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Enlightenment,term applied to the mainstream of thought of 18th-century Europe and America.
Background and Basic Tenets
The scientific and intellectual developments of the 17th cent.—the discoveries of Isaac NewtonNewton, Sir Isaac,
1642–1727, English mathematician and natural philosopher (physicist), who is considered by many the greatest scientist that ever lived. Early Life and Work
..... Click the link for more information. , the rationalism of Réné DescartesDescartes, René
, Lat. Renatus Cartesius, 1596–1650, French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist, b. La Haye. Descartes' methodology was a major influence in the transition from medieval science and philosophy to the modern era.
..... Click the link for more information. , the skepticism of Pierre BayleBayle, Pierre
, 1647–1706, French philosopher. Born a Huguenot, he converted to Roman Catholicism and then returned to Protestantism. To avoid French intolerance of Protestants, he moved in 1681 to Rotterdam, where he lived for most of the rest of his life.
..... Click the link for more information. , the pantheism of Benedict de SpinozaSpinoza, Baruch or Benedict
, 1632–77, Dutch philosopher, b. Amsterdam. Spinoza's Life
He belonged to the community of Jews from Spain and Portugal who had fled the Inquisition.
..... Click the link for more information. , and the empiricism of Francis BaconBacon, Francis,
1561–1626, English philosopher, essayist, and statesman, b. London, educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and at Gray's Inn. He was the son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, lord keeper to Queen Elizabeth I.
..... Click the link for more information. and John LockeLocke, John
, 1632–1704, English philosopher, founder of British empiricism. Locke summed up the Enlightenment in his belief in the middle class and its right to freedom of conscience and right to property, in his faith in science, and in his confidence in the goodness of
..... Click the link for more information. —fostered the belief in natural law and universal order and the confidence in human reason that spread to influence all of 18th-century society. Currents of thought were many and varied, but certain ideas may be characterized as pervading and dominant. A rational and scientific approach to religious, social, political, and economic issues promoted a secular view of the world and a general sense of progress and perfectibility.
The major champions of these concepts were the philosophes, who popularized and promulgated the new ideas for the general reading public. These proponents of the Enlightenment shared certain basic attitudes. With supreme faith in rationality, they sought to discover and to act upon universally valid principles governing humanity, nature, and society. They variously attacked spiritual and scientific authority, dogmatism, intolerance, censorship, and economic and social restraints. They considered the state the proper and rational instrument of progress. The extreme rationalism and skepticism of the age led naturally to deism; the same qualities played a part in bringing the later reaction of romanticism. The EncyclopédieEncyclopédie
, the work of the French Encyclopedists, or philosophes. The full title was Encyclopédie; ou, Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts, et des métiers.
..... Click the link for more information. of Denis DiderotDiderot, Denis
, 1713–84, French encyclopedist, philosopher of materialism, and critic of art and literature, b. Langres. He was also a novelist, satirist, and dramatist. Diderot was enormously influential in shaping the rationalistic spirit of the 18th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. epitomized the spirit of the Age of Enlightenment, or Age of Reason, as it is also called.
An International System of Thought
Centered in Paris, the movement gained international character at cosmopolitan salons. Masonic lodges played an important role in disseminating the new ideas throughout Europe. Foremost in France among proponents of the Enlightenment were baron de MontesquieuMontesquieu, Charles Louis de Secondat, baron de la Brède et de
, 1689–1755, French jurist and political philosopher. He was councillor (1714) of the parlement of Bordeaux and its president (1716–28) after the death of an uncle, whom he succeeded in both title
..... Click the link for more information. , VoltaireVoltaire, François Marie Arouet de
, 1694–1778, French philosopher and author, whose original name was Arouet. One of the towering geniuses in literary and intellectual history, Voltaire personifies the Enlightenment.
..... Click the link for more information. , and comte de BuffonBuffon, Georges Louis Leclerc, comte de
, 1707–88, French naturalist and author. From 1739 he was keeper of the Jardin du Roi (later the Jardin des Plantes) in Paris and made it a center of research during the Enlightenment.
..... Click the link for more information. ; Baron TurgotTurgot, Anne Robert Jacques
, 1727–81, French economist, comptroller general of finances (1774–76). The son of a rich merchant, he showed precocious ability at school and at the Sorbonne.
..... Click the link for more information. and other physiocratsphysiocrats
, school of French thinkers in the 18th cent. who evolved the first complete system of economics. They were also referred to simply as "the economists" or "the sect." The founder and leader of physiocracy was François Quesnay.
..... Click the link for more information. ; and Jean Jacques RousseauRousseau, Jean Jacques
, 1712–78, Swiss-French philosopher, author, political theorist, and composer. Life and Works
Rousseau was born at Geneva, the son of a Calvinist watchmaker.
..... Click the link for more information. , who greatly influenced romanticism. Many opposed the extreme materialism of Julien de La MettrieLa Mettrie, Julien Offray de
, 1709–51, French physician and philosopher. On the basis of personal observation he claimed that psychical activity is purely the result of the organic construction of the brain and nervous system and developed this theory in
..... Click the link for more information. , baron d' HolbachHolbach, Paul Henri Thiry, baron d'
, Ger. Paul Heinrich Dietrich, Baron von Holbach , 1723–89, French philosopher, one of the Encyclopedists. Although a native of the Palatinate, he lived in Paris from childhood.
..... Click the link for more information. , and Claude HelvétiusHelvétius, Claude Adrien
, 1715–71, French philosopher, one of the Encyclopedists. He held the post of farmer-general (i.e., tax collector), an exceedingly remunerative position.
..... Click the link for more information. .
In England the coffeehouses and the newly flourishing press stimulated social and political criticism, such as the urbane commentary of Joseph AddisonAddison, Joseph,
1672–1719, English essayist, poet, and statesman. He was educated at Charterhouse, where he was a classmate of Richard Steele, and at Oxford, where he became a distinguished classical scholar.
..... Click the link for more information. and Sir Richard SteeleSteele, Sir Richard,
1672–1729, English essayist and playwright, b. Dublin. After studying at Charterhouse and Oxford, he entered the army in 1694 and rose to the rank of captain by 1700. His first book, a moral tract entitled The Christian Hero, appeared in 1701.
..... Click the link for more information. . Jonathan SwiftSwift, Jonathan,
1667–1745, English author, b. Dublin. He is widely recognized as one of the greatest satirists in the English language. Early Life and Works
..... Click the link for more information. and Alexander PopePope, Alexander,
1688–1744, English poet. Although his literary reputation declined somewhat during the 19th cent., he is now recognized as the greatest poet of the 18th cent. and the greatest verse satirist in English.
..... Click the link for more information. were influential Tory satirists. Lockean theories of learning by sense perception were further developed by David HumeHume, David
, 1711–76, Scottish philosopher and historian. Educated at Edinburgh, he lived (1734–37) in France, where he finished his first philosophical work, A Treatise of Human Nature (1739–40).
..... Click the link for more information. . The philosophical view of human rationality as being in harmony with the universe created a hospitable climate for the laissez-faire economics of Adam SmithSmith, Adam,
1723–90, Scottish economist, educated at Glasgow and Oxford. He became professor of moral philosophy at the Univ. of Glasgow in 1752, and while teaching there wrote his Theory of Moral Sentiments
..... Click the link for more information. and for the utilitarianism of Jeremy BenthamBentham, Jeremy,
1748–1832, English philosopher, jurist, political theorist, and founder of utilitarianism. Educated at Oxford, he was trained as a lawyer and was admitted to the bar, but he never practiced; he devoted himself to the scientific analysis of morals and
..... Click the link for more information. . Historical writing gained secular detachment in the work of Edward GibbonGibbon, Edward,
1737–94, English historian, author of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. His childhood was sickly, and he had little formal education but read enormously and omnivorously.
..... Click the link for more information. .
In Germany the universities became centers of the Enlightenment (Ger. Aufklärung). Moses MendelssohnMendelssohn, Moses
, 1729–86, German-Jewish philosopher; grandfather of Felix Mendelssohn. He was a leader in the movement for cultural assimilation. In 1743 he went to Berlin, where he studied and worked, becoming (1750) a partner in a silk merchant's firm.
..... Click the link for more information. set forth a doctrine of rational progress; G. E. LessingLessing, Gotthold Ephraim
, 1729–81, German philosopher, dramatist, and critic, one of the most influential figures of the Enlightenment. He was connected with the theater in Berlin, where he produced some of his most famous works, and with the national theater in Hamburg.
..... Click the link for more information. advanced a natural religion of morality; Johann HerderHerder, Johann Gottfried von
, 1744–1803, German philosopher, critic, and clergyman, b. East Prussia. Herder was an enormously influential literary critic and a leader in the Sturm und Drang movement.
..... Click the link for more information. developed a philosophy of cultural nationalism. The supreme importance of the individual formed the basis of the ethics of Immanuel KantKant, Immanuel
, 1724–1804, German metaphysician, one of the greatest figures in philosophy, b. Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia). Early Life and Works
..... Click the link for more information. . Italian representatives of the age included Cesare BeccariaBeccaria, Cesare Bonesana, marchese di
, 1738–94, Italian criminologist, economist, and jurist, b. Milan. Although of a retiring disposition, he held, in the Austrian government, several public offices, the highest being counselor of state.
..... Click the link for more information. and Giambattista VicoVico, Giovanni Battista
, 1668–1744, Italian philosopher and historian, also known as Giambattista Vico, b. Naples. In 1699, Vico became professor of rhetoric at the Univ. of Naples, and in 1734 he was appointed historiographer to the king of Naples.
..... Click the link for more information. . From America, Thomas PainePaine, Thomas,
1737–1809, Anglo-American political theorist and writer, b. Thetford, Norfolk, England. The son of a working-class Quaker, he became an excise officer and was dismissed from the service after leading (1772) agitation for higher salaries.
..... Click the link for more information. , Thomas JeffersonJefferson, Thomas,
1743–1826, 3d President of the United States (1801–9), author of the Declaration of Independence, and apostle of agrarian democracy. Early Life
Jefferson was born on Apr. 13, 1743, at "Shadwell," in Goochland (now in Albemarle) co.
..... Click the link for more information. , and Benjamin FranklinFranklin, Benjamin,
1706–90, American statesman, printer, scientist, and writer, b. Boston. The only American of the colonial period to earn a European reputation as a natural philosopher, he is best remembered in the United States as a patriot and diplomat.
..... Click the link for more information. exerted vast international influence.
Some philosophers at first proposed that their theories be implemented by "enlightened despots"—rulers who would impose reform by authoritarian means. Czar Peter I of Russia anticipated the trend, and Holy Roman Emperor Joseph IIJoseph II,
1741–90, Holy Roman emperor (1765–90), king of Bohemia and Hungary (1780–90), son of Maria Theresa and Holy Roman Emperor Francis I, whom he succeeded. He was the first emperor of the house of Hapsburg-Lorraine (see Hapsburg).
..... Click the link for more information. was the prototype of the enlightened despot; others were Frederick IIFrederick II
or Frederick the Great,
1712–86, king of Prussia (1740–86), son and successor of Frederick William I. Early Life
Frederick's coarse and tyrannical father despised the prince, who showed a taste for French art and literature and no
..... Click the link for more information. of Prussia, Catherine IICatherine II
or Catherine the Great,
1729–96, czarina of Russia (1762–96). Rise to Power
A German princess, the daughter of Christian Augustus, prince of Anhalt-Zerbst, she emerged from the obscurity of her relatively modest background in 1744
..... Click the link for more information. of Russia, and Charles IIICharles III,
1716–88, king of Spain (1759–88) and of Naples and Sicily (1735–59), son of Philip V and Elizabeth Farnese. Recognized as duke of Parma and Piacenza in 1731, he relinquished the duchies to Austria after Spain reconquered (1734) Naples and Sicily in
..... Click the link for more information. of Spain. The proponents of the Enlightenment have often been held responsible for the French Revolution. Certainly the Age of Enlightenment can be seen as a major demarcation in the emergence of the modern world.
See E. Cassirer, The Philosophy of the Enlightenment (tr. 1951, repr. 1955); P. Hazard, The European Mind: The Critical Years, 1690–1715 (tr. 1953, repr. 1963) and European Thought in the Eighteenth Century (tr. 1954, repr. 1963); F. E. Manuel, The Eighteenth Century Confronts the Gods (1959, repr. 1967); P. Gay, The Enlightenment: An Interpretation (2 vol., 1966–69); A. Cobban, ed., Europe in the Age of the Enlightenment (1969); L. G. Crocker, ed., The Age of Enlightenment (1969); N. Hampson, The Enlightenment (1970); F. Venturi, Utopia and Reform in the Enlightenment (1971); J. Engell, The Creative Imagination: Enlightenment to Romanticism (1981); W. E. Rex, The Attraction of the Contrary: Essays on the Literature of the French Enlightenment (1987); J. I. Israel, Radical Enlightenment (2001), Enlightenment Contested (2006), and Democratic Enlightenment (2011).
enlightenmentsee AGE OF ENLIGHTENMENT.
an ideological current of the period of transition from feudalism to capitalism, associated with the struggle of the nascent bourgeoisie and the popular masses against feudalism.
In some Western European countries, such as England, where the Enlightenment began in the 17th century, and in others, where it spread in the 18th century, the movement was so broad and influential that even its contemporaries believed that the “dark ages” had given way to an age of Enlightenment (in French, siècles des lumières, in German, Zeit der Aufklärung). The term “Enlightenment,” which is encountered in the writings of Voltaire and J. G. von Herder, was definitively established after the publication of Kant’s article “What Is the Enlightenment?” in 1784. Historical and philosophical scholarship of the 19th century characterized the Enlightenment as an age of boundless faith in human reason (“the age of reason,” “the age of philosophers”), an age of belief in the possibility of rebuilding society on rational foundations, and the age of the downfall of theological dogmatism and the triumph of science over medieval Scholasticism and the obscurantism of the church.
K. Marx and F. Engels, who showed that the Enlightenment was a stage in the history of antifeudal ideology, differentiated between the ideological form of the Enlightenment and its underlying social class content. Marxist science proceeded to broaden the concept of the Enlightenment to include not only narrowly rationalist doctrines but also various antifeudal ideological currents of the period (for example, Rousseauism, and the Sturm und Drang movement in Germany). In the article “The Heritage We Renounce” (1897), V. I. Lenin described the progressive trend in pre-Marxist social thought and showed for the first time that the Enlightenment had taken place in Russia as well as in Western Europe. In studying the problems of the Enlightenment, contemporary Soviet researchers use sources on the Enlightenment in Western Europe and North America and on analogous ideological movements in Eastern Europe and the East, because they regard the Enlightenment not as a local phenomenon but as a world historical one.
In Russian, the term prosvetitel’stvo is often used as a synonym for prosveshchenie (“enlightenment”). Sometimes, however, the two terms are differentiated by scholars, who argue that prosveshchenie has a broader meaning than prosvetitel’stvo, or vice versa. In literature, the concept of prosvetitel’stvo sometimes refers to a “reduced” or incomplete variant of prosveshchenie or to a derivative ideological current—that is, one that emerged in certain countries under the influence of the ideas of the Western European Enlightenment.
Western Europe and North America. The ideology of the Enlightenment developed during the crisis in the feudal system, with the emergence within that system of production relations that engendered new social contradictions and new forms of class struggle.
As the representatives of the Enlightenment acknowledged and emphasized, there were many ties between the Western European Enlightenment and the Renaissance. The Enlightenment inherited from the Renaissance its humanist ideals, worship of antiquity, historical optimism, and freethinking. Both the Renaissance and the Enlightenment reassessed old values and questioned feudal and ecclesiastical dogmas, traditions, and authority. However, the ideology of the Enlightenment emerged at a more mature stage of the formation of the capitalist structure and the antifeudal struggle, and therefore, its critique of feudalism was sharper and more profound than that of the Renaissance and encompassed the entire structure of the society and the state. Engels observed, “By the 18th century, the bourgeoisie had become strong enough to create its own ideology, corresponding to its class position” (in K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 21, p. 294).
The ideologists of the Enlightenment posed the question of the practical structuring of the society of the future. Because they viewed political freedom and civil equality as the cornerstone of that society, they directed their criticism against the despotism of the absolute monarchy, as well as that of the church. They were opposed to the entire feudal system, with its privileges for certain social estates. Lenin noted that the representatives of the Enlightenment were inspired by “a violent hostility to serfdom and all its economic, social, and legal products” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 2, p. 519).
The ideology of the Enlightenment was important in undermining the foundations of the feudal system. Especially in France, the Enlightenment was the direct ideological preparation for the bourgeois revolution. As Engels pointed out, the representatives of the Enlightenment “educated minds for the approaching revolution” (in Marx and Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 20, p. 16).
During the Enlightenment, progressive, antifeudal ideas ceased to be confined to a narrow circle of ideologists. There was a substantial increase in the number of books, brochures, pamphlets, and leaflets propagandizing Enlightenment ideas and addressed to a broad democratic audience. (Some of these publications were circulated illegally.)
In Western Europe, the Enlightenment was anticipated by general progress, particularly in the 17th century, in practical knowledge essential for the needs of material production, trade, and navigation. Hobbes, Descartes, Leibniz, Newton, Spinoza, and the Dutch Cartesians made important contributions to the liberation of science from the spiritual authority of religion. Their work signified the rapid growth of the exact and natural sciences—physics, mathematics, mechanics, and astronomy —and the establishment of modern materialism, which, however, originated in a metaphysical, mechanistic form concerned solely with the explanation of nature. Scientific and technological progress accompanied and promoted the formation of the antifeudal ideology.
The philosophical views of the Enlightenment, which took shape in conformity with contemporary science, were permeated with the antifeudal ideology. Many Enlightenment thinkers developed materialist doctrines that matter is the only reality, endowed with an infinite diversity of properties. In their polemics against the theistic doctrine that god created the world, the Enlightenment thinkers argued that nature is a primordially organized whole, bound together by a chain of natural causal ties and laws. In their theory of knowledge, the representatives of the Enlightenment developed a sensationalist orientation that denied the existence of innate ideas (including the idea of god) and asserted that sensations and perceptions (the result of the influence of the external world on man) are the source of human knowledge. Although they basically adhered to mechanistic and metaphysical materialism, the Enlightenment materialists, especially the French, approached a dialectical conception of nature in dealing with a number of important questions. For the first time in the history of philosophy, they drew from materialism atheistic and sociopolitical conclusions directed against the feudal world view and social structure.
The Enlightenment counterposed rationalist theories of society and the state, ethics, and even religion (deism, the idea of “natural religion,” the religion of reason) to the feudal religious dogmas of the divine origin of monarchical power and of all other feudal institutions.
Associated with the cult of reason were the efforts of Enlightenment thinkers to subordinate the social structure to the ideal of reason, as well as state institutions, which, in their opinion, were obligated to serve the “common good”, and social mores and customs. The feudal system and its institutions were regarded as “unnatural” and “unreasonable.” In their attitude toward social development, the representatives of the Enlightenment were idealists. Their theories, based on abstract notions of unchanging human nature and “man in general,” were antihistorical and metaphysical. Nonetheless, Enlightenment theories (in particular, the theory of natural law), which were derived from a conception of innate human equality, provided an ideological foundation for demands for democratic liberties. Directed against the feudal absolutist state, the theory of the social contract declared that the state is not a divine institution but one that originated in the conclusion of a contract among people. The theory of the social contract gave the people the right to deprive a sovereign of power if he violated the conditions of the contract or failed to protect the natural rights of the citizens.
Some of the Enlightenment thinkers placed their hopes on the “enlightened monarch” and developed the idea of enlightened absolutism. They believed that absolutist regimes were capable of carrying out the necessary bourgeois reforms, because they had already deprived the feudal seigniors of their political independence and had carried out reforms designed to eliminate provincial fragmentation and establish the political unity of the nation. Enlightenment thinkers who represented primarily the interests of the people went considerably further than the proponents of enlightened absolutism, advocating the ideas of popular sovereignty and the democratic republic.
In economics the majority of the Enlightenment thinkers regarded the competition of private interests as normal and demanded the introduction of free trade and legal guarantees for private property against feudal restrictions and arbitrariness. The economic theories of the Physiocrats and other currents in classical bourgeois political economy are associated with the Enlightenment.
History, viewed by the Enlightenment thinkers as a “school of ethics and politics,” served as a weapon in the struggle against the feudal world view. Enlightenment views of history were characterized by the exclusion of theology from the explanation of the historical process; a highly negative attitude toward the Middle Ages, declared an era of ignorance, fanaticism, religious prejudices, and tyranny; and the worship of antiquity, in which the Enlightenment thinkers sought confirmation of their own ideals. Also typical of Enlightenment views of history were faith in progress, which was regarded as the steady development of culture, trade, industry, and technology; a world historical approach, that is, the conception of humanity as a single entity; and the recognition of the lawlike quality of historical development, which was believed to be subject to certain “natural laws.”
In conformity with their entire system of thought and with their faith in the great transformational power of reason, the representatives of the Enlightenment paid particular attention to problems of education, ruthlessly criticizing the vestiges of the medieval system of education and introducing new principles into pedagogical science. J. Locke, C. A. Helvétius, D. Diderot, J.-J. Rousseau, and, later, the Swiss teacher and democrat J. H. Pestalozzi were among the proponents of new ideas in education, including the concepts of the crucial influence of the environment on education, the natural equality of abilities, and the necessary correspondence between upbringing, the environment, and the natural inclinations of a child. The Enlightenment thinkers also demanded that education be practical and oriented toward reality.
To Christian ethics, with its characteristic ideas of the renunciation of worldly goods and the unconditional subordination of the individual to the feudal and ecclesiastical hierarchies, the Enlightenment thinkers counterposed the idea of the emancipation of the individual from the bonds of feudal morality and religion and from various restrictions, including those associated with certain social estates. Moreover, as alternatives to Christian ethics, they proposed individualistic theories of “rational egoism”—that is, ethics based on common sense. Other humanistic principles also developed during this period, especially on the eve of the French Revolution. A new concept of citizenship demanded the self-restraint and disciplining of the individual in the spirit of revolutionary morality. The good of the state or of the republic was placed above that of the individual.
The philosophy of the Enlightenment was combined with Enlightenment views on history, politics, ethics, and aesthetics, as well as with artistic works of the period, forming a single system permeated with the rejection of feudal ideology and the spirit of the struggle for the emancipation of the individual. The ideology of the Enlightenment was reflected in various schools of literature and representational art, including classicism, realism, and sentimentalism, many facets of which border on Enlightenment realism. No single school achieved dominance. Usually, several schools coexisted. All the artistic schools, however, reflected and disseminated the ideology of the Enlightenment. They were characterized by the affirmation of a particular norm and the rejection of everything that violated or distorted it.
The foundation of Enlightenment realism was a norm established by reason. The violation of the norm was denounced or ridiculed in satiric genres of literature. Obedience to the norm—a particular ethical or social ideal—was personified in the positive characters in slice-of-life domestic dramas and bourgeois drama. For the sentimentalists, the norm of human behavior was the “natural.” Thus, they recognized the priority of feeling over reason—a distinctive form of protest against prejudices associated with various social estates, as well as against political violence and other violations of the norm (natural laws).
The aesthetics of classicism posed the problem of the conflict between the ideal and the real human being. Man’s “good nature” was counterposed to “social” man, “the product of the environment,” who violated the ethical norm (the ideal). Characteristic of the writers of the Enlightenment was a striving to bring literature closer to life and turn it into an effective factor in the transformation of social mores. A pronounced publicists, propagandistic principle was characteristic of literature, which transmitted lofty civic ideals and the enthusiasm of the self-affirmation of the positive hero.
The most outstanding works of literature overcame the restrictiveness and didacticism of Enlightenment thought. Brilliant literary works were created by Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, and P. A. C. de Beaumarchais (France); G. E. Lessing, the young Goethe, and J. C. F. von Schiller (Germany); and S. Richardson, H. Fielding, T. G. Smollett, and R. B. Sheridan (Great Britain). The principal literary genres of the period were the satiric novel, the slice-of-life domestic novel, the Bildungsroman, the satirical didactic essay, the philosophical tale, and drama—especially the bourgeois drama.
In the representational arts the main trends of the period were classicism and realism. Classicism assumed a distinctive Enlightenment tone (for example, in the work of the architect C.-N. Ledoux and the painter J. L. David in France). Enlightenment realism gained currency primarily in painting and graphics (A. J. Gros of France, W. Hogarth of Great Britain, and D. N. Chodowiecki of Germany).
Enlightenment ideas also had a substantial influence on music, especially in France, Germany, and Austria. Enlightenment thinkers, such as Rousseau and Diderot (France) and J. J. Winkelmann and Lessing (Germany), developed a new system of aesthetics, including musical aesthetics. Their views on musical drama provided the foundation for the operatic reforms of C. W. Gluck, who declared that “simplicity, truth, and naturalness” are the sole criteria of beauty in all works of art. The sociopolitical, ethical, and aesthetic ideas of the Enlightenment thinkers constituted the spiritual foundation for the development of the Viennese classical school. Enlightenment ideas were brilliantly expressed in the work of the greatest representatives of the Vienna school—Haydn and Mozart, whose music was dominated by an optimistic and harmonious perception of the world, and Beethoven, whose works, imbued with a heroic spirit, reflected the ideas of the French Revolution.
The acuteness of the contradictions between nascent capitalism and feudalism and the lack of development of the internal antagonisms of bourgeois society made it possible for the Enlightenment thinkers to act as representatives of the interests of all oppressed peoples. This accounts for the boldness of the bourgeois thought of the period and makes it possible to speak of a single school of Enlightenment thinkers and a single anti-feudal Enlightenment ideology, despite the heterogeneity of the Enlightenment and the ideological and political differences among Enlightenment thinkers on many political, ideological, philosophical, and other questions. The onerous plight of the urban and rural poor, oppressed by both feudalism and capitalism, created the conditions for the rise of distinctive egalitarian and communist tendencies in Enlightenment literature.
Differences in socioeconomic conditions and national traditions gave rise to the specific characteristics of the Enlightenment in different countries. In Great Britain the source of the Enlightenment was the ideology that grew out of the English Civil War. However, the British Enlightenment developed in the postrevolutionary era, which was marked by the conclusion of the “heroic period” of the revolution with a compromise between the big bourgeoisie and some members of the landed aristocracy (the Glorious Revolution of 1688–89). This class compromise is clearly manifested in the philosophical and political theories of J. Locke. In the early 18th century—a period marked by rapid technological progress and the steady growth of Great Britain’s economic power—the Enlightenment continued to develop, pervaded by social optimism. The doctrine of universal harmony proposed by A. A. Cooper, third earl of Shaftesbury, was widely accepted.
An optimistic perception of the world colored British philosophical and artistic thought of the first half of the 18th century (for example, A. Pope’s Essay on Man, 1732–34). Only the moral defects of society were criticized, and according to the Enlightenment thinkers, they could be eliminated by education and progress. The Enlightenment thinkers glorified economic prosperity, the conquest of nature, and the enterprising person who retained presence of mind in the face of adversity. D. Defoe was the first to present the bourgeois of his time as the “natural man.” His Robinson Crusoe (1719) became the source for all subsequent robinsonades in bourgeois literature, philosophy, and political economy, in which an isolated individual (that is, a person without sociohistorical ties) launches the development of an entire system of social relations.
However, not all of the representatives of the British Enlightenment shared these optimistic illusions. For example, B. Mandeville, who engaged in polemics with Shaftesbury, rejected the myth of harmony and universal good and asserted that vice and crime were the foundation of Great Britain’s prosperity. Although J. Swift believed in the goodness of human nature, he also thought that there was neither harmony nor virtue in society as it had developed historically. He found the ideal “natural condition” inspired by virtuous reason only in an ironic utopia—the kingdom of rational horses (Gulliver’s Travels). Fielding’s novels are pervaded by a struggle between two opposite tendencies—faith in the goodness of human nature and the clash of egoistic interests in real life. By means of his virtues, the idealized “natural man” prevails over the forces of egotism and self-interest in Fielding’s novels. However, a crisis in the optimism of the Enlightenment emerged in Fielding’s works and especially in T. G. Smollett’s novels, which portray not goodness but egotism, lack of principles, and greed as the chief elements of human nature.
The British freethinkers of the 18th century—J. Toland, A. Collins, and J. Priestley—developed the ideas of materialism in a deistic form and propagandized the principal ideas of the Enlightenment: the cult of reason, which was to replace blind faith; the equality of people from birth; and freedom of conscience.
The French Enlightenment at first borrowed many ideas from the British. Unlike the postrevolutionary British Enlightenment, however, it applied its ideas on the brink of revolution, in the context of a sharp political struggle. In France, the Enlightenment critique was more effective and had a tremendous impact on society, because it was directed primarily against feudal institutions rather than social mores. Among the brilliant precursors of the 18th-century Enlightenment were P. Gassendi, P. Bayle, and J. Meslier, the prominent revolutionary democrat, materialist, and atheist. The ideological leaders of the “old generation” of 18th-century French Enlightenment thinkers were Voltaire and Montesquieu, who took deism as the philosophical foundation for their views.
The French Enlightenment thinkers fought the religious world view from the standpoint of reason, resolutely opposing the Catholic Church and feudal despotism and law. They also made an important contribution to the development of the Enlightenment philosophy of history. Although they believed in historical progress, the French Enlightenment thinkers usually did not associate progress with the political development of the masses but placed their hopes in an “enlightened monarch” (Voltaire) or favored a constitutional monarchy based on the British model and advocated the theory of the division of powers (Montesquieu).
Most of the representatives of the second stage of the French Enlightenment were materialists and atheists (Diderot, Helvétius, and P. H. Holbach). The central event of this stage was the publication of the Encyclopedia, or a Rational Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts and Trades (1751–80). Diderot was the chief organizer of the project. D’Alembert, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Helvétius, Holbach, F. Quesnay, Turgot, E. B. de Mably de Condillac, and Condorcet were among those who participated in the publication of the Encyclopedia, which extended the critique of feudalism to all spheres of ideology. As the revolution approached, works offering a more radical critique of the feudal system—especially Rousseau’s The Social Contract (1762)— became more influential and were interpreted as direct calls for revolution. Rousseau believed that once the people had abolished the social structure, they should voluntarily limit their freedom in the interests of society. In the rational society of the future, the totality of competing personal interests would be replaced by a single will embodied in the state. A new civic spirit would limit the good of each in the interests of the good of all. These ideas constituted the foundation for the ascetic virtue of the Jacobins, followers of Rousseau. Despite the subjective conviction of the French Enlightenment thinkers that their plans would bring happiness to all mankind, the doctrine of a new morality and of the kingdom of reason was, as Engels pointed out, “nothing other than the idealized kingdom of the bourgeoisie” (in Marx and Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 20, p. 17). The authors of early communist Utopian theories (Meslier, Morelly and G. B. de Mably) were the spokesmen for the aspirations and hopes of the lower classes and the representatives of the newly developed democratic ideology.
In North America an Enlightenment movement developed under the strong influence of the British and French Enlightenment, particularly the ideas of Locke, the French materialists, and Rousseau. The Enlightenment provided the ideological foundation for the first bourgeois revolution on the American continent, the War of Independence in North America (1775–83). The leading representatives of the American Enlightenment were B. Franklin, scientist, economist, and writer and organizer of the American Philosophical Society (1743); T. Jefferson, a revolutionary democrat and author of the Declaration of Independence (1776); and T. Paine, the most radical of the American Enlightenment thinkers. The American Enlightenment was characterized by a sharply anticlerical stance and the juxtaposition of the cult of reason and Christian religious worship. Paine, E. Allen, and C. Colden made particularly sharp attacks on the Christian church. The American Enlightenment thinkers were deists (not atheists), among whom the radical, democratic deists held the leading position. They propagandized other progressive philosophical and social theories of their times; defended rationalism and the theory of natural law; developed the proposition that people are innately, naturally equal; and advocated a republic.
Most of the American Enlightenment thinkers advocated democratic ideas and participated directly in the revolution. They drew revolutionary conclusions from their philosophy, defending the idea of popular sovereignty and substantiating the people’s right to revolution. Enlightenment scientists and thinkers, including T. Cooper, B. Rush, and G. Buchanan, developed materialist concepts, emphasizing the necessity of a link between philosophy and the natural sciences. Literature, as well as scientific works and political publicism, reflected the impact of the Enlightenment (the poetry of P. Freneau and the satiric novels of H. Brackenridge). The ideology and legislation of the French Revolution were influenced by the revolutionary democratic ideas of the American Enlightenment, which were expressed in the constitutional documents adopted during the revolutionary period, including the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776) and the Declaration of Independence (1776).
In Italy the Enlightenment (Illuminismo) was associated with the struggle for national unification. The question of a single Italian literary language was prominent in the works of the Italian Enlightenment: the book Attempt at a Philosophy of Languages (1800) by M. Cesarotti and articles in the Venetian Gazette and The Observer (published by G. Gozzi) and in the journals Literary Whip (published by G. Barreti) and The Café (published by P. Verri and A. Verri). The ideas of the Enlightenment were expressed with particular clarity in the works and activity of the political economist P. Verri and the philosophers and jurists C. Beccaria and G. Filangieri. Leading roles in the literature of the Italian Enlightenment were played by C. Goldoni, the author of realistic plays drawn from everyday life and expressing democratic ideas, and V. Alfieri, the author of classical tragedies permeated by Enlightenment ideas.
In Spain the Enlightenment developed under the influence of the ideas of the French Physiocrats and encyclopedists. The 18th-century Spanish Enlightenment thinkers criticized medieval Scholasticism and religious dogmas, advocated experimental knowledge and Enlightenment aesthetics (B. J. Feijóo), defended Gassendi’s principles of atomism (the philosophers A. Eximeno y Pujades, Juan Andrés, A. Avendaño, and J. B. Berni), and developed the ideas of the Physiocrats (P. Campomanes). G. de Jovellanos was one of the most prominent representatives of the Spanish Enlightenment. Although the Enlightenment was somewhat weak in Spain, its representatives made a substantial contribution to the ideological preparation for the first Spanish Revolution of 1808–14.
The German Enlightenment felt the impact of the country’s comparative economic and political backwardness, its fragmentation, and the political immaturity of the nascent bourgeoisie. In Germany the Enlightenment reflected the protest against feudal fragmentation, absolutist tyranny, and intellectual intolerance. The work of the early representatives of the German Enlightenment was speculative and theoretical. Enlightenment ideas were first expressed in science and philosophy. The works of C. Thomasius, Leibniz, and C. Wolff are representative of the early, optimistic stage of the Enlightenment—a period associated with the assertion of the omnipotence of reason, which was believed to be capable of resolving all contradictions in the real world. At this stage, it was important to separate philosophy from theology, to substantiate a secular ethics free of religion, and to emancipate scientific knowledge. However, because of the weakness of the materialist orientation in German Enlightenment thought, the struggle against the official church ideology was usually indecisive and conciliatory.
Denunciations of society were only weakly expressed by the early representatives of the Enlightenment in Germany, but beginning in the late 1750’s and the 1760’s, criticism of the existing system and protests against feudal tyranny grew stronger. At this stage, the central figure was G. E. Lessing, who denounced feudal tyranny and condemned religious intolerance. He substantiated the aesthetic principles of Enlightenment realism. F. G. Klopstock initiated the tradition of civic lyricism and established an original style for German poetry. Contrasting conditions in Germany with those in ancient Greece, J. J. Winckelmann extolled the ancient Greek democracy, which had given rise to great art. J. G. von Herder asserted the unity of the historical process and developed the principles of historicism and national originality in art—ideas that greatly influenced the German Enlightenment thinkers associated with the Sturm und Drang movement, which developed in the 1770’s. Permeated by a spirit of rebelliousness, the Sturm und Drang movement reflected the growth of antifeudal attitudes (the work of the young Goethe, the early dramas of Schiller, plays by F. M. von Klinger and J. M. R. Lenz, ballads by G. A. Burger, and lyrics and publicistic works by C. F. D. Schubart).
The final stage of the German Enlightenment is associated with an intellectual revolution engendered by the French Revolution. Under these conditions, two trends took shape within the German Enlightenment: a revolutionary democratic ideology, represented by the German “Jacobins” (G. Forster, W. L. Wekhrlin, and A. Rebmann), and Weimar classicism, associated with the Weimar period of Goethe and Schiller, whose quest was focused on humanistic ethics and aesthetic training as a means of resolving the contradictions of culture and history. A departure from Enlightenment ideology became evident during this stage of the German Enlightenment, and an antibourgeois tendency developed. The departure from the rationalism of the Enlightenment was also evident in the philosophy of Kant, whose views were described by Marx as “the German theory of the French Revolution” (ibid., vol. 1, p. 88). The German Enlightenment of the second half of the 18th century substantially enriched European Enlightenment thought and, to a certain extent, summarized the entire Western European Enlightenment.
In the period after the French Revolution, progressive thinkers experienced growing disillusionment with the results of the revolution and with bourgeois progress as a whole. The disillusionment resulted from disparity between Enlightenment ideals and the newly established bourgeois system and from exposure of the contradictions in the capitalist system under the conditions of the industrial revolution. As Engels pointed out, progressive thinkers of this period realized that “the social and political institutions established by the ‘victory of reason’ had proved to be evil, calling forth bitter disillusionment with the caricature of the shining promises of the proponents of the Enlightenment” (ibid., vol. 19, p. 193). The crisis in Enlightenment ideology, which became evident as early as the 18th century in Great Britain, was manifested in a skeptical reexamination of the potentialities of human reason, in the expression of doubt in bourgeois progress, and in the destruction of the Enlightenment aesthetic ideal. This crisis, as well as the increasingly obvious weaknesses and limitations of the Enlightenment world view (antihistoricism and metaphysical and rigid normative qualities), resulted in the establishment of a new prevailing intellectual and artistic current in the first half of the 19th century—romanticism. At the same time, the ideology of the Enlightenment was attacked by the forces of feudal reaction and, increasingly, by the ideologists of the bourgeoisie, which was becoming more conservative.
Oversimplified and distorted by the new schools of bourgeois social thought, the views of the Enlightenment thinkers lost their revolutionary orientation (for example, in the utilitarianism of J. Bentham and J. S. Mill and the positivism of A. Comte). Enlightenment ideas were reinterpreted in the spirit of bourgeois liberalism and transformed into an apology for the bourgeois system. Although Utopian socialism was, to a certain extent, genetically linked with the ideas of the Enlightenment, it represented a qualitatively new stage in the development of social thought. In a number of countries the failure to complete the tasks of the bourgeois revolution prompted a revitalization of the ideas of the Enlightenment in the 19th century. In Germany, for example, this was manifested in the philosophical works of L. Feuerbach and the historical conceptions of the Heidelberg school (F. C. Schlosser, for example).
Russia. The Russian Enlightenment, like the Western European Enlightenment, may be described as the intellectual preparation for the bourgeois revolution. Enlightenment thought was the characteristic form of antifeudal ideology, as long as and to the extent that antifeudal forces were not differentiated. Lenin defined the main features of the Enlightenment in Russia as a hostility “to serfdom and all its economic, social, and legal products”; “advocacy of education, self-government, liberty, European forms of life, and all-round Europeanization of Russia generally”; and “the defense of the interests of the masses, chiefly of the peasants... the sincere belief that abolition of serfdom and its survivals would be followed by universal well-being, and a sincere desire to bring this about” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 2, p. 519).
Because the antifeudal movements in Russian and in Western Europe shared a number of characteristics, the principal ideas of the Enlightenment in Russia coincided with those of the Western European Enlightenment. Moreover, there were similarities between the Russian and Western European Enlightenment in philosophy, art, literature, and other intellectual currents, for example, the struggle against religious and moral dogmatism and the advocacy of rationalism and the theories of natural law, the social contract, and “rational egotism.” The uniqueness of the historical process in Russia—the character of autocracy and serfdom, the late development of capitalism and formation of the bourgeoisie as a class—determined the specific features of the Russian Enlightenment: the extraordinary sharpness with which the peasant question was posed, the predominance of descendants of the dvorianstvo (nobility or gentry) among the Enlightenment thinkers, and the influence of the contradictions in the bourgeois development of the Western countries on the one hand and the reformist acts of tsarism on the other. The problem of the abolition of serfdom, which was the focal point of the entire ideological and political struggle for a century (from the 1760’s to 1861), was responsible for the prolongation and complexity of the Enlightenment in Russia. At times the development of the Russian Enlightenment was promoted by spontaneous demonstrations by the peasant masses or liberal initiatives by the elite, but there were also times when the Enlightenment suffered setbacks under pressure from the feudal reaction.
Although the Russian Enlightenment thinkers were united by the task of struggling against serfdom and the feudal ideology, they disagreed over positive sociopolitical and cultural programs and conceptions. Some advocated enlightened absolutism, hoping for reforms by the tsar that would make it possible to avoid the bloodshed that inevitably accompanies violent social revolutions carried out by the “dark” masses. (Some scholars identify the Enlightenment solely with this intellectural current.) The representatives of other intellectual trends believed that it was necessary to make science, the “light of reason,” and creative work accessible to the toiling people. Some of these Enlightenment thinkers developed the idea of a nationwide uprising against despotism and demanded a democratic republic and the political equality of all citizens.
The gap between the aspirations of the “leftists” and the “rightists” was more significant in the Russian Enlightenment than in the Western European Enlightenment. The members of Peter I’s “learned circle” (Feofan Prokopovich, A. D. Kantemir, and V. N. Tatishchev), and to a still greater degree, M. V. Lomonosov are associated with certain elements of Enlightenment thought, including enlightened absolutism, criticism of the church, and the idea that every man has worth, regardless of his social estate.
The early Russian Enlightenment reached its peak in the 1760’s through the 1780’s when works by N. I. Novikov, D. I. Fonvizin, A. Ia. Polenov, Ia. P. Kozel’skii, and S. E. Desnitskii appeared. The first Russian Enlightenment thinkers placed their hopes on an “enlightened monarch,” on just laws based on natural law, and on the refinement of mores as a result of the spread of education and proper upbringing. They advocated the awakening of national self-consciousness and the dignity of the individual and called for a patriotism that was equally alien to national arrogance and xenophobia. In Novikov’s satirical journals and Fonvizin’s comedies, the “hardheartedness” and ignorance of the pomeshchiki (landlords) and the crudeness of mores were condemned and attributed to the corrupting influence of the social relations associated with serfdom. The representatives of the 18th-century Russian Enlightenment took as their ideal the humane, educated noble who was attentive to his peasants (Starodum and Pravdin in Fonvizin’s The Minor). Unlike official pedagogy, which was permeated by the idea of the subordination of the individual to the state, Novikov’s pedagogical works gave priority to the human being, his personality, and his happiness.
The spread of Enlightenment ideas evoked opposition from the Russian government and church. Although Catherine II corresponded with many representatives of the Western European Enlightenment, who referred to her as a “sage,” she used the press and repressive measures in her struggle against Russian Enlightenment thinkers. D. S. Anichkov’s dissertation on the origin of religion (1769) was banned by the censor. Fonvizin was forbidden to publish a journal (1788), and Novikov was imprisoned, as well as forbidden to publish (1792). I. A. Krylov was forced to cease publishing (1793), as was I. G. Rakhmaninov, who had begun to publish the works of Voltaire. (Of the 20 volumes planned, four were completed.) A. N. Radishchev discovered a way out of the impasse in Enlightenment thought. Repudiating the hopes placed by most of his contemporaries on an “enlightened monarch” and the beneficial power of education, he called for a popular revolution against the autocracy. As the author of A Journey From St. Petersburg to Moscow (1790), the most outstanding work of the 18th-century Russian Enlightenment, Radishchev was the founder of the revolutionary orientation of the period.
In politics and theory the ideology of Russian Enlightenment thinkers of the early 19th century (V. V. Popugaev, I. P. Pnin, A. P. Kunitsyn) remained moderate, but it became more bourgeois in content.
The Decembrist movement was the first attempt to implement the ideas of the Enlightenment. The activity and literary work of the Decembrists, for example, P. I. Pestel’, K. F. Ryleev, and W. Küchelbecker, were characterized by the ideas of civic service and struggle for the implementation of the ideals of a rational society and freedom for all mankind.
Literature, especially A. S. Pushkin’s works, was largely responsible for the awakening of public opinion in the period after the Decembrist uprising. N. V. Stankevich, N. A. Polevoi, and N. I. Nadezhdin contributed to the development of Enlightenment ideas. The Russian Enlightenment rose to a qualitatively new level in the 1840’s, owing to V. G. Belinskii’s literary critiques, the philosophical and literary works of A. I. Herzen, and the activity of the Petrashevskii circle. Enlightenment ideas strongly influenced literature and art (the “natural school” and M. E. Saltykov-Shchedrin). The high point of the Russian Enlightenment of the 1840’s was Belinskii’s “Letter to Gogol” (1847), which was circulated in manuscript form. Representatives of the Russian Enlightenment of the 1840’s turned to the reality and to the science of Western Europe, denouncing the reactionary character of the existing regime in Russia, asserting the inevitability of social reforms, and defending the conception of public “activity” in the interests of the people. The most radical Westernizers could not fail to note the major contradictions inherent in capitalism, which was developing in Western Europe.
The disagreements among representatives of the Russian Enlightenment, which had been evident as early as Radishchev’s time, intensified toward the mid-19th century, when two trends took shape: the liberal reformist and revolutionary democratic trends. Unlike the representatives of the liberal reformist trend (K. D. Kavelin and B. N. Chicherin, for example), who were opposed to involving the popular masses in sociopolitical transformations, the revolutionary democrats (for example, N. G. Chernyshevskii, N. A. Dobroliubov, Herzen, and N. P. Ogarev) believed that the main task was to awaken the revolutionary initiative of the people. Because the liberal reformists and the revolutionary democrats shared certain antifeudal goals, they were able to act together on many questions until the early 1860’s, despite their disagreements over theory.
The revolutionary situation of 1859–61 and the Peasant Reform of 1861 led to the final delineation of the two groups. Openly proclaiming a revolutionary democratic and socialist program, the radical wing of the Russian Enlightenment decisively took the side of the plundered peasantry. The liberal reformists, frightened by the peasant movement and partially satisfied by the tsarist reforms, dissociated themselves from the radical wing. Some of the Enlightenment thinkers, such as M. N. Katkov, openly switched to the conservative camp. In the 1860’s the increasingly divergent trends in the Russian Enlightenment were still united in their opposition to the vestiges of serfdom. On this matter, the revolutionary democrats Saltykov-Shchedrin and D. I. Pisarev were in agreement with the liberal reformists T. S. Turgenev and F. P. Elenev (pen name Skaldin).
Its principal tasks completed after the reforms of the 1860’s, which launched the development of capitalism in Russia, the Russian Enlightenment ceased to exist as a specific phenomenon. The radical, revolutionary democratic trend, which expressed the interests of the toiling peasantry, developed into Narodnichestvo (Populist movement). The liberal trend defended the interests of the young Russian bourgeoisie. Because vestiges of the feudal system survived in Russia until 1917, elements of Enlightenment thought are found in the works of Narodnik writers and in liberal journalism, especially in the works of Turgenev, L. N. Tolstoy, and V. G. Korolenko. Among the peoples of the Russian Empire, who were struggling for the growth of civic and national consciousness and against national, feudal, and religious oppression, a number of intellectuals and writers emerged as outstanding representatives of Enlightenment thought: I. Franko and T. G. Shevchenko (the Ukraine), A. Khyzhdeu (A. Haşeu; Moldavia), M. F. Akhundov (Azerbaijan), Kh. Abovian (Armenia), I. G. Chavchavadze (Georgia), and Ch. Valikhanov and Abai Kunanbaev (Kazakhstan). The revolutionary Social Democrats inherited the ideas of the Russian Enlightenment thinkers, as well as their struggle against the feudal autocratic order.
Eastern, Central, and Southeastern Europe. In the countries of Eastern, Central, and Southeastern Europe, which were not advanced enough for bourgeois revolutions in the 18th and early 19th centuries but which had already entered the stage of the breakdown of the system of feudal serfdom, the objective need for antifeudal, bourgeois transformations constituted the foundation for the spread of the Enlightenment ideology and for the assimilation of the ideas of the Western European Enlightenment by progressive members of the intelligentsia. However, in these countries the Enlightenment was often less distinctly manifested than in Western Europe and Russia, and its attributes often emerged in a complex combination with characteristics not usually associated with the Enlightenment. At the same time, as a result of the comparatively slow rate of capitalist development, which was impeded by the strength of surviving feudal relations, Enlightenment ideas were revitalized.
Among many of the peoples of Central, Southeastern, and Eastern Europe, including most of the South Slavs, the Western Slavs, the Hungarians, and the Greeks, the struggle for national liberation was a source of additional inspiration for the ideology of the Enlightenment. The progressive features of domestic national and patriotic traditions were combined with the ideas of the Western European Enlightenment. In the countries of Eastern, Central, and Southeastern Europe the Enlightenment became the ideological foundation for the first phase of the national revival. (The second phase was usually inspired by romanticism.) In some countries, such as Poland and Hungary, intellectuals of noble descent played an important role in transmitting Enlightenment ideas. In Eastern, Central, and Southeastern Europe the most striking manifestations of the Enlightenment are associated with philology (the defense of the national language) and historical scholarship (the history of the homeland, and the idea of the common history of the Slavs, which developed among the Slavic peoples).
In Poland the Enlightenment of the second half of the 18th and the early 19th centuries was closely associated with the national liberation movement. The leaders of the Polish Enlightenment were H. Kołłątaj, S. Śtaszic, J. Śniadecki, and E. Śniadecki, who were influenced by the French Enlightenment thinkers. Proponents of anticlericalism and materialism and foes of serfdom and the system of social estates, they advocated the ideas of Polish Jacobinism, defending the principles of the equality of nations (natsii, nations in the historical sense), natural law, the social contract, and the inviolability of national sovereignty.
The chief representative of the Enlightenment among the South Slavs was the Serbian rationalist philosopher D. Obradović, who was influenced by the ideas of the British Enlightenment. Also of great importance were the creative work and activity of the Croatian writer and educator M. A. Relković and the Slovenian poet and Enlightenment thinker V. Vodnik, the founder of the first Slovenian newspaper.
In Hungary the development of Enlightenment ideas is associated with the materialist philosopher and writer G. Bessenyei, who is considered the father of the Hungarian Enlightenment, the poet M. Csokonai-Vitéz; and the Hungarian Jacobins I. Martinovics, the poet J. Batsányi, and the critic F. Kazinczy.
The most outstanding representatives of the first stage of the Enlightenment in Bohemia (the 1750’s through the 1770’s) are G. Dobner, the historian F. M. Pelcl, and A. Voigt. J. Dobrovsky is the most distinguished representative of the second stage of the Czech Enlightenment (the 1780’s through the 1790’s). The Czech Enlightenment, which did not reach the bourgeois democratic stage, was, in general, characterized by moderation.
The Enlightenment in Bulgaria, which developed in the 19th century, was initially associated with I. Seliminskii, who was influenced by the French and German Enlightenment. The representatives of the revolutionary democratic movement (G. S. Rakovskii, L. Karavelov, Kh. Botev) imparted a democratic character to the ideology of the Bulgarian Enlightenment. The Russian revolutionary democrats greatly influenced the Bulgarian revolutionary democratic ideology.
The Orient In the countries of the Orient the antifeudal movement, which was usually intertwined with the national liberation struggle, was manifested in forms that differed in many respects from those associated with Europe. This circumstance was related to Eastern philosophical and literary traditions and was largely determined by the fact that socially and economically the countries of the Orient were developing at a slower rate than the European countries. Because of the differences between the Oriental and European antifeudal movements, Soviet scholars disagree over the possibility of distinguishing an Enlightenment stage in the ideology of the countries of the Orient. According to some scholars, countries that failed to attain the level of economic development of 18th-century Europe did not go through an Enlightenment stage. However, most Orientalists recognize the existence of an Enlightenment in the East. For the majority of the Oriental countries, most Soviet Orientalists date the Enlightenment to the late 19th century and the early 20th.
In the Orient the Enlightenment movement had a number of distinctive features, including the importance of religious ideology and the absence of a clear boundary between the elements of the late Renaissance and the early Enlightenment. Nonetheless, the most important characteristics of the Enlightenment world view in the East were analogous to the principal features of the Western Enlightenment: the antifeudal struggle of progressive thinkers, which encompassed various fields of ideology and which was intensified by an upsurge in national consciousness; criticism of the foundations and specific manifestations of the feudal system; the struggle against prejudices directed at various social estates and religions; and faith in the power of reason, upbringing, and education. These common features were the result of a typological unity between the Enlightenments of the East and West, as well as a result of the interrelationships and mutual enrichment of national cultures. The late Enlightenment in the countries of the Orient (second half of the 19th century and the early 20th) was greatly influenced by the ideas of the European Enlightenment.
In China the antifeudal struggle was intertwined with the national liberation struggle against the Manchurian invaders. The rise of bourgeois relations engendered ideas similar to those associated with the Renaissance and the Enlightenment in Western Europe. In the 17th and 18th centuries a galaxy of critical, rationalist scholars, philosophers, and writers emerged in China, proposing principles of scientific research, criticizing dogmas and traditional forms of upbringing, and calling for education based on practical knowledge rather than scholastic examination essays and commentaries on the Confucian classics. The representatives of the early Enlightenment in China (Huang Tsung-hsi, Ku Yen-wu, Wang Fu-chih), who took part in the armed struggle against the Manchurian conquerors, criticized feudal relations but advocated enlightened absolutism. They explained the laws of nature from a materialist point of view and argued that society, like nature, was subject to definite laws. The representatives of the early Enlightenment in China developed theories of social equality and man’s natural rights, asserting that every person has dignity, regardless of his social estate. Some early Enlightenment thinkers called for a “rebirth of antiquity,” but others (Wang Fu-chih) proposed the idea of the progressive development of humanity.
The representatives of the second stage of the Chinese Enlightenment (the mid-19th century) demanded “partial reforms” similar to those implemented in Western Europe and fought against the “closed door” policy, advocating contacts with other countries (Wei Yüan, Kung Tzu-chen, Wang T’ao). In the late 19th century the Enlightenment thinkers K’ang Yuwei, Liang Ch’i-ch’ao, and T’an Ssu-t’ung had an opportunity to implement certain bourgeois reforms (the Hundred Days of Reforms).
Chinese literature of the 18th and 19th centuries was enriched by the recognition of the causal relationship between man and his environment, by the discovery that a person’s character depends on the circumstances of his life, and by the idea of the natural equality of people. These developments greatly influenced the satirical novel (An Unofficial History of the Literati by Wu Ching-tzu), the slice-of-life novel (The Dream of the Red Chamber by Ts’ao Hsüeh-ch’in), the satirical-fantastic novel (Flowers in the Mirror by Li Ju-chen), and the “accusatory novels” of the early 20th century.
In Korea the early Enlightenment developed as part of the intellectual Movement for Practical Learning, or Sirhak. Early Enlightenment thinkers, including Pak Che-ga, Yu Hyongwong, and Yi Ik, insisted on the necessity of developing the applied sciences and of becoming familiar with the scientific and technological achievements of other countries. An antifeudal orientation emerged in the works of Pak Chi-won and Chong Yak-yong, whose views were greatly influenced by the ideas of the Chinese Enlightenment thinkers Ku Yen-wu and Huang Tsung-hsi. Korean Enlightenment satires include the short stories of Pak Chi-won, several anonymous stories, and the prose works of the “New Direction” school (early 20th century).
In general, the second stage of the Korean Enlightenment (the late 19th and early 20th centuries) was less radical than the first: social and political problems gave way to questions of upbringing and education. Among those who publicized European scientific and technological achievements and demanded extensive reforms in public education were Chi Sok-yong, Pak Un-sik, and Chu Si-gyong.
By the 18th century, progressive thinkers in Japan were counterposing experimental knowledge to Confucian scholasticism and calling for exposure to Western science (Miura Baien and Yamagata Hanto). Materialist ideas were developed by Ito Jinsai, Ando Shoeki, and Kamada Ryukyu. The Japanese Enlightenment of the second half of the 19th century (after the Meiji Restoration of 1867–68) was characterized by greater radicalism among Enlightenment thinkers, who rallied around the Meirokusha Society (Sixth Year of Meiji Society, founded 1873) and its journal, Meiroku-shinshi. Montesquieu’s The Spirit of Laws and Rousseau’s The Social Contract were translated into Japanese. (Later, these works became available in China, Korea, and Vietnam.) Publicism flourished, and a new literary genre, the political novel, emerged (Komuro Angaido, Yano Ryukei, Jippensha Ikku). The foundation for realistic literature was laid (Futabatei Shimei).
In the Middle East, Enlightenment ideas developed in the second half of the 19th century and in the early 20th under the influence of the Western European and the Russian Enlightenment. Often, Enlightenment ideas were transmitted by representatives of the Eastern peoples who had become part of the Russian Empire (for example, M. F. Akhundov). The constitutional movement in Turkey, which was associated with Namik Kemal and İbrahim Şinasi (the Young Ottomans), had some features of the Enlightenment. Under the leadership of Mirza Malkom Khan, representatives of the Enlightenment in Iran struggled to transform the country into a constitutional monarchy. Characteristic of Enlightenment thinkers in Syria and Egypt (Butrus al-Bustani, F. Marrash, Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi, Rifaa at-Tahtawi), Iran (Malkom Khan, A. Talibuf), and Turkey (İ. Şinasi, N. Kemal) was a combination of faith in the power of education and enlightenment, regarded as the most important means for transforming society and liberating the people, and faith in the unlimited possibilities of human reason. Moreover, Enlightenment thinkers in Syria, Egypt, Iran, and Turkey popularized Western science and culture, called for national unity, and criticized the feudal system and colonialism.
The ideas of the Enlightenment thinkers in the Middle East were reflected in publicism and literature. Sketches, essays, pamphlets, and didactic philosophical stories were published (Salim al-Bustani, Farah Antun), as were historical novels (J. Zaidan) and educational novels about everyday life (N. Kemal, Ahmad Midhat). The development of literary prose was promoted by the translation of Western European literature, as well as by the rise of national journalism.
In India the origins of the Enlightenment may be traced to Rammohun Roy, one of the founders of the Indian press and a propagandist for the ideas of F. Bacon, the French Enlightenment thinkers, and the British Utopian socialists. Enlightenment reformist societies and groups, which emerged after the Indian Popular Uprising of 1857–59 (the Sepoy Mutiny), translated European literature into the Indian languages, advocated the opening of schools of the Western type, and demanded freedom of speech and the press. The leading figure in the Indian Enlightenment of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was Swami Vivekananda. The ideas of the Indian Enlightenment were brilliantly expressed in the works of the novelists N. Ahmad, F. Sepapti, and P. Mitra, as well as in drama (M. M. Datta) and in satirical novellas.
REFERENCESMarx, K., and F. Engels. Svialoe semeistvo. Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 2.
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A. G. LEVINTON and O. L. FISHMAN (Western Europe, North America, and the Orient) and A. I. VOLODIN and B. I. KRASNOBAEV (Russia)