This article argues that G. E. Lessing should be viewed as one of the German Enlightenment’s foremost thinkers of peace alongside his contemporary Immanuel Kant, whose contribution to thinking peace in the eighteenth century is already well recognised. It makes this case by examining two of Lessing’s late works: the 1779 drama Nathan the Wise and the 1780 essay The Education of the Human Race. The dialogue between faith and reason characteristic of Enlightenment discourse is at the heart of both texts, but here it is argued that peace is a crucial third moment. While in Nathan Lessing asserts the need to find peace between the forces of faith and reason in a literary register, in the Education essay he does so in a more explicitly theoretical mode.
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.
Carl Schmitt and Jean-Jacques Rousseau on a Key Question in Democratic Theory
representational government ideas of the Enlightenment and liberalism ( Kersting 2003 ; Wokler 1995 ); Rousseau clearly recognized the dilemma of representation and the associated theoretical problems it presents in terms of legitimizing democracy, and tried to
Hayek, Pluralism, Democracy
understood in a general way to oppose Enlightenment visions of human mastery and the universalism toward which such visions tend. In this opposition to Enlightenment mastery, romanticism has the potential to inspire a more democratic pluralist politics in two
Nancy S. Love, Sanford F. Schram, Anthony J. Langlois, Luis Cabrera, and Carol C. Gould
about why we should remain committed to what we can say amounts to the completion of the Enlightenment project. Building off her prior work and in dialogue with major normative theorists involved in the articulating these goals, Gould effectively
The Uneasy Case of Salvation Religions
William A. Edmundson
for the Enlightenment reason that the other supposed legitimations are now seen to be false and ideological. It is not, though it is often thought to be, because some liberal conception of the person, which delivers the morality of liberalism, is or
Inquiring the Relationship between Exception and Democracy
. New York and London : Routledge . Foucault , Michel . 1996 . “ What Is Critique? ” Pp. 382 – 398 in What Is Enlightenment? Eighteenth-Century Questions and Twentieth-Century Answers , ed. James Schmidt . Berkeley : University of California
Wolfgang Merkel and Jean-Paul Gagnon
der Demokratie [The New Despotisms: Ideas about the End of Democracy] .” Merkur 790 : 18 – 31 . Koselleck , Reinhart . 1988 . Critique and Crisis. Enlightenment and the Pathogenesis of Modern Society . Cambridge, MA : The MIT Press . Levitsky
Adam Smith on the Virtues of Liberty
Charles L. Griswold
The architects of what one might call ‘classical’ or ‘Enlightenment’ liberalism saw themselves as committed to refuting the claims to political sovereignty by organized religion.2 The arguments against the legitimacy of a state-supported religion, and in the extreme case, of a religious monopoly, are so integral a part of the Enlightenment’s effort to put politics on a stable and just foundation as to constitute one of the controlling themes of the period. Liberal politics requires toleration, or better, liberty of religious belief. And this in turn implies that religious institutions be privatized, as it were, and that just politics be secularized. Legitimate rule is to lie in the consent of the ruled rather than in the laws of God as interpreted by his ministers on earth. Differences in religious outlook are to be settled, as Jefferson tells us, by persuasion, not by force, and persuasion is a private matter. The state has no role to play except (to simplify somewhat) that of preventing the use of force by the parties involved. As Jefferson strikingly puts it: ‘The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg … Reason and persuasion are the only practicable instruments [against error in religion].’
Christopher J. Paskewich
Which of the regimes of the modern world is the best? The political philosopher Leo Strauss provides a useful context for this issue by weighing the three primary regimes he finds available to modernity: traditional regimes, liberal regimes, and the universal state (in the manner of the French philosopher, Alexandre Kojève). He posits a new cycle of regimes for the modern world, just as Plato and Polybius did for the ancient world. Strauss suggests that the post-Enlightenment tendency is toward a universal state, but he asserts that a highly traditional, but liberal, regime is the most desirable for us.