1 hr 19 min

Myth of the Month 1: "The Enlightenment‪"‬ Historiansplaining: A historian tells you why everything you know is wrong

    • Society & Culture

There was no Enlightenment. Steven Pinker’s new book, “Enlightenment Now,” is a classic re-statement of the myth of the Enlightenment which holds that in the 1600s and 1700s, Europeans threw off the tired dogmas of the Middle Ages and embraced a new philosophy of Reason, Progress, Science, and Humanism. In fact, the 1700s were a period of confusion, with no clear unifying ideas or trends: occultism, mysticism, and absolute monarchy flourished alongside experiments in democracy and chemistry. “The Enlightenment” forms one of the central pillars of Whig history, serving to re-affirm the notion that our present-day beliefs and values are rational and coherent.

I plan for the next "Myth of the Month" to be posted on Patreon for patrons only, as a free reward to them. Please become a patron and contribute what you can in the spirit of knowledge and inquiry! -- www.patreon.com/user?u=5530632

Suggested further reading: Peter Gay, “The Enlightenment: An Interpretation”; Charley Coleman, “The Virtues of Abandon”; Margaret Jacob, “The Radical Enlightenment”; Paul Monod, “Solomon’s Secret Arts”

Small correction: Immanuel Kant was professor at the University of Konigsberg, not the University of Jena.

There was no Enlightenment. Steven Pinker’s new book, “Enlightenment Now,” is a classic re-statement of the myth of the Enlightenment which holds that in the 1600s and 1700s, Europeans threw off the tired dogmas of the Middle Ages and embraced a new philosophy of Reason, Progress, Science, and Humanism. In fact, the 1700s were a period of confusion, with no clear unifying ideas or trends: occultism, mysticism, and absolute monarchy flourished alongside experiments in democracy and chemistry. “The Enlightenment” forms one of the central pillars of Whig history, serving to re-affirm the notion that our present-day beliefs and values are rational and coherent.

I plan for the next "Myth of the Month" to be posted on Patreon for patrons only, as a free reward to them. Please become a patron and contribute what you can in the spirit of knowledge and inquiry! -- www.patreon.com/user?u=5530632

Suggested further reading: Peter Gay, “The Enlightenment: An Interpretation”; Charley Coleman, “The Virtues of Abandon”; Margaret Jacob, “The Radical Enlightenment”; Paul Monod, “Solomon’s Secret Arts”

Small correction: Immanuel Kant was professor at the University of Konigsberg, not the University of Jena.

1 hr 19 min