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in social thought, a current that rejects religious strictures on the rational analysis of the dogmas of faith and defends intellectual freedom in the search for truth. Historically, freethinking has been manifested in various forms of the critique of religion. The term “freethinking” came into use in the 18th century, with the publication of A Discourse of Freethinking (1713), a treatise by the English deist A. Collins.

During the Middle Ages, when religious ideology enjoyed absolute rule in intellectual matters, one of the forms of free-thinking was the theory of “double truth,” which asserted the independent and equally valid significance of scientific truths and religious views (Avicenna and Averroës, for example). Among the outstanding representatives of medieval freethinking were the 12th-century Azerbaijani poet and thinker Nizami Ganjevi, the 12th-century Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli, and the 16th-century Russian philosopher Feodosii Kosoi (the Squint-eyed). Freethinking is reflected in the Armenian folk epic David of Sasun. Among the representatives of Renaissance freethinking were prominent scholars, philosophers, and writers, such as Pietro Pomponazzi, Ulrich von Hutten, and Erasmus of Rotterdam.

Voltaire, one of the most outstanding Enlightenment freethinkers, made a valuable contribution to the deist critique of religion. During the Englightenment the traditions of freethinking were consistently developed from the standpoint of atheism by J. O. de La Mettrie, P. H. Holbach, and D. Diderot. Later, the aspiration toward unfettered discussion of religious questions was expressed in the demand for freedom of conscience, which was advanced by the ideologists of the 18th- and 19th-century bourgeois revolutions in various countries. In 18th-century Russia the ideas of freethinking were vividly expressed by M. V. Lomonosov and I. A. Tret’iakov. Freethinking pervades the work of A. N. Radishchev. Many of the Decembrists, including P. I. Borisov, A. P. Bariatinskii, and I. D. Iakushkin, argued from the standpoint of freethinking.

From the second half of the 19th century the principles of freethinking were defended and justified by prominent Western European and Russian natural scientists, including the German biologist E. Haeckel, who played an outstanding role in the history of freethinking, struggling against mysticism and official religion and founding the Monistic League in Jena in 1906 to further this struggle. The Monistic League and other progressive organizations of the bourgeois intelligentsia spread the ideas of freethinking.

In contemporary bourgeois society many scientific and cultural figures attack the crude forms of religion, frequently rejecting its dogmas and rituals but usually failing to completely repudiate religion as a world view. Some members of the progressive and anticlerical intelligentsia in a number of capitalist countries have adopted the standpoint of freethinking and rationalism and joined special societies and associations that promote enlightenment and publish relevant literature. The national freethinkers’ societies of Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Federal Republic of Germany, Finland, France, Great Britain, India, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, the USA, Uruguay, and several other countries belong to the World Union of Freethinkers, which was founded in Brussels in 1880. The International Humanist and Ethical Union, which was founded in Amsterdam in 1952, consists of 20 national freethinkers’ societies with headquarters in Western Europe and the USA.


Marx, K., and F. Engels. Sviatoe semeistvo. Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 2, pp. 132–38.
Frantsev, Iu. P. U istokov religii i svobodomysliia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1959.
Kogan, Iu. Ia. Ocherki po istorii russkoi ateisticheskoi mysli XVIII v. Moscow, 1962.
Istoriia i teoriia ateizma. Moscow, 1962.
Istoriia svobodomysliia i ateizmav Evrope. Moscow, 1966.
Gol’dberg, N. M. Svobodomyslie i ateizm v SShA (XVIII-XIX vv.). Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.
References in periodicals archive ?
Arkinstall focuses primarily on the periodical she founded in 1879, La Luz del Porvenir, her use of the genre of testimonio in her autobiography Memorias de una mujer, and the debates that her volume Sus mas hermosos escritos (1903) records between freethinking women on questions of aesthetics, female emancipation, and the right of women to write in fin-de-siecle Spain.
I hope that this well-researched biography--as well as Gabriel Glickmann's recent articles on Ramsay ("True, Noble, Christian Freethinking," in Leben und Werk Andrew Michael Ramsays [1686-1743] [2009])--will resuscitate interest in Ramsay's work among not only historians but also theologians.
From every age group and all parts of the world, these talented overachievers represent a freethinking element of the film industry, passionate and inspired, serious about creation.
The Eric Hoffer Awards honor freethinking writers and independent books of exceptional merit.
Always positioned in a very desirable destination, this event provides the preeminent forum where participants feel comfortable sharing their best practices, asking the difficult questions and moving our industry forward together in a freethinking environment.
Despite a left-wing, freethinking elements within the Republican movement, the newly independent country remained a highly religious society in which the church played a trusted role.
While Freud's legacy and her family's analytic obsessiveness constrict her every move, Ellen remains freethinking, especially in her arguably modern attitude toward sex.
There is no way I would participate in that religion as a freethinking adult
The subsequent question why Rome changed from being an ideal city in the Goethe-Winckelmann tradition to one symbolizing tyranny and dead remains of antiquity among freethinking (pre)Romantic writers is not asked.
At any rate, Claire has just been forced to transfer from her cozy and freethinking private school to a public school for brilliant teens where she finds she doesn't quite fit in.
We want to celebrate fun and freethinking, creative ideas and a good time.
Mary Edwards Walker was the daughter of a freethinking New York farmer and abolitionist who at an early age became determined to live life on her own terms, shunning women's fashions, wearing men's clothing, and eventually becoming a medical doctor in an era where women couldn't even vote.