History of Enlightenment Philosophy

History of Enlightenment Philosophy

December 24, 2019 0 By Felso

The 18th century is called the age of enlightenment in a narrow sense and the philosophy of this period is called enlightenment philosophy.

In this period, a conscious effort to enlighten the people within the theoretical and practical contexts attracts attention. The idea of ​​enlightenment describes the determination of people to act in the light of their own minds and to solve problems by freeing themselves from the pressure of religion and traditional thoughts and practices.

In particular, the oppressive and conservative practices of the Christian church, which imposed the religious way of life, deprived people of their right to freedom of thought and behavior and hampered social development and progress. For this reason, in order to break the influence of the church on the social order and the power of administration, most of the Western world attempted a conscious movement of rebellion against the monarchy administrations in the extension of religion and religion. Individuals, intellectuals and thinkers began to think and behave in the same spirit and purposefulness, relying on the guidance of science that represents reason and reason.

France was the home of this movement. In this country, enlightenment ideas were not only monopolized by thinkers, they were produced in public centers by means of intellectuals, journalists and similar people and discussed and reached to the public strata. Undoubtedly, the pioneers of this cultural enlightenment are the group of philosophers whose predominant activists are also dominant. They  were called le phlilosophe in French  . The reason for this is to differentiate themselves from philosopher  John Locke , who considers themselves masters in all respects, written in English  .

This group of philosophers established their theoretical philosophies mainly on Locke’s experientialism. For them, Locke is a true philosopher, both in theory and practice; He provided the basic grammar of enlightenment to the enlightened philosophers with his epistemological and political views. For them, the use of reason in philosophy did not mean the establishment of great philosophical systems derived from innate ideas or self-evident first principles. In this sense, they turned their back on the fictional metaphysics of the previous century. According to them, the use of reason was to go to the phenomena themselves, to learn the laws and the reasons of these through observation. For this reason, they were also influenced by Newton’s work in terms of contributing greatly to scientific thought and development. Thus, the development of science, from physics to psychology, they strongly believed that it would spread to all spheres of morality and social life. Henceforth, the free mind, freed from the obstruction of religion, seemed to be the sole means of achieving human dignity in all fields.

According to Enlightenment thinkers, the use of reason was to go to the phenomena themselves, to learn their laws and reasons through observation.

The attitude of all of these thinkers towards religion was mainly due to the corrupt and outdated practices of religious institutions. Although there were those who completely excluded the concept of God, there was also none that believed in a deist approach or a religion of mind, which represented faith as a first principle of the universe. In short, the most fundamental orientation of the enlightenment period is the elimination of religious dogmas, superstitions and irrationalities from human life, and the struggle for fundamental rights and freedoms that open the doors of a life with honor.

Among the main thinkers of this period are the   names of Bayle , Montesquieu, Voltaire,  Condillac , Helvetius,  Diderot , d’Alambert,  Lametrie ,  d’Holbach and Cabanis. We also need to show Rousseau , a peculiar thinker, partly against enlightenment, partly on enlightenment,  again as this period. Of course, it does not seem possible for us to consider all of these thinkers within these limited limits.

18th century philosophy; It is the general name given to the intellectual movements in the period when the philosophy of enlightenment was born and started to be adopted in the 18th century.

Enlightenment philosophy or 18th century philosophy; In general, it reorganized the organization of one’s own life and became the intellectual / philosophical initiator of a process in which both thought and social life would undergo fundamental changes. The French revolution (1789), which took place towards the end of this century, and the processes of modernization that followed, find their intellectual effects and resources in the philosophy of enlightenment.

In this period; religion or God-centered social structure and regulations are replaced by the search for mind-centered social arrangements in this process. Enlightenment in its broad and general sense is defined as the emergence and grounding of a new worldview against the worldview prevailing in the Middle Ages. This century takes place on the stage of history with a new ideal; according to this ideal, an intellectual culture based on the precise truths illuminated by the mind and the advancement of knowledge must prevail and this culture must progress infinitely. Thus, the ideal of progress is based on the idea that human beings will be freed from the slavery of tradition and will develop on the path of continuous happiness and freedom.

The source of the Enlightenment philosophy is the principles of Renaissance philosophy and especially 17th century philosophy. From the Renaissance onwards, it is possible for thought to be freed from historical authorities and to begin to rely on reason and experience about knowledge and life. In the 17th century, these developments began to be systematized and transformed into basic principles. Secularization is an orientation which has been the basis of all kinds of attempts of enlightenment philosophy and enlightenment in general.

In the 18th century philosophy, on the one hand strengthening rationalism and on the other hand empiricism and the resulting theoretical problems will be tried to be overcome with a new set of syntheses. The age of enlightenment has influenced the emergence, spread and systematization of philosophy with new syntheses in the light of reason. In this respect, this century is called ”century of philosophy”. [1]

[1]  History of Philosophy; Macit Gökberk; Remzi Bookstore; 2. Edition; page; 328

Main Topics of Enlightenment Philosophy:

–  The emergence of the philosophy of enlightenment
–  What are the general characteristics of the philosophy of enlightenment?
–  Enlightenment epistemology understanding of the era
–  the Enlightenment philosophy of individual-state relations
–  morality in Enlightenment philosophy
–  the philosophy of the Enlightenment conception of philosophy
–  in Enlightenment philosophy, language and literature

–  Who’s Voltaire?
–  Who is Helvetius?
–  Who’s Montesquieu?
–  Who’s Diderot?
–  Who is d’Alembert?
–  Who’s Rousseau?

Prepared by:  Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source:  Ömer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Department of Sociology 1st Grade Giriş Introduction to Philosophy ”and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade Tarihi History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook