CB 55. The Enlightenment

Instructor: James Engell

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 10-11 am | Location: Sever 213

The Enlightenment creates modern ideas of the self, a just society, and reformed institutions.  The course explores six interrelated developments: (1) taking nothing on authority, a spirit of critique examines knowledge, religion, and government; (2) spread of general knowledge to populations of increasing literacy; (3) debates about human nature—naturally selfish or sympathetic, altered by race or gender, innate or learned? (4) new institutions for equity and justice, created even by violent revolution; (5) reforms supporting abolition, women’s rights, and religious toleration; (6) self-consciousness in philosophy, art, and psychology.  Thinkers include Pope, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, Johnson, Rousseau, Goethe, Burke, Lessing, Gibbon, Smith, Kant, de Gouges, and Wollstonecraft.


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