more vindictive than ever. Human life was still cheap, especially if it was the life of the lowly, and men were executed without qualms and with dispatch, normally after rapid and perfunctory proceedings: (...)
It was property that was worth a court's time. Like the law's haste in criminal cases, the law's delay in cases involving property was a source of injustice. Only those with adequate resources could afford the cost of litigation."(425)
"In continental states, with their powerful aristocracies, courts rendered class justice and readily suffered their verdicts to be overturned by edicts from above: a nobleman in favor at court or with a duke's mistress was, if not always immune from prosecution, usually safe from punishment, while peasants or poor laborers had no recourse against savage prosecutions or capricious and cruel penalties. "(426)
"As I have said, it seemed a little strange, and more than a little depressing to men of good will, but in the age of Enlightenment, in the teeth of a prospering movement toward humanity, the law grew more stringent, religiously safeguarding property - or, rather, safeguarding property as though it were a new religion. What was true of the slave trade was true, with quite as much force, of the law: there was a great deal to do."(427)
Bespreking van Montesquieu's De l'esprit des lois en van Voltaire's activiteiten in de Calas-kwestie. Bespreking van de opvattingen van Beccaria en diens voorstelen voor hervorming van het recht (Dei delitti).
"Beccaria's timid aspiration was touching but needlessly selfdeprecating. His book aroused immediate attention and caused wide spread controversy in Italy; only two years after its publication it was in its sixth printing. It was greeted in France, especially by the philosophes, with authentic and unreserved applause; it was extensively and enthusiastically reviewed in both learned and popular journals."(445)
"Everywhere, men found it easier to praise Beccaria than to put his program into action. Still, Beccaria's practical impact remained gratifying and extensive. He educated prolific and influential reformers like Bentham and Eden and Romilly in England, and through them his ideas gradually but drastically reformed the English law. His vast reputation and the many editions and translations of his book made the idea of reform popular, palatable, respectable, almost fashionable."(446)
"The men of the Enlightenment sensed that they could realize their social ideals only by political means, and, with their verbal facility, with their partisan pamphlets, tendentious histories, and semi-public letters, they set the stage for the kind of politics they needed. As professional men of the word, the philosophes did more than feed po!itica discussion; in some countries they did nothing less than to bring it into being. Yet, the very idea of politics by discussion, on which they staked so many of their hopes, was untried, precarious, and in many states, impossible."(448-449)
"The obstructions in the way of the politics of dtscussion pointed to some fundamental difficulties. As the philosophes understood it, the science of politics was a supremely practical science with two related tasks: to provide intelligent, humane administration, and to discover forms of government that would establish, strengthen, and maintain rational institutions in a rational political atmosphere. There was trouble with both of those tasks, more with the second than the first: the state within, and the state system as a whole, appeared to have aims incompatible with enlightened ideals; the most flexible and decent of ruling groups fell short of the philosophes' demand. Enlightened politics is modern liberal politics, and such politics requires forums for the debate and formulation of policies, some degree of responsibility of governors to the governed, some measure of participation by the governed in the government, unofficial channels for the generation of opinion and for its translation into policies - in short, parliamentary regimes, political parties, widespread literacy, and a free press. As I have suggested, in the age of the Enlightenment such institutions were scarce, and in many places unimaginable."(450)
"While the philosophes' political opinions ranged from the democratic radicalism of Rousseau to the relativism of Voltaire and the absolutism of Beccaria, there is one philosophe who seems to stand outside this wide spectrum, David Hume. Hume posed, and often wrote, as an urbane conservative."(452)
Bespreking van de politieke opvattingen van Hume (een scepticus, maar niet minder gericht op humanisering), Voltaire en anderen.
Bespreking van de gebeurtenissen in Frankrijk en de opvattingen die de philosophers daar over hadden, met name wat betreft het koningshuis en de adel.
Hoe moest je omgaan met verlichte despoten zoals Frederik II van Pruisen? Voltaire en hij waren bevriend en hij nam wat verlichte maatregelen toen hij aan de macht kwam, maar na een aantal jaren was daar ook niet zo heel veel meer van over.
"The philosophes discovered soon enough that the Athens of the North was only a frigid Sparta after all; the philosopher-king was more the militarist king than the pacific philosopher. Frederick's cynical invasion of Silesia, his patent unreliability as an ally, his reimposition of censorship, his shabby and, whatever the provocations, brutal treatment of Voltaire after their friendship began to pall in 1752 , his disheartening failure to overhaul the laws and humanize the army, his low estimate of man (which even Voltaire found troublesome) , and his principled refusal to take the philosophes' advice on anything besides his verses - all this decisively outweighed his ostentatious affection for French men of letters, his irreligiosity, and his diligence."(484-485)
Het absolutisme was dus nog niet overwonnen en de adel speelde zelfs een sterker rol dan voorheen in de politieke verhoudingen. Reactie en paternalisme waren overal, liberalisme was nog nergens.
"This view of government had absolute monarchy as its most plausible corollary. To do his duty adequately, the ruler must have at his disposal a perfectly obedient bureaucracy, all the knowledge it is possible for him to gather, and unlimited authority to translate his programs into law. Popular participation in such a scheme was not so much impious or impudent as simply irrelevant. If the ruler was the physician of his country, supremely knowledgeable and uniquely wise, there was no reason why he should consult his ignorant and superstitious patients; Plato had made that point long ago, and authoritarians made it again in the eighteenth century. Frederick II, deeply imbued with this rationalism, said flatly that men are governed by two mainsprings of action - "fear of punishment and hope for reward". Hence the system of guidance that the ruler must devise for his subjects is simple, as simple as their psychology; it would only be obstructed by such nonsense as representative insti tutions or a free press."(490)
"The theories of the Cameralists enjoyed success at least in this: they were put into practice. In the second half of the eighteenth century, breaking down the determined resistance of principle, inertia, and self-interest, a number of European rulers took the advice of their 'enlightened' tutors and undertook often far-reaching reforms in institutions and policies. These rulers, summarily labeled 'Enlightened Despots' by nineteenth-century historians, make up an extensive but inconclusive list: Catherine II of Russia, Frederick II of Prussia, Charles III of Spain, Gustavus III of Sweden, Emperors Joseph II and Leopold II have undisputed claim, Maria Theresa of Austria, Louis XV of France, Joseph I of Portugal a somewhat uncertain claim to membership.
This collection of monarchs was something more than an accidental collocation. Their reigns coincided, and they knew and watched one another; they often admired the same ideas, competed for the same celebrities, and mouthed the same slogans; their education and their cultural milieux were strikingly similar."(491)
Maar hun opvattingen waren desondanks uiteenlopender dan op het eerste gezicht lijkt.
"The philosophes thus came by their political disagreements honestly; their debates over Catherine II or Frederick II reflect not simply a difference in their temperament or in their expectations, but real bafflement at princes who were doing so many different things in so many different ways with such similar rhetoric."(493)
"I think it is now apparent that politics presented the Enlightenment with a dilemma of heroic proportions. The philosophes stood for reform; they stood at the same time, for freedom in its many guises - freedom of thought, speech, and the press, freedom to participate in the shaping of public policy, to pursue one's career and realize one's talents. Reform and freedom were for them two faces of a single hope: freedoms were among the reforms to be accomplished, reforms were among the happy consequences of freedom. But the realities tore this alliance apart: with the overpowering presence of the illiterate masses and the absence of the habit of autonomy, freedom and reform were often incompatible. Libertarians seemed to have no way of initiating reforms; the most effective among the royal reformers were self-willed paternalists who made improvements in their own way and for their own sake. The road to the realization of the philosophes' political program thus led through the devious and embarrassing detours of repression and manipulation that were a denial or a mockery of the world they hoped to bring into being; the very methods used to distribute the fruits of enlightenment seemed calculated to frustrate enlightenment itself."(497)
De philosophes waren verschillend in hoe ze met dat dilemma omgingen, sommigen waren radicaler tegen het absolutisme dan anderen. Maar over één ding waren ze het dan weer wel eens: dat mensen tot mondigheid konden komen door opvoeding en onderwijs. Aartshertog Leopold van Toscane - die zich door de philosophes liet inspireren - was de meest progressieve van de verlichte despoten en had grootse plannen voor de 'verheffing' van zijn volk door onderwijs en voor een constitutie, maar helaas werden zijn plannen gesaboteerd van binnenuit. Diderot schreef zijn Encyclopédie om die reden.
"But education was more than a theory or a hope for the philosophes; it was also an experience - in fact, it lies at the heart of their experience as philosophes. I have defined that experience as a dialectical struggle in which the philosophes first pitted classical thought against their Christian heritage that they might discard the burdens of religion, and then escaped their beloved ancients by appealing to the science of nature and of man; this pursuit of modernity was the essential purpose of their education. Indeed, their experience was an education in the most specific possible sense. Each philosophe recapitulated in his private development the course that the Enlightenment was prescribing for mankind in general; each first sensed his opportunity for engaging in this liberating and exhilarating struggle, and equipped himself for it, in his school."(502)
"The question of the lower orders is the great unexamined political question of the Enlightenment. It is not that the philosophes preserved silence on the issue, they never preserved silence on any issue. Their writings and, even more, their private correspondence, abound in references to the common people, the gemeine Pöbel, the peuple, the canallle, the vulgar. What is missing is a serious attempt at working out the logic implicit in the philosophes' view of Enlightenment, which, as I have said, was in essence pedagogic. There is snobbery in these casual remarks and a certain failure of imagination. There is also something else: a sense of despair at the general wretchedness, illiteracy, and brutishness of the poor, which appeared by and large incurable."(517)
"The ladder of ascent everywhere was steep and narrow; differentiations among orders and even within orders were carefully marked and universally acknowledged; the gap between the noble and the peasant or the rich and the poor was a vast gulf across which the one stared at the other almost with disbelief. Far too many men and women remained in the eighteenth century what they had been through all the centuries before: beasts of burden, "two-footed animals", as Voltaire said not without compassion, "who live in a horrible condition approximating the state of nature." The metaphor of a hierarchy came to the pens of eighteenth-century writers so casually that it is obvious how real the phenomenon was, and how entrenched."(517-518)
"At the same time, in the midst of this apparently unrelieved pessimism about the capacities of the canaille, and the capacity of education to permit the canaille to become something better, some of the philosophes could see countervailing forces at work. Diderot came to understand, if fleetingly, that the ignorance of the masses was not an inescapable condition, but a result deliberately produced by the holders of power and privilege."(520)
En daarbij werd vrijwel overal gebruik gemaakt van de religie om mensen in het gareel te houden. Philosophes dachten verschillend over die 'sociale religie' die het gewone volk rustig moest houden.
Een aparte bespreking van Rousseau, vanwege zijn aparte positie in het tijdperk van de philosophes, waar hij wel en niet bij hoorde.
De Amerikaanse revolutie op het eind van de 18e eeuw werd gezien als een bevestiging van de standpunten van de philosophes.
[Tja, en moet je daar nu eens zien ...]
Weer en zeer gedetailleerde beschrijving van bronnen: p.569-705