05-Enlightenment - 005_Enlightenment.doc READINGS:...

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005_Enlightenment.doc READINGS: ENLIGHTENMENT Background Rousseau: On the Origin of Inequality Adam Smith: The Wealth of Nations Hume: On Miracles The Declaration of Independence Background: Deism The implications of Isaac Newton's physical theories of mechanics, which treated the universe as if it were a machine (hence the term "mechanics") built by a creating god yet running on its own principles independent of the interference of the creating god (though Newton never denied that God couldn't interefere, just that he didn't), encompassed much more than physical change and movement. Soon other areas of experience came to be regarded as mechanistic and independent of divine interference: social structures, economics, politics, and so forth. Each of these areas could be understood and manipulated solely through rational methods, since they operated through consistent and orderly laws and principles The philosophes of mid-eighteenth century France developed this mechanistic view of the universe into a radically revised version of Christianity they called deism . Drawing on Newton's description of the universe as a great clock built by the Creator and then set in motion, the deists among the philosophes argued that everything—physical motion, human physiology, politics, society, economics—had its own set of rational principles established by God which could be understood by human beings solely by means of their reason. This meant that the workings of the human and physical worlds could be understood without having to bring religion, mysticism, or divinity into the explanation. The Deists were not atheists; they simply asserted that everything that concerned the physical and human universes could be comprehended independently of religious concerns or explanations. However, Deism encompassed far more than this. For the Deists believed that if God created a rational universe, a universe that could be understood by human reason alone, that must mean that God was rational as well. If God is rational, then God can be understood through the use of reason without recourse to mysticism, superstition, prayer, or even the divinity of Christ. The Deists set out to replace Christianity with its ceremonies, devices, and supernatural aspects with a religion they called "The Cult of the Supreme Being." Historically, this second aspect of Deism was almost as important as the first in the development of modern European culture. During the second revolution and reign of terror in France in 1791-1792, the radical revolutionists attempted to put these Deistic principles into practice. They renamed Notre Dame cathedra l in
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This note was uploaded on 02/15/2011 for the course HISTORY 106 taught by Professor Dennis during the Spring '11 term at Loyola Chicago.

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05-Enlightenment - 005_Enlightenment.doc READINGS:...

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