Dholbach 17231789and only a few more were agnos tics

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A History of Modern Psychology
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d’Holbach (1723–1789)—and only a few more were agnos- tics. Many, including Voltaire, were deists, believing in a God that acted as a “divine watchmaker” who at the beginning of time constructed a perfect universe and left it to run with predictable regularity. Enlightenment inquiry proved com- patible with very different stances on religion. Nevertheless, Enlightenment support for toleration was sometimes limited. Most Christians saw Jews as heretics and Christ killers. Although Enlightenment thinkers deplored persecution, they commonly viewed Judaism and Islam as backward, superstitious religions. One of the few Enlight- enment figures to treat Jews sympathetically was the Ger- man philosophe Gotthold Lessing (1729–1781). Lessing’s play Nathan the Wise (1779) takes place in Jerusalem during the Fourth Crusade and begins with a pogrom—or violent, INSTRUMENTS OF TORTURE. A man being stretched on the rack (left) and a thumbscrew (right), both from an official Austrian government handbook. By 1800, Beccaria’s influence had helped phase out the use of such instruments. 176831_17_546-579_r3_ka.indd 556 18/08/13 2:55 PM
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A History of Modern Psychology
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Major Themes of Enlightenment Thought | 557 orchestrated attack—in which the wife and children of Nathan, a Jewish merchant, are murdered. Nathan survives to become a sympathetic and wise father figure. He adopts a Christian-born daughter and raises her with three religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. At several points, authori- ties ask him to choose the single true religion. Nathan shows none exists. The three great monotheistic religions are three versions of the truth. Religion is authentic, or true, only insofar as it makes the believer virtuous. Lessing modeled his hero on his friend Moses Mendels- sohn (1729–1786), a self-educated rabbi and bookkeeper (and the grandfather of the composer Felix Mendelssohn). Moses Mendelssohn moved—though with some difficulty— between the Enlightenment circles of Frederick II and the Jewish community of Berlin. Repeatedly attacked and invited to convert to Christianity, he defended Jewish communities against anti-Semitic policies and Judaism against Enlighten- ment criticism. At the same time, he also promoted reform within the Jewish community, arguing that his community had special reason to embrace the broad Enlightenment proj- ect: religious faith should be voluntary, states should promote tolerance, humanitarianism would bring progress to all. Government, Administration, and the Economy Enlightenment ideas had a very real influence over affairs of state. The philosophes defended reason and knowledge for humanitarian reasons. But they also promised to make nations stronger, more efficient, and more prosperous. Beccaria’s proposed legal reforms were a good case in point; he sought to make laws not simply more just but also more effective. In other words, the Enlightenment spoke to indi- viduals but also to states. The philosophes addressed issues of liberty and rights but also took up matters of administra- tion, tax collection, and economic policy.

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