What was the Enlightenment, and what impact did it have on Christianity?
Enlightenment philosophers were generally opposed to the Catholic Church and organized religion in general. Especially in France, the center. Voltaire's radical exclusion maps to a certain organization of the concepts of Rousseau departed from the Enlightenment view of truth and of religion are promising ways to tackle the problem of its relationship to politics. religious toleration gradually evolved into freedom of religion and became one of . Given the association of these key Enlightenment figures with religious and freedom, was not just a question of belief or organized systems of thought.
By emphasizing the power of the mind over the senses, rationalism provided a framework for philosophers to push the limits of what can be known by human reason alone.
Baruch Spinoza, a notable rationalist, posited what amounts to a type of scientific pantheism. Other notable rationalist thinkers were Christian Wolff and G. Leibniz, who each made deep and lasting impacts in philosophy Leibniz in calculus, as well.
The Catholic Church and the Enlightenment | Synonym
Partly in response to rationalism, and partly of its own accord, empiricism also developed during the Enlightenment. In contrast to rationalismempiricism holds that knowledge begins with the senses. Francis Bacon planted the seed for empiricist thought that came to fruition in the physics of Isaac Newton. Since natural science begins with observation through the senses, the scientific revolution could not have occurred without an empiricist philosophical underpinning.
The notions of observation and induction are part and parcel of empiricism. Skepticism also developed during the Enlightenment. David Hume famously spread doubt about whether knowledge can be obtained at all—from the senses or from reason. Hume also presented a significant challenge to science with his critiques of causality and inductive reasoning. These skeptical arguments and causal notions have resonated in both philosophy and science to the present day.
An important note about Enlightenment philosophical thought is the noticeable shift away from metaphysics and toward epistemology.
- The Catholic Church and the Enlightenment
The scientific revolution, with its implicit focus on understanding the natural world, made it easier for Enlightenment thinkers to either move away from metaphysics as it was traditionally understood or to subsume it under a rationalist motif. It should also be noted that the philosophy of Immanuel Kant was developed in large part as a response to problems raised with Enlightenment philosophy.
In this work, Newton sets the tone for a mechanistic understanding of the natural world by explaining a wide range of phenomena via mathematical formulas. Nature, therefore, became a thing that man could inquire into, harness, and use for bettering his lot in life. And Newton, therefore, is known today as the father of modern science.
The greatest scientific benefits of Newtonian mechanics would not be felt until after the Enlightenment, but the increasingly prevalent notion of nature as describable and predictable impacted other fields during the 18th century.
Important advances were made in biology, chemistry, and medicine. Carl Linnaeus developed a formalized system of biological taxonomy that was important to biology and paleontology as those specialized studies emerged.
By emphasizing the work of Bacon and Newton in their publications, the Encyclopedists pushed forward an agenda of secular thought and open-mindedness. Politics The lasting political impact of the Enlightenment cannot be overstated. At least three major political revolutions occurred during this time period in Britain, America, and France. These revolutions manifested ideas centering on government by consent of the governed, social contract, freedom, and equality.
In the midth century, philosopher Thomas Hobbes advanced the notion of the absolute power of government over the governed for the sake of avoiding barbarism. Hobbes also advanced ideas about social contract and the relation of the individual to the state that both Locke and Rousseau later took up.
Locke was a tremendously important political philosopher during the Enlightenment. Many of his ideas and principles were studied and adopted by the founders of America and are evident in documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Locke emphasized the natural freedom of human beings, the equality of all before God, natural law, and government by consent of the governed; and he justified the overthrow of government when it fails.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was another prominent thinker from the Enlightenment era. Rousseau differed with Locke about the role of the individual in relation to the state, with Rousseau emphasizing the importance of the governed being involved in politics.
Age of Enlightenment
It is important to view this period in light of the Protestant Reformation that preceded it. Authors of the calibre of Gerald Cragg, J. Barnett may be justified in forcefully reminding scholars that insufficient allowance has been made for the possibility of clerical fabrication and exaggeration in the matter of deism, but the latter, as Barnett well knows, was hardly an invention of the s.
His depiction is hard to accept not because Gibson was worried about an impecunious old age or because the clergy were incapable of such cynical self-defence, but because it required a degree of conspiratorial planning and presentation among them that was unlikely given party divisions within the Church of England: The deist alarm, like most moral panics, had its periodic ups and downs, and the s was undoubtedly one of them when many clerics — and not just the numerous Tories among them — were very gloomy indeed about what might happen if things went on as they were and got even worse.
Of course, Barnett is right to say that there was no necessary link between deism and natural religion. The latter could be entirely compatible with Athanasian orthodoxy.Religion and the Enlightenment
Nevertheless, the emphasis on natural religion was such that, by the s, many clergy and by no means just those participating in the evangelical revival were alarmed that revelation was being downplayed for sinister purposes. Instead of deism as the main challenge to the Churches, as one might expect from the author of the interesting Idol Temples and Crafty Priests. The Origins of Enlightenment AnticlericalismBarnett wants us to consider anticlericalism as the principal goad to organised religion in the eighteenth century.
Yet if deists were few in number in early eighteenth-century England, Barnett could conceivably have done more to show us the range and depth of his anticlericalist challenge. Although this may have repeated some of the ground already mapped out in Idol Temples and Crafty Priests, it would have been appropriate.
He might also have broached the question of how far one can accurately separate anticlericalism from scepticism, or infidelity from a vague commitment to free-thought. The chapter on France is somewhat less contestatory. The principal subject is Jansenism as a dissident group, with Barnett drawing on recent work by scholars such as Catherine Maire, Dale Van Kley and William Doyle, and generously acknowledging his debt. Whether that company would then proceed to identify Jansenism as a more vigorous and numerically significant challenger to the Gallican Church than anything the philosophes were capable of mounting must be a moot point.
As a summary of the ups and downs of French eighteenth-century Jansenism it will do well enough. The refusal of the sacraments crisis in the s is usefully linked with existing Parisian anticlericalism and Barnett attempts a comparison between Jansenism and the struggle of seventeenth-century English Protestant dissenters that might have been more clearly articulated.
Barnett has a strong case in saying that the philosophes were a small band without the numerical strength possessed by the Jansensists and that their claim to the credit for securing the exiling of the Jesuits from France in —4 was downright cheeky. Outside the capital and some other urban centres, Jansenists were a relatively small minority of the French laity heavily concentrated in the upwardly mobile professional classes throughout the eighteenth century, and were actually in sharp numerical decline from the mid century.
The General Assembly of the Clergy of France certainly thought so: As Barnett notes, Jansenism and the Catholic Enlightenment were closely linked, and this persuasion is reflected in his chapter on Italy.
As with France, the author hunts out polemicists opposed to papal pretensions, men pushing at an open door thanks to the pattern of great power politics and the growth of national churches within Catholicism. Anticurial thought was not necessarily either deist or Jansenist, as the case of the Neapolitan lawyer, Pietro Giannone, author of the influential Istoria civile del Regno di Napolireveals. Such publicists were concerned less with securing a form of Church government in which the laity and lower clergy might have more importance than with the more conventional aspect of conciliarism that stressed the supremacy of the secular prince.
Thus the celebrated Muratori was happily acting as a paid client of the duke of Modena.
It was an aspect of elite intellectual culture that made few friends among lowly and less talented Catholics, for whom the predominantly historiographical concerns of the pro- and anti-curiatorial parties impinged not at all.
He never tells us when the Enlightenment occurred in England or anywhere else for that matteror refers to its components stages in as much as they can be identified; it assumes a degree of intellectual direction anti-Sacheverellians as an early counter-enlightenment party to the case that it never possessed because it had nothing to sustain it beyond a nostalgia for the departed days of tight confessionalism in the s.
More generally, his insistence that public opinion was a significant force in the public life of England, France and Italy throughout this era is unexceptionable, but one could have wished for more discussion of changing perceptions of its composition in the course of the century.
In an English context, Barnett p. Of course defenders of the Church thought primarily in terms of orthodoxy and heterodoxy, but one finds very little reference to such categories in The Enlightenment and Religion.