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Minerva , the Roman goddess of wisdom , gives the light of knowledge , whereby the religions of the world come together ( Daniel Chodowiecki , 1791)

The term Enlightenment describes the development that began around 1700 to overcome all structures that hinder progress through rational thinking . The aim was to create acceptance for newly acquired knowledge - for example that which was gained in the course of the scientific revolution in the 16th and 17th centuries. Since about 1780 the term referred to this spiritual and social reform movement, their representatives and the past Age of Enlightenment ( Age of Enlightenment , Enlightenment ) in the history of Europe and North America. It is mostly dated to around 1650-1800. Enlightenment and Baroque , which are often seen as opposites, developed simultaneously in the same geographical area over decades.

An important characteristic of the Enlightenment is the appeal to reason as a universal judicial authority with which one wants to free oneself from traditional, rigid and outdated ideas and ideologies against the resistance of tradition and customary law. In the Age of Enlightenment, this included the fight against prejudice and the turn to the natural sciences , the plea for religious tolerance and an orientation towards natural law . One of the main works of the Enlightenment was the 36-volume Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers edited by the encyclopedists Denis Diderot and D'Alembert .

In socio-political terms, the Enlightenment aimed at more personal freedom of action ( emancipation ), education , civil rights , general human rights and the common good as a state duty. In particular, Olympe de Gouges campaigned for women's rights. Condorcet wanted to grant women universal suffrage as well. Many enlightenment thinkers were optimistic about progress and assumed that a rational society would gradually solve the main problems of human coexistence. To do this, they trusted in a critical public .

Enlightenment impulses influenced literature , fine arts and politics, such as the American Revolution of 1776 and the French Revolution of 1789. They contributed to an ongoing process of rationalization in politics and society, so that the Enlightenment became a hallmark of modernity .

Criticism of the "belief in reason" arose from around 1750 among the Enlightenmentists themselves, then in Sturm und Drang and in Romanticism , but also in skepticism and the political conservatism that formed at the beginning of the 19th century . Since 1945, in view of its long-term consequences, the European Enlightenment has also been interpreted as an incomplete and ambivalent project, for example in the Frankfurt School ; More recently, the Enlightenment has also been seen as an incomplete process of social emancipation that needs to be continued in the 21st century, for example by the Giordano Bruno Foundation . Analogous emancipation processes, their lack or their necessity are also discussed in other cultures. The Enlightenment beliefs are at the center of criticism by postmodern theorists , while most humanities and social scientists continue to see themselves rooted in modernity and relate positively to Enlightenment thoughts. They place the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations of December 1948 in the tradition of the Enlightenment.



The term Enlightenment is closely related to the early modern condemnation of the Middle Ages as an epoch of darkness and sinister superstition that was considered backward compared to antiquity . The modern age should oppose the darkness of the Middle Ages with the light of knowledge. The metaphor of light could be adopted from antiquity: the light of knowledge was spoken of in Greek philosophy (first by Parmenides ), in late ancient gnostics and in the Bible . The expression is at the same time connected with an effort to clarify the terms (clare et distincte) as a measure of truth - for example in René Descartes , Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Johann Heinrich Lambert .

The use of the English verb "to enlighten" and the participle "enlightened" was common since the 17th century. They mean “create understanding” and “enlightened” in the sense of “informed about a matter in an illuminating way”. The noun "enlightenment" only became popular as an epochal term in the 20th century. The German expression Enlightenment became common around 1770. Immanuel Kant's famous answer to the question: What is Enlightenment? (December 1784) responded to a call by the Berlin monthly magazine to clarify a term. Here, too, the term “epoch” emerged from the previously inconspicuous use of “enlighten” in the sense of “to clarify a situation”. According to Kant, Enlightenment is "the exit of a person from his self-inflicted immaturity" (whereby he understands immaturity as "inability to use his mind without guidance from another"), i.e. the development to a responsible personality, at the same time he declared " sapere aude " (“Dare to be wise!”) To the motto of the Enlightenment.

Formation of epochs

The Enlightenment discussion took up ideas of Renaissance humanism , including those of the scholar Erasmus von Rotterdam , and the Reformation since the early 15th century, which defined the Middle Ages as a bygone era and demanded a reorientation of the present in the form of a revival of antiquity, to escape the Middle Ages. The light metaphor with regard to the “dark” Middle Ages now corresponded to a contrasting “brighter” age.

The Enlightenment in France was initially an essentially aesthetic-literary movement. Charles Perrault for the first time placed the cultural achievements of the time of Louis XIV over those of antiquity, the priority of which was mainly represented by Nicolas Boileau . In this Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes , the dispute between the “old and the new” between 1688 and 1696, discussions were held as to whether modernity would not produce a culture of its own - a civilization that was superior to the Middle Ages and antiquity. But even in the 1730s and 1740s, the Enlightenment still fought traditional and scholastic countercurrents, but now conscious of breaking with the entire past and breaking away from previous authorities.

The decisive impetus can be determined from the early modern scientific revolution , which put the knowledge of antiquity and the Middle Ages to the test and corrected, expanded and improved the theory and methodology, and its climax and (at least provisional) conclusion often with Isaac Newton's main work Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687) is identified.

Jean-Baptiste Dubos spoke for the first time in 1732 of a Siècle des Lumières ("Century of Lights"). Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Jean-Baptiste le Rond d'Alembert (1751 in his introduction to the Encyclopédie ) took up the term. The proponents of this new way of thinking were called Les Lumières .

An "epoch" of the Enlightenment remained difficult to define because of the flowing transitions in many areas. The historical key data of the epoch differ depending on the subject. A relatively narrow concept of the Enlightenment exists in German studies , which Johann Christoph Gottsched and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing understand as the central representatives of the epoch and distinguish them from the Baroque and the 17th century. Researchers like Werner Krauss put an early enlightenment in front of the main phase , which dates back to the 17th century, and started a late enlightenment before 1800. Jürgen Osterhammel dates the Age of Enlightenment between 1680 and 1830. The history of music , on the other hand, does not record a departure from baroque music , especially from the genre of the fugue , until around 1730 . It was discussed in a similarly inconclusive way whether “ sensitivity ” was an emotional side of the Enlightenment or a countercurrent. Research avoids conflicts about the epochal assignment of such terms by referring to the “early modern times” or the “18th Century "speaks.

Only political science today serves the Age of Enlightenment as a relatively clearly defined epoch term. What is meant is the time of preparation of the modern constitutional state and the modern government organization in Europe and North America from around 1650 to around 1800, in which the impulses of the Enlightenment were converted into political action. This was done with reference to corresponding natural law and state theories : in England, for example, by Thomas Hobbes and John Locke , in France by Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu , Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau , in Germany by Samuel von Pufendorf , Christian Thomasius and Immanuel Kant , in the USA by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison . But the moral-philosophical and welfare theories of Francis Hutcheson and Adam Smith also played an important role in the development of Enlightenment thought.

Initiated and encouraged by the early modern transformation processes on the economic, socio-cultural and power-political level, the teachings of the Enlightenment were not only disseminated in civil interest groups and associations, but also at various royal courts, provided that the rulers there were open to Enlightenment ideas. The Glorious Revolution of 1689 in England , the enlightened absolutism in Prussia and Austria , the emergence of the United States of America and the French Revolution , but also the reforms of Tsarina Catherine II , were inspired and partly guided by such ideas .

The further dissemination of Enlightenment ideas of the state beyond their historical context has remained significant for the shaping of the modern world of states. This is evident both in the establishment of democratic systems at the national and intergovernmental level, for example in the European Union and in the United Nations , and, for example, in the demand for a worldwide guarantee of human rights .

In international research, there is widespread interest in " Enlightenment discourses " in the early modern period (approx. 1500 to 1800). The 17th century has recently been discovered as a phase of independent radical and subversive thought movements. The period from 1750 to 1780 continues to be the core phase of the Enlightenment.

A retrospective controversy on how to understand this era took place between 1780 and 1800. Basic ideas such as the equality and brotherhood of all people, as they flowed into the constitution of the United States , were viewed critically by individual enlighteners such as Edmund Burke or Moses Mendelssohn . Margaret C. Jacob, Jonathan Israel and Martin Mulsow differentiated in the Enlightenment epoch a moderate, reformist mainstream from a revolutionary, secularist secondary stream, called the Radical Enlightenment .

Other currents called "Enlightenment"

In the 19th century, the concept of the Enlightenment was also transferred to the classical epoch in ancient Greece . One spoke of a “first” Enlightenment, referring on the one hand to the methodical-critical questions of Platonic Socrates and his turn against sophistic doctrines , on the other hand to sophistic thinkers like Protagoras .

Sometimes there is also talk of a “Roman Enlightenment”, which found expression in the rational and somewhat universalistic “regulatory culture” of law that reconciles the estates and which renounces any religious legitimacy .

One speaks of an “Islamic Enlightenment” both with reference to the work of Averroes in the 12th century, which was influenced by late antiquity, and also to philosophical currents in the Islamic world of the 18th century.

The “Jewish Enlightenment” is the name given to the Haskala , which - originated in the context of the Berlin Enlightenment - spread from Prussia to Eastern Europe from around 1770.

Michael Hampe sees the present as a "Third Enlightenment" after the ancient Greek and the one in the 18th century, described in his book of the same name. The aim of the previous clarifications had originally been primarily the abolition of atrocities; now it is more about exposing illusions, finding the truth in the global inflation and manipulation of opinion and fighting oppression and injustice. It takes educational processes and the courage to demand evidence and reasons. Enlightened ways of life are always threatened.

Political and educational requirements

German and English title statistics, 1500–1699. The swings follow historical events.
London's range of books in 1700 according to the information in the Term Catalogs (the “Reprinted” section has been dissolved here, in today's sense literary titles have been removed, they are still lacking a uniform category).
English book production exploded in the 1760s.

Major technological and political upheavals distinguish the early modern period from the Middle Ages and the 19th century . The printing press brought out from about 1500 a new, initially limited indeed, but no longer bound to the scholarship of monasteries public. The discovery of America in 1492 was followed by a reorganization of the European balance of power. From 1520 onwards, the Reformation changed Europe's alliances and the relationship between the state and its citizens. The mercantilism promoted trade and transport with some market-oriented, partly interventionist measures. On the threshold of the 19th century, a new type of nation-state emerged , which enforced secularization , established modern educational systems and advanced industrialization .

The concept of Enlightenment is also about the processes between these early modern cornerstones. One tries to define the progressive factors that led into the 19th century. Resistance to this progress is attributed to anti-Enlightenment forces or unreflected traditions. The definition of an epoch moves primarily journalistic groups into the social focus, which initially rarely had a bourgeois background, but much more often belonged to the clergy or aristocracy : scientists, journalists, authors, even rulers, who subjected themselves to criticism by referring to the traditions Called a rational perspective.

Efforts to spread the knowledge of the time with new educational systems, new pedagogy , through books and journals in the population supplemented the primarily scientific discussion fields of the Enlightenment era. The public discussions of political and social processes at the time play a central role in the current definition of the Enlightenment. The spread of reading skills was an important prerequisite for this. The Reformation brought a surge in Protestant countries with calls to establish a personal relationship with the Bible and with a pamphlet culture of its own. In Catholic areas, devotional literature gained a comparable market. In Western and Central Europe, literacy was promoted through the introduction of compulsory schooling and instruction, which took place in large parts of Germany until 1717. The circulation of newspapers as the most common modern reading article also contributed. A wide range of “beautiful literature” ( belles lettres ) arose between the sciences and the lower market for folk books , which was primarily defined by elegance and reached the bourgeois public in the cities, especially the age group between 20 and 40 and women. From 1660 the sciences also adjusted to the broader interest. The boundary between academic and publicly available knowledge was softened: publication in the national languages ​​first became the rule in France (here supervised by the Académie française ). In England, English gained importance with London as a printing location with a commercially oriented book market. In the Netherlands, from 1660 onwards, printing was done in French for the entire European market, as printing was not subject to prior censorship here.

In Germany, the sciences switched from Latin to the national language relatively slowly. Christian Thomasius was the first to try to set up German lectures, justifying this in 1687 with the need to imitate the French; but in the 18th century an increasingly national trend distanced itself from France as a now disparaging fashion supplier. From 1720 onwards, Enlightenmentists in Germany used the national language specifically to promote modernization processes outside of university scholarship. But (new) Latin remained an important scientific language, especially in Catholic countries, as it facilitated international exchange.

Developments in Northern and Eastern Europe were even more faltering. The German book market was present in Scandinavia alongside the French; a separate Scandinavian market had difficult starting conditions here. In Eastern Europe, the nobility oriented themselves towards Western Europe; France remained a point of orientation here. A commercial, bourgeois culture of education was only established by the nations of Eastern Europe in the nationalization processes of the 19th century. Enlightenment potential hardly got beyond the aristocratic upper class.

A historical-critical Bible reception continued in 1678 with the Histoire critique du Vieux Testament of Richard Simon one. This work was confiscated and burned, but had a lasting effect. Beyond 1700, theology remained the central field of discussion, as already shown in book production. In the course of the 18th century, the natural sciences established knowledge in contrast to the Bible. Obscurantism and scientism now faced each other as poles of polemical criticism. The fiction created a new range of wide reading, where the population is endowed with personal mission statements. Historiography became the new place for social controversies about historical self-positioning. In the 1760s, the production of historical and fictional writings grew enormously and marginalized theology.

Around 1800, all education in Europe was gradually reformed and aligned with modern public debates. The old division of the universities into the four faculties of theology, law , medicine and philosophy gave way to the division into natural sciences and technology , one area each for the social sciences and the humanities . The last two areas became responsible for the debates that are conducted publicly in modern societies.


While in the century after the Reformation, especially in radical Reformation circles, the chiliastic currents of the Middle Ages revived and scenarios of the end of the world were rampant in the Thirty Years' War , it came after the wars of religion and their atrocities subsided and with the improved economic development in the period of absolutism since around 1670 to a more optimistic mood, a population increase and under the influence of science also to a better understanding of the position of man in the cosmos. This development is mainly reflected in the theories about human nature. In the future scenarios of the 1770s, mankind goes towards virtue from now on.


The older "Afectation" and the younger "Nature" from the perspective of Chodowiecki (1778)

The readers for whom Thomas Hobbes wrote his Leviathan in 1651 evidently assumed that human nature was corrupt and that only fear of punishment prevented humanity from tearing itself to pieces. On the other hand, the reader, to whom Shaftesbury addressed himself in his Inquiry Concerning Virtue or Merit in 1696 , believed that man naturally feels the greatest happiness when he lives in harmony with his environment. Bernard Mandeville attacked Shaftesbury in the expanded versions of his Fable of the Bees 1714 and 1723: That was probably true, because most people believed themselves to be virtuous in their hearts and even showed a guilty conscience if no one noticed their vice. But say nothing about the nature of man, but at most about the education that allows him to internalize such virtues. As a result, society stabilizes itself by luring people who have been brought up successfully with responsible positions and rewarding them.

The teachings of Pufendorf had come to Scotland via Gershom Carmichael . His student Francis Hutcheson tied closely to Shaftesbury and developed a moral psychology with the " Moral Sense ". At the same time he was a co-founder of the Scottish School . In his successor also moved Adam Ferguson , David Hume and Adam Smith with their moral philosophical works. Thomas Reid put the " Common Sense " against Hume's skepticism , but also took a psychological standpoint in moral philosophy.

Behavior changed between the 1690s and 1740s. In novels of the early 18th century it is still regarded as a virtue when a heroine shows "cunning": the art of keeping her affects in check and not showing anything while pursuing secret plans. Christian Thomasius theorized in the 1690s that virtuous and virtuous people used the same tactics of disguise - some for good and others for bad purposes. In the middle of the 18th century, on the other hand, dramas appeared on the market whose heroines blush when they are supposed to keep a secret from their parents or siblings.

In the 1770s, with novels like Henry Mackenzie's Man of Feeling (1771), even men came into vogue who break inside when they don't live in harmony with the world. Living for other people gave the new virtuous heroes the most intimate happiness in the middle of the 18th century. They make confessions to one another where their predecessors were still defending their reputations in the early 18th century. The heroes of the middle of the century are naturally delicate, weak, dependent on the help of others - and receive this help because they meet one another openly. Through permanent revelations, the art of the writer, actor or painter counteracts the traditional accusation of deception, most radically in Rousseau's autobiography (Les Confessions), written before 1770 . The fact that Denis Diderot invents a simultaneously sensitive and deeply reprehensible hero in his satire Rameaus Neffe (around 1760–1775) is a provocation and can no longer be published. - The heroes of the early 18th century, on the other hand, showed strength when it came to staging their own reputation aggressively and ruthlessly in public. The upgrading of the Faust figure from a criminal, whom one secretly admires, to an enlightening role model, takes place during this time.

In high drama, sensual love no longer appears as a selfish passion since 1700, as in Antoine Houdar de la Motte's ballet Le Triomphe des Arts (1700), in which Pygmalion's unleashed desire also inspires seafaring and agriculture. Gradually, desire is upgraded to bourgeois love in the lower comedy as well: the title character of the extremely successful Opera buffa La serva padrona (1733) by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi becomes the landlady through sheer cunning, while the heroine of Mozart's La finta giardiniera (1775) only pretends to be out of love, which was additionally emphasized by the German title Die Gärtnerin aus Liebe . In Germany, Theodor Gottlieb Hippel , a friend of Immanuel Kant's (1792 and 1793) wrote the satirical treatise On Marriage , in which he defended love marriage against marriage of reason.

The roles of women and men were redefined between 1650 and 1800. Around 1800 castrati, trouser roles and travesties were banned from the stage in order to allow two "natural" genders to appear, whose female part is passive. It is permissible for a woman to publicly defend her reputation, if necessary by publishing, in order to put her virtue in a better light. In novels up to the early 18th century heroines stand out who stand against their parents and, after being physically attacked, defend themselves by force of arms. The gallant behavior that was modern between 1660 and 1720 allows women and men to meet each other on an equal footing in conversation. With the 1720s, in the fashion of sensitivity , an image of women in particular became modern in which women, as the weaker sex, are dependent on the protection of society. The journalistic activity for women like Madeleine de Scudéry (1607–1701), Aphra Behn (1640–1689), Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy (1650–1705), Anne-Marguerite Petit DuNoyer (1663–1719), Delarivier Manley (1663–1724) was legitimate, in the 18th century new rules were subjected to public decency, which demanded natural modesty and restraint from women.

Behind the behavioral offers of the novels and dramas are the aforementioned social changes: In the course of the 18th century, public executions as demonstrations of lordly violence fell into disrepute as an offense against humanity and as an insult to compassion. Parenting guides change. A new pedagogy in the 18th century is aimed at educating people to be morally sensitive. Educational reforms flooded the market in the second half of the 18th century.

The representations of the private changed markedly after around 1740. Even nobles can be portrayed with children in their arms and expressions of tenderness and trust. Attachments shaped by natural feelings should prevail where decent behavior used to be demonstrated.

Academies and learned societies

Separate societies were founded within Western societies in the 17th and 18th centuries with the aim of having an educational effect on morality and consciousness: Publicly operating societies such as the Society for the Reformation of Manners, founded in London in 1691, and those that withdrew from the public the order of the Illuminati or the Masonic lodges , which, compared to religious beliefs, submit new philosophical offers that are close to deism. In addition, the enlighteners met in literary salons , which were mostly run by educated women.

Socialization is subjected to new ideals, the search for a community of like-minded people, in which kinships are lived out, encroaches on the broader civil society from the realm of free church religious groups geared towards religious sentiment. Firmly associating with like-minded people becomes a new goal of bourgeois individualization in the increasingly unmanageable societies in which individuals from the 19th century are clearly threatened with disorientation: In the state of the Enlightenment in the 1770s and 1780s, the individual must increasingly seek to still find people to feel with.

Louis XIV attends the Académie des Sciences in 1671

In the late 17th century scientific societies were founded with royal support: the Royal Society was founded in London in 1660, and the Académie des Sciences in Paris in 1666 .

According to Voltaire , Louis XIV in particular distinguished himself in promoting the material independence of early Enlightenment writers:

“The king did not wait to be praised, but, convinced that he deserved such praise, asked his ministers, Lyonne and Colbert , to name a few French and foreigners who had distinguished themselves in literature and to whom he therefore deserved his generosity wanted to leave. "

With state support, learned societies and academies were formed as institutions in which representatives of a new type of scholar strived to broaden their knowledge in mutual exchange on a methodological basis. Pioneer of the Academy-ups in Germany was Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz , the creation of a scientific with electoral funding in 1700 Academy in Berlin succeeded. Its goals included the collection of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, impulses for the state, economy and culture should be developed, the linguistics and humanities should be promoted.

Characteristic of the self-image of many early Enlightenment scholars was a cosmopolitan orientation, according to which the whole world was viewed as home and all people as brothers. Travel and travel reports allowed comparisons of the political and living conditions and called for a departure from ethnocentrism. The Swiss scholar Leonhard Euler, for example, was first at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg , then at the Berlin Academy, remained connected to both and continued to be paid as a technical official and scientist by both governments for a long time.

Another form of scholarly society was the "German Society" initiated by Gottsched , which was mainly motivated by literature. They mainly consisted of pastors, teachers and professors from the educated urban bourgeoisie, as well as students and some nobles. In these societies, certain rules applied to the style of discussion, according to which, for example, nobody was allowed to interrupt the other person or wander off the topic.

“Everyone could have their say one after the other, should present their criticism modestly and briefly, avoiding every suggestive word and every satirical comment. A 'civil' discussion thus determined the round. "

Masonic lodges and secret societies

"Goose and Gridiron",
the place where the  First
Masonic Grand Lodge was founded in

In addition to academies and learned societies, early gathering points for enlightened people were also forms of organization that were organized in Masonic lodges and secret societies outside of the spheres of activity of the royal court and church that dominated public life . Originally in the tradition of the English medieval factory masonry and the customs developed by the builders' huts in the construction of cathedrals, representatives of the educated bourgeoisie and parts of the nobility now came together in the lodges as modern Freemasons in order to train themselves to become citizens in compliance with specific community rites Aligned their thinking and acting in a self-determined way to the commandments of an enlightened reason. Starting in England, the Masonic movement spread across Europe from the beginning of the 18th century.

In the rooms of the lodges, which were shielded from the public, the equality of the members, who called each other brother or friend, applied and in this context did away with class differences and denominational separations. That was true for Catholics, Lutherans and Calvinists as well as for Jews. "The societies were so devoid of a denominational spirit that they were able to spread to both Catholic and Protestant territories."

According to the testimony of Freiherr Knigge, secret societies in various forms were very popular at the end of the 18th century. Knigge himself belonged to the Illuminati Order founded by Adam Weishaupt in 1776 , which at the beginning of the 1780s spread beyond Bavaria into northern and western Germany. Many dissatisfied Freemasons joined the Illuminati, including celebrities such as B. Goethe , Herder and Duke Karl August . As early as 1784/1785, however, the Illuminati overtook the edicts of the Bavarian Elector Karl Theodor , who made Weishaupt's confiscated papers public and regarded the radical enlightenment propagated therein as dangerous to the state. The conservative reaction later turned the Illuminati Order into the origin and trigger of the French Revolution.

Economic bourgeoisie

Enlightenment state thinking and an active, partly dirigistic economic policy by the state developed in parallel; in England the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution went hand in hand with theoretical and practical innovations in the political constitution. On the one hand, merchants, bankers and entrepreneurs remained involved in the relevant economic structures in their country. With their openness to external impulses, their thirst for knowledge aimed at useful innovations and profit opportunities and their pragmatism connected to the reality of life they were for the time being "inconspicuous representatives of a world in upheaval."

Officials, university professors and the pastors and preachers, who often developed into “folk teachers” through the Enlightenment, were the spokesmen for the enlightened urban bourgeoisie. In addition, and increasingly connected to them through marriage, merchants and representatives of the crafts as traditional urban elites gained a new reputation from the Enlightenment, since their usefulness for the community could not be denied, but now also the motive assigned to them of disdainful pursuit of monetary profit - in the sign a less religious consideration of economic issues - they no longer excluded from the "good society". From then on, the bourgeoisie formed an expanded community of values ​​that claimed leadership in an increasingly educated and reform-oriented public.

Salon culture and reading circles

Madame Geoffrin's literary salon (1755)

The salons with famous examples in Paris and Berlin, mostly run by women, were permanent places for the social gathering of scholars and the educated, for exchanging ideas and engaging in disputes in the spirit of enlightenment thinking . While Freemasons and reading societies expressly excluded women, they were able to participate in the scholarly discussions of their guests within the framework of the salons they led, as well as providing their own impulses, starting with the composition of their guest groups determined by invitation. One participant recalled the circle compiled by Mademoiselle Lespinasse as follows :

“She had picked them up here and there in the company, but selected them so well that when they were present they were in unison like the strings of an instrument skilfully tuned by hand. Further to the comparison, I would like to say that she played this instrument with an artistry bordering on genius. She seemed to know what tone the next string she would strike would make; I mean, she knew our mindsets and characters so well that she only had to say a word to bring them into play. Nowhere was the conversation livelier, more glamorous and more excellently organized than with her. "

The various salons complemented one another in some cases in competition with one another. When Madame Necker founded a new Paris salon, Friday was the only option for a weekly gathering of the desired guests. On other days of the week they were already tied to other salons. Edward Gibbon , who in 1763 visited the Paris salons with letters of recommendation from London, was a regular guest on four days of the week at such roundtables, which he found partly stimulating but partly strange. B. of the "tyranny of Madame Geoffrin " or the "intolerant zeal of the philosophers and encyclopedists " is mentioned.

The reading societies estimated at a total of 430 at the end of the 18th century are to be regarded as the most widespread enlightenment societies in Germany. Since books were relatively expensive and public libraries were still rare, interested parties joined together for collective subscriptions and formed reading groups in which books and magazines were read in turn. In reading cabinets there were not only rooms reserved for library reading, but also separate rooms that were used for exchanging ideas and discussing what had been read.

Following the English model, small literary forms such as essays and tracts became the main forms of dissemination of enlightenment thought and new philosophical views. Their predominant place of publication were periodicals to be subscribed to , which contributed significantly to a "reading revolution" in Germany since the middle of the 18th century.

A salon culture did not develop in all countries. In Sweden, the abolition of censorship and the extensive freedom of expression since 1766 led to the widespread use of printed matter, which took part in the political discussion.

Excellent examples of women active in the Early Enlightenment in Germany are Friederike Caroline Neuber , the founder of modern theater, Christiana Mariana von Ziegler as an author in the community of the Gottscheds in Leipzig and Luise Adelgunde Gottsched as the publisher's wife and active collaborator, whose work affects morals and Enlightenment philosophy made widely known. In later years women were increasingly excluded from full participation in the educational discourse.

New public and political associations

The parallel boom in publication activities and reader demand brought about a new public structure. The enlightened written culture should encourage people to be critical and socially responsible. Freedom of speech and freedom of the press increasingly appeared to be a basic human right. Publicity was now seen as essential to promoting reasoned thinking. Only what was publicly justifiable was to be regarded as lawful. In the words of Kant :

"All actions related to the rights of other people, the maxim of which is incompatible with publicity, are wrong."

From the middle of the 18th century, parts of the educated middle class turned to the popular enlightenment beyond their own circles. In the beginning it was mainly about passing on scientific knowledge for practical purposes to the rural population, then the aim was to provide moral, ideological, religious and political education. In addition to the farmers, servants, midwives, surgeons, seamen and soldiers were also included in the enlightenment of the people.

Meeting of the Mainz Jacobin Club in the former electoral palace

Patriotic, non-profit societies, for which an outward push for reform was characteristic, were among the promoters of the popular enlightenment. Like the Freemason movement, this type of society spread from England to German-speaking countries. The focus in these associations was not on learned knowledge, but on the dissemination of non-profit, practical knowledge. State administrators made up the largest proportion of members. Here, too, differences in class took a back seat: the decisive factor in the decision-making process was not the social position of those involved, but the better argument.

While the non-profit patriotic societies in Germany are mainly committed to the cause of reform-oriented, enlightened absolutism, the popular societies affected by the decisive events of the French Revolution, such as the Mainz " Society of Friends of Freedom and Equality " , embarked on a radical political education course. The aim here was to prepare for a bourgeois democracy under the sign of freedom, equality and fraternity. Members took a public oath to "live or die freely". However, this and other similar societies only existed for a short period: after it was founded in October 1792, the end came in March 1793. The period of terror in the French Republic was then used as a warning sign against the concept of democracy for decades .

Cult of feeling

The Enlightenment already carries tendencies towards the destruction of its own ideals, as demonstrated by the self-critical satires as well as the sensibility that is hostile to reason. Michel Foucault (1926–1984) never tired of explaining that the common sense of French classical music consisted rather in numerous norms and regulations . This behavioral pressure needed its valves: From the late 17th century, an image of man spread that restricted the meaning of reasoned action: Shaftesburys a moral sense , an individual developing a “sense of the moral”, was already based on the assumption that this was ultimately based on feelings , is not determined by strategies and rational considerations and thus by reason. The images of man discussed by authors such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the 1760s are determined by ideals of natural behavior that goes against court mores.

In the 1760s and 1770s the debate on sensitivity took on radical extensions that fundamentally called the Enlightenment project into question: instead of courtly public life, for example, the retreat into private life was pushed to extremes. On the one hand, heroes of radical virtue emerged who became lonely instead of creating community thanks to their virtue. On the other hand, heroes came into fashion who rebel against any tender feeling and make their imperious individuality the new benchmark. The terms Sturm und Drang in German and Romanticism in the international discussion mark a change that has no clear starting point and is related to the change from imitation to expressive aesthetics. Objects were no longer to be imitated, but rather the abundance of sensations that arise when they look at them, as Johann Jakob Engel put it, for example ( Beginnings of a theory of the types of poetry, 1783). But even in novels like Les Aventures de ***, ou les Effets surprenans de la sympathie (1712–1714) one can discover the beginnings of that expressive aesthetic that was articulated at the end of the century as a countercurrent to the Enlightenment.


Individual, state, church and religious tolerance

Copy of a caricature from 1686: The French state is using armed force as a missionary in its own country.

The Reformation triggered new theological and political debates in the areas of Central, Western and Northern Europe affected by it, in which large sections of the population took part (→ Enlightenment theology ). The denominations that emerged from the Reformation distinguished themselves from one another, but also distanced themselves jointly from the scholastic tradition of science . Reflecting on the consequences of definitions in syllogisms and arguing based on authorities, especially Aristotle , became a sign of medieval science. Breaches of tradition were almost always legitimized in the beginning as attempts to return to early Christianity or to reform the current practice of religion afterwards. The individual was addressed personally in these debates and asked to comment. Since the authorities could not determine the denominational ties of the population alone and territorial boundaries changed later, denominational minorities emerged. The question of their loyalty to the state and the religion which it privileged became interesting from a legal and political point of view.

In Lutheran areas, the respective sovereign took over the leadership of the regional churches . The Reformed Church emphasized the fundamental equality of all believers and built new ecclesiastical structures, partly in agreement with the authorities (such as in Geneva or Scotland), partly in opposition to Catholic or Lutheran rule.

In France, which was increasingly ruled by absolutism, the conflict between the Catholic royal family and the Calvinist minority, the Huguenots , escalated in the wars of religion in the 16th century. After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, the Huguenots emigrated on a large scale.

The Netherlands was oriented towards Calvinism and structured like a republic . With the Dordrecht Synod of 1618/19 you got into an acid test over the question of further divisions among the Reformed Protestants. After that, there was progressive tacit liberalization. From the 1640s the Netherlands became the first refuge for French Huguenots and various sects and developed a certain pluralism .

In England, the king initially separated the Church of England from Rome for political and dynastic reasons. The theological Reformation under Calvinistic auspices followed. Therefore, this church retained some Catholic forms and rites in spite of evangelical teaching . As their head, the king had a particularly strong influence on their direction. Free church and reformed circles therefore came into conflict with the regional church and the state at the same time and were persecuted. As a result, many members of these religious minorities emigrated to North America. 1641/42 which began English Civil War - which in 1649 with the first execution of a king I. Karl - ended. A military dictatorship followed with the Commonwealth of England , at the end of which (1660) parliament restored the monarchy (→ Charles II ).

In the context of these political events, the central philosophical-political debate about the future relationship between parliament, the government, the king, the church and the citizens took place. The state policy proposals by Thomas Hobbes in 1651 and John Locke in 1688/1689 became milestones in the discussion of the Enlightenment. In the end, the solutions to the problem were no longer decided in theology, but in philosophy and the legal discussion inspired by it. Theology also lost power in the Netherlands, where liberalization was sought, and in France, where the crown prevailed as the determining authority.

In Orthodox Christian cultural area of Eastern Europe, however, the Enlightenment was initially mainly the nobility rezipiert .

Heterodoxies and the Philosophical Controversy

Frontispiece to an anonymous edition of Les trois Imposteurs from the 18th century

The controversies over the interpretations of the Bible enriched the philosophical debates of the 17th and 18th centuries - especially in the Netherlands, where the pluralism of competing interpretations thrived in a confined space. The new theological positions all raised epistemological questions: How do you prove religious positions? What can the individual refer to in his personal answer to a theological question? Detailed questions offered the natural sciences interesting premises. Calvinists and Lutherans quarreled with views of the determination and the question of free will : Had God at the beginning of creation established as God Almighty the entire run of the universe, then was theoretically for the individual no space, something to think or decide what God hadn’t already set it that way. In modern scientific research, determination is an interesting premise: God could actually have given the world laws of nature, according to which all further events inevitably follow one another. Research can be devoted to the project to capture these laws. The anti-Trinitarians' doubts about the Trinity of God were about more - again from a philosophical point of view: about the question of a universal image of God that all religions could possibly agree on, about the possibility of a deism , an idea of ​​a God that none gives more human traits, defines it more philosophically.

With the multitude of currents and the controversies of the Reformation, the hope of being able to prove a single denomination to be the true religion increasingly came to an end in the 17th century. Skepticism was secretly justified in underground writings with a view to the multitude of positions. In his theological-political treatise of 1670, Baruch de Spinoza advocated the thesis that Judaism and Christianity were merely transitory phenomena without absolute validity. John Toland coined the term pantheism . He claimed in 1696 that the Bible was in part a human forgery. In radical writings of the underground, authors directly or indirectly defamed Moses, Jesus and Mohammed as the three “great deceivers in human history”. The circulation of a book De tribus impostoribus was reported until it finally came onto the market in 1716 as a subversive text. Opposing positions were represented by the philosophers Joseph Butler and George Berkeley, who were church-bound as bishops .

The central positions taken by “enlightened” philosophers in the course of the 17th century against claims to sole validity of individual religions are found in the theological controversy: During the Reformation, the denominations met each other with accusations of fraud. With regard to non-European religions, the denominations shared the view that here religions and cults were based on the deception of priestly castes. Authors such as Pierre Daniel Huet , Catholic Bishop of Avranches, stand for the enlightenment in the religious debate with attempts to unravel the cults of antiquity and to make the enlightened reader more understandable how they worked. Hermetic teaching in these cults was intended to ensure that priests only passed on their knowledge (or betrayal) in rites of initiation . Many of the cults that were established after the Flood to keep the population ignorant and in awe - this is the enlightening thought that exposes the deceit - was founded on priestly fraud.

In the late 17th century, the new theological debate, struggling over enlightened discussions, turned clandestinely against Christianity as a religion based simply on faith. The discussion that Christianity itself is rooted in traditions and based on ancient cults is being prepared in a new research on church history. The new confrontation with religion in the 18th century led to increasingly free competition projects: to philosophical deism as an option of reason, to the establishment of secret societies that set up new ceremonies and present pasts in ancient cults. The market of heretical positions created fertile ground on which the limits of tolerated reflection were creatively and subversively expanded. At the same moment in history, Europe opened up as a foreign space as well as to the non-European cultural diversity. Ancient cults were not only exposed in their secret foundations, they were reconstructed at the same time. The history of the heresies was re-illuminated at the end of 1699 by Gottfried Arnolds in a revolutionary unparty church and heretic history . Rare sects and exotic religions gained a lover's interest that lived from the increasing relativization of all points of view. Travelers visiting the Netherlands stopped by the most interesting sects in hopes of receiving curieuse peculiarities in rites. Travelers to the Pacific and North America in the 1770s began looking for interesting beliefs here.

Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Confucianism

Already in the 12th century there was a tendency in Islam to limit the influence of theology and - with reference to the Koran itself - to make the study of philosophy a duty of the educated. The work of Averroes , which was shaped by the Aristotle reception and is often considered the cornerstone of an early Arab or Islamic Enlightenment, stands for this.

Jesuit edition of Confucian philosophy from 1687: China established an admirable philosophical substitute for religion after the Flood.

The relationship between Christianity and the world religions relaxed increasingly in the 18th century. Milestones here were the efforts of the Jesuits to proselytize China from the 1660s onwards. They were given the opportunity to do so at the Chinese court if they were tolerant of the rites of Confucianism. In the rite controversy , competing orders at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th century hold them against the practice of polytheism in China. In their own publications, the Jesuits had advocated reading Confucianism not as a religion, but as an enlightened state philosophy. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz translated Jesuit writings with this tendency. Christian Wolff risked his position in 1723 after he had argued in a lecture on the Chinese that pagans could also be virtuous. The question of tolerance and the relationship between philosophy and religion took on new extreme positions with the cultural confrontation.

Islam has been traded as an enemy of Christianity since the Middle Ages. After the Turks were repulsed by Vienna in 1683, a public fashion of Islamic culture began around 1700. The translation of the stories from the Arabian Nights (1704 ff.) Created the sensation in Western Europe that Muslims could end up being culturally inferior to Christians, but possibly much purer and more innocent in their morals. Montesquieus Lettres Persanes (1721) played on this moment of appreciation for Islam in a criticism of the civilization of the West and of Christianity: a Persian observer is viewing Europe from the superior perspective of its culture and religion. A line of development runs from Pierre Daniel Huet's declarations of ancient and foreign religions to fictions of the 1770s, which, like Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's Nathan the Wise (1779), brought the idea of ​​interreligious respect to the stage and publicly discussed it. There was a negative criticism of Islamic culture, which was justified with the sentence "Islam knows no enlightenment". A contrary hypothesis assumes that a specific Enlightenment tradition is hidden in the Islamic cultural history of the 18th century and that this was at the same time confirmed and buried by the reception of the “European” Enlightenment by Muslim intellectuals of the 19th century. However, it is difficult for the scientists to confirm this hypothesis, since the analysis of an Asian context (e.g. Islam) using a European term (e.g. Enlightenment) is problematic.

There was a similar discussion in Hinduism as in Islam. In the essay, which was first published by Paul Hacker in 1957, he dealt with the subject of "inclusivism" in its relationship to tolerance in Hinduism, which had its origin in European deism of the 18th century because of its enlightenment tendency. According to Wilhelm Halbfass, the term “tolerance” should be understood as a modern European idea or ideology. This has to be taken into account when applying the term to non-European traditions or to periods before modern times. That is, the discussion as to whether there was Enlightenment in Hinduism or not cannot be precisely checked because the criteria for the discussion are unclear.

European Judaism joined the new discussion in the 1770s. From then on, the Hebrew term Haskala referred to the new Jewish emancipation efforts in Western and Central Europe as well as in Eastern Europe. The circle around Moses Mendelssohn , Marcus Herz and David Friedländer tried to separate religion and state and at the same time to integrate Jewish citizens into German society. This thinking gave an essential impulse for the emancipation of Jews in Prussia . This was one reason that the Haskala was considered successful in Western and Central Europe, but in Eastern Europe it failed due to resistance from Orthodox Jewish circles.

Theodicy and deism

For the philosophers who, as enlighteners, mingled in the discussion about religious diversity and tolerance in the 18th century, the thought that there was a rational core of belief in all religions and denominations became decisive . In the form of the spreading deism as a religion of reason, this option was discussed with increasing openness in the 18th century. In connection with this, the additional option of a knowledge of God emerged from the modern sciences. These, it was now said, assume God as the Creator and confirm his wisdom in the laws of nature . The world as "clockwork" was used here in a popular metaphor that pushes God out of current world events and thus discredits reports of miracles: The deistic scientific option is that God created the world with all natural laws and now leaves it to its legal movement . In addition to the image of God as an acting counterpart, there were more abstract images of God as a principle and of God as no longer intervening in the world and leaving it to man.

In retrospect, the entire discussion is closely tied to a discussion of scholasticism - and precisely for this reason it turned out to be a discussion that Christianity could hardly encounter critically. If one defined God in terms of the idea of ​​his perfection, one could prove from this idea that he had to exist: only an existing God is perfect. The idea that the world created by God must be perfect emerged as a new attractive argument in this debate in the late 17th century: it is found in Anthony Ashley Cooper, the third Earl of Shaftesbury , linked to the idea that all living things live together in nature in perfectly organized equilibria. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz combined the postulate in his Essais de théodicée with subsequent postulates such as the one that there must be an infinite number of inhabited worlds: the world in which we live is evidently not perfect, in the universe there must therefore be other inhabited worlds that are common formed the perfect universe of God. Shaftesbury, on the other hand, defended the existing world as perfect and postulated that ultimately human beings would only lack the knowledge and perspective to recognize this perfection. As a rule, you can only grasp them with a premonition that gives you a feeling for the harmony of creation. In the course of the 18th century, the theodicy debate was linked to the specifically Enlightenment debate on progress around the idea that the world would only reach the perfection that God made possible in the complicated process of Enlightenment. The discussion became more concrete with the earthquake in Lisbon in 1755 , when Voltaire wrote a pessimistic poem about the catastrophe in Lisbon and Rousseau pointed out in a letter that the damage was not to nature, but to the way of life of man and his way of doing a city build, be blamed. Neither the world nor man is inherently evil. In Germany, the unpublished papers with the deist religious criticism of Hermann Samuel Reimarus were published posthumously by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing , which caused a scandal.

During the Romantic era, deism gained the reputation of being a cold, rational construction that could not give people a religious home. On the other hand, it led in the 19th century to attempts to completely replace religion, as emerged above all in materialism and positivism in the 19th century.

State Theory and Political Practice

The controversies about the state, religion and individual freedom of religious practice, which arose with the reorganization of Europe following the Reformation , the Thirty Years War and the English revolutions of 1641/42 and 1688/89, led to a pan-European state and legal discussion. The question here is: where does the state get the right to make decisions that affect the individual in his freedom of thought and belief? What is the optimal state - a state which offers its citizens protection in wars and which protects its citizens from internal wars? The debates in this regard were conducted against the background of current confrontations, but also against the background of a change in morals, which the Enlightenment officials in particular were calling for. Notions of how the authorities exercise their rights, ideas of the meaning and purpose of punishments and their appropriate implementation came under fundamental criticism.

Natural law and legal justification

Title page of Hobbes' Leviathan . The body of the sovereign consists of the people who have consented to the social contract. In his hands sword and shepherd's staff, the symbols of worldly and spiritual power. Written from the book of Job : “No power on earth is comparable to his”.

The central legal position discussed by the Enlightenment was summed up by Thomas Hobbes in 1651 with the publication of his Leviathan . In England the parliament had just executed the king - Charles I. The nation sank into a " war of all against all ", in which in the end it was only about the survival of the individual. According to Hobbes, the “ state of nature ” was reached, the state into which man falls if he is not subject to the laws of civilized coexistence.

The answer to the state of nature had to be the submission of man to power-exercising institutions. Of these, the “ absolutemonarchy is the most effective. The regent, who defends all power bundled in his person, defends the state and his power in him at the same time with the determination with which he defends his life. At the same moment he outclasses everyone else for the good of everyone. Under his power they can no longer attack each other like animals.

Hobbes did not argue as a follower of a denomination, but solely reason-oriented with a philosophy of largely atheistic materialism . Man defend his life as matter. The defense of existence is morally neither good nor bad, but the result of the individual's awareness of their own existence as their first and last possession. The state should therefore not demand their lives from people, since it is there to protect them. Hobbes' position thus attracted attack from all sides, but also stimulated diverse occupation in the matter. His book can be seen as a milestone in the Enlightenment: It traces all observable phenomena back to reasons that should be plausible to any reader who accepts the basic premises.

In the controversy that Hobbes got into, his image of man was attacked by a new direction of the Enlightenment. John Locke derived the concept of equality of human beings in the originally stateless state of nature , which he originally thought, was central to him from the biblical revelation and examined the consequences that result for the state and society. In contrast to Hobbes' assumption of an individual's unconditional pursuit of happiness, according to Locke, individual rights to freedom and property are restricted by the freedom and property rights of others. Nobody should harm another's life, health, freedom or property. Only he will be happy who can dedicate his life to others, whose love experiences, lives in harmony with society, so Shaftesbury . The idea developed by Hobbes of the social contract between the citizens who cede their sovereignty and the state, which can exercise unlimited power, is further developed by Locke into the idea of ​​a contract between the free bourgeois owners who transfer part of their power to the state, to avoid the war of all against all. The community becomes an arbitrator according to established rules. This activity is carried out by men who have been given authority by the community to enforce these rules. The state can therefore also punish citizens with death, but citizens are entitled to resist if the state cannot secure their rights.

John Locke derived the right of resistance from the political events of 1688/89: The Glorious Revolution provided historical evidence that a change of power was possible without triggering a civil war. Modern nations therefore need state structures that enable such a peaceful change of power and offer citizens the opportunity to participate . These ideas for the social contract were inter alia. further developed by Jean-Jacques Rousseau to the concept of popular sovereignty : From the social contract or principles of constitutional law (1762).

While Hobbes' theory was primarily based on the physical vulnerability of people, which had to be guaranteed by the state, a development took place up to Locke that emphasized the diversity of the interests of people to be coordinated by the market, which were due to scarcity or inequality can compete. While Hobbes defines one's own body as inviolable property, Locke defines property as inviolable in general. This indicates the rapid change from absolutism to a liberal market society shaped by property individualism.

The debate of the 1690s flowed into the Declaration of Independence of the United States , largely formulated by Thomas Jefferson with recourse to Locke, Montesquieu and Paine in 1776 , which for the first time explicitly included human rights , and in 1787 also in the United States Constitution . The French Revolution took up the proposed solutions in 1789. A declaration of human and civil rights was included in the preamble of the new constitution in 1791 . The secularization that took hold in central and northern Europe in the 19th century ultimately referred to debates of the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

The long-term achievement of the debate started by Hobbes is, firstly, the redefinition of the human being as a being endowed with rights by nature. Second, here the legal debate has been obliged to rely on logical and reasonable considerations. A milestone in the legal debate in this context was Samuel von Pufendorf 's De iure naturae et gentium libri octo from 1672, who succeeded the early natural lawyer Hugo Grotius . It was published in German under the title Eight Books of Nature and International Law in 1711. The modern constitutional state has roots here like the idea of ​​an international understanding between states. Models of a European Union were first publicly discussed in Europe in 1712. Models of a “ global citizenship ” have been part of the discussion about the Enlightenment since Kant's work On Eternal Peace of 1795.

With the increasing weakening and partial detachment of political thought in and from conventional religious patterns, often combined with a return to traditional models from Greco-Roman antiquity , a number of sustainably influential theories of the state emerged, which extend beyond the Enlightenment to the present day significantly influenced political theory and practice. The following presentation is therefore not aimed solely at individual Enlightenmentists, nor does it consist of mere historical-chronological sequences, but not least divides the material systematically.

Reason of State and International Law

Hugo Grotius - portrait by Michiel Jansz van Mierevelt , 1631

In front of the Age of Enlightenment is the emergence of these two in tension to each other political concepts and principles that despite all developments in the intervening socio-historical upheavals and in the midst of an advanced globalization continue to be effective: as enduring constant one hand, the state policy and renewed topicality the international law . The doctrine of the interests of the state, “that is, the autonomy of political decisions in relation to the commandments of morality, religion and law”, goes back to Niccolò Machiavelli and the chaotic power relations and disorganization phenomena in Italy at the transition from the 15th to the 16th century, which he reflected on. Century. In order to maintain power internally and to secure the existence of the state externally, the prince (or leading statesman) must, if necessary, disregard morality and law. The historian Francesco Guicciardini, who was close to Machiavelli, used the term ragion di stato ( raison d'etat ) for this.

The principle of state reason could inter alia. serve to justify the prince's claim to sovereignty: his undivided and constant monopoly of force, his sovereignty over laws, declarations of war and peace agreements, the elimination of all regional or corporate interest groups in order to create a subordinate association that serves the rulership. But even beyond specifically early modern constellations, the raison d' être was and will be endeavored by interested parties if necessary - also z. B. in the guise of the “common good”, “public interests” or “necessity” - in order to loosen or undermine existing legal relationships and legal norms.

International law, if it is applied, is at the supranational level and restricts or contradicts the principle of the raison d'etat. The concept of international law - also in a situation promoted by the historical circumstances of the Dutch struggle for freedom against the Spanish crown - was first drafted by the Dutchman Hugo Grotius and mainly disseminated through his work De iure belli et pacis . As a contemporary of the Thirty Years' War , Grotius stood up for personal freedom of religious belief and claimed a “legally secure place within the large community of independent states” for the individual. Wars for any desired cause were ostracized by Grotius. But from his point of view, neutrality is also forbidden when it comes to countering state crimes: "The state as a criminal, as a bandit, as a robber - that is Grotius' challenge for the sovereign state, which so far has only followed its raison d'être."

Social contract

The advocates of the Enlightenment, who were increasingly critical of religiously based dogmas, went beyond the divine right , which had been mainly used by the Christian monarchs as a basis for legitimation, within the framework of state theory . The rulers of the early modern era had now served as justification, which were still comfortable Bible statements of the Apostle Paul in Romans:

“Everyone should obey the bearers of state power. For there is no state authority that does not come from God; each one is instituted by God ... Therefore it is necessary to obey, not only for fear of punishment, but above all for the sake of conscience. "

A legitimation of state violence that was bound by the rationality principle of the Enlightenment required other bases from then on. One such emerged from the idea of ​​a social contract : all citizens of a community or nationals were viewed as members of a community formed by contractual association. As a result, they were individually bound by the political consequences resulting from the content of the treaty. This new instrument of legitimation for rule, the fictitious social contract, was then to serve as the theoretical basis for very different forms of state construction.

Parliamentary Legislation

Unlike Grotius, who had based his international law on a tolerance-based faith foundation, Thomas Hobbes , who also apostrophized as the “father of atheism in England”, developed his theory of the state against the background of a re-establishment of the philosophical disciplines through mathematical methods, measurement and empirical demonstration. The new way of thinking in terms of natural science should now also be made fruitful for ethics and politics.

As the first of a series of state theorists, Hobbes developed the idea of ​​an initial natural state of human society. In his model of the state of nature, every individual is hostile to all fellow human beings ( homo homini lupus ) and has to wage a constant struggle for their own security and self-assertion. This dilemma can only be remedied by the complete submission of all individuals to the omnipotence of the state, which thereby becomes the guarantor of the security of all and ends the state of war between individuals (bellum omnium contra omnes) . By unconditionally following their need for security (Hobbes was a contemporary of the English Civil War and the execution of Charles I ), they renounce any individual right as a citizen and endow the ruler with unlimited, absolute power.

A doctrine that differs fundamentally from this is represented by John Locke, who was also eager to follow the political upheavals in England in the second half of the 17th century . For him, the advocate of religious tolerance and bourgeois interests, there is a right of the individual to acquire property through work even in the natural state of human existence. His social contract, which establishes the state order, serves not only to protect the life and limb of the citizens, but also to safeguard their property rights, which are represented by parliament also towards the monarchical top. Against a tyranny of the crown and against its arbitrary access to the belongings of wealthy citizens, Locke claims the parliament's right to tax approval and, in the worst case, a right of resistance .

As part of the original social contract, Locke regards the majority principle, since the whole body has to be moved in the direction of the greater force. Parliament in particular represents an important area of ​​application of the majority principle, since as a legislative body it must be based on the ability to make decisions . Between the Parliament as a legislative body and it alone for the executive power ( executive responsible) crown Locke sees a balanced separation of powers before.

Separation of powers and the rule of law

Title page of the first edition of De L'esprit des Loix

Like Locke, after him the French nobility Montesquieu , who, in addition to studying the French political realities of his time during a lengthy stay in England, also thoroughly studied British conditions, supported a constitutional monarchy . The model of a restriction of power through the separation of powers (Le pouvoir arrête le pouvoir) he drew in the third supporting pillar with the judiciary .

After studying law in Bordeaux and Paris , Montesquieu was in office for a few years at the Court of Justice ( Parlement ) of Bordeaux and in this function also dealt with the critical examination and registration of royal edicts. His work, the Persian Letters (Lettres persanes) , published in 1721, speaks of a marked distance to the declining French absolutism , in which the French monarchy is judged no better than the Ottoman despotism, which is used for comparison on a literary basis . Montesquieu's sociological-cultural relativism , which is laid out in this way, leads to the enlightenment formula:

“We can regard God as a monarch who has several nations in his kingdom; they all come to bring him their tribute, and each speaks to him in her own language. "

In his epoch-making state-theoretical standard work Vom Geist der Gesetz (De l'esprit des lois) , too , Montesquieu makes an abundance of comparisons between Europe and the Orient, based on the level of then applicable and previously enacted laws. From his point of view, freedom in the political sense is not brought about through referendums, but is based on security through general laws. Their validity is to be guaranteed by a jurisprudence which is independent on all sides and which is solely bound by the law.

Human rights and popular sovereignty

Certain inalienable and worthy of protection rights of human individuals in the state framework have already considered pioneers of Enlightenment state-theoretical thought such as Grotius, Locke or Montesquieu with different accents in their models of society and rule. Such ideas were included in an expanded form as general human rights in the American Declaration of Independence in 1776, in the Declaration of Human and Civil Rights by the French National Assembly in 1789 and finally in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Title page of the first edition, Amsterdam, 1762

The cultural critic Jean-Jacques Rousseau , who is based in Geneva and has lived in France for a long time, made a radical departure from any state sovereignty associated with elements of monarchical power . In his conception of a natural state of humanity, the individuals lived side by side in self-sufficient contentment and mainly met in the act of copulation. With the onset of the division of labor and the creation of property, however, people's natural self-love (amour de soi) turned into socially damaging and destructive selfishness (amour-propre) . Rousseau's social contract (Du Contrat Social ou Principes du Droit Politique) serves the purpose of self-perfection for mankind that has irrevocably strayed from the state of nature.

The unifying bond that emerges from the Contrat Social is the general will ( Volonté générale ), in which the positive strivings of all individuals belonging to the community are united. The determination of the general will takes place in votes in which the special interests cancel each other out and the general interest comes to the fore. Rousseau assumes that the people are sufficiently informed and enlightened to have the whole thing in view, although he also notes: "It takes divine beings to give people laws."

The indivisible and inalienable sovereignty of the people is constituted in the general will. Rousseau rejects parliaments, parties and interest groups as well as fundamental rights or a binding state constitution. Against the established general will, there is no individual right of reservation or resistance for Rousseau. Since in it the individual freedom is connected with the freedom of all, the compliance with the volonté générale, which may have to be enforced, means the steering of a resistance person for his own good. This also applies with regard to a generally compulsory civil religion and worship apart from the established denominations and churches: According to Rousseau, whoever refuses to do so deserves death.

Criminal justice

Witches leaflet Augsburg 1669
Public execution of Louis Dominique Cartouches in 1721

The break between Hobbes on the one hand and Locke and Shaftesbury on the other was staged primarily with a view to the fundamental image of man. That represented by Locke and Shaftesbury is based on the human being as a being who naturally wants to live in harmony with humanity and God's cosmos. The new question is how to help man to be able to live out his nature for the best of mankind. Locke and Shaftesbury appeal to the feelings of their readers, to the horror they all feel of violence and human suffering.

At the level of the legal discussion, there is a simultaneous dispute about the forms of punishment that were perceived as medieval and that were used throughout Europe until the end of the 18th century. Punishment is done publicly, preferably on the body of the offender to deter and atone for the violated order. Its destruction and mutilation follows the destruction and mutilation that it inflicted on order. Peace is restored through adequate punishment in a public performance.

In addition to the punishments, the court proceedings and the reasons for the punishment are increasingly criticized by the enlighteners: the persecution of witches is above all a phenomenon of the Reformation . They claim the highest number of victims in the Protestant areas between 1550 and 1650. The processes that are carried out here are highly criticizable. It is ultimately unclear in them whether the deeds were committed at all - whether it is even possible to make covenants with the devil and to do witches. The extortion of confessions under torture and questionable legal trials in the form of divine judgments , in which the examined “witches” die both as guilty and as innocent, are the subject of enlightenment criticism. Jurists such as Christian Thomasius , whose first lecture in German in 1687 caused a sensation in Leipzig and thus became a model for his younger colleague Wolff in Halle , vehemently oppose the persecution of witches as a public form in the late 17th century, after the wave of persecution subsided Superstition . Francis Hutcheson holds corresponding positions in the English-speaking world. The fact that witchcraft is possible is doubted in the end in arguments that ultimately threaten the church, since with them all belief in divine interventions becomes invalid.

Cruel public punishments came under fire in the 18th century. The viewers are brutalized here and precisely not led to the finer, more civilized feelings on which peaceful societies depend. Criminals would not be remedied by maiming or executing them. In the 1760s, Cesare Beccaria Dei delitti e delle pene (1764, German: Von den Verbrechen und von den Strafen , 1778) began the open discussion of the death penalty as a form of punishment that was no longer compatible with the Enlightenment. The states of the 19th century withdrew executions in the further course of the public perception and increasingly began to rely on prison terms as a common form of punishment, which should pave the way back into society. Social rehabilitation has been seen as an achievement of the Enlightenment since the 19th century and is increasingly discussed as one of the norms that find legal fixation and stabilization.

Utopias of the victory of virtue

Part of the radical nature of the Enlightenment is the trust its advocates had in the consequences that a higher level of insight and knowledge would have. This is exemplarily clear in utopias such as Louis-Sébastien Mercier's L'An 2440 (1771), the book that brought the various concepts of the Enlightenment into a harmonious context like no other. The longed-for epoch of happy human coexistence comes neither through a political development process nor through a revolutionary process, but through the dissemination of better knowledge, which allows people to take the step to virtue, after which all further conflicts of interest will resolve by themselves.

A virtuous ruler redefines his power and is henceforth simply the first of his citizens. His people use the press primarily to educate themselves to greater virtue. Bernard Mandeville asserted in his Fable of the Bees in 1705 and 1714 that a community that had achieved virtue would stagnate and lose its vitality, and was ostracized as a man-devil, as a devil in human form. The future visions of the 1770s were built on improvements and, following them, happier communities. The skeptics of the early 18th century were hardly present in the discussions of the late 18th century. Locke and Shaftesbury in particular (who was the first to propose the thesis that refinements of taste and feeling would lead to a harmonious coexistence) remained important with their theories until the 1770s.

Readers of the 1770s break elsewhere with the models of future civilized coexistence in enlightened states. They develop an interest in archaic greatness and in the noble that shows itself in uncivilized savages . The Enlightenment with its requirements of virtuous coexistence within strictly regulated societies is perceived as increasingly restrictive. A criticism of civilization and culture develops from the cultivation of sensitivity , which was already concerned with organizing a coexistence in which everyone develops his or her nature for the benefit of society. The thesis that human nature unfolds in complex civilizations becomes questionable in the 1770s and 1780s.

Enlightened absolutism

The emergence and development of enlightened state-theoretical thought were not detached from contemporary interests and rulers, but included them for a long time. Machiavelli in northern Italy, Grotius in Holland or Hobbes and Locke in England reacted to the early modern socio-political and cultural transformation processes in their own way. The new teachings were taken up and disseminated in the milieu of scholars and educated people, of a bourgeoisie in business and trade that was gaining in importance and self-confidence, and of a civil service that was expanded and thoroughly trained in the course of the development of the state administrative apparatus - partly with the support of the Enlightenment-inclined rulers - as well as other members of society who are willing to read and who are interested in public life.

Enlightenment state theories and the social forces that support them have not led to uniform, but in some cases drastically changed systems of government and rule in the western world of states. Wherever sovereigns did not ignore enlightenment thinking, reform projects were initiated, not only in the collection and administration of taxes, but also, for example, in the school and education system or in the reorganization of the legal system. The emergence of a state legal sphere, which, under the sign of the Enlightenment, was increasingly oriented towards norms of natural law, favored a certain independence of the administration from the monarchical top. As soon as the central government was able to guarantee a minimum of social stability and legal security and protect the citizens from arbitrary attacks by local feudal lords, a sphere of civil autonomy emerged, which also promoted the development of trade and thus the tax revenue. At the same time, for selfish reasons, the central government slowed down the destructive tendencies of the emerging agrarian capitalism, which threatened traditional peasant structures by transforming the commons into private land, as Michael Polanyi points out using the example of England.

The princes' interest in an efficient administration operating on a rational basis was based in many cases on the growing financial needs for their own expansion of power, for maintaining the armies in war and peace, as well as for building work and the splendid arrangement of court life. The increase in civil servants trained for their tasks is a pan-European phenomenon initiated by England and France. In such officials, as Michel Vovelle wrote in 1998, "the Enlightenment finds many motivated partners who are inspired not only by the spirit of rationalization and control, but also by renewal in the service of the monarchy and the common good."

View over the water parterre to the garden facade of the Palace of Versailles

The uptake and effectiveness of the new state-theoretical ideas depended on a variety of regional and local conditions. They had their starting points and centers mostly in the residences and big cities, but left large areas untouched with conventional thinking, doing and leaving, especially the rural areas.

So the attempts of the well-known Enlightenmentists to change the constitution of political states remained marked by reluctance until the 1770s. The focus was on change. In this context, the efforts of important authors to get into an advisory discussion with politicians are noticeable. Catherine II of Russia corresponded with Voltaire , Montesquieu and Cesare Beccaria . The reforms it carried out focused on infrastructural measures and institutional changes in the field of higher education. Frederick II of Prussia risked an intense relationship with Voltaire. Friedrich himself published his Anti Machiavel programmatically in 1740 in the spirit of the new era . One of the reforms he tackled immediately after taking power was the effective abolition of torture in 1740 (it was banned entirely in 1754). He passed extensive tolerance laws that drew Huguenots and Catholics to Prussia. He wrote in a letter in 1740: “All religions are the same and look good, if the people who profess [(publicly) profess] are genuine people, and whom Turks and pagans come and want to people the country , so want to build mosques and churches as they do ”. The censorship for non-political newspaper articles has been lifted.

Emperor Joseph II and his younger brother, later Emperor Leopold II, trust among brothers instead of Machiavellian rivalry

On the part of the Habsburgs , Joseph II , emperor from 1765 to 1790, agreed to abolish serfdom of the peasants in 1781 , to reform marriage legislation in 1783 and to abolish mutilation punishments with the introduction of the Josephine Criminal Law in 1787 and the death penalty only in martial law , not to be permitted in ordinary criminal proceedings (it was reintroduced for a few offenses in 1803).

But even among the rulers who were counted as part of the Enlightenment, political changes quickly fell short of expectations. Most of the reforms took place where an increase in national income could be expected, for example through measures that facilitated the influx of new citizens and the establishment of new factories. Structural reforms, on the other hand, primarily pushed back the rights of the nobility in favor of the rights of the people. Indeed, in Prussia, as in Russia and the Habsburg homeland, state power was almost always strengthened vis-à-vis the citizens and the nobility. The political press remained under surveillance and control outside of England and the Netherlands. The interventions in favor of the raison d'état even increased. They happened in enlightened monarchies on the assumption that the central government here alone assessed with foresight where the interest of the common good lay.


Medicine and natural philosophy

Average life expectancy in Wroclaw in 1691, compared with Germany in 1997
Wroclaw's pyramid of ages , 1691

20th century representations repeatedly perceived the Enlightenment as the great phase of science. The perspective on this has changed in recent years. The natural sciences did not gain a larger share of the book market and hardly changed the living conditions in pre-industrial Europe. The early modern period is the time of the Copernican turning point , but it cannot be said that this was followed by a great general mental uncertainty. Atlases of the 18th century present the world views harmoniously side by side. The approach to the world as a globe belongs to the early modern era, but before America was discovered it was already assumed that the world was a sphere. The great technological inventions on which modern medicine is based, in particular the construction of the first microscopes and the advance into the microcosm , can be traced back to the 17th century. On the other hand, medicine by and large stopped at a combination of astrology and ancient humoral pathology : illnesses arose from imbalances in the four juices. Central treatment options were bloodletting, the removal of harmful substances, the administration of drugs that were trusted to regulate heat, cold, wateriness and "melancholy" in the body. Anatomists examined the brain and the nervous system and suggested, with Descartes, that it worked mechanically, or with researchers who followed him, that it regulated the transport of fluids. It was only with Luigi Galvani's experiments that it became clearer that electrical impulses were passed on by the nerves. It remained open what electricity was. Theories of the connection between body and soul pervaded conventional medicine of the 18th century, based on the theory that the juicy imbalances and impurities were experienced by humans themselves as states of mind. The discovery of bacterial and viral pathogens and efforts to prevent disease through hygiene largely followed in the 19th century, leading to drastic changes in medicine (as an increasingly experimental science) and living conditions. The population skyrocketed in the 19th century after the infant mortality rate was drastically reduced through hygiene.

The life expectancy was of Edmond Halley correctly recorded statistically for the first time in 1692 and calculated for the individual age groups: For newborns it was well into the 18th century in 17 years. Those who had teething troubles behind them at the age of seven could expect an average life expectancy of 50 years, 40-year-olds expected another 20 years, 60-year-olds expected another decade. The big risks lay in the immense infant mortality rate.

In fact, research in the natural sciences was repeatedly ridiculed, even in Enlightenment circles, until well into the 18th century: Here, one looks for miracles of nature in experiments that do not develop any further economic benefit. Still utopias that were written at the end of the Enlightenment debate - works such as Louis-Sébastien Mercier's L'An 2440 (1771) - measure the natural sciences with a view to the future hardly important. They weren't playing in a future of entirely different technology. The attraction of reflection lies in the future, in which one finally lives according to the requirements of ethics.

Natural sciences

The anatomical theater of the University of Leiden filled with curiosities and edifying reminders around 1610
Experimental science in private: Derby's experiment with the bird in the air pump, 1767/1768

The realm of the natural sciences in everyday life remained undefined until the late 18th century. Children were taught reading and arithmetic, at grammar schools in Latin and ancient Greek. At the universities the decision had to be made between the three vocational faculties of theology, law and medicine. The natural sciences, on the other hand, were dealt with in the basic philosophy course, which, in addition to basic knowledge of planetary movement, offered lessons in geography, world history and philologies (with specializations in Hebrew, ancient Greek and oriental languages).

In this situation, the natural sciences flourished in the first step as a sub-area of ​​philosophical epistemology - as knowledge of nature - under private interests and were no longer hindered by the Inquisition . Even at the time of Isaac Newton, biblical truth and knowledge of nature were considered to be entirely compatible with one another, if only one was prepared to understand some of the statements of the Bible as metaphors. Conversely, the Church softened its negative position on many questions in the sciences (such as on the astronomical findings of Galileo and his successors). Philosophers such as René Descartes increasingly underpinned their statements with findings from the natural sciences. Second, the new sciences flourished in a few planetary observatories and in alchemical laboratories that were financed by interested sovereigns. Third, they thrived in medicine in anatomy classes that were increasingly being set up at universities. Rulers and universities maintained “ Chambers of Wonder ” with varying degrees of openness to rarities from nature: Rare stones, fossils, stuffed animals, sensational “monstrosities”, and freaks were collected here. Menageries collected living things with a similar purpose. Systematic research in the modern sense remained underdeveloped. The public collections were often interested in miraculous findings that were valued and valued as divine symbols.

There was no link between scientific knowledge and work on technological progress. Scientific academies, which sparked a state interest in research, were not formed until the 17th century. In 1635 the Académie française was founded. She received her scientific project with the Académie des Sciences in 1666 , six years after the Royal Society began its work in London , which quickly rose to become the leading European institution of early modern scientific research. The corresponding German academy project developed from the Academia Naturae Curiosorum , founded in Schweinfurt in 1652 , the name of which still refers to the interest in the wonderful. The Prussian Academy of Sciences began its work in 1700, the Russian Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg in 1724.

With the scientific academies of the international exchange of findings and their publication won new forms of organization - the calculation of life expectancy by Edmond Halley 1692/93 as demonstrating the effects: The data material was Caspar Neumann , a parish priest in Wroclaw, collected from death registers and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz sent who sent it to the Academy in London, which in turn knew who could analyze the data. The publication of the data took place in the Philosophical Transactions , the scientific journal published by the Royal Society since 1665 . With the journals that have been published by research groups and academies since 1664, the findings, which had previously been published decentrally and were not consistently evaluated, found their future-oriented publication medium. The Journal des sçavans started here in 1665 (see list of early modern journals with a chronology of the journal foundations). The first journals had considerable sections for the publication of scientific findings and their discussion. Specialist journals took over the field when general scientific journals increasingly focused on historical writings in the 18th century. In the 18th century, the professionalization of the natural sciences advanced in the specialist magazines. Individual journals such as the Breslau Collections used the periodical as a medium to present ongoing research in observation series. With the consistent evaluations of scientific findings, the interest in "curiosities" ebbed. For the scientific evaluation, observations of the normal were more interesting, from which natural laws and statistical correlations could be derived.

On a broader scale, the natural sciences remained a field of private interests until the 1770s. Researchers like Antoine Laurent de Lavoisier had to finance themselves privately. In the second half of the 18th century a fashion of its own developed here to stage spectacular experiments, especially with electricity , in private circles as sensational social entertainment. Only the state's interests, which in the 1770s and 1780s increased in inventions with which their territories could be developed economically, changed the position of the natural sciences. In the natural sciences themselves, the step was being prepared from the middle of the 17th century. The search for curiosa, for the signs of miracles, became increasingly suspect in circles of researchers here in the late 17th century. Observations that can be repeated in experiments will be more interesting than works that could testify to God or the devil. Laws of nature can be derived from them, which can ultimately be used for new inventions.

At the end of the Enlightenment phase it became increasingly clear that the natural sciences and an intellectual religion could not simply coexist without contradiction; in future, both had to define themselves separately from one another.


In retrospect, the natural sciences of the early modern period developed their greatest influence in the field of epistemology . This created the prerequisites for a profound restructuring of the sciences. The two opposing camps that the history of philosophy today opens up between rationalists and empiricists are more of a retrospective projection in which the conflict that took place in the 19th century between German idealism and English empiricism or the new materialism is given a prehistory.

In this debate, René Descartes and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz take positions in favor of a natural science in which reasoning in syllogisms remains legitimate. From God's definition of his perfection, further inferences are drawn about the world as his creation. The procedure is based on an immense trust in reason, which finds its hardest core in logic. The English empiricists in particular, from John Locke to David Hume, distanced themselves from this basis of epistemology. With their investigations into the human mind, they created a new position in philosophical literature. Their counter-model was that nothing could become an object of human thought that had not been previously perceived. The sciences are thus based on observation, their conclusions obliged to do nothing more than do justice to the observations. In the course of this debate, Isaac Newton is hailed as the researcher who inferred the laws of nature from the existing data with the greatest implications. He succeeded in founding scientific optics and, with the theory of gravity, the theory that explained the laws formulated by Johannes Kepler . Alexander Pope paid tribute to Newton at the end of 1727 with the metaphor of the new epoch:

“Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night;
God said 'Let Newton be' and all was light. "

In retrospect, rationalists and empiricists united the decision to detach knowledge from the Bible and all written traditions and to expose it to an exclusively reason-based discourse. This is based on the theory that there can be no conflict between knowledge based on sensory data and reasonable thinking. Attempts to epistemologically harmonize rational, sensible thinking and research based on sensory data ran through the 18th century. Kant's formula: "Thoughts without content are empty, views without concepts are blind." ( KrV B 75) is characteristic of these experiments. The epistemological contribution of the Enlightenment debate gained in importance at the turn of the 19th century and with secularization . Nation-states , which brought the science to modern science par excellence, parted at the end of final of ancient science structure in which theology was the supreme authority.

Economics and new faculties

The modern conversation lexicon focuses on the knowledge of the present world, copper with enlightenment emblematics
Modern bureaucracy and administration. Illustration to JB v. Rohr's Necessary and Useful Supplies , 1719
Copper for needle manufacture (with child labor) from Diderot's Encyclopédie, 1762

Two developments in the second half of the 18th century exploded the structure of the sciences with its four faculties. First, modern practical sciences around economics had to be integrated into teaching. Second, in the 1750s , the public gained a new central topic of debate in fiction , which the humanities ended up realigning.

The first development and its consequences could be foreseen at the beginning of the 18th century: Knowledge had become more flexible, it was now available in an unmanageable state of research instead of in systematically structured books depicting the world. As a marketable commodity, knowledge found interest far outside the university sciences. The new readers got to the books without training in scholastic knowledge structure and demanded direct access to information. Johann Hübner described the revolution in the preface to the Curieusen nature, art, trade and action lexicon , which in 1712 offered exactly this: modern practical knowledge from natural sciences, technology (“art”) and economics (“action”):

“In ancient times there were only a few sciences, and they weren't particularly well developed: there were also few people studying who were content to understand one or the other discipline ex professo; and the rest of them all coveted not to fall into the craft of the scholar. [...] But for nearly fifty years, the number of sciences has increased very much, so that one would at least have to duplicate the professions at universities if any particular discipline was to be specially studied. [...] that the old Physics, Mathematici, and Historici, if they were to be found again today [...] would only be passed in front of bad beginners. […] Hence it is that much minor sciences, which were otherwise left to the Mechanicis, are now more and more pursued by literati. And finally the current seculum exhibits such a curiosity that one or both of everything; or at least want to know something about everything. So many people eager to learn could not achieve their goal, as long as the Latin language had the MONOPOLIUM that it was allowed to deal with learned things alone. [...] Accordingly, the Germans, following the example of other nations, have not rested, and now almost all sciences have been translated into the mother tongue of this cultivated nation. According to them, the Systematic Method was far too extensive, too boring and too annoying: especially at the same time, since you couldn't taste the core of true wisdom unless you first had the metaphysical bowls in which it lay hidden, with head-breaking ones Had opened work. But this page was finally torn as well. "

The lexicon market, like that of journals, has exploded since the 1660s. It was not major projects that came onto the market here, but rather books to look up in everyday life. The first generation of these works merely collected. The second began with Pierre Bayle's Dictionnaire historique et critique in the 1690s: On the one hand, it had to be about critically clearing up historical knowledge. On the other hand, the hour came for works that turned to practical life and offered information suitable for everyday use: the knowledge that newspaper readers had to have. "Universal Lexica" followed from the 1730s. The great project of modern knowledge of the Enlightenment came about with the Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers , organized by Denis Diderot , Jean Baptiste le Rond d'Alembert with the collaboration of 142 authors and engravers who recorded the state of the art .

In the book market, authors such as - in Germany - Julius Bernhard von Rohr and Paul Jacob Marperger had taken the step into science, which turned to modern civilization in its technologies and practical forms of organization. Marperger published manuals on cashless payments, trade shows, the art of private cellars and kitchen management. Rohr published a Compendieuse Household Library (1716), an introduction to the wisdom of the state (1718), a necessary and useful store of all kinds of selected contracts, contracts, assessments, appointments [...] and other similar concepts, which are also used by the household economy in general in particular when cultivating arable land, raising cattle, hunting and forestry, water and fishing, brewing beer, viticulture, mines [...] (1719). The fascinating thing about these books, as well as the instructions for all crafts that came on the market, was the new openness to everyday knowledge. The editors of the German Acta Eruditorum asked about the usefulness of the modern useful , gallant, and curious women's lexicon that came out in 1715 and captured what anyone who lived in a house could know.

In a first step, science penetrated everyday life, in the second, in the middle of the 18th century, publications with targeted suggestions for improvement began. What had happened to the ancient sciences before, that they brought about a current state of research, happened in the middle of the 18th century with all areas of life into which the sciences penetrated: They became the subject of new specialist debates. The economy and housekeeping came from everyday life and grew into the art of operating modern economic systems. The first ideas came from the Physiocrats , who saw the origin of all value in agriculture. This theory was formulated by Richard Cantillon and expanded by Francois Quesnay with the Tableau économique . Theory and practice were closely linked, for example with Anne Robert Jacques Turgot . In the 1770s, Adam Smith brought the new science up to date with future-oriented economics with his book An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations . Following on from this, Jean-Baptiste Say developed Say 's theorem , the first principle that established a functional connection between the economic variables of supply and demand .

Modern universities received the structures in which knowledge for the development of nations could be formed and taught. The ground for industrialization was prepared here from the 1770s.

Industrially applied research

Montgolfière on October 19, 1783

Individual steps in using and promoting scientific research in the sense of a progress project can be traced back to the 17th century. The Royal Society published calls for research such as a call to seafarers to collect observations that the scientific institution would evaluate. In 1714, the British Parliament opened a competition with the Longitude Act to solve the problem of determining longitude . Here, too, there was a forward-looking economic interest in improving navigation for scientific and technical research.

The usefulness of scientific research only became clearer in the 1760s, when it was recognized that the new scientific endeavors could promote the economic strength of one's own country. Systematic research and testing of technologies that could be used industrially began. It is symptomatic of the chronology of the epochs that although Thomas Newcomen put the first steam engine into operation in 1712, which could pump the water out of the mine shafts, which were sunk ever deeper, this invention did not, however, result in the use of steam power as a driving force for other machines, as there was enough manpower were available. The efficiency of the machine designed by Newcomen was 0.5 percent. It was not until 1764 that James Watt was commissioned to improve such a steam engine; he succeeded in reducing energy consumption by 60 percent by 1769. A little later Europe-wide interest arose in his machine because it seemed possible to use it not only for stationary pumps. The first steamship was tested in 1783 . The first spinning machine , initially powered by muscle power, was put into operation in 1764; industrial use took place here in 1769. Edmond Cartwright patented the first fully mechanical loom in 1785; since 1788 it has been powered by steam. But human driving force in the textile industry - mostly women and children were used for this - remained widespread for reasons of cost. The first manned hot air balloon was demonstrated by the Montgolfier brothers in 1783 . The first cast iron plow came into production in 1785, an indicator of the beginning mechanization of agriculture.

However, the technical innovations of this time were not yet brought about by scientists. Mostly it was autodidacts, craftsmen or entrepreneurs who experimented with new techniques and made them usable for their work . It was not until 1770 that a discussion about the connection between new sciences and technical progress arose, with which growing public hopes for an age determined by natural sciences were connected.


Polemical copper from 1710: The sciences of theology, jurisprudence and medicine have the choice of following the folly of scholasticism into a dark time or the history of science, the Historia Literaria , which spreads the light of knowledge.

From the perspective of the 17th and 18th centuries, history appeared as the field of great scientific innovation. This has only in part to do with new historical knowledge - the study of history remained conservative in its focus on traditional textual knowledge. It has more to do with the concept of history, which was broader. According to many researchers around 1700, all research developed into a historical dispute with book printing. Our understanding of the world changed from a belief-based to a new, historically flexible one, according to the widespread perception.

Biblically oriented calendar

In the key data, the historical science of the early modern period remained committed to the knowledge of the Bible. The creation of the world was by philosophers like John Locke in the consensus of all theology as with the readers of the current everyday calendar to the year 3950 BC. BC. The flood was to take place in 2501 BC. Have taken place. All current human culture must have emerged after that. Noah's sons settled the world, they and their children founded the existing nations.

In 1978 Werner Krauss noted the reasons why the European Enlightenmentists in particular considered the short biblical history to be attractive. With this story one avoided mythical epochs. It was just based on reason when Adam invented human language in it on the first day of his existence and the earth immediately subjugated itself in a concerted civilization project. If individual eternalists among the philosophers assumed that the earth existed forever, they could not explain why the globe was not covered with human structures from eternal times. All Enlightenmentists assumed that humans, as living beings gifted with reason, could make any invention at any time. John Locke explained that inventions are nothing more than compositions of sensory perceptions. Most of the Enlightenmentists expected no more important inventions from the future under the same premise. In the 1730s it was found that nothing technically revolutionary had been invented since the 1670s. This suggested that from now on wig fashions and political alliances would at best change.

Criticism of biblical historical knowledge remained rare and selective. Around 1700 it was doubted that the whole world participated in the Babylonian language confusion - shortly after the Flood. This seemed a bad explanatory model, especially for the northern European languages. Individual researchers alternatively suspected that the old Adamite language had been preserved in German, Dutch or Swedish, the first representatives of which were no longer present in Babel. The biblical historical framework in Europe only became fragile at the end of the 18th century.

Trade journals

Scientific journal as market observation and early modern blog, first issue of the Gundlingiana (1715), title with "Dispellam-" (I drive away the darkness) enlightenment emblem

The great achievement for scientists of the 17th and 18th centuries was the transformation of research into a discursive historical one. The first issue of the Deutsche Acta Eruditorum (literally "German achievements of the educated"), a journal that reviewed scientific publications from all disciplines, opened in 1712 with a look back at this scientific revolution:

“IT studies, like all things in the world, which are based on human arbitrariness alone, have their fashion. Such would be easy to prove through all secula [centuries] if it were our purpose to present this matter extensively. But if we do not want to look for evidence that is too old, almost everyone will know how much they refused to give way to the new philosophy some time ago at universities, which mainly came because the Aristotelian and Scholastic were consistently fashionable. In our times it will almost be difficult to ascribe rule to a discipline after all useful sciences have been practiced anietzo [...]. But it seems as if above all history has gained some preponderance, which is confirmed by the so frequent historical writings. And it is undisputed that the so-called journals also belong to this class, in which one is provided with excerpts from all kinds of books and generally with news from the literature [the field of science]. "

The concept of history in the early modern period is broader than that of the 19th century. Every form of reporting is history here. Journals in which scientific books are reviewed are the history of science, Historia Literaria in the literal sense of the 17th and 18th centuries. The Historia Literaria itself is the new central science, since all sciences are now historically pursued with a view to new knowledge compared to old ones.

The great revolution in the scientific community, which was looked back on around 1700, began with the printing of books . Unlike manuscripts, printed books were public. Researchers could refer to them on the premise that any researcher could review information about printed books. These books were freely available for purchase, and identical copies were sent to libraries all over the world. With the printed book came the idea of ​​the " res publica literaria ", the republic of scholarship that pursues the sciences and exchanges ideas about them. In the 1560s the first catalogs of the continuously printed books appeared. From now on, scientists had to follow the entire market and justify new publications to existing ones. A growing exchange of information by correspondence pervaded the res publica literaria. One tried to find out in the hand how correspondents assessed books in public circulation. The scientific academies established from the 1630s gave institutional centers to this exchange.

The establishment of scientific journals in the 1660s brought the medium of scientific publishing, which is still central to this day, onto the market. With the new journals that reviewed books, a continuous secondary discourse arose, "secondary literature", which continually and critically dealt with the sciences. This market exploded from the 1690s with the emergence of new, very subjective journals in which individual scholars continuously offered their personal perspective on knowledge of the sciences and thereby created audience loyalty. (Journals of the early 18th century, such as those issued by Nicolaus Hieronymus Gundling Gundlingiana developed similar to the blogs on the Internet in a second thrust personally operated media).

From 1716 the journal market could no longer be surveyed. The sciences in all their breadth had taken the step to deal with the current state of research. Knowledge was no longer as ordered as experiencing the cosmos of God - one no longer worked on great systematic works. Rather, knowledge appeared short-lived and subject to fashions. In the course of the 18th century this perception changed step by step: The trend-setting insight was that knowledge did not follow fashions, but a secret progress project.


The big difference between the historiography of the early modern period and the one that followed it in the 19th and 20th centuries lies on the one hand in the new critical approach to written tradition and on the other in the question of development models.

The history of the 17th century is largely oriented towards the collection of data. The curious and the wonderful gain a similar status here as in the Chambers of Wonder. The criticism begins here at the same time as in the natural sciences. From the 1670s onwards there was an increasing search for a historical science that explains the document situation rationally and eliminates the fictional. With the discussion about historical Pyrrhonism , a fundamental criticism of all simply collecting and collating historical works began in the 1680s. Authors like Pierre Bayle try to establish criteria according to which erroneous and fictional traditions can be excluded from historiography (here there is no possibility of experimentation with which, for example, one can expose a King Arthur as a hero of medieval epics and exclude it from historiography). The epistemological problem is not solved in the end, but historiography as a whole is transformed from a project that is supposed to teach morally to a science that is supposed to question the meaning of documents.

Cultural history

Historiography took a second step in the middle of the 18th century with the search for models of cultural development. The old model, according to which every human being can theoretically invent a culture, as the first humans did shortly after creation, gives way to new models that look for factors of cultural developments. Climate and race are increasingly discussed here in the 18th century. Developments are of interest in works such as Isaak Iselin's The Philosophical Assumptions on the History of Humanity (1764), Henry Home Kames ' Sketches of the History of Man (1774) and Edward Gibbon's religious and cultural-critical study Decay and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776). In the 1760s, history became the place of socio-theoretical discussions - groundbreaking, for example, with Adam Ferguson's treatise on the history of civil society (1767) and in John Millar's On the Origin of Difference in the Ranks and Classes of Society (1771). A theoretical debate of its own opens with the new approaches. Known here as before Friedrich Schiller's lecture What's and at what one study universal history? (1790).

At the end, the modern history discussion, which was used by the nations of the 19th and 20th centuries as a platform on which public controversies about the historical location and historical responsibility, was carried out, was prepared here.


In the course of the 17th century, the two complementary markets and educational objects of the “belles lettres” emancipated themselves from the sciences (French “lettres”, Latin “literature”) and the arts (the “artes” as the field of technical inventions). literally the "beautiful sciences" and the "beaux arts", the "fine arts".

In the course of the 17th century, both fields drew considerable criticism from scientific observers as ultimately more commercial areas governed by international fashions. In the course of the 18th century, this scientific criticism, arguing with the Enlightenment, became increasingly important for the new areas of more popular educational objects - for novels, dramas and poems, images and compositions Align the 18th century specifically to fine literature and the fine arts. Authors and artists who produce novels, dramas, memoirs, music, paintings, architecture, are increasingly willing to respond to the new criticism of the 18th century. An art of its own, which is open to new discussions, is emerging in all of these areas.

At the end of the reform process, the belles lettres , the educational objects of the elegant international book market, will become literature in the current sense of the word as the field of artistically written writings. The novel and essay play a special role in this. The beaux arts , the fine arts, become today's visual arts and the areas of art in music and dance. In the critical process, it is primarily the opera and the novel that change their location: from the 1730s onwards, opera is separated from poetry and primarily assigned to music. On the other hand, the novel is transferred from the field of history to the field of poetic genres and is committed to the qualities of art.

The spurts of discussion that gripped the belles lettres and the fine arts gained a clear moral component in the 1690s. In the course of the eighteenth century, a discussion about art in the foreground emerged from which, in the 1760s, emerged the debate about the aesthetics that persisted in modern literary and art theory.


Italian opera performance on the occasion of the Dauphin's marriage to Maria Josepha von Sachsen (1731–1767) in Rome in 1747
Shakespeare's Hamlet , performed in 1709, although Shakespeare's rediscovery is usually not ascribed until the later 18th century.
Aristocratic upbringing: children of a noble household in England play a scene from Dryden's Emperor of the Indians or the Conquest of Mexico (1731–1732)

The modern theater, which began in the 16th century, only partially took up the specifications of antiquity. A strong discipline then emanated from France, which demanded a reorientation of the drama to antiquity. The very successful Renaissance theater by Alexandre Hardy went under, as did the similar (but later revived) works by William Shakespeare .

During the 17th century, opera and comedy were the most popular forms of modern theater life. Tragedies have less practical significance than more scholarly projects. In theater criticism, on the other hand, they gain even more attention as the theoretically “purer” drama. From the 1660s, operas were primarily staged in Europe's courtyards and in commercial urban houses (e.g. in London and Hamburg). They serve for the display of splendor and usually lead to a festivity. The tragedy should be about the fall and catastrophe of a great hero and the banal comedy should live on rough jokes. The two rival currents of opera were the Italian and the French style. In terms of material, the operas used the entire spectrum between the comic and a form of tragedy lyrique that demanded compassion and that was allowed to have a conciliatory end. With international stars among singers and castrati , Italian opera gained European popularity. The French opera was a prestigious project sponsored by the French court, which wanted to challenge Italian culture for the priority it had gained since the Renaissance. Mixtures with the Italian style, on the other hand, were common at all times.

Tragedies were effectively marginalized by opera in the 17th century. In France they enjoyed some protection from the scholarly competition which urges modern France to compete with antiquity. While music and theater performances were prohibited in England after the revolution of 1641/42 for religious and moral reasons, after the Restoration in London in 1660 , Charles II introduced a theater company that followed French models. Initially, tragedies, comedies and operas were played here side by side. All three genres are permeated by music and dance performances. However, the tragedy exposed itself to bitter satires at the beginning of the 1670s because of its pathetic style and its improbable to grotesque actions. Exciting with a mise en abyme , a piece in a piece, was George Villiers, the 2nd Duke of Buckingham The Rehearsal (1672), a satire on John Dryden's The Conquest of Granada (1671). Opera and comedy then became the two fashionable alternatives. In Germany, tragedies gained an isolated significance in school theater. The works classified as baroque tragedies by German studies today came from Wroclaw's school operations; Christian Weise's tragedies, which she now counts as part of the Early Enlightenment, came from his school performances in Zittau . Both productions gained little significance outside of the scholarly reception. The opera took over the field for festive performances here from the 1620s.

As a counterpoint to opera and (marginalized) tragedy, comedy asserted itself as a satirical genre in the 17th century. A highly artificial production unfolded in Paris. Molière's comedies became famous here with their character studies. After the contempt of the 19th century, the type of comedy that developed in London found supporters under the term restoration comedy: Under the protection of Charles II, comedies were created here that played off the fashionable nobility of the city against the urban bourgeoisie and libertinism and wit at the expense of the elderly Generation celebrated. On the continent there was also a theater of its own, which was organized by traveling troupes, in which comic characters from the Commedia dell'arte penetrated. For the Central and Northern European market supplied by German traveling troops , the role of the harlequin became symptomatic, communicating with the audience about the play during the play, which was designed as a tragedy, and possibly making it ridiculous.

Efforts to reform the stage offerings pervaded the 17th and 18th centuries. The reform efforts initially focused on the revival of tragedy and the moral reform of comedy and only later on a reform of opera, which had been discredited by scholars and clergy in the 17th century, especially in Protestant Europe. They criticized the sensual excesses and the magnificence of the opera, which enjoyed the protection of the Counter-Reformation in the Catholic area , and called for its abolition, while opera propagandists had hailed it as the new edition of the ancient tragedy, which was known to be known to choirs . Enlightenment work on an independent tragedy in France included the efforts of Jean Chapelain and others to develop the theoretical foundations of a "rule drama" that should be structured much more strictly than its ancient models. At the end of the 17th century, Pierre Corneille and Jean Racine were celebrated for their realizations and created their own classics. In England, general theater and moral criticism based on Puritan theater criticism gained increasing media coverage from the 1690s onwards. What was called for here was a moral rejection and a community that is committed to improving morals. With Joseph Addison and Richard Steele , this criticism won the first authors who did not distance themselves from the theater, but presented reform pieces. A groundbreaking success here was Addison's Cato 1713, a tragedy that forced both political parties to join forces with the more moral London. New comedies from Steetel Conscious Lovers (1722) onwards made bourgeois protagonists of the older generation gain respect for the youth and the nobility - the two groups that supported the restoration comedies. Conflicts about understanding replaced the intrigues.

The reform efforts gained European influence from the 1720s. With clear links to discussions of the Enlightenment and theater criticism of the 17th century, three reform projects arose from them

  • the sensitive touch, the comédie larmoyante , the sentimental comedy , one in its conflicts on the one hand and in its happy conflict resolution on the other between tragedy and comedy, in which it became modern to show feelings, oneself and other weaknesses admit to crying in public.
  • the modern classical tragedy, which was propagated by name in Germany by Johann Christoph Gottscheds ,
  • the bourgeois tragedy, which allows protagonists from the bourgeoisie or lower nobility the inner greatness of a new private heroism including options for catastrophe - in German Gotthold Ephraim Lessing became a propagandist of this reform, in England George Lillos was The London Merchant (1731) early piece in this direction.

The bourgeois tragedy in particular is included in the Enlightenment in his reform offers today, on the one hand, because it revitalizes classical poetics with conflicts in which individuals tragically fail, secondly, because it establishes the bourgeoisie as an enlightened class vis-à-vis the nobility, and thirdly, because it is itself opens up to modern literary criticism of the Enlightenment and takes up its topics such as the idea of ​​religious tolerance in the case of Lessing's Nathan the Wise (1779).

The opera eventually became the subject of its own reform efforts, although research only partially linked these reform efforts with the debate about the Enlightenment. In Vienna Metastasio designed reform operas in the 1730s, in England a counter-movement to satire triumphed with the performance of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera ; the oratorio took over the field here in the 1730s. In France, the Opéra comique gained greater importance. The Parisian fair theater becomes an experimental field for new, more popular forms of opera. In Germany, Christoph Willibald Gluck's operas became part of an enlightened reform debate.

In the end, essential achievements of the enlightened drama led to its own overcoming: With the interest in the stages and their justification to the criticism, Shakespeare's plays were increasingly performed again in their tragic original versions in the 19th century and criticized as realistic, natural, future-oriented drama celebrated. In criticism of the sensitive heroes of the stirring pieces, trained on Shakespeare's heroes, heroes came onto the stages in the 1770s who break in the bourgeois world. Romanticism and Sturm und Drang and a new interest in classical music competed with the decidedly enlightened production from the 1760s and led to the end of the 19th century.


English edition of Fenelon's Telemachus (1715): The goddess of wisdom, Pallas Athene, has revealed herself to the hero and leads him to her temple
Copper from the luxury edition of Richardson's Pamela (1742). The novel becomes a modern school of life.

The novel caused immense problems for the scholarly criticism of the 16th and 17th centuries as a fictional genre that imitates history and is primarily interested in the love affairs of high class figures in the heroic variants and in "rascals" in the comical lower ones. On the one hand, the novel competes with true histories, on the other hand with the epic as the real genre of poetic and fictional art.

In a first reform push in the 17th century, novelism became increasingly acceptable as a more realistic art - a line runs here from the Novelas Exemplares (1613) to the novels of Marie-Madeleine de La Fayette , which pioneered the psychological novel of the Enlightenment. At the same time, representatives of the Enlightenment such as Christian Thomasius paid tribute to Madeleine de Scudéry as the author with whom modern, sensitive character observation emerged. Part of the scholarly criticism accepts the satirical novel as a potentially enlightened moral satire and as an effective criticism of the high-quality novel - Miguel de Cervantes ' Don Quixote sets the standard here. The reform push of the integration of novelists into the field of the epic novel still led in the 1680s to an unabashedly scandalous novel production with political scandalous novels and a further production of private revelations, both of which lived from the new art of character and intrigue as the central plot pattern and between 1680 and 1680 1720 determined European fashion. It seemed enlightened to the critics who dared to confess to the novel, the turning away from the heroism of medieval epics, the turning away from simple picaresque novels like Till Eulenspiegel , the examination of current customs, the training in intrigues (as training in "political cleverness") , the openness to current political scandals, the realism of the new novels compared to the heroic wonders of the past.

A second push for reform began with François Fénelons Telemach (1699/1700), with the novel that was the first to be discussed successfully as an epic of modernity. The critical discussion called for a comparably artful novel, which was based on the high epic and its fictionality, and avoided personal scandals.

A third reform push began with Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719), a novel that did not slip into the field of novella with its intrigues, avoided the novellist scandals, celebrated the individual in the heroic struggle for his life and thereby - unlike Fénelon's novel - made bourgeois values ​​debatable without exposing them to the ridiculousness of comic novels.

From Pierre Daniel Huet's treatise on the origin of the novels to the Fénelon and Defoe discussion, a debate is taking place that earns the novel recognition as a fictional art - and at the same time moves it out of the field of scandalous histories. Good novels use fictionality philosophically and morally, bad novels for the pure satisfaction of the desire to read, according to the new criticism that made the novel in the 18th century exciting as a space for philosophical constructions. From Fénelon's and Defoe's novels, authors such as Rousseau and Goethe developed the educational novel and the educational novel over the course of the century . From the novels of the 17th century, Samuel Richardson and Christian Fürchtegott Gellert develop novels for a new moral discussion. Philosophical experiments come with Montesquieus Lettres Persanes (1721), Jonathan Swifts Gulliver’s Travels (1726), Voltaire's Candide ou l'optimisme (written 1758, published 1759) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau's novels Julie ou la Nouvelle Héloïse (1761) and Émile, ou De l'éducation (1762) on the market.

Diderot also worked on novels and short stories, for example he wrote the church-critical , sensitive novel La Religieuse ("The Nun") in 1760 and 1761 . Diderot was an admirer of the works of Samuel Richardson and much of the subject of the novel The History of a Young Lady Clarissa or (1748) found its way into La Religieuse . Diderot criticized not only spiritual authorities, but also his own project of the Enlightenment with his satire Le Neveu de Rameau (from 1760), which remained unpublished.

In the interplay between new reforms and criticism of the novel, the novel becomes a medium in which enlighteners can stage central discussions with the greatest audience approval. Bourgeois life, private feelings and finally the future are discovered as a new projection surface. While the future scenarios of Samuel Madden's Memoires of the Twentieth Century (1733) were still contemporary satire, Louis-Sébastien Mercier's L'An 2440 (1771) is a propaganda work of the Enlightenment that considers all areas of life from the perspective of their possible development. Abbé Prévost , who translates Richardson's novels into French, describes in his novel Manon Lescaut (1731) the pubescent emotions of two young people, to whom everything else is subordinated, but which ruins them, and thus already expresses moods of the pre-romanticism .

Novel production has increased rapidly since 1770. Since then, 300 to 500 novels have been produced per year in England, six to ten times as much as 100 years earlier. The game with taboos and deliberate border violations as well as the provocation of prohibitions spread in the wake of the new moral novels in a subversive current with works from Diderot's Die talkative gems (1748) to de Sades Justine (1787). Experimental novels also come up with the justification of the genre, for example Lawrence Sterne's life and views of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman (1759–1767). In the course of the Enlightenment, the production of novels is divided into a trivial area and a "high" area, whose contributors aim to ensure that their works are discussed critically and taken seriously as literature. A separate review system is the result of this process at the end of the Enlightenment, a society-wide interaction that had no counterpart in the 1670s.


The poetologists of the 17th century took enormous pains to regulate poetry. The poem authors wrote primarily for a commercial market: Casuallyrik - poems for anniversaries, marriages, honors and deaths. The heroic epic seemed threatened by the praise of the ruler and political partisanship, the comic, on the other hand, was precarious as a lower genre. Here the positions of poetry changes around 1700 with the reform of the novel and drama. A separate production of philosophical poetry emerged in the 18th century. Alexander Pope's Essay on Man (1734) and Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock's Messiah (1748 / 1772–1798) set standards here. Occasional poetry ordered for private and political occasions, produced ad hoc , often ready to print within a few hours , is discredited, while bourgeois drama and novels, on the other hand, are accepted as fully valid poetic genres in the middle of the 18th century. The result is a new self-image of the present as an epoch that, like antiquity, knows all three genres of epic, drama and lyric poetry, but has newly occupied it.


As a rule, there is as little talk of "Enlightenment painting" as of "Enlightenment music". Research locates the Enlightenment project in art-critical discussions rather than in its own art styles. From the standpoint of a conflict between the Baroque and the Enlightenment, this may appear so, with criticism and reason being attributed to the Enlightenment and the beguiling of the senses, including music and painting, to the Baroque.

In individual cases, the common epoch assignments usually turn out to be problematic. Alexander Pope , with his Essay on Man (1734), is assigned to the Enlightenment, the vanitas image, which he prefixes his didactic poem, would today be assigned more to the Baroque - from Pope's perspective it was adequate. Today Georg Friedrich Handel is assigned to the Baroque as a composer. In the him by Thomas Morell configured libretto of his oratorio Jephtha , however (1751), he added by hand from Pope's Essay on Man the line "Whatever is, is good" for a large chorus - a passage that historian of philosophy, with its reference to Leibniz and Shaftesbury assign to the reconnaissance. The Baroque composer himself will have viewed himself as a musician of the Enlightenment, the Baroque epochs are designed to judge his art from today as that of a declining epoch.

Still life Jan van der Heyden , who brought Amsterdam the first street lights. Baroque vanitas ensemble or a sign of openness to the world?

If you look for debates that have specific points of contact with the philosophical discussion of the Enlightenment, you can trace them back to the controversy about painting, sculpture and architecture well into the 17th century: The classicist Baroque , with its strict symmetries, reveals the ideal of civilization from the Enlightenment, hope a centrally and reasonably ordered world. History painting became an academic discipline in France in the 17th century. The authors, who in the early 18th century called for more freedom of feeling than compliance with the rules, argue for their part as enlighteners: Here, naturalness is opposed to compliance with the rules.

On another level, the Protestant-Calvinist confrontation with the art of the Catholic area, the Italian style, its theatrical productions, its liking for the irregular, makes use of specific arguments of the Enlightenment discussion: the demand for a simplicity that takes reason into account. The Reformation Iconoclasms started a discussion about the “sensible” use of images. The Calvinist art critic Jacob Cats, for example, polemicized against the sensuality of Catholic art. In the Dutch painting of the 17th century a new kind of interest arose in realistic landscape depictions and with scientific meticulous confrontations with reality in the field of still lifes . Bourgeois subjects found their way into the imagery before they conquered the European novel at the end of the century and the stages in the middle of the 18th century.

While the poetry critics of the 18th century strived for a poem that avoided “language bombs” such as allegories , similar efforts can be seen in the areas of sculpture, architecture and handicrafts. In the middle of the 17th century, what is known today as the Baroque era, relies on light-dark contrasts and monumental theatrical effects. With the currents of “ gallant ” painting and architecture, which are now known as Rococo , an interest in small, charming details and restraint wins out. You are looking for a "pleasant", "enchanting" design instead of lush display of pomp. Pastel colors and loose garlands replace great color effects and lush staffage. One finds the new art in the same moment in the illustrations of Enlightenment writings.

The anacreontic was a space in which ancient and modern models met. In a modernized shepherd's game , as shown by Antoine Watteau , realistic country life, tourist curiosity, longing for informality and ideal images of an untouched nature replace the religious ideas of paradise.

After 1700 two developments pave the way: the departure from (French) symmetries and the view that not artistic, but natural models should be imitated. The English landscape garden in contrast to the baroque garden is evident for this change. The Aristotelian imitation was still regarded as a central requirement, only the models changed. An important theorist in this context was Charles Batteux ( Les Beaux Arts réduits à un même principe , 1746). With the “realistic” illustration as a socially critical commentary, William Hogarth transferred the characteristics of the Enlightenment satire to painting and graphics.

The reorientation of art to nature instead of given art referred not least to antiquity, whose motifs were still considered models until they were replaced by realistic and fairytale motifs at the end of the 18th century. Trips to ancient sites have been common since Johann Joachim Winckelmann , who influenced the painter Anton Raphael Mengs . With his thesis that the general characteristic of Greek masterpieces is "a noble simplicity and a quiet greatness", Winckelmann shaped an aesthetic of simplicity. In the German-speaking world, this gave rise to the idea of ​​a “better” classical music that was more true to the original than the French . In Italy, the artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi dealt with the measurement of original antiquities.

Denis Diderot became the founder of modern art criticism with his salons from 1759–1781 through the art exhibitions of the Académie Royale. His ability to convey the visual arts through literary means, when most readers were unable to visit an exhibition or the printers were unable to adequately reproduce the works of art discussed, was admired across Europe.


Rousseau's opera “ Der Dorfwahrsager ” about the moral superiority of the country folk was premiered at court in 1752 and was very well received there.

To speak of the Enlightenment as a musical epoch is not common in the German-speaking area. In Paris, however, music was at the center of the discussions. A stumbling block was Jean Philippe Rameau's theory of harmony (1722): instead of independent voices as before, chords should form musical cohesion, which he claims are the “natural principles” of music. This called on opponents such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau , who saw Rameau's interpretation pattern as a symbol of rationalism and absolutism and countered this system of order with the liberated melody . The independent opera buffa with the admired model La serva padrona (1733) began to break away from the usual proud stride of the figured bass with a springy rhythm and was considered a new model not only because of its musical structure, but also because of its civic actions. Rousseau's short opera Le devin du village (1752) successfully combined this model with the popular hit of the French tradition, vaudeville . The subsequent Buffonist dispute in Paris from 1752–1754 prompted numerous enlighteners to comment on music. The cultural rivalry between Italy and France was superimposed on that between the bourgeoisie and the nobility. The dispute over Niccolò Piccinni and Christoph Willibald Gluck (Piccinnist dispute ) 1779–1781 is regarded as the aftermath of the Buffonist dispute . Unlike Rousseau, Gluck took sides not with the Italian but with the French opera. For the Vienna Burgtheater, however, he made his opera Iphigenie auf Tauris in 1781 together with Johann Baptist von Alxinger a “German” Singspiel. A commitment to a national background was still alien to him.

Since the rivalries between the nobility and the bourgeoisie were largely taboo in the late 19th century, an Enlightenment concept that divided the nobility and the bourgeoisie was less able to establish itself in historiography than the idea of ​​national emancipation based on solidarity, in which a French culture prevailed over an Italian one (or a German versus a French) played the main role. Therefore, in early German-speaking musicology, for example, the effort to co-opt Gluck or Handel for a national “German” tradition and to view the “works of art as documents” that let other areas of conflict take a back seat. When Wilhelm Dilthey tried to define the humanities at the Berlin University at the end of the 19th century , the minuet was introduced into the court ceremonial of the new empire. Bourgeois knowledge and aristocratic behavior continued to compete as educational concepts.

Instrumental music has always been viewed as a mere substitute for the human voice and is even rejected by Rousseau. In the puritanic atmosphere of the English bourgeoisie since the end of the 17th century, however, it is precisely their limited sensuality and independence from intrusive texts that is valued. Listening to structures instead of admiring attractive soloists was in keeping with a rationalistic attitude. Private concerts are becoming increasingly popular in England. Large orchestral concerts are common in London in the middle of the century; the Paris Concert spirituel offers a more limited but widely recognized platform. Vienna became a center of bourgeois musical development, but even Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart tried to gain a foothold in Paris.

There are more concert associations that often require their members to play along. They behave “anti- feudal and anti- plebeian ”. Arcangelo Corelli's trio sonatas became bestsellers in the centers of the Enlightenment at the beginning of the 18th century, indicating the rise of domestic music . The development of the string quartet as a new art form in the late 18th century stands for new forms of bourgeois music, as reflected in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's appreciation: "You can hear four sensible people talking".


Fashionable print of a sequence of dance steps "The friendship: Mr. Isaac's new dance for the year 1715"

The ballroom dancing had overcome its medieval condemnation and commissioned in the 14th and 15th centuries, especially in Italy big boost. In the rising absolutism it had a social function as well as a disciplining function, especially for the nobility, who were concentrated in central court societies, as Norbert Elias described it as the “politeness of the nobility”. In 1653, after the suppression of the Fronde , a series of uprisings in his empire, the "Sun King" Louis XIV. Dances a ballet in which he depicts the rising sun, orbited by his court officials as a planet. This becomes the program of his rule. As a by-product of ballroom dancing, military drill develops, which is laid down in drill regulations. The minuet , which Ludwig is said to have danced first in 1660, spread with unprecedented speed throughout the western world and remained a school of behavior until the beginning of the 19th century. Dance meant order, and order was attractive in fragmented and war-torn Europe. With courtly dance, a large part of the population was able to demonstrate that they knew the rules of society and that they had mastered them.

A highly artificial dance culture is rehearsed that lives from complicated sequences of steps and complex patterns. In London and Paris, hip dances can be bought in print for fashionable occasions to see the sequence of steps. From bourgeois novels of the early 18th century it becomes clear that dance was an area of ​​immense competition: it was used to demonstrate the ability for peaceful, orderly competition before the sport emerged. The manuals on dance in the early 18th century apply to an art form that requires enormous body and affect control. The dance expression aplomb also describes a general quality of public appearances.

The dance forms that conquered the market in the second half of the 18th century strive for a “simple” naturalness: a fulfillment of enlightened ideas. Soon, however, the simplicity is overcome by spectacular, sensual and sporty forms. The passages in Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774), in which the waltz is danced, are symptomatic - deliberately in order to get into a delirium. One can observe the rise of a bourgeois culture here, which distances itself from the requirements of the aristocratic culture of the 17th century. At the same time, reason and order are no longer the central ideals.

The efforts made over the course of the century to make dance a generally binding language for expressive gestures, independent of courtly rules of conduct, are clear. Louis de Cahusac , main author of the dance articles for the Encyclopédie , saw the origin of dance in 1754 in a "universal language" that unites "all nations and even animals".

Country-specific features


In view of the relevant aspects of the new government organization in the Age of Enlightenment to be dealt with in more detail below, it should not be overlooked that the Dutch struggle for freedom and their founding of the republic had already provided important impulses for the Enlightenment era. Grotius' book De iure belli ac pacis played a major role in the early German Enlightenment and was used by its representatives in their discussion of Lutheran orthodoxy; it also influenced Christian Thomasius and Samuel von Pufendorf .

Until the 18th century, publishers based in the Netherlands such as Elsevier were the most important suppliers of vernacular (especially French) educational and scientific literature. The federal character of the republic favored religious tolerance and the toleration of minorities, who also found refuge here as those persecuted in other states. There was also almost no nobility at birth , which made it easier for the bourgeoisie to participate politically.

United Kingdom

William III. von Orange-Nassau, governor of the Netherlands and from 1689 at the same time King of England

England, which in the 17th century, after turbulent civil war phases, paved the way for new standards as a major European power with the Glorious Revolution , is to be seen as the motor of political developments that took up the impetus for enlightenment .

The British island empire with England, Scotland and Ireland had been shaken several times in the course of the 17th century by conflicts of a political, religious and social nature. As a representative of the early Enlightenment, John Milton can be seen, who argued for freedom of the press and religious freedom and turned against the recatholic tendencies of the Anglican Church as early as the early 1640s . It was characteristic of the English Early Enlightenment that it did not argue universalistically and with reference to a general human right, but was pragmatically oriented towards concrete, historically grown civil liberties, the common law and the measure of expediency . It was not a contradiction in terms for Milton if he excluded Catholics from his demand for tolerance.

In 1689 the bloodless Glorious Revolution laid the foundations for a relatively stable political and social development process. In terms of constitutional law, absolutism was finally stripped of its foundation, an Anglicanism with reduced tolerance was consolidated as the main religious trend in public space, and the position of parliament as the politically important representative of the interests of citizens entitled to vote was irrevocably anchored.

William of Orange , who was called to the aid of the parliament across all parties against the recatholization efforts of Jacob II and enthroned as the new king, agreed to the Declaration of Rights passed in parliament on February 13, 1689 , which was linked with the guarantee that the monarch would not be able to act without the consent of the Parliament would override laws, levy taxes or maintain a standing army in peacetime . The new political order essentially corresponded to the theory of the state developed by John Locke in the Second Treatise on Government .

Sociopolitically, the Glorious Revolution strengthened the landed nobility, the gentry , as well as the emerging economic bourgeoisie of the cities. More than anywhere else in Europe, both social groups developed into an almost homogeneous layer with common interests. By setting the course in 1688/89 in favor of expanding the political scope of these dynamic forces in English society, the prerequisites were laid for their shaping role in the ensuing industrial revolution .

From a philosophical and epistemological point of view, the British Enlightenment is characterized by three tendencies: by the epistemological empiricism of John Lockes ( An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding 1690), which was later developed by Kant, by the skepticism of David Humes ( An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding 1748) and through the people-oriented economic ethics and theory of the Scot Adam Smith ( An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations 1776).

The Earl of Shaftesbury was one of the early exponents of Enlightenment philosophy in England, with his doctrine of affects and his moral-philosophical writings, in which he rejected both the pessimistic view of mankind of Thomas Hobbes and the pursuit of happiness as the basis of all values. Rather, he emphasized the rational judgment of the individual as well as his natural moral sense as the final instance of all ethically significant decisions with regard to religious teachings. Joseph Butler and Francis Hutcheson developed this position further with their criticism of Hobbes' assumption about the natural selfishness of man. Hutcheson and David Hume , however, doubted that morality could be based on reason. After that, the debate exhausted itself about a reasonable justification of morality. With the assumption either of an intuitionist morality that cannot be rationally justified and, above all, with the spread of utilitarian tendencies since William Paley and Jeremy Bentham , the English or Scottish moral philosophy fell behind the positions of the early Enlightenment.


Marquis de La Fayette

From the mid-18th century, Paris had been the focus of intellectual debates in Europe, while the moral and financial decline of the Ancien Régime became apparent. It was a serious crisis of the state finances that the French monarch Louis XVI. finally compelled the Estates General to be convened again in 1789 for the purpose of granting funds - 175 years after their last meeting. The disputes over the establishment of the USA played a considerable role because the French king, who was still in absolute power, had sided with the American rebels in an expensive war effort overseas in order to weaken England as a rival great power. When the Third Estate declared itself to be the National Assembly , eliminated the French estates with the privileges for the clergy and the nobility and, in turn, adopted a declaration of human and civil rights , there were further feedback effects on developments in North America.

The Marquis de La Fayette , for example, played an important role in the first, the constitutional phase of the French Revolution National Assembly as well as at the head of the National Guard kept course towards a constitutional state system with a separation of powers and a monarchical head of government. The overwhelming majority of the first French National Assembly also strove for a power-sharing constitutional monarchy along the lines of Montesquieu. The constitution of 1791 left the king in a strong position that went beyond executive powers, also by exercising a suspensive veto of up to four years on the sole legislative body, the Legislative National Assembly .

"The free signature". French caricature from 1792. Emperor Leopold II .: “What are you doing there, brother-in-law?” Ludwig XVI. (in the cage): "I sign."

Unlike William of Orange a hundred years earlier in England, Louis XVI. but not ready in the long run to take over the function assigned to him by the constitution. He had bowed to the pressure of the popular action only temporarily and depending on the situation, but remained anxious to restore what he considered to be his ancestral right as an absolutist ruler. For this he also sought the support of the monarchs who were close to him abroad. When his attempt to flee in Varennes , which was also aimed at this, failed shortly before he reached the national border, the main political forces in the National Assembly nevertheless held on to him as an indispensable core element of their constitution, also as a person, took precautions against his renewed escape and gave him the oath discard the constitution of 1791. At the head of the government he appointed, Louis XVI cooperated. henceforth makeshift with his unloved supporters among the political leaders of the time and often made use of his suspensive veto on laws affecting his interests.

A stabilization of the new political system in France was also not successful because abroad, as the royal family had hoped, the Pillnitz Declaration actually created a threat of counter-revolutionary threats. On the other hand, a broad current arose in the National Assembly that saw salvation in the forward defense of the revolutionary achievements and propagated the revolutionary war against the “aristocratic conspiracy” at home and abroad - even against isolated warnings such as that of Maximilien Robespierre that nobody was armed Missionaries love. The constitutionally necessary consent of the king to the war resolution was given by Louis XVI. Gladly granted: In the event of the expected French defeat, he could hope to be reinstated in his old rights by the monarchs in Vienna and Berlin who were sympathetic to him and who were concerned about their own position. This did not happen, however, because in a militarily extremely threatening situation in 1792 armed volunteer associations from all over France reinforced the regular troops - " Allons enfants de la Patrie ... " - and the masses of Parisians mobilized by the tribune Georges Danton with the storming of the Tuileries turned against the king, who was now perceived as an enemy. In fact, as the trial against him that ended with his death sentence revealed, Louis XVI had maintained a secret correspondence with the official opponents of the war.

Maximilien Robespierre
(anonymous portrait, around 1793 , Musée Carnavalet )

With the deposition of the king by an increasingly radicalized revolutionary movement, the constitution of 1791 became obsolete: In France, year I of the republic began in 1792. The revolutionary development thus entered a stage that met the ideas and intentions of the Rousseau supporter Robespierre. Still a student of law, Robespierre had visited and spoken to Rousseau, whom he admired, when he died in 1778. Already at the constitutional deliberations in 1789 Robespierre had spoken out against any kind of veto right of the king and, after his failed escape, for a judicial investigation and punishment. But now the chance of a republic under the sign of the general will in the sense of Rousseau opened up for him .

However, the framework conditions with the ongoing threat from outside, which interacted with the revolutionary ferment inside, were anything but stable or favorable for such an attempt. The republican constitution of 1793 , which did not come into force, proclaimed in Article 1: "The goal of society is general happiness." An executive council attached to the legislative body of a government (Art. 77), which should direct and supervise the general administration (Art. 65), jury courts (Art. 96) and criminal judges elected by the people (Art. 97).

At times the National Convention stepped back as a determining body behind the initiatives and measures of the welfare committee , which acted as a revolutionary government , the security committee and the revolutionary tribunal. Instead of popular sovereignty and a democratic constitutional order, a revolutionary dictatorship developed that sought the death of all real and supposed opponents with arrest and sentencing. The revolution ate its children in several waves, in the proverbial sense, because gradually the leaders of the successive phases of the revolution were guillotined as enemies of the people . The means of terror were to pave the way for republican virtue. In 1794, a few weeks before his fall and the end under the guillotine, Robespierre himself became a propagandist of a Rousseau-inspired religion of reason and a central figure in a specially newly introduced "National Festival in Honor of the Supreme Being."

General Bonaparte before the Council of Five Hundred at Saint Cloud on November 10, 1799 (painting by François Bouchot from 1840)

With the execution of Robespierre and his companions, not only the reign of terror of the revolutionary government ended, but also the radical phase of the French Revolution aimed at social equality for all French. In the subsequent development determined by the Thermidorians , in addition to personal security, the protection of bourgeois property interests again played a central role. In the third constitution of August 1795, approved by the referendum, the concept of equality was redrafted and in this form decisive for all future legal and constitutional states: "Equality consists in the fact that the law is the same for everyone." In addition to the declaration of rights A declaration of the citizen's duties has now been issued, with priority given to respecting the law. The coercive measures against priests, church and Christianity were ended and freedom of religion established. Instead of submitting the church to the state, a new development was initiated with the separation of church and state.

But even the governing board of directors in accordance with the constitution of 1795 did not achieve a permanent stabilization of the domestic political situation. So Napoleon Bonaparte , who had risen in the revolutionary army, was finally able to become the alleged savior of the republic in a coup d'état. When he declared in 1799 that the revolution had been brought back to its principles and thus ended, he in fact laid the foundation stone for the military monarchy of an enlightened dictator.

The various upheavals accompanying the French Revolution took place at the end of the 18th century and ushered in the end of the Age of Enlightenment in the Western world. Considered by some as the “completion of the Enlightenment” and by others as its “disaster”, the French Revolution became a turning point, beyond which the Enlightenment drive for the organization of a contemporary state was partly masked and partly replaced by impulses of a restorative and romantic nature .

Nevertheless, the “hot revolutionary breath” of the events in France, as Karl Griewank put it, “always had an effect on future generations.” Popular uprisings and coups d'états, parliamentary and provisional governments, separation of powers and sovereign representation of the people were and are with the French Revolution as Template or exemplary benchmark linked sometimes in a positive, sometimes in a negative interpretation. "The experiential, quasi-moral effect of the revolution perhaps surpasses its consequences, which can be directly demonstrated in the facts". In the history of France it offered points of reference for the civil kingship of Louis-Philippe I from 1830, for the February Revolution and the founding of the republic in 1848 , for the Paris Commune as well as for the bourgeois Third French Republic after 1871. The tradition of the “Great” French Revolution comes back to life every year with the national holiday on July 14th, the anniversary of the storm on the Bastille in 1789.

Olympe de Gouges

It is true that in the French Revolution, for example, with the “ women's march to Versailles ”, there were also political actions with a large number of women; but there were no women in any of the popular assemblies of that time. Olympe de Gouges found no significant support for her struggle for women's rights, which she publicly called for in a “ Declaration of the Rights of Women and Citizens ” in 1791 . Your demand, made in Article 10, that women not only have the right to climb the scaffold , but also the speaker's platform, was not taken up, like the entire declaration. Instead, she herself fell victim to the terrorist revolution and died under the guillotine.

In England the royal house and parliament had always found a balance of interests. In Prussia and Austria, the rulers were cautiously open to the new way of thinking and made reforms possible. In France, however, where absolutism had hardly noticed the new ideas, there was an explosion. With the exception of Condorcet, none of the known scouts took part in the violent uprising. However, the events of the French Revolution only gave rise to euphoria for a short time. Contemporary witnesses quickly noted them with disgust for the street and skepticism towards the intellectuals who determined the political process. This is what happened to Friedrich Schiller, who with his letters On the Aesthetic Education of Man (1795) criticized the subjectivity in Kant's aesthetics on the one hand , and on the other hand emphasized that knowledge does not prevent the rawness of man, but only the truth that lies in beauty. Only when man expresses both sides of his needs, the sensual as well as the sensible, can he find harmony. The discussions that began in 1789 soon left neither enlightened absolutism nor revolution as a means of enlightenment. The modernizing nation-state became the option of the 19th century amid discussions that only partially reverted to the Enlightenment. From the 1790s onwards, more and more voices dismissed the entire political project of the Enlightenment as naively conceived. The new models of history that were discussed in the 19th century rely on the power of irreversible historical processes and thereby suppress notions of the unfolding of reason.


The Edict of Potsdam, title page

When the religious freedom of Protestants in France was revoked with the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 , this had historically significant consequences not only in England. With the Edict of Potsdam, the Brandenburg Elector Friedrich Wilhelm (The Great Elector) set the course in his domain in the direction of a tolerant religious policy. His inviting assurance of tolerance immediately caused the influx of up to 20,000 Huguenots who had fled France into his domain, 40 percent of whom settled in the royal city of Berlin , so that by 1700 almost one in five Berliners was a Huguenot. These Réfugiés helped Brandenburg-Prussia, which was shaken by the Thirty Years' War, to achieve a considerable economic upswing and also had a culturally enriching effect . The still existing French grammar school was founded in Berlin as early as 1689 . When French replaced Latin as the language of international diplomacy in the second half of the 17th century, it became popular among the educated public and French culture became a model. The Huguenots acted as mediators in the host countries and contributed, for example, to refined manners and new eating habits.

The development of Berlin and Potsdam into centers of the European Enlightenment is partly due to the presence of French intellectuals: A good third of the members of the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences were Huguenots. There were also cultural transfers in the opposite direction: for example, Isaac de Beausobre from Berlin made Samuel Pufendorf's writings known in France. Pufendorf, who followed the natural law thinking of Hugo Grotius, moved from Stockholm to the Berlin court in 1688, where he worked for the Great Elector as an advisor and author of a Brandenburg history. He justified the expansion of state authority in the scattered Prussian territories, successfully pursued by his client, by countering the freedom of the estates with the necessary funding of the state as an imperative.

Adolph von Menzel: The round table at Sanssouci shows Frederick the Great (center) with Voltaire (left) and the leading figures of the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Sanssouci Palace. (Painting from 1850)

The expansion of rule in the sense of the raison d'être and approaches to an enlightened rulership practice were already together in Brandenburg-Prussia long before Frederick II (the Great) as great-grandson of the Great Elector was preparing to become a symbol of the enlightened monarch. In his personality Friedrich contrasted against his own father, the soldier king Friedrich Wilhelm I , considerable. As a musically gifted flute virtuoso and composer of his own pieces of music as well as an intellectual indulging in literary interest with great fluency in the French language, Frederick II had already aroused Voltaire's interest before he came to power in 1740 and corresponded with him. Even on campaigns in the camp, his flute could often be heard, and for quiet hours he had a mobile "field library" carried with him. While the Great Elector had called Pufendorf to write the history of Brandenburg, Frederick II, according to Christopher Clark, turned out to be “a fabulous and highly original writer”.

He gained the reputation of the Enlightenment on the throne, however, mainly as a religiously unbound free spirit , who expressly allowed everyone to be saved "according to his / her own style" (or denomination), and through the denial that relativizes his own primacy, with which he as King declared "First Servant of the State". With his turn against torture, the ordered mitigation of the punishment regime and the pushing back of the death penalty , he set human rights warning signs right at the beginning of his rule. For the legal system he had a new, fundamental order drawn up; the general land law for the Prussian states that he had initiated came into force after his death († August 17, 1786).

In important areas of the Prussian state, the limits of his enlightenment work and will became apparent. The noble landowners were strengthened in their privileged social position: the patrimonial court remained with them; the military and official command posts were essentially divided among them. Frederick II's foreign policy expansion course was determined solely by power-political motives in the sense of the raison d'être.

Nevertheless, Frederick the Great represented the ideas of the Enlightenment most clearly in his person among the monarchs of the 18th century. However, the beginnings of enlightenment practice were also evident in other German territories and in Austria under Emperor Joseph II , an admirer of the Prussian roi philosophe . Like his role model, he ensured that torture was abolished and punishment was mitigated. Through edicts of tolerance, non-Catholics received full citizenship rights and the right to practice their religion privately. Peasant serfdom in the form of hereditary servitude was abolished in the Austrian and Bohemian lands. The Danube monarchy thus went further than the old man of Sanssouci in terms of socio-political educational measures .

In Germany, where Immanuel Kant in 1784 answered the question: What is Enlightenment? had determined the term in the classic way and in 1795 in To Eternal Peace had developed its own future-oriented ideas regarding state theory and international law, the Napoleonic era - in the connection of military expansion with the export of revolutionary achievements - not only brought about the dissolution of the state reorganization at the level of state reorganization Holy Roman Empire and the formation of the Rhine Confederation , but also the Prussian reforms . In this way, personalities influenced by enlightened state-theoretical thinking, such as Freiherr vom Stein , Karl August von Hardenberg and Wilhelm von Humboldt, entered political leadership positions. The diverse enlightenment-liberal social and economic reform measures were supported and supported by a primarily legally trained civil service, which since the time of the Great Elector had more and more established itself as a “secular functional elite” and of whom it is called at Stolleis : “it created training standards, careers, differentiated hierarchies, orderly care and its own ethics. Its growth accompanied the growth of the modern state, and in the long term it formed the bureaucratic substructure on which modern state sovereignty rests and which it uses as an 'apparatus' to transmit and enforce the command impulses to the last corner of the territory. "


In addition to Cesare Beccaria , other Italian jurists and historians such as Pietro Giannone and Carlo Antonio Pilati (Carlantonio Pilati) had a great influence on the European - especially French - Enlightenment of the 18th century ; But in their own country they suffered especially from censorship and persecution because of their anti-clerical orientation, their demand for the abolition of canon law and church property and the discourses they triggered about the right to resist tyrants. Not only did the Papal States , which had reached their greatest expansion around 1700, use the Inquisition to silence unpleasant critics and persecute Freemasons and other free thinkers; Even in the Kingdom of Naples - although initially the center of the Enlightenment movement - all reform intentions failed, and in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany there was a massive counter-movement to the reforms of the “philosopher prince” Pietro Leopoldo, who later became Emperor Joseph II Giannone, who was arguably the sharpest critic of the Italian clergy, fled Naples and received first at the court of Charles VI. , then in Venice and finally in Geneva asylum.

Because of the small number of translations of their texts into German, the influence of the particularly militant-anti-clerical Italian Enlightenment in Europe has been little studied and is easily underestimated. There are, however, more recent German-language works on the philosophy of the Italian Enlightenment.

However, Cesare Beccaria's contributions to criminal law were received in many countries and his call for the abolition of the death penalty was partially accepted. His book Dei delitti e delle pene (1764) was translated into German in 1766 and into English in 1767 ( On Crimes and Punishments ). It received a great response from the American revolutionaries and the fathers of the American constitution, even if this fact was quickly forgotten. Beccaria is also considered to be one of the founders of modern political economy and cameralistics .


In Spain, the period from 1700 to 1808 is known as the "Century of Enlightenment", the siglo de las luces . The most prominent exponent of the Early Enlightenment was the priest Benito Jerónimo Feijoo , who dealt with numerous subjects in an encyclopedic manner and with an Enlightenment intention, promoted science and opposed superstitions of all kinds.

With the Theatro crítico universal (1736), Benito Jerónimo Feijoo wanted to refute "common errors" with an enlightenment purpose

In the period of the strengthening of the Bourbon royal power (regalismo) since 1700, the autonomy of the provinces and colonies was weakened in favor of Madrid and, above all, the power of the Catholic Church was restricted by various concordats . The best-known anti-clerical measure of regalism was the expulsion of the Jesuits from all areas of the Spanish monarchy in 1767. The pretext was the so-called Madrid hat revolt , i.e. the protests directed against the Italian reform minister Leopoldo de Gregorio , Marqués de Esquilache, who had banned traditional clothing that was perceived as backward. The Jesuits, however, had little to do with the riots; their educational institutions were by no means bulwarks of the Counter-Enlightenment .

The successes of the Bourbon reform policy under Charles III, not least visible in the renewed economic upswing after a long period of stagnation . (e.g. as a result of the liberalization of maritime trade, the administrative reform in the colonies as well and the promotion of science) were long denounced by Francoist historiography and dismissed as the work of afrancesados ; today one no longer sees the court of the Bourbons, but the space that one would describe today as civil society , that is to say the writers and scientists, as the bearers of the Enlightenment. The Inquisition , which was heavily criticized by the Enlightenment, was not finally abolished until 1834.

Enlightenment tendencies were also articulated in the regional languages. Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos was one of the most important enlighteners (besides Jerónimo Feijoo, who also wrote in Galician ) , who in the 1740s wrote writings on the historical and cultural value of Asturias and the Asturian language and - albeit unsuccessfully - tried to create one Asturian dictionary and grammar as well as the establishment of an Asturian language academy.

The Spanish Enlightenment was relatively poorly researched for a long time, as there was no interest in it in conservative and clerical circles. It was only after the Franco dictatorship that a thorough review of the Spanish contribution to the European Enlightenment began.


Caricature of the reforms of Peter the Great: the beard of an old-believing Russian is cut off. Woodcut for a leaflet, late 17th century

The term просвеще́ние (Enlightenment), which was already proven in the Middle Ages, meant in Russian the divine enlightenment of the human being (with the secondary meaning of his "deep illumination"). Even the "reform tsar" Peter I promoted the early enlightenment and tied in with the Latin educational ideal of his predecessors. Peter III had announced far-reaching reforms, but had been overthrown. Under his successor Catherine II , who ruled from 1762, the concept of the Enlightenment took on a new meaning as part of her policy of westernization of Russia. Western ideas and concepts of education were reshaped according to the needs of the autocratic country in which serfdom still ruled. Katharina corresponded with Western European Enlightenmentists and raised the claim of an Enlightenment ruling practice. If Frederick the Great had persuaded Voltaire to come to his table in Sanssouci, Katharina Denis helped Diderot over his precarious position as an enlightener in France through her favor and a longer stay in Saint Petersburg . The tsarina initiated reforms in the spirit of the Enlightenment, e.g. B. through improvements in the health system in cities, in the school system and with regard to the granting of freedom of the press, for which, however, there were still few beneficiaries. Numerous higher educational institutions were created under state control ("ministerial enlightenment") based on Western European models, art and literature were promoted, the upper classes were "Frenchized" linguistically. In addition to Saint Petersburg, a center of the Russian Enlightenment was above all Riga , which was influenced by the Prussian Königsberg . Johann Christoph Berens and Herder worked. However, the German-speaking scholarly Enlightenment, whose main sponsors were pastors, met the uneducated "un-Germans", i.e. H. Estonians and Latvians, which gave it a colonial element.

However, the political education program did not change the fact that the image of Russian backwardness had established itself in Western Europe , which was opposed to the idea of ​​Western European civilization . The program was also not suitable for everyday use. The instruction for the commission to draft a project for a new code of law (1766), a compilation of the writings of Montesquieu , Samuel von Pufendorf , Hugo Grotius and Cesare Beccarias , was not implemented; the commission adjourned forever in 1768 without result. In the depressing situation of an underdeveloped urban bourgeoisie and in the "knutocracy" to which the mass of the peasants were subjected as a "rule without mercy", the educational signals emanating from St. Petersburg not only changed nothing; the privileges of the aristocratic caste, legitimized by no state obligations, were even strengthened by Katharina after the Pugachev uprising . The Russian Enlightenment was finally and abruptly ended after the French Revolution under Paul I ; but Moscow University , founded in 1755, remained a center of enlightened thought. Also in the provinces, so z. For example, in the trading city of Tver , centers of clarification from below emerged.


Stanisław Staszic (lithograph by W. Barwicki)

The Polish Enlightenment , which began relatively late, was characterized by two essential features: on the one hand, the long coexistence of the old Sarmatian aristocratic culture and the new Enlightenment worldview; on the other hand through the influence of far-reaching internal and external political developments on all areas of society. The peculiarity of the Polish Enlightenment is also due to the peculiar form of government: Surrounded by monarchies, Poland formed an island with its so-called aristocratic democracy. The Polish Enlightenment, which began in the 1740s, had not a despotism, but the escalating parliamentarism of the aristocratic democracy as its main opponent. The call for political and constitutional reforms were mainly in the by-born Prussian priest Stanisław Staszic wrote, anonymously issued font Uwagi nad życiem Jana Zamoyskiego ( "Remarks about the life of Jan Zamoyski ," 1787) and in his przestrogi dla Polski ( " Warning to Poland ”, 1790) articulated. Staszic, who had studied in Leipzig, Göttingen and Paris, also founded the forerunner institution of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

The classicist court poet and translator Stanisław Poniatowski and Bishop of Lutsk Adam Naruszewicz was the first modern Polish historian. Another important representative of the literary enlightenment was Archbishop Ignacy Krasicki , who was a friend of Frederick the Great , wrote his satire Monachomachia and published the first Polish encyclopedia in 1781. The thirty-year reign of King Stanisław August Poniatowski (1764–1795), who supported the constitution of May 3, 1791 , is considered the heyday of the Polish Enlightenment. It ended in 1795 with the third division of the country , which ended Poland's existence as a sovereign state for 123 years.

But even in the Duchy of Warsaw, founded by Napoleon , and in Congress Poland , which was ruled by Russia and for a long time the most liberal part of the tsarist empire, some enlighteners continued to work to promote education and science. Staszic, who had studied the effects of the Napoleonic reforms in France and briefly became Minister of Education in Congress Poland, promoted geological, mining, ethnographic, statistical and social studies and is considered the forerunner of the theory of evolution and the founder of modern Polish science and the University of Warsaw. Since 1814/15 he represented enlightened Pan-Slavic ideas. However, his intellectual work was increasingly hampered by the tsarist censorship. Staszic increasingly withdrew to his work in an agency supporting industrial development and was also active as a poet and Homer translator. In 1824 he divided his property among the farmers and founded the first Polish rural cooperative.

Northern Europe

Northern Europe was not an Enlightenment center. But even at the time of absolutism, the press in Denmark enjoyed extensive freedom. Friedrich V can be regarded as a sponsor of scholars of the early Enlightenment , who called German writers and theologians to his court from 1743–51 at a time when the Prussian King Friedrich II still held German literature low. These included Johann Elias Schlegel , Johann Andreas Cramer , Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock , Johann Bernhard Basedow and Heinrich Wilhelm von Gerstenberg .

The Enlightenment in the entire Danish state, which at that time also included Norway as well as the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein as well as Altona, did not begin until the rise of King Christian VII's personal physician of German origin (Denmark and Norway) , Johann Friedrich Struensee . This was initially able to successfully implement important medical reforms before the mentally weak king in 1770 a series of decrees conceived by Struensee, among others. on freedom of expression and freedom of the press . With this policy of royal decrees, Struensee quickly modernized the tax system, dismissed many courtiers and abolished many titles, tightened the government apparatus, reorganized the army, the judiciary and the universities and curtailed traditional privileges of the nobility. With the help of the strengthened power of the king, Struensee wrote and implemented over 600 decrees within 16 months. It is true that he successfully loosened the peasant labor and abolished the slave trade in the West Indian colonies as well as the death penalty for theft; However, he was unable to enforce the liberation of the peasants against the resistance of the nobility. In addition, the ailing manufactories suffered from the lifting of the protective tariff policy and the elimination of subsidies.

Struensee in prison. Contemporary leaflet

Struensee was overthrown and executed as early as 1772; many of its modernization measures were revoked, but for a short time Denmark, united with Norway, was politically and administratively the most modern country in Europe. Since Struensee also stood for an overwhelming German influence, the Danish language was increasingly promoted after his fall; Foreigners were not allowed to hold public offices. However, some of the Enlightenment activists continued to work in Germany: As a professor at Kiel University, JA Cramer founded the school teachers' seminar in 1781, the first teacher training center in the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein.

In Sweden , to which Finland belonged until 1743, a large part of the citizenship was able to read soon after the Reformation, which was of importance for the spread of the Enlightenment as a whole. Nevertheless, there was strict censorship for a relatively long time. There was no intellectual project in Sweden that came close to that of the French encyclopedists. Carl Christoffer Gjörwell (the elder) (1731-1811) tried to create a Swedish encyclopedia based on the French model, but could not get beyond the letter "A". There were also no salons and hardly any independent authors. However, Sweden made significant advances in science. Particularly noteworthy are Carl von Linné , who laid the foundations for modern botanical and zoological taxonomy , and Anders Celsius , the mathematician and physicist who set up the first observatory in Sweden and defined a temperature scale that is different from everyone in many parts of the world asserted others. In 1739 the Swedish Academy of Sciences was founded

Anders Chydenius initiated the law on freedom of the press in 1766 , which ended censorship and led to the proliferation of printed matter, and also established the principle of information transparency in the Swedish administration. Although Sweden was an absolute monarchy, the Estates Congress , in which the nobility, clergy, citizens and peasants were represented, was the highest legislative body. He made these reforms possible, which were lively discussed in the newspapers that were founded shortly thereafter. These were closely connected with the factions of the Ständetag ( Hattarna - the "hats" loyal to the king - and Mössarne - the bourgeois "caps"). The Enlightenment in Sweden developed without the salon culture typical of other countries, but quickly led to a strongly polarized discussion about the introduction of a democracy. Freedom of expression was increased by the coup d'état Gustav III. limited again in 1772, who feared the destructive consequences of this process and overthrew the nobility oligarchy to save the nobility. However, he partly continued the Enlightenment reforms, improved the situation of the peasants, never imposed the death penalty and founded the Swedish Academy . Since the 1780s he ruled again increasingly absolutist.

United States

Political discussions changed after the United States of America , a new enlightened nation, was actually created in 1776 - as a democratic and republican polity. The United States Constitution , signed in 1781, implemented key considerations in the state theoretical debate that John Locke initiated in the late 1680s.

The socio-political prerequisites in the English colonies of North America were different from those on the European continent when independence was started there and a new state inspired by Enlightenment ideas was founded. A large part of the early colonists consisted of Puritans , i.e. followers of the Calvinist faiths, who had decided to emigrate in England since the first half of the 17th century under the impression of religious repression. In a clear turn against the political and judicial influence of Anglican dignitaries on the socio-political situation in England, the freedom-loving North American colonists set a clear distinction between the religious and the state sphere: “They were pious, they were often zealous; but from the beginning it had been important to them to distinguish between religion and church; they became stubborn when it came to allowing the clergy to do business other than saving souls. ”The Puritans understood the establishment of their Massachusetts colony as a non-secular, sacred act, their state as City upon a Hill , and yourself as chosen, whereupon e.g. T. American exceptionalism is founded to this day. However, this did not prevent them from legally stipulating morality and going to church as well as the harsh punishment of sinners. In the work of one of their important descendants, Nathaniel Hawthorne , the early Puritans are portrayed as narrow-minded, intolerant and cruel because of their persecution of the Quakers and supposed witches, which continued until 1692 . They only gradually opened up to the ideas of the European Enlightenment after they had attenuated the strict dogma of predestination , which ultimately implied complete human impotence and the insecurity of sinner from sinfulness, in the 18th century in favor of belief in divine providence and thus partly merged into the Protestant mainstream.

Rotunda of the
University of Virginia founded by Thomas Jefferson

Another characteristic of the new residents settling in North America was the general appreciation of work as a religiously based duty and as a touchstone of social recognition. From the beginning there was no society structured according to classes; and the class differences based on different possessions and wealth were relativized by the work ethic: “The rich Puritan hardly differed in appearance from his poorer neighbor. Both worked hard and lived simply, and both took pride in it. ”In addition, there was an emphasis on learning and scholarship, which produced a well-developed school system and a large number of well-informed voters as early as the 18th century. The elected, in turn, were viewed by their voters as direct transmitters and mouthpieces of the messages assigned to them. Almost all of the early settlers had secured the right in the founding treaties to participate in its legislation as free citizens of a colony. Unlike the London Members of Parliament, who could rely on their own interpretations of the common good, the delegates of the colonists were largely bound by voter orders.

When the North American colonies united against the motherland and declared their independence as the United States in 1776 , under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson they invoked principles of human rights and a right of resistance, for which Locke could serve as a model. The right to freedom and individual human pursuit of happiness as well as to collective revolt against a government that continued to act illegally were prominent principles on which they based their detachment.

James Madison
(portrait by John Vanderlyn , 1816)

Not only because of the duration of the war of independence against the British motherland, but also because of different ideas about the character of the future state structure, it took another 12 years for the American constitution to come into force . Problems also arose in the course of the ratification process in 1788, mainly from the fact that in some individual states the safeguarding of the freedom and independence that had been achieved was better placed in a loose confederation of states than in a centralized federal state . In the Federalist Papers , the authors Alexander Hamilton , James Madison and John Jay under the common Roman Republican pseudonym Publius ultimately successfully justified the federal constitution against their opponents, for example Madison in his plea (Federalist No. 10) for an extensive and many-headed state:

“The smaller the community, the less likely it will be the number of parties and interest groups into which it falls; and the fewer the number of parties and interest groups, the easier it will be for a party to gain a majority; and the smaller the number of individuals who make up a majority, and the closer they are, the easier it will be for them to meet with one another and put their plans of oppression into practice. "

The Washington Capitol - seat of Congress

The American founding fathers, some of whom were trained in Thucydides and his portrayal of Attic democracy, did not believe in direct democracy at all, but only accepted a representative system as serving the common good. A people of philosophers, it was said, was as little to be expected as the generation of philosopher -kings longed for by Plato . However, the greater the selection of possible representatives, the more likely their relative independence from location-specific considerations.

The prevention of the misuse of state power was at the center of the American constitutional concept as well as its state-theoretical justification in the Federalist Papers. One was not satisfied with the mere adoption of Montesquieu's theory of the division of powers; rather, a balanced concept of inhibitions and counterweights in and between the three powers was developed: the system of checks and balances . The legislative power, which has access to the property of the citizens through tax legislation, appeared to be the greatest and, in the republican state, the most threatening power, so to speak. At the state level, it has been ensured that there are two legislative bodies in Congress : the House of Representatives , which represents the entire population of the country according to proportional representation, and the Senate , in which large and small states are represented with two elected senators each. While this regulation was an expression of the will of the individual states to assert themselves in the federal government, this also applied to the separation of legislative competences between the federal and the individual state level, at which individual representative bodies and governments exist for each state.

The federally elected and ruling American President received a suspensive veto on the legislation of Congress as a further control element, which can only be overridden by a two-thirds majority of both houses. The president, in turn, can be removed from office in the event of proven abuse of office in the form of violations of the law through an impeachment procedure to be carried out by Congress . The final safeguard against unconstitutional legislation is the judiciary in the form of the Supreme Court with independent judges appointed for life by the President in cooperation with the Senate.

The approval of the reluctant individual states still remaining in the ratification process for the federal constitution could only be achieved by adding a catalog of basic civil rights and freedoms to the Bill of Rights at Madison's suggestion. This did not include the slaves, a fifth of the total population in the colonies at the time of the declaration of independence, in which no condemnation of slavery had been included because of the resistance of the slave owners in the south. Here were property claims against human rights. Even the slave trade , to which South Carolina and Georgia in particular clung, was not forbidden by the American Constitution. Only at this price was it possible to keep the Union together for the time being, in spite of the advocacy of the northern states for the abolition of slavery.

The United States of America is directly connected to the Age of Enlightenment to this day through its constitution , the main features of which have been in existence since 1787. It must be taken into account, however, that none of the human rights declarations of the Age of Enlightenment was associated with the abolition of slavery and that there was no mention of rights for women and children. There was also no surge in secularization in the USA as in Europe. The religiosity of the Americans compared to the Europeans has remained strong until recently. These religious ties have been maintained by the existential insecurity and social inequality in the USA, which is unusually high for modern societies, and have been reinforced by the immigration of millions of believers from highly Catholic countries such as Ireland, Italy and Latin America. Another difference to the European Enlightenment was that Cesare Beccaria's ideas for reforming criminal law found many supporters on the east coast immediately after the revolution (such as the first four presidents, as well as Benjamin Rush , James Wilson , Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams ) , however, in most of the federal states that later joined the union, the death penalty or its use also for offenses other than murder such as robbery, counterfeiting, sodomy , etc. was introduced - this, too, probably a consequence of existential insecurity and tendency towards lawlessness.

Latin America

The early Enlightenment Baroque Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora, who worked in the viceroyalty of New Spain , today's Mexico , was influenced by European science, especially astronomy, in his fight against superstition, the satires of Alonso Carrió de la Vandera ( Lazarillo de ciegos caminantes , Reiseroman 1775/76) and Eugenio Espejo (Dialoge, 1779–1785) already take a position against the oligarchy, against the Jesuits and for an educational reform. Carrío also tries to refute blanket judgments about the Indios; Espejo contrasts scholasticism with the “new”, post-Cartesian philosophy and the sultriness of Gongorism with a classicist style ideal. The reform attempts of the Bourbon Charles III. brought further French Enlightenment ideas to Hispanic America, so that the European Enlightenment exercised a great influence on the pioneers of independence and revolutionaries of the Spanish colonies in America through its radical utopias. Especially Simón Bolívar was influenced by the ideas of Rousseau and the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham ; but these utopias could not take hold in view of the feudal conditions. The enlightenment, anti-clerical traditions flowed into the state-loyal, science-based positivism in the 19th century - also in Brazil - and thus lost their critical sting.

Ottoman Empire

A caricature by Sultan Abdülaziz in Vanity Fair (1869) shows reluctantly giving in to the temptations of Western Europe, which he has toured for a long time.

Numerous authors assume that there was no Enlightenment in the Islamic world and therefore also in the Ottoman Empire . How it Bernard Lewis assumed that the cultural boundary between the Ottoman Empire and the West was sealed in modern times. A paradigm of decline prevails , according to which the Ottoman Empire was still an anachronistic, premodern state structure in the 19th century, despite reforms influenced by Europe. Against this, for example, is the fact that the figure of the ruler was never sacralized in the Ottoman Empire, which tended to be the case in 17th century France. The position of the particular backwardness of the Ottoman state structure has been questioned since the 1970s and increasingly in the 21st century. by the orientalist Christopher de Bellaigue and the Turkologist Christoph Herzog .

With the liquidation of the Janissary Corps in 1826, the creation of a modern army and the attempts of Sultan Mahmud II in the 1830s to create a more centralized modern state with a comprehensive bureaucracy based on the European model, this was, according to Christoph Herzog, able to move deeper than ever before the living conditions of the individual and intervene in the religious sphere. Mahmud initially secured the support of the ulema , the religious scholars. His reforms and those of his successors Abdülmecit I and Abdülaziz - since the 1840s, educational, health and other institutions based on the European model had been founded - gave rise to a new secular elite that was and was familiar with the languages ​​and political and social customs of Western Europe Influence of the religious scholars and the madrasas pushed back. The masterminds of the Tanzimat movement, which is aiming for a reorganization of the state, included the trained surgeon, diplomat and Foreign Minister Fuad Pascha , the grand viziers Mehmed Emin Ali Pascha and Mustafa Reschit Pascha as well as his protégé, the scientifically and literarily educated ancient orientalist, journalist, Freemason and young Turk Ibrahim Schinasi (1826–1871), who had studied in Paris, worked in the Ministry of Education as well as in the administration of the gun foundries and was a member of the short-lived Academy of Sciences. The coffee houses ( Kıraathâne : newspaper cafes , reading rooms) also functioned as an important form of public in the Ottoman Empire , but games and music soon dominated them.

Large parts of the reforms reflected liberal European thinking, but in many ways the sultanate lost its special character, which was based on the balance between different groups, regions and religions. The earlier flexibility of Ottoman rule and the willingness to allow autonomous areas within it decreased. Among the technology-loving intellectuals influenced by Europe, nationalist ideas became increasingly important. This also applied to the peoples ruled by the Ottoman Empire. Thus the Evangelical School of Smyrna became a center of the Greek Enlightenment. The Tanzimat period (1839–1876) and the constitution of 1876 failed apparently not only because of the bankruptcy of the state and the uprisings of the peoples of the Balkans, but also because of the non-existence of a clear concept of a nation state.

Continuation and criticism of the educational project

While the Enlightenment as a historical movement and as an age at the end of the 18th century - not least because of the horrors of the French Revolution - was declared complete in historiography, the discussion about the Enlightenment as a thought process has continued to the present. A leitmotif of the Enlightenment criticism is that its universalism and cosmopolitanism could not satisfy the need for identity, on the contrary, it actually provoked it. This criticism was articulated in Sturm und Drang , but above all in the romantic counter-movement against the "coldness" of the Enlightenment as well as in bourgeois theoretical drafts and the political countercultures of the labor movement or the new social movements of the 20th century.


Already at the time of the Enlightenment, the close intertwining of scientifically proven truth and the generality of the subject, assumed by its most important representatives, was criticized. The universalistic idea of ​​the equality of all people is based on the fact that all people are neutral subjects with the same experience, the same understanding and the same reason. On the other hand, Herder refers to the diversity of equal cultures in the unity. Although the understanding is determined by the universal causal principle, reason, on the other hand, develops on the basis of different experiences:

"Since the great mother on our earth could not produce an eternal monotony - there was no other means than that she brought out the most immense variety and wove man out of one material to endure this great variety [...] Our globe is a great one Workshop for the organization of very diverse beings [...] "

In principle, every person is capable of the most varied, but geography, climate and history mean that only a few of the possibilities can be realized. The forms of life that are in principle possible for all people are shaped by time and place.

The Enlightenment Criticism of Romanticism

Due to the chaotic political and social upheavals that were triggered in Germany and Austria as a result of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, many contemporaries turned against the inner-worldly claim to salvation and the political implications of the Enlightenment, yes against the principle of the political in general, and art criticism and aesthetics too. Above all, Friedrich Schlegel developed a differentiated Enlightenment criticism in which the subjective productivity, the “fiery” reason and strength of the artist took the place of rationalism: “What is usually called reason is only one species of the same; namely the thin and watery. ”The extent of the destruction of the traditional, the ahistoricality of the Enlightenment rationalism as well as the fact that Germany had become the plaything of foreign powers, evoked strong preserving and nationalistic impulses that go against the Enlightenment and especially against France judged. Johann Gottlieb Fichte formulated an organic model of the state in his “Fundamentals of Natural Law” (1796): he regarded the state as an “organized natural product”. The constitutional lawyer Adam Müller , a vehement critic of contract theories and liberalism, also formulated this basic idea of ​​Romanticism: he called for a return to the organically grown monarchical corporate state . And in England Edmund Burke put the idea of ​​the state as a moral community at the center, a community in whose development one must not arbitrarily intervene. The Enlightenment criticism of Romanticism thus contributed to the inventory of theories of political conservatism.


Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel saw the achievements of the Enlightenment as positive. However, he did not want to understand the positive assessment from a moral point of view. He commented: "Enlightenment of the mind makes you smarter, but not better." With this he turned against the conviction that a moral "improvement" of the human being is possible through enlightenment. However, like Kant, he essentially identifies the Enlightenment with the polemical criticism of religion by its French representatives, which shortens the picture of the Enlightenment that he paints in the phenomenology of the spirit . There he deals with the relationship between the Enlightenment and religion and believes that the Enlightenment is "loud noise and violent struggle" (404). In their struggle with the priesthood, which is committed to despotism , the Enlightenment declared that which is sacred to the faith to be “a piece of stone, a block of wood that has eyes and does not see” [...] (409). The Enlightenment do not recognize that what is criticized from the point of view of faith is not a sensual object at all. In their criticism, enlighteners such as Toland, Voltaire or Robinet made the idea of ​​a divine being a "vacuum" (413) and thus remained trapped on the level of sensory perception. “Faith has the divine right, the right of absolute self-equality of pure thought, against the Enlightenment and learns from it absolutely injustice; for it twists him in all his moments and makes them something different from what they are in him. ”(417) True faith connects the world of hearts (pure consciousness) and the world of experience to form a unified religious world interpretation. By negating faith, the Enlightenment is only the negation of faith that does not find unity. Faith and experience, however, are conveyed through their negation in self-confidence. “But the Enlightenment itself, which reminds belief of the opposite of its separate moments, is just as little enlightened about itself. It behaves in a purely negative way towards faith, insofar as it excludes its content from its purity and accepts it for the negative of itself. It therefore neither recognizes in this negative, in the content of the belief in itself, nor does it for this reason bring together the two thoughts, the one it produces and the one against which it brings it up. ”(418) But one must think the two levels separately before they come to unity in self-consciousness. "The believing consciousness has double weight and weight, it has two kinds of eyes, two kinds of ears, two kinds of tongues and language, it has duplicated all ideas without comparing this ambiguity." (423)

As a result of the unresolved negation of the Enlightenment and belief, Hegel saw the slide into the “absolute freedom” (431) that the Enlightenment brought about. There is no orientation in this freedom. Hegel saw the consequence in an empty, lawless and unrestricted order that ultimately led to Robespierre's terror. (436). In this judgment, however, Hegel ignored the fact that his own philosophy would not have been possible in the first place without the concept of freedom created during the Enlightenment.


Friedrich Nietzsche's assessment of the Enlightenment was divided. For him, enlightenment was on the one hand associated with a reduction that fades out people's emotional lives too much. Knowledge and knowledge allow only limited access to the world. In his earlier, unpublished work, Five Preface to Five Unwritten Books, dedicated to Cosima Wagner (1872), he wrote: "Art is more powerful than knowledge, because it wants life, and that only achieves the ultimate goal - annihilation - . “In his first philosophical work ( The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music , 1872) he already described Socrates and the Sophists as those who initiated this decline in relation to the holistic perception of the world as he saw it realized in tragedy would have. Nietzsche assessed the Enlightenment as such as positive. Most of all, he welcomed the decline of religion. “The wealth of religious feeling, which has grown into a stream, breaks out again and again and wants to conquer new realms: but the growing Enlightenment has shaken the dogmas of religion and cast a deep mistrust: this is how the feeling throws itself out of the religious sphere through the Enlightenment , into art; in individual cases also on political life, even directly on science. "(Menschliches Allzumenschliches = MA 150) Strict science is an important building block for the liberation of the spirit:" The value of being rigorously pursued a strict science at times is not based on their results: for these will, in relation to the sea of ​​things worth knowing, be an infinitesimally small drop. But it results in an increase in energy, in endurance, in tenacity of endurance; one has learned to achieve a purpose appropriately. In this respect it is very valuable to have once been a scientific person with regard to everything that you later do. "(MA 256)

The Enlightenment, not thought through to the end, on the other hand causes errors. “The“ Enlightenment ”is outraged: the slave wants the unconditional, he only understands the tyrannical, also in morality, he loves as he hates, without nuance, down to the depths, down to pain, down to illness - his many hidden things Leiden revolted against the noble taste, which seems to deny suffering. Skepticism about suffering, basically just an attitude of aristocratic morality, is not least of all involved in the origin of the last great slave revolt, which began with the French Revolution. (Beyond good and bad, 46) ideologues like Rousseau, who were not interested in improving education, like Voltaire, but in changing society, were to blame . There are political and social dreamers who ardently and eloquently call for an overthrow of all order, in the belief that then immediately the proudest temple house of beautiful humanity will, as it were, rise by itself. Rousseau's superstition echoes in these dangerous dreams, who believes in a miraculous, original, but as it were buried goodness of human nature and ascribes all the guilt of that burial to the institutions of culture, in society, state, education. Unfortunately, we know from historical experience that every such overthrow brings the wildest energies to the resurrection anew as the long-buried horrors and immeasurabilities of the most distant ages: that an overthrow can be a source of strength in a weary human race, but never a steward, master builder, Artist, perfecter of human nature. "(MA 463)

“Like few others since Hegel, Nietzsche recognized the dialectic of the Enlightenment. He formulated their ambivalent relationship to rule. ” Adorno alludes to the fact that, unlike Hegel, in whom reason becomes reality, two paths seem possible for Nietzsche from the Enlightenment, liberation and nihilism. Nietzsche saw Voltaire in one direction, Rousseau in the other.

Above all, the Enlightenment for Nietzsche stopped halfway. One had not drawn the necessary conclusions from one's own insights, even from Kant. Criticizing the religion of Voltaire and Kant is not enough. Even worse, German idealism had tried again to determine the absolute and had thus fallen behind the Enlightenment. Romanticism and historicism had followed him. “And strange: the very spirits that the Germans conjured up so eloquently have in the long run become the most damaging to the intentions of their conjurers - history, the understanding of the origin and development, the sympathy for the past, the newly aroused Passions of feeling and knowledge, after they all seemed helpful companions of the darkening, swarming, regressive spirit for a while, one day assumed a different nature and now fly with the broadest wings past their old conjurers and up, as new and stronger ones Genius precisely that enlightenment against which they were sworn. We now have to continue this clarification - irrespective of the fact that there has been a "great revolution" and again a "great reaction" against it, yes that there are still both: there are only wave games, in comparison with the truly great tide, in which we drift and want to drift! "(Morgenröthe 197)

Nietzsche did not reject the Enlightenment, but wanted to continue and radicalize it. His view that truth and morality can no longer be fixed values ​​leads to perspectivism and nihilism . The right way is a revaluation of all values and a return to the pre-Socratic worldview. “One must feel the lie in the church, not just the untruth: the Enlightenment drive the people so far that the priests all become priests with a guilty conscience - the same must be done with the state. It is the task of the Enlightenment to make princes and statesmen their whole behavior a deliberate lie, to deprive them of their good conscience, and to bring the unconscious tartifery out of the body of the European man again. "

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels initially saw themselves in the book "The Holy Family or Critique of Critical Criticism" in the succession of the French enlightenmentists, especially the French materialists. On the one hand they drew a line from Descartes to Holbach and La Mettrie , on the other hand from Bacon to Locke to Condillacs sensualism . They concluded:

“It does not require great acumen to learn from the teachings of materialism about the original goodness and the same intelligent talent of people, the omnipotence of experience, habit, education, the influence of the external environment on people, the great importance of industry, legitimacy of enjoyment etc. to see its necessary connection with communism and socialism. If man forms all knowledge, sensation, etc. from the sense world and experience in the sense world, then it is important to arrange the empirical world in such a way that he experiences what is truly human in it, that he becomes accustomed to being Man experiences. If the well-understood interest is the principle of all morality, then what matters is that the private interest of man coincides with human interest. "

In the course of time, however, they revised their assessment and now described the Enlightenment as a development that was primarily in the interests of the bourgeoisie. They criticized Jeremy Bentham's selfish utilitarianism as one of the outcomes of the Enlightenment. In 1879 Engels summed up:

“We saw the eighteenth-century French philosophers, the pioneers of the revolution, appealing to reason as the sole judge of all that existed. A reasonable state, a reasonable society should be established, everything that contradicted eternal reason should be removed without mercy. We also saw that this eternal reason was in reality nothing other than the idealized understanding of the middle bourgeois who was developing into the bourgeois at that time. When the French Revolution had achieved this rational society and this rational state, the new institutions, however rational they were compared to the earlier conditions, by no means turned out to be absolutely reasonable. The rational state had completely collapsed. The Rousseau social contract had found its realization in the terrible time from which the bourgeoisie, who had become confused about their own political ability, had fled first in the corruption of the Directory and finally under the protection of Napoleonic despotism. The promised eternal peace had turned into an endless war of conquest. The common sense society was no better. The contrast between rich and poor, instead of dissolving into general welfare, had been exacerbated by the abolition of the guild and other privileges that bridged it, and the ecclesiastical charities which mitigated it; The "freedom of property" from feudal shackles, which has now become the truth, turned out to be the freedom for the petty bourgeoisie and small farmers to sell this small property, oppressed by the overpowering competition of big business and large estates, to these great masters and so for them Petty bourgeoisie and peasant farmers to transform themselves into freedom of property; the upswing of industry on a capitalist basis raised the poverty and misery of the working masses to a condition of life in society. "

Max Weber

The sociologist Max Weber pointed out that the development of social history in the early modern period mainly contributed to intellectualization , which as such was a development process that spanned thousands of years: stands. Rather, it means something else: the knowledge of it or the belief in it: that one could experience it at any time, if one only wanted, that there are in principle no mysterious, unpredictable powers that play a role, that one rather all things - in principle - by calculating. But that means: the disenchantment of the world . Unlike the savage , for whom such powers existed, one no longer has to resort to magical means to control or to solicit the spirits. But technical means and calculation do it. This means, above all, the intellectualization as such. "

Carl Schmitt and Arnold Gehlen

The German social philosophy and political theory learned in the 20th century an explicitly anti-Enlightenment turn by the political decisionism of Carl Schmitt and his criticism of the moral world view and the auspiciousness of liberalism and by the institutions teaching Arnold Gehlen . Both theories found their (liberal-conservative) reverberation in the principles of the founding of the West German state, e.g. B. in the institutional theory of Joachim Ritter .

Gehlen's institutional theory is based on a pessimistic anthropology that has its forerunners in antiquity. At its center is the human being in his biological limitation as a deficient being , due to his low specialization and his lack of instinct , but equipped with a highly developed consciousness. In noting this imbalance, Gehlen is following Max Scheler's theory of decadence , which is based on the hypertrophy of the human brain.

According to Herder's thought, man's biological deficiencies must be compensated for by reason and freedom of choice. Kant had already criticized this thesis that the human faculty of reason could not be derived from nature or even from its deficiencies. Gehlen now develops the thesis of deficiencies with explicit anti-enlightenment intent by postulating that the biological deficiencies cannot be compensated for by reason and self-determination, but only by formation (“discipline”), discipline and “orderly stress from above”. In the formulation from 1940, the term “top management systems” is used. According to Gehlen, who explicitly refers to Alfred Rosenberg's concept of the “breeding image”, these complexes of ideas serve a comprehensive and concluding interpretation of the world as well as the formation and control of the excessive human drives and their actions; they satisfy the "interests of powerlessness" by providing answers to questions of meaning and metaphysical consolation for suffering and death. From here a line of development towards subjectless social theories can be identified, which place the conditions of human or organizational functioning at the center of their analyzes (e.g. on systems theory ).

Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno

Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno criticize the one-sidedness of the Enlightenment in the Dialectic of the Enlightenment. Your Enlightenment criticism “does not jump out of reason”, but rather creates “the basis of your radical self-criticism”. They do not pursue a "decadence theory of the Enlightenment", according to which only the decline of the Enlightenment leads to the crises of modernity , but they assume an original "double character" of the Enlightenment. Your criticism is of instrumental reason , to which Horkheimer dedicated another work ( On the Critique of Instrumental Reason ). Nevertheless, they start their development historically very early, they link it with the prehistory of civilization, with the history of the domination of nature and the self-assertion of the subject. “People pay for increasing their power by alienating them from what they have power over. The Enlightenment is to things as the dictator is to people. He knows them insofar as he can manipulate them. ”The expansion of human possibilities through the Enlightenment is therefore always accompanied by a reification that threatens individuality and freedom.

"In the triumphant advance of the Enlightenment, Horkheimer and Adorno recognize its opposite," said Schweppenhäuser. Reason becomes the means of domination, scientific rationality becomes a rigid, closed system to which everything should be subsumed, regardless of whether it fits into it or not. As a consequence, the Enlightenment practiced in this way as instrumental reason led, according to their judgment, to the totalitarianism of modern societies.

Hannah Arendt

Shortly before the National Socialist takeover of power, Hannah Arendt turned in her early article Enlightenment and the Jewish Question against the rational, in her opinion, unhistorical ideal of equality of the Enlightenment, as radically embodied by Lessing. Even representatives of the Jewish Enlightenment, such as Moses Mendelssohn , who advocated the free exercise of religion by Jews, denied a specific national identity of Judaism and strived for complete assimilation in the enlightened society. On the other hand, she campaigned for political equality and free exchange in public - in the spirit of the Greek polis and its concept of council democracy - but not for social harmonization. She spoke out against the idea of ​​many enlightened people that people should be regarded as the highest principle and that good should be enforced, turned against the optimism of progress of the era and pointed out the dangers: The absolute good in people living together proves to be hardly less dangerous than absolute evil, a term that goes back to Kant.

After the end of the war, she expressed herself more positively about the 18th century's concept of progress, which she saw as being linked to the pursuit of maturity, freedom and human autonomy. In 1963, in her political work On the Revolution , she analyzed the two great revolutions of the Enlightenment and preferred the earlier North American revolution to the French revolution. The former described it as an example of a successful revolution a union of free citizens with the guarantee of civil rights in the Constitution of the United States in 1787. The latter, in part on the social contract founded Rousseau, ended in the reign of terror of Robespierre , of which a line to Lenin and Stalin lead because all three saw the self-interest of the individual citizen in opposition to the general interest.

Of the Enlightenment , she particularly valued Montesquieu and Kant. Montesqieu's political theses were incorporated into her main political work, elements and origins of total domination . Kant was consistently an important reference for Hannah Arendt's thinking. When she received the Lessings Prize in 1959, she gave her speech under the motto Humanity in Dark Times . It was not the Enlightenment and the humanity of the 18th century that made access to Lessing difficult, but the 19th century with its firmly established ideologies and its “obsession with history”. In Lessing's sense, criticism is always the understanding and judgment in the interest of the world from more than one perspective. The aim is free thinking without traditional stipulations, because there is no absolute truth because in a polyphonic conversation it immediately turns into an “opinion among opinions”.

Jürgen Habermas

Jürgen Habermas opposes the assessment of the Enlightenment by his teachers Adorno and Horkheimer as a process of decay. He speaks of the "unfinished project of modernity", which in a process of communicative action always asks for a rational justification. The public phenomenon arose in the 18th century, which Habermas saw in this form in antiquity and the Middle Ages. The magazines founded in the Enlightenment and the increasing number of books found their reception in libraries, reading circles, salons, coffee houses and various associations. Opinions were formed, and opposing positions were developed and published again. This happened separately from the institutions of the state and the state had to take note of these opinions. According to Habermas, critical public opinion itself developed into a new institution that limits the political and power interests of those in power and has thus become one of the fundamental pillars of democracy. While this public was still limited to a narrow bourgeoisie in the 18th century, it has become a mass phenomenon in the modern age, based on the modern media. In a dialogue with Josef Ratzinger , Habermas called for "cultural and social secularization to be understood as a double learning process that forces the traditions of the Enlightenment as well as religious teachings to reflect on their respective limits". Like Kant, he relies on a republican understanding in an international context and calls for a European constitutional patriotism .

New social movements

Klaus Eder advocates the thesis that the new social movements, beyond a mere conservative reaction to the Enlightenment, want to help the moments suppressed by the Enlightenment - "their oppressed other": physicality and myth - to gain their rights. Body language can be seen as a factor of communicative understanding beyond just rational argumentation, which has been pushed back with the rationalization and bureaucratization of the modern world. The radical critique of rationality is about restoring the identity of head and gut (by “getting involved”). According to Eder, a classic “national solution” such as that of the “ German Sonderweg ” prefers the “belly”, the permanent identity discussion the “head”. Further variants are the biologization of needs or the anchoring of identity in the regional environment, which are typical for the ecological movement. While in the left movements today identity-political issues such as the unconditional equality of ethnic, religious or sexual minorities in connection with a "moral universalism" ( Rüdiger Safranski ) dominated, but the claim to represent all people (and especially the " new lower class "), is largely abandoned and social inequality is accepted, right-wing movements saddle up on the identity discussion, so Anne Löchte, in that they, like the lower classes in 1789, represent the entire nation or the “people” in opposition to the “elites”, i.e. as representatives of a increasingly fictitious, but largely still perceived as real universality. Herder's concept of the people had already aimed - beyond all biological connotations - at the upgrading of the lower classes denounced by the enlightened, classroom-educated bourgeoisie as "rabble" and " canaille ".

Criticism from a religious-philosophical direction

The religious philosopher Daniel von Wachter describes the term "Enlightenment" as an invention of opponents of Christianity, which was invented "to give the impression that Christians are naive and intolerant". The Enlightenment only wanted to "stylize themselves as epoch-making", while "the alleged achievements of the Enlightenment ... largely achieved by others". Apart from Kant, who he does not consider to be convincing either, “the Enlightenmentists did not put forward any serious arguments”.

Enlightenment in the 21st Century

The Giordano Bruno Foundation , founded in 2004, sees itself as a “think tank for humanism and enlightenment”. She represents the position of evolutionary humanism and advocates the values ​​of the Enlightenment, which, according to her guiding principle , include critical rationality, self-determination, freedom and social justice . According to its motto “Enlightenment in the 21st Century”, the Giordano Bruno Foundation regards the Enlightenment project - like Habermas - as incomplete and advocates its contemporary continuation. However, the spokesman for the foundation's board of directors, Michael Schmidt-Salomon , countered the reading of a dialectic of the Enlightenment in the sense of Adorno and Habermas with the figure of a "halved Enlightenment":

“The more closely one examines the relationship between the Enlightenment and totalitarianism, the clearer it becomes that the emergence of totalitarian regimes is not due to the supposed 'dual character of the Enlightenment', but rather to the still virulent problem of the 'halved Enlightenment'. For centuries, social effects unfolded almost exclusively from that aspect of the Enlightenment, which one could paraphrase the term 'instrumental reason', while the practical, ethical, ideological positive impulses of the Enlightenment were largely ignored. "

Contrary to what Horkheimer and Adorno thought, the representatives of the Enlightenment movement had by no means merely criticized traditional certainties, but rather put positive counter-proposals in their place:

"Epicurus' critique of fear-ridden belief in gods served to implant a worldly-friendly ethic, La Mettrie's materialistic critique of idealism a relaxed acceptance of the sensual, Popper's critique of historicism to defend the idea of ​​an 'open society', etc.

The decisive legacy of the Enlightenment is therefore not the "ruins of the traditional traditions that could not withstand the attack of Enlightenment reason", but the "rich sketches for building a better society, some of which have found their way into modern civilization, some still on theirs Rediscovery and realization wait "."

Works (around 1750)


reference books

  • Werner Schneiders (Hrsg.): Lexicon of the Enlightenment: Germany and Europe. Beck, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-406-47571-X .
  • Rudolf Vierhaus, Hans Erich Bödeker (ed.): Biographical encyclopedia of the German-speaking Enlightenment. De Gruyter Saur, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-598-11461-3 .


Historical works

  • Aloys Blumauer: Observations on Austria's Enlightenment and literature. Edlen von Kurzbeck, Vienna 1782.
  • Ernst Cassirer : The Philosophy of Enlightenment. (1932). Meiner, Hamburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-7873-1796-7 .


  • Philippe Ariès, Georges Duby, Roger Chartier (eds.): History of private life. Volume 3: From the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. (1986) S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1991, ISBN 3-10-033612-7 .
  • Philipp Blom : Evil Philosophers: A Salon in Paris and the Forgotten Legacy of the Enlightenment . Hanser, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-446-23648-6 .
  • Ulf Bohmann, Benjamin Bunk, Elisabeth Johanna Koehn, Sascha Wegner, Paula Wojcik (eds.): The promise of rationality. Visions and revisions of the Enlightenment (= Laboratory Enlightenment, Volume: 11). Wilhelm Fink, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-7705-5321-1 .
  • Elmar Dod: The Reasonable Imagination in Enlightenment and Romanticism. Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tübingen 1985, ISBN 3-484-18084-6 .
  • Rainer Enskat: Conditions of the Enlightenment. Philosophical inquiries into a task of judgment. Velbrück Wissenschaft, Weilerswist-Metternich 2008, ISBN 978-3-938808-06-1 .
  • Richard Faber , Brunhilde Wehinger (ed.): Enlightenment in past and present. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-8260-4365-9 .
  • Wolfgang Hardtwig (Ed.): The Enlightenment and its world effect. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2010, ISBN 978-3-525-36423-9 .
  • Jonathan I. Israel, Martin Mulsow (Ed.): Radical education. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2014, ISBN 978-3-518-29653-0 .
  • Siegfried Jüttner , Jochen Schlobach (Ed.): European Enlightenment. Unity and national diversity. Meiner, Hamburg 1992, ISBN 3-7873-1079-7 .
  • Frank Kelleter: American Enlightenment. Languages ​​of Rationality in the Age of Revolution. Schöningh, Paderborn 2002, ISBN 3-506-74416-X .
  • Werner Krauss: Studies on the German and French Enlightenment. Rütten & Loening, Berlin 1963.
  • Werner Krauss: On the anthropology of the 18th century. The early history of mankind in the focus of the Enlightenment. Munich, Vienna 1979, ISBN 3-548-35248-0 .
  • Panajotis Kondylis : The Enlightenment within the framework of modern rationalism. Meiner, Hamburg 2002, ISBN 3-7873-1613-2 .
  • Wolfgang Martens (Hrsg.): Centers of the Enlightenment: Leipzig - Enlightenment and Bourgeoisie. (= Wolfenbüttel Studies for Enlightenment. Volume 17). Lambert Schneider Verlag, Heidelberg 1990, ISBN 3-484-17517-6 .
  • Winfried Müller : The Enlightenment. (= Encyclopedia of German History . Volume 61). Oldenbourg, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-486-55764-5 .
  • Peter Pütz : The German Enlightenment. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1991, ISBN 3-534-06092-X .
  • Helmut Reinalter (Ed.): The Enlightenment in Austria. Ignaz von Born and his time. Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1991, ISBN 3-631-43379-4 .
  • Jochen Schmidt (ed.): Enlightenment and counter-enlightenment in European literature, philosophy and politics from antiquity to the present. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1989, ISBN 3-534-10251-7 .
  • Ulrich Johannes Schneider : Tolerance and historical indifference. To the history of the Enlightenment. In: Lessing and tolerance. (= Contributions to the fourth International Conference of the Lessing Society in Hamburg 1985 ). Special volume for the Lessing Yearbook, Munich 1987, ISBN 3-88377-248-8 , pp. 115–128.
  • Werner Schneiders: The true enlightenment. The self-image of the German Enlightenment. Alber, Freiburg im Breisgau, Munich 1974, ISBN 3-495-47280-0 .
  • Winfried Schröder (Ed.): French Enlightenment. Bourgeois emancipation, literature and awareness-raising. Reclam, Leipzig 1979.
  • Jürgen Stenzel (Ed.): The Age of Enlightenment. Beck, Munich 1980, ISBN 3-406-06020-X .
  • Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger : Europe in the century of the Enlightenment. Reclam, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-15-017025-7 . (Review)
  • Rudolf Vierhaus (Ed.): Sciences in the Age of Enlightenment. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen / Zurich 1985.
  • Fritz Wagner : Europe in the age of absolutism and the enlightenment. 3rd Edition. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1996, ISBN 3-12-907560-7 .

State, society, politics

Medicine and science


  • Helmut Holzhey , Vilem Mudroch (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy, The philosophy of the 18th century. Volume 1: Great Britain and North America, the Netherlands . Schwabe, Basel 2004, ISBN 3-7965-1987-3 .
  • Johannes Rohbeck , Helmut Holzhey (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy, The philosophy of the 18th century. Volume 2: France . Schwabe, Basel 2008, ISBN 978-3-7965-2445-5 .
  • Johannes Rohbeck, Wolfgang Rother (Hrsg.): Outline of the history of philosophy, The philosophy of the 18th century. Volume 3: Italy . Schwabe, Basel 2011, ISBN 978-3-7965-2599-5 .
  • Johannes Rohbeck, Wolfgang Rother (Hrsg.): Outline of the history of philosophy, The philosophy of the 18th century. Volume 4: Spain, Portugal, Latin America. Schwabe, Basel 2016, ISBN 978-3-7965-2630-5 .
  • Helmut Holzhey, Vilem Mudroch (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy, The philosophy of the 18th century. Volume 5: Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Switzerland. Northern and Eastern Europe . Schwabe, Basel 2014, ISBN 978-3-7965-2631-2 .
  • Wolfgang Rother: La maggiore felicità possibile. Studies on the philosophy of the Enlightenment in northern and central Italy . Schwabe, Basel 2005, ISBN 3-7965-2106-1 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Enlightenment  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Enlightenment  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. ^ Gertrude Himmelfarb : The Roads to Modernity: The British, French and American Enlightenments. Vintage, London 2008, pp. 11-12.
  2. Jürgen Osterhammel: The Disenchantment of Asia. Europe and the Asian Empires in the 18th Century. Munich 1998, pp. 31-32.
  3. Jonathan Israels : Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity, 1650–1750 was particularly important . Oxford University Press, 2001.
  4. Norbert Hinske : Keyword “Enlightenment”. In: Staatslexikon. Law. Business. Society. 7th edition. Volume 1, Herder, Freiburg 1995.
  5. ^ Margaret C. Jacob: The Radical Enlightenment. Pantheists, Freemasons and Republicans. (1981) Michael Poll, 2006, ISBN 1-887560-74-2 ; Jonathan I. Israel, Martin Mulsow (Ed.): Radical education. Suhrkamp, ​​Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-518-79810-2 .
  6. ^ Reimar Müller: Enlightenment in antiquity and modern times: studies on cultural theory and philosophy of history. Berlin 2008.
  7. ^ Gregor Kirchhof: Generality of the Constitutional Law - drafted internationality and integrative power of the constitution. In: Josef Isensee, Paul Kirchhof (ed.): Handbook of the constitutional law of the Federal Republic of Germany. Volume XII: Normativity and Protection of the Constitution. 3rd Edition. Heidelberg et al. 2014, § 267 (p. 451).
  8. Reinhard Schulze: What is the Islamic Enlightenment? In: The world of Islam. Vol. 36, Issue 3, November 1996, pp. 276-325.
  9. ^ "Haskala" research focus at the Center for Jewish Studies in Berlin
  10. Michael Hampe: The Third Enlightenment. Nicolai Publishing & Intelligence GmbH, Berlin 2018, 91 pages, ISBN 978-3-96476-002-9 , here pages 39, 6f., 40, 45
  11. a b Olaf Simons: The English market of books: title statistics and a comparison with German data (Critical Threads 2013)
  12. On the population losses in Germany during the Thirty Years' War, see the map at www.lernhelfer.de ; they were around 40 percent in the country and at least 20 percent in the cities.
  13. Full text on www.gutenberg.spiegel.de
  14. Quoted from: Roger Chartier: The Scholar. In: Michel Vovelle (Ed.) 1998, p. 125.
  15. Richard van Dülmen 1996, p. 32.
  16. ^ Gonthier-Louis Fink: Cosmopolitanism. In: Schneiders (Ed.) 2001, p. 221.
  17. Vincenzo Ferrone: The Scientist. In: Michel Vovelle (Ed.) 1998, p. 192.
  18. Richard van Dülmen 1996, p. 50.
  19. Richard van Dülmen 1996, p. 55 ff .; Winfried Dotzauer: Freemason. In: Schneiders (Ed.) 2001, pp. 137-138.
  20. Richard van Dülmen 1996, p. 124.
  21. Richard van Dülmen 1996, p. 100 ff .; W. Daniel Wilson: Illuminati. In: Schneiders (Ed.) 2001, pp. 184-185.
  22. Michel Vovelle: The man of the Enlightenment (introduction). In: ders. (Ed.) 1998, p. 31.
  23. Michael Maurer: Citizens / Bourgeoisie. In: Schneiders (Ed.) 2001, p. 71.
  24. Legend of those present and the people depicted on the painting
  25. Richard van Dülmen 1996, p. 124.
  26. Quoted from: Roger Chartier: The Scholar. In: Michel Vovelle (Ed.) 1998, p. 138.
  27. Roger Chartier: The Scholar. In: Michel Vovelle (Ed.) 1998, p. 141.
  28. Quoted from: Roger Chartier: The Scholar. In: Michel Vovelle (Ed.) 1998, p. 145. "They ridiculed Hume's skepticism , preached the doctrines of atheism with the blind zeal of dogmatists and showered all believers with contempt and ridicule."
  29. Richard van Dülmen 1996, pp. 82-83.
  30. Wolfgang Adam: Reading. In: Schneiders (Ed.) 2001, pp. 184-185.
  31. Ruth P. Dawson: “Lights out! Lights out! "Women and the Enlightenment. Gender in Transition: Discourse and Practice in German-Speaking Europe 1750-1830. Edited by Ulrike Gleixner and Marion Gray. University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor 2006, pp. 218-245.
  32. Quoted from John A. Mc Carthy: Public. In: Schneiders (Ed.) 2001, p. 293.
  33. Holger Böning: Public Enlightenment. In: Schneiders (Ed.) 2001, p. 435.
  34. Richard van Dülmen 1996, p. 66 f .; Helmut Reinalter: Societies, patriotic. In: Schneiders (Ed.) 2001, p. 159.
  35. Hans Fenske: Democracy. In: Schneiders (Ed.) 2001, p. 435.
  36. ^ So in Michel Foucault: Madness and Society. A story of madness in the age of reason. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1993 ( Histoire de la folie à l'âge classique. Folie et déraison , 1961).
  37. Thil Guschas: The lost clarification. Deutschlandradio Kultur, July 26, 2008.
  38. On the complex relationship between the Enlightenment and the scientific discussion of theology in the Enlightenment, see also: Guy G. Stroumsa , A new science: the discovery of religion in the Age of Reason. Cambridge, Mass .; London: Harvard Univ. Press, 2010.
  39. ^ Inquiry Concerning Virtue or Merit [1699], republished as Treatise IV of the Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times. London, 1711.
  40. Georg Bollenbeck : A history of cultural criticism. Beck, Munich 2007, p. 37.
  41. Tobias Bevc: Political Theory. UVK, Konstanz 2007, ISBN 978-3-8252-2908-5 , p. 62.
  42. CB Macpherson: The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: From Hobbes to Locke. Oxford University Press 1962 (German Frankfurt 1973).
  43. ^ Charles Irénée Castel de Saint-Pierre , Projet pour rendre la paix perpétuelle en Europe (1712/1717) edition of 1712 in Gallica , edition of 1717, Gallica .
  44. Stolleis 1990, p. 23.
  45. Guicciardini remarked, according to Stolleis, "casually" that the killing of captured Pisans is not Christian, but corresponds to the "ragione e uso degli stati". (Stolleis 1990, pp. 40–41)
  46. Stolleis 1990, pp. 11-12.
  47. ^ Günter Hoffmann-Loerzer: Grotius. In: Hans Maier, Heinz Rausch, Horst Denzer (eds.): Classics of political thought. 5th edition. Volume I, Beck, Munich 1979, p. 315, 318 f. However, according to Loerzer, it should not be overlooked that the aspects of Grotius' teaching that are relevant today were only revived at the turn of the 20th century "after almost 300 years of sleep" became. (ibid, p. 317)
  48. Romans 13: 1-5  [1]
  49. Hans Maier: Hobbes. In: Hans Maier, Heinz Rausch, Horst Denzer (eds.): Classics of political thought. 5th edition. Volume I, Beck, Munich 1979, p. 357 ff.
  50. Quoted from: Fritz Schalk: The European Enlightenment. In: Golo Mann, August Nitschke (Ed.): Propylaea World History. Volume 7: From the Reformation to the Revolution . Frankfurt am Main / Berlin 1986 (first edition 1960 to 1964), p. 486.
  51. De l'esprit des lois 11, 3.
  52. Schneiders 1997, p. 75.
  53. ^ Contrat social 2, 7: "Il faudrait des dieux pour donner des lois aux hommes."
  54. Hans Maier: Rousseau. In: Hans Maier, Heinz Rausch, Horst Denzer (eds.): Classics of political thought. 5th edition. Volume II, Beck, Munich 1979, p. 129 ff.
  55. Contrat social 2, 7: “Que si quelqu'un, après avoir reconnu publiquement ces mêmes dogmes, se conduit comme ne les croyant pas, qu'il soit puni de mort; il a commis le plus grand des crimes, il a menti devant les lois. "
  56. So Michel Foucault in his book Surveillance and Punishments: The Birth of Prison (1975).
  57. ^ Francis Hutcheson: An Historical Essay concerning Witchcraft. London 1718.
  58. ^ Henri Baudet: Paradise on Earth. Some Thoughts on European Images of Non European Man. New Haven, London 1965.
  59. ^ Johann Christian Pauly: State Administration / Policey. In: Schneiders (Ed.) 2001, p. 394.
  60. In his book The Great Transformation (1944), Boston 1957.
  61. Michel Vovelle: The man of the Enlightenment (introduction). In: ders. (Ed.) 1998, p. 36.
  62. Michelle Vovelle: The Enlightenment Man. (Introduction). In: Ders. (Ed.) 1998, p. 22.
  63. Immanuel Kant brought up the discussion, according to which the "Copernican turn" caused a change in mentality, forcing people no longer to see themselves as the center of the world and the plan of salvation.
  64. ^ Edmond Halley: An Estimate of the Degrees of the Mortality of Mankind. In: Philosophical Transactions. 196, 1693, pp. 596-610 and Postscript pp. 654-656. e-edition: http://www.pierre-marteau.com/editions/1693-mortality.html
  65. John Locke: An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding. 1690 (An Essay on the Human Mind) and David Hume: An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding. (1748; German investigation into the subject of the human understanding)
  66. John Locke formulated the premise "Nihil est in intellectu quod non antea fuerit in sensu" in his essay Concerning Humane Understanding 1690 #.
  67. Alexander Pope, Epitaph on Newton's Death, 1727.
  68. Christian Thomasius emphasizes this in his attempt on the essence of the spirit , 1699.
  69. J. Hübner: Preface. In: Curieuse's nature, art, trade and action lexicon. Leipzig 1712, §§ 8-27.
  70. Reviewed in Deutsche Acta Eruditorum. Volume 35, Johann Friedrich Gleditsch, Leipzig 1715, pp. 891–898, as well as in numbers 42 and 46 of the New Library or news of new books. Frankfurt / Leipzig 1715.
  71. Directions for seafaring… 1664 (?).
  72. John Locke in the essay Concerning Humane Understanding London: 1690, Book II, Chap. XIV, 25/29, where writes from 1689 as the year 5639 after creation of the world. Benjamin Hederich : Instructions for the most noble historical sciences, named geography, chronology, genealogy, on the same calculation basis . 2nd Edition. G. Zimmermannen, Wittenberg 1711. Alternative assumptions were based on the Jewish calendar (3761 BC) or harmonization calculations, such as the one based on the beginning of the world in 4004 BC. Chr. Put; the four extra years result from a correction of the birth of Christ, which is supposed to have actually taken place exactly 4000 years after the creation of the world.
  73. Werner Krauss, On the anthropology of the 18th century. The early history of mankind in the focus of the Enlightenment. Berlin 1978; Munich, Vienna 1979.
  74. John Locke, Essay Concerning Humane Understanding. 1690, "Association of Ideas" #.
  75. In the tradition of Nostradamus, visions of the future in standard prognostics do not record any technical innovations. Science fiction was not written until 1733. You do not sketch forms of human coexistence before the 1770s that differ from contemporary ones, primarily in morality.
  76. J. Andreae: "Preface" to: Deutsche Acta Eruditorum 1, Leipzig: Johann Friedrich Gleditsch & Son, 1712.
  77. Arno Seifert, source #.
  78. ^ Markus Paulus Hunold . Curieuse news of the journal, quarterly and annual writings […] from MPH Freyburg [Jena], 1716, which have turned into grand fashion today . And: Heinrich Ludwig Goetten . Thorough news from the French, Latin and German journals, ephemeris, monthly extracts, or whatever other names they may have […] from HPLM Leipzig; Guard life: H. Campe, 1718.
  79. Franciscus Lang noted the priority of opera in the current drama business as well as the change in taste at the beginning of the 18th century from a Jesuit perspective in his Dissertatio de actions scenica Munich: 1727, p. 83: “Jam verò alia sunt tempora, mores alii, aliæ rationes Scenarum modes. Nunc aperientur Theatra ad honestam delectationem; non tamen coram vulgo, sed in conspecu peritorum, & Magnatum, q [u] orum dignitati non conveniunt gregalis joci. Eos ipsos autem illustres spectatores funsestis identidem terriculamentis obruere, æquè indecens ac fastidiosum est. "" As little as the audience of today's dramas can be expected to make mob jokes, it is improper and disgusting to constantly pester them with ominous horror images. "
  80. text (online)
  81. See Günther Hansen on the traveling theaters: Forms of Commedia dell 'Arte in Germany. Edited by Helmut G. Asper. Lechte, Emsdetten 1984. The surviving texts are collected in the series Spieltexte der Wanderbühne, ed. by Alfred Noe and Manfred Brauneck . De Gruyter, Berlin et al. 1970 ff.
  82. See Jeremy Coillier , A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage . London, 1698.
  83. See also Dene Barnett, Jeanette Massy-Westropp: The Art of Gesture. The Practices and Principles of 18th Century Acting. Winter, Heidelberg 1987.
  84. See Thomasius in his journal Schertz- and Ernsthaffter, Vernnungsftiger and Einfulliger Gedancken, about all kinds of funny and useful books and questions (1688–1690).
  85. Pierre Daniel Huet summarizes most of these aspects in his Traité de l'origine des romans . Authors like Pierre Bayle acknowledge the function of the modern political scandalous novel around 1700, see the conversation that Gottlieb Stolle had with him in 1703. Gottlieb Stolle, Journey through Germany and the Netherlands (1703).
  86. Johann Joachim Winckelmann: Thoughts on the imitation of Greek works in the Mahlerey and sculpture art. Dresden 1755.
  87. ^ Béatrice Didier: La musique des Lumières: Diderot, l'Encyclopédie, Rousseau , Paris: Presses universitaires 1985.
  88. As a collection of texts see: Denise Launay: La Querelle des Bouffons: textes des pamphlets. Minkoff, Geneva 1973.
  89. Philipp Spitta 1893, quoted from: Wolfgang Sandberger: Philipp Spitta and the birth of musicology. In: Anselm Gerhard (Ed.): Musicology - a belated discipline. Metzler, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-476-01667-6 , p. 57.
  90. "Since the last few winters, under the influence of Sr. Majesty Kaiser Wilhelm [...] the minuet of the Rococo period has found its way into our dance hall [...] It is therefore very recommendable to become a professional minuet dancer." J. von Wedell: How should I behave. Levy & Müller, Stuttgart 1897, p. 205.
  91. ^ John Harald Plumb: The Commercialization of Leisure in Eighteenth-century England. In: Ders. (Ed.): The Birth of a Consumer Society. London 1982, pp. 265-285.
  92. ^ Hanns-Werner Heister: The concert. Theory of a culture form. Volume 1, Heinrichshofen, Wilhelmshaven 1983, ISBN 3-7959-0277-0 , p. 162.
  93. Goethe's letter to Friedrich Zelter dated November 9, 1829. Goethe differentiates the string quartet from Paganini's virtuoso concerto, to which he was less favored. Max Hecker (ed.): Correspondence between Goethe and Zelter. Volume 3: 1828-1832. Insel, Leipzig 1918, p. 201.
  94. Rudolf Braun, David Gugerli: Power of dance, dance of the mighty. Court festivals and rulership ceremonies 1550–1914. CH Beck, Munich 1993.
  95. Norbert Elias: About the process of civilization (1939). In: Ders .: Collected writings. Volume 3.1, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1997.
  96. Rudolf zur Lippe : Mastery of nature in humans. Volume 2: Geometrization of the human being and representation of the private in French absolutism. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1974.
  97. ^ Karl Heinz Taubert: The Minuet. Story and choreography. Pan, Zurich 1988.
  98. ^ For example, the collections of ballroom dances published by Raoul-Auger Feuillet or John Weaver after 1700.
  99. Henning Eichberg : Power, tension, speed. Sport and dance in the social change of the 18th and 19th centuries Century. Klett, Stuttgart 1978.
  100. Louis de Cahusac: La Danse ancienne et modern ou Traité historique de la danse. Neauime, The Hague 1754, Volume 1, p. 14.
  101. ^ Conference report Golden Age and Century of Enlightenment. Cultural transfer between the Netherlands and Central Germany in the 17th and 18th centuries. University of Halle, 2010 (pdf).
  102. Wijnand W. Mijnhardt: Netherlands. In: Schneiders (Ed.) 2001, pp. 288–289.
  103. ^ Hans-Dieter Gelfert: Typically English. How the British became what they are. Munich 2011, p. 41.
  104. Winkler 2009, p. 154.
  105. Shaftesbury and the Moral Sense School on britannica.com
  106. ^ Jean Massin : Robespierre. 4th edition. Berlin 1976 (French original edition 1956), p. 17; Winkler 2009, p. 224. When Robespierre became politically active in 1789, he remembered this encounter by noting: “I want to continue your highly esteemed work, should my name be forgotten in the centuries to come; I am happy when, on the dangerous path that an unprecedented revolution has opened before us, I remain faithful to the inspirations that I have drawn from your works. "(Quoted from Massin ibid., p. 18)
  107. ^ Jean Massin : Robespierre. 4th edition. Berlin 1976 (French original edition 1956), p. 35 / p. 84.
  108. Winkler 2009, p. 361; Jean Massin : Robespierre. 4th edition. Berlin 1976 (French original edition 1956), pp. 350–351.
  109. Weis 1982, p. 155.
  110. Weis 1982, p. 157.
  111. Schneiders (Ed.) 2001, p. 17; ders. 1997, pp. 129-130.
  112. ^ Karl Griewank: The French Revolution. 6th edition. Cologne / Vienna 1975, p. 114.
  113. ↑ The dynastic starting point of the Brandenburg-Prussian religious tolerance was already the conversion of Elector Johann Sigismund to the Calvinist denomination at Christmas 1613. Since his wife Anna of Prussia continued to support Lutheran Protestantism, to which almost the entire population of the Margraviate of Brandenburg adhered, one developed Interdenominationally tense situation, which also persisted when the ruling family and court subsequently aligned themselves overall with Calvinism.
  114. Eberhard Gresch: The Huguenots. History, Belief and Impact. Leipzig 2005, p. 95.
  115. Eberhard Gresch: The Huguenots. History, Belief and Impact. Leipzig 2005, p. 75.
  116. ^ Ulrich Niggemann: Huguenots. Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2011, p. 101.
  117. Christopher Clark: Prussia. Rise and fall 1600–1947. Munich 2007, p. 60.
  118. Christopher Clark: Prussia. Rise and fall 1600–1947. Munich 2007, p. 221 ff.
  119. Mandrou 1982, p. 272.
  120. Winkler 2009, pp. 242-243.
  121. Stolleis 1990, p. 14.
  122. ^ Karl Otmar von Aretin: Italy in the 18th century. In: Fritz Wagner (ed.): Europe in the age of absolutism and the enlightenment. (= Handbook of European History. Volume 4). 3rd Edition. Stuttgart 1996, pp. 585-633.
  123. Frank Jung, Thomas Kroll (Ed.): Italy in Europe. The circulation of ideas in the Age of Enlightenment. (= Laboratory Enlightenment. Volume 15.). Paderborn 2014, ISBN 978-3-7705-5087-6 .
  124. Wolfgang Rother: La maggiore felicità possibile. Studies on the philosophy of the Enlightenment in northern and central Italy. Basel 2005.
  125. Johannes Rohbeck, Wolfgang Rother (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy, The philosophy of the 18th century . tape 3 : Italy . Basel 2011.
  126. ^ John D. Bessler: Revisiting Beccaria's Vision: The Enlightenment, America's Death Penalty, and the Abolition Movement. _In: Northwestern Journal of Law and Social Policy. Vol. 4, 2009, p. 195 ff.
  127. ^ Ulrich Mücke: Image and meaning of the Spanish Enlightenment in Germany in the 18th century. In: Elmar Mittler, Ulrich Mücke (Hrsg.): The Spanish Enlightenment in Germany. An exhibition from the holdings of the Goettingen State and University Library. Göttingen University Library, 2005, pp. 23–36.
  128. Johannes Rohbeck, Wolfgang Rother (ed.): Outline of the history of philosophy. The philosophy of the 18th century . tape 4 : Spain, Portugal, Latin America . Basel 2016.
  129. Mandrou 1982, pp. 285-286.
  130. Mandrou 1982, p. 291.
  131. Michael Schippan: The Enlightenment in Russia in the 18th century (= Wolfenbütteler research. 131). Wiesbaden 2012.
  132. ^ Zdzisław Libera (Ed.): Polish Enlightenment. German Poland Institute 1989.
  133. Stanisław Staszic on britannica.com
  134. Alexander Kraus: Northern Lights of Reason or the Enlightenment in Scandinavia. In: Ders. / Andreas Renner (Hrsg.): Places of own reason. European enlightenment beyond the centers. Frankfurt, New York 2008, pp. 86-105.
  135. ^ H. Arnold Barton: Scandinavia in the Revolutionary Era 1760-1815. University of Minnesota Press, 1986.
  136. Alexander Kraus: Alexander: Northern Lights of Reason or the Enlightenment in Scandinavia. In: Ders. / Andreas Renner (Hrsg.): Places of own reason. European enlightenment beyond the centers. Frankfurt / New York 2008, pp. 86-105.
  137. ^ Morgan in: Golo Mann / August Nitschke (Ed.) 1986, p. 519.
  138. Klaus Modick: Of dignity and adultery. at the DLF , June 27, 2004.
  139. For the relationship between predestination and providence according to today's Calvinist understanding, see the website of the Calvinist Covenant .
  140. ^ Morgan in: Golo Mann / August Nitschke (Ed.) 1986, p. 522.
  141. Winkler 2009, p. 268.
  142. ^ Morgan in: Golo Mann / August Nitschke (eds.) 1986, p. 521; Winkler notes: “In order to make it impossible for elected representatives to abuse the power they had been given, their terms of office were short (in the case of Houses of Representatives, annual elections were the rule). Insofar as the voters had a right to instruct the elected, it was handled so flexibly that the representatives were hardly restricted in their freedom of choice. "(Winkler 2009, p. 269)
  143. Felix Ermacora (Ed.) Der Föderalist . Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, Vienna 1958, p. 78.
  144. ^ Federalist No. 49; quoted in Winkler 2009, p. 293.
  145. The expression is first proven by John Adams in January 1787. (Winkler 2009, pp. 300–301.)
  146. Winkler 2009, p. 302.
  147. Weis 1982, p. 68.
  148. ^ "A rush began on slavery, the most un-republican of all republican institutions. Slavery not only deprived the enslaved of the fruits of their industry, but also made it possible for other people to live without industry. Unfortunately, however, the slaves were at the same time a form of property, and not everyone was prepared to sacrifice such property. Most states forbade any further importation of slaves, and the northern states also made provisions for the gradual or immediate abolition of slavery. In the south, voluntary release gave freedom to thousands of slaves. But infinitely more people remained slaves and reminded the Americans that their virtue fell far short of what nature and the God of nature demanded of republicans. ”(Morgan in: Golo Mann / August Nitschke (ed.) 1986, p . 548).
  149. Winkler 2009, p. 288.
  150. ^ John D. Bessler: Revisiting Beccaria's Vision: The Enlightenment, America's Death Penalty, and the Abolition Movement. In: Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy , Vol. 4 (2009), No. 9, p. 232 ff.
  151. Michael Rössner (ed.): Latin American literary history. 2nd ext. Edition, Stuttgart / Weimar 2002, p. 118 ff.
  152. Heinz Krumpel: Philosophy and Literature in Latin America - 20th Century: a contribution to identity, comparison and interaction between Latin American and European thinking. Bern 2006, p. 175 ff.
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