the Enlightenment, which emphasized the value of the new compared with the familiar, thus moving the key to deciphering social order from the past to the future. In the second section, I will examine the radical futurization of politics that
Discovering the Future in the Hispanic World
Translator : Mark Hounsell
Charles Bradford Bow
This article examines the “progress” of Scottish metaphysics during the long eighteenth century. The scientific cultivation of natural knowledge drawn from the examples of Sir Francis Bacon (1561–1626), John Locke (1632–1704), and Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727) was a defining pursuit in the Scottish Enlightenment. The Aberdonian philosopher George Dalgarno (1616–1687); Thomas Reid (1710–1796), a member of the Aberdeen Philosophical Society known as the Wise Club; and the professor of moral philosophy at Edinburgh University Dugald Stewart (1753–1828), contributed to that Scottish pattern of philosophical thinking. The question of the extent to which particular external senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell) might be improved when others were damaged or absent from birth attracted their particular interest. This article shows the different ways in which Scottish anatomists of the mind resolved Molyneux’s Problem of whether or not an agent could accurately perceive an object from a newly restored external sense.
An Ambiguous Transfer
This article focuses on the evolution of the concept of civilisation in the French language through the analysis of socio-political discourse from Enlightenment to the Revolution and of the Anglo-French transfers and translations of different English historians and philosophers who first started using the concept in the second half of the eighteenth century. In the interaction between the French and English Lumières, civilization came forward as a meta-concept pitted against that of the contract theory advanced by authors such as Adam Ferguson, with a distinct perspective of an overarching natural history of mankind. Drawing upon the results produced by Frantext and a history of the use of concept in different theoretical frameworks, the author demonstrates the construction of civilisation in its relationship to various antonyms (barbare, sauvage, barbarie), rhetorical uses and conceptions of history.
Humanism and Anti-Humanism in Daoist and Enlightenment Political Thought
Some contemporary authors have witnessed the flourishing of the Sinophilia of the Early Enlightenment and the direct impact of Daoist and Chinese thought on the ideas of Spinoza, Leibniz, Voltaire, Quesnay and the philosophes and have proceeded to make overt connections between the Daoist notion of 'non-action' or Wu wei and Enlightenment doctrines of laissez-faire. In contrast to such approaches, I argue that these frequent conceptual comparisons have often been inappropriate where touchstone humanist notions devoid of the Dao de Jing's fundamental spiritual and metaphysical commitments are brought forward as evidence of interconnection.
David Allen Harvey
Classical polytheism or “paganism” presented a challenge to the Philhellenes of the Enlightenment, who found it difficult to accept that the greatest minds of antiquity had been taken in by (vide Fontenelle) “a heap of chimeras, delusions, and absurdities.” Rejecting the claim that “paganism” was a deformation of the “natural religion” of the early Hebrew patriarchs, several Enlightenment thinkers developed theories of classical polytheism, presenting it as the apotheosis of the great kings and heroes of the first ages of man, a system of allegorical symbols that conveyed timeless truths, and the effort of a prescientific mentality to understand the hidden forces of nature. Although divergent in their interpretations of “paganism,” these theories converged by separating its origins from Judeo-Christian traditions and presenting religion as an essentially human creation. Thus, Enlightenment theories of classical mythology contributed to the emergence of the more cosmopolitan and tolerant spirit that characterized the age.
Jack the Ripper is purported to have claimed: ‘I gave birth to the twentieth-century.’ In what follows I want to suggest that what Jack the Ripper ‘gave birth to’ was little more than a perpetuation of the paradox that lies at the heart of Western civilization: the dialectic of enlightenment. The rationalising impulse that led to the liberation of the modern subject from the tyrannical faith in myth, superstition, and sovereign power, and their embodiment in the objective world is, according to Adorno and Horkheimer, also responsible for its negation by reducing it to the status of that objective, or natural world from which it was attempting to liberate itself. A reading of Iain Sinclair’s 1987 novel, White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings, in relation to contemporary theorisations of modernity, such as that of Alain Touraine, suggests that any escape from the Ripper paradox, any ‘spiritual deliverance’ through historical investigation, requires a reconceptualisation of the relationship between subject and object, past and present – in short – a reappraisal of the project of modernity.
European Travel Writers and the Making of a Genre—Comment
Steven D. Spalding
This comment on the special section “On Travel Writing and Knowledge Transfer: Itinerant Knowledge Production in European Travel Writing” examines the section’s contributions in terms of the project called for in the section’s introduction. What new kinds of knowledge are produced in the context of the ever-increasing mobility of European travelers from the sixteenth century forward? What are the discursive conditions within which knowledge is constructed in and through travel narratives—including discourses of selves and others, of cultures and nations? How does mobility shape knowledge production, as narratives of journeys across the oceans develop into a full-blown genre with ever-greater stakes for travelers, readers, and nations? The four case studies in the special section offer insightful snapshots from the history of European travel writing—with a special emphasis on German authors—that resonate with major themes from travel writing studies and critical studies more generally, from Romanticism to the colonialist or imperial gaze.
Blurred Boundaries and Terminological Problems
Departing from a recent work by Helmut Müller-Sievers the author charts the intricacies of the debate between preformationism and epigeneticism and its theoretico-epistemological repercussions during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Although the most common interpretation equals preformationism to mechanism and fixism, on one side, and evolutionism to epigeneticism and organicism, on the other, the actual picture, once key authors are analyzed, is far more complex. All preformationist theories were, in principle, mechanistic, but not all mechanistic theories were preformationist: they could also be epigenetist, which means that not all epigenetist theories were necessarily organicist. Although all organicist theories were, in principle, evolutionary, not all mechanistic theories were fixist. And finally, all preformationist theories were, in principle, fixist, but not all fixist theories were preformationist. The redefinition of the notion of embryonic preformation in the first decades of the nineteenth-century resulted, in turn, in a new concept of the “organism,” crystallizing a view of nature that combined fixism (at a phylogenetical level) and evolutionism (at the embryological level).
From the Renaissance to the Early Enlightenment
Jeffrey D. Burson
the eighteenth-century Age of Enlightenment. 5 The sixteenth-century crisis bequeathed to the early Enlightenment a chastened, initially less optimistic humanism among scholars whose work prepared the way for the aversion to system-building and the
, humando , itself derived from humus , soil. 1 Humans, then, would above all be people of the soil, who bury their dead. They come from the earth and will ever return to it. Enlightenment thinkers, however, among them Vico himself, would eventually upend