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flashcards on the Enlightenment

(Isaac) Newton

the intellectual that showed the power of the human mind and influenced the great minds of the eighteenth century that since nature is rational, society should be rational too; he discouraged metaphysics and the supernatural as opposed to empirical observation.

(John) Locke

the English political philosopher that determined that experience shapes character, and that the human condition can be improved; author of "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding"

tabula rasa

the theory that humans enter the world as a blank page, and the environment is what shapes personality

print culture

the environment in which books, journals, newspapers, and pamphlets achieved a status of their own


the writing style that increased in popularity


the new distinct literary genre that provided the moral and social instruction that books of piety once furnished; books that were criticized for their moral influence


the centers for discussing and writing ideas, where the value of polite conversation and the reading of books were fostered

public opinion

the collective effect on political and social life of views circulated in print and discussed in the home, the workplace, and centers of leisure


the new occupation emerging as a result of expanding market for printed matter; an occupation divided into high and low literary culture


figures of the Enlightenment who encouraged change, reform, and toleration; writers and critics who applied rules of reason, criticism, and common sense to nearly all the major institutions, economic practices, and exclusivist religious policies for the sake of human freedom


the French philosophe who who wrote many socially and politically irreverent poetry and plays, and was arrested twice by the government before fleeing to England and writing on his experiences there; a philosophe who was known for his satirical and pessimistic literary works

Letters on the English

a book written in 1733 by Voltaire, praising the virtues of the English (especially religious liberty) while criticizing French society

(Countess) Emilie de Chatelet

the brilliant mathematician who became the mistress of Voltaire and helped him write a book popularizing Newton

Elements of the Philosophy of Newton

a book written by Voltaire and Emilie de Chatelet in 1738, that popularized the thought of Isaac Newton more than any other book across the continent


Voltaire's satirical work of 1759 after an earthquake, that made clear his views against war, religious persecution, and the unwarranted optimism about the human condition--he believed that reform, if achieved, would never be permanent

Crush the Infamous Thing

a cry by Voltaire that summed up the attitude of a number of philosophes toward the churches and Christianity, as the chief impediment to human improvement and happiness


the city that Voltaire came from, and then eventually triumphantly returned to in 1778

Great Britain

the country with the most domestic stability, economic prosperity, political stability, and loyal citizenry, and was freer than any other nation of the time

urban centers

the places with the highest literacy rate, making the printed word the chief vehicle for communicating information and ideas


the people that provided intellectual justification for the social and political status quo; the active agents of religious and literary censorship


the idea that the life of religion and reason could be combined, with the two major points being 1) the existence of God can be empirically justified and 2) there is a life after death in which rewards/punishments are meted out according to the virtue of the individual's life on Earth

(John) Toland

the author or "Christianity Not Mysterious", one of the earliest deist works, that promoted religion as rational and natural, and God as a kind of watchmaker that set the world in motion and then departed

(Jean) Calas

the Huguenot who was publicly tortured to confess to the murdering of his Roman Catholic son, which he never did, and whose case was then reversed after his death by Voltaire's push for reinvestigation

Treatise on Tolerance

Voltaire's work on the death of Calas, which showed how harmful religious fanaticism is and that judicial processes were in need of rational reform

(Gotthold) Lessing

the German playwright and critic who wrote "Nathan the Wise", believed in toleration for all religions (not just sects of Christianity), and that humans should not subordinate relationships to religious zeal that permitted one group of people to oppose other groups

(David) Hume

the Scottish philosopher who said in "Inquiry into Human Nature" that no empirical evidence supported the belief in divine miracles, and thought that the greatest miracle was that humans believe in miracles

Philosophical Dictionary

Volaire's work (1764) that pointed out inconsistencies in biblical narratives and immoral acts of biblical heroes, questioning the truthfulness of priests and morality of the Bible

(Edward) Gibbon

the author of "The Decline and Fall of the Roman empire" (1776); who explained the rise of Christianity in natural terms rather than miraculous ones

(Immanuel) Kant

the German philosopher that wrote "Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone" (1793), which summed up the beliefs of most philosophes; he also critiqued the conquest of the Americas on moral grounds of the treatment of natives and slaves


the faith that Europeans considered primitive and philosophical rationalism provides an escape from

(Baruch) Spinoza

a Jewish writer who looked to the power of human reason to reconceptualize traditional though, set an example of secularized Judaism, and made it possible for the Enlightenment to condemn Judaism but still advocate toleration of Jews


Spinoza's most famous work, which closely indentified God and nature (spiritual and material worlds), and was criticized for leaving no room for divine revelation


the nature of Spinoza's view on God, that he is everything in the universe rather than a distinct personality, that opposed Jewish beliefs because it meant there could be no individual immortality of the human soul after death

Theologico-Political Treatise

Spinoza's book that anticipated much of the religious criticism of the Enlightenment, and showed that the Bible was not a source of theological knowledge, just divine legislation, which meant that Jews had to use their own reason in religious matters and read the Bible just like a history book

(Moses) Mendelssohn

"Jewish Socrates"; the leading Jewish philosopher of the 18th century, who advocated the entry of Jews into European life but thought that you could retain traditional practices and faith while doing so; he was influenced by Lessing; he believed that Jewish communities should not have the right to excommunicate their members over differences in theological opinions or secular ideas


a religion that Europe deemed as "false", carnal, and promiscuous for its teaching of heaven as a place of sensuous delight and their practice of polygamy


the prophet of Islam who was considered "false" because he did not perform miracles


the term that Christian authors used to describe Islam, which offended many Muslims because it implied that their prophet was divine, rather than a human through which God communicated

Fanaticism, or Mohammed the Prophet

Voltaire's tragedy that displayed Islam as just another religious fanaticism that he had so often criticized among Christians

(John) Toland

the writer that opposed prejudice of Jews and Muslims and argued that Islam was a form of Christianity; the "Mohametan" Christian

(Edward) Gibbon

the writer who blamed Christianity for the fall of the Roman Empire, and who wrote with respect of Muhammed's leadership and Islam's successes

Spirit of the Laws

the book written by Montesquieu that associated Islamic society with the passivity that he ascribed to people subject to political despotism, which prevented the Islamic world from making technological advancements

(Lady Mary Wortley) Montagu

the british ambassador to Turkey, who praised the Islamic world in her "Turkish Embassy Letters" for its respect for women and magnificent architecture

(The) Encyclopedia

the collective work of over a hundred French philosophes on religion, government, and philosophy; it contained articles on manufacturing, construction, and agriculture, making it an important source of knowledge on social and economic life of the eighteenth century

(Denis) Diderot

the main coordinator of the Encylopedia; he condemned the European Empires overseas upon the moral grounds of the treatment of the natives for no purpose apart from European gain of wealth

(Jean Le Rond) d'Alembert

the French philosophe who helped coordinate the making of the Encyclopedia; he also observed that barbarianism lasts for centuries, while reason is only brief

social science

the idea of ending human cruelty by discovering laws and making people aware of them

(Marquis Cesare) Beccaria

the Italian aristocrat philosophe who wrote "On Crimes and Punishment" who opposed the death penalty and torture

On Crimes and Punishment

the book that called for quick court cases, guaranteed punishment to deter people from further crime, and laws for the sake of the greatest common happiness, not perfection

utilitarian (philosophy)

the philosophy that permeated most enlightenment writing on practical reforms, that called for the greatest happiness for the greatest number of human beings


French economic reformers who opposed mercantilism and thought that the primary role of government is to secure right to private property; they also believed that agriculture is the basis of economy, and that land should be consolidated into efficient farms

(Francois) Quesnay; (Pierre Dupont de) Nemours

the two most influential physiocrats

(Adam) Smith

the Scottish professor who believed that economic liberty was the basis of a natural economic system; he opposed mercantilism and founded the laissez-faire economic policy

(Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of) the Wealth of Nations

the 1776 book that explained the benefits of abolishing mercantilist policies, because natural resources are actually unlimited, and self-interested individuals will naturally expand wealth and production in order to meet consumer needs


the economic thought policy founded by Adam Smith that favors a limited role for the government in economic life, apart from schools, armies, navies, roads, and trade routes too risky for private enterprise

four-stage (theory)

the theory that said human societies are classified as either hunter-gatherer, pastoral-nomad, agricultural, or commercial; this theory justified the European dominance of the world because it could be said to be carrying civilization to more barbaric cultures


the French aristocrat who favored a monarchial government tempered and limited by various intermediary institutions, but thought that there was no "right" government, and that checks and balances were necessary for a functional democratic government

Spirit of the Laws

the 1748 book that said there is no single set of political laws that could apply to all peoples at all times and in all places, because it all depended on the country's size, population, social and religious customs, economic structure, traditions, and climate; the most influential book of the 18th century that set a basis of constitutional form of liberal democracies for over 200 years

(Jean-Jacques) Rousseau

the isolated genius of political reform in the Enlightenment who hated contemporary society; he questioned for the first time the fundament of what constitutes the good life; he was not widely accepted by his contemporaries but largely influenced the French Revolution

(Discourse on the) Moral Effects of the Arts and Sciences

Rousseau's book that contended that the Enlightenment had corrupted human nature, and it was impossible to live to the commercial values of the time while still achieving moral lives

(Discourse on the) Origin of Inequality

Rousseau's book that blamed much of the evil in the world on the uneven distribution of property

The Social Contract

Rousseau's abstract book that said that society is more important than the individual members, and that since democracy is made up of the general populace, all laws are right and freedom means to follow the law

(Johann) Herder

the German philosopher who opposed the European conquest of the Americas, saying that European culture is abstract, and human beings living in different societies possessed the capacity as human beings to develop in culturally different fashions

cultural relativism

the idea that human beings may develop distinct cultures possessing intrinsic values that cannot be compared because each culture possesses deep inner social and linguistic complexities that make any simple comparison impossible

(French) salons

the places that gave the philosophes access to useful social and political contacts and a receptive environment in which to circulate their ideas, as well as boosting the sales of their works


Rousseau's novel about women; it said their main functions are domestic ones, women exist to please mean and are subordinate to them, and they should be excluded from the political world

(Mary) Wollstonecraft

the woman who wrote "Vindication of the Rights of Woman", which opposed Rousseau and the traditional view of narrowing a woman's experience to the tyranny of man, and that refraining from the enlightenment of women was impeding social progress


the art style that originated from early 18th century in France, was associated with the aristocracies of the Old Regime, and was very lighthearted and lavish

Louis XV

the French monarch who spread Rococo art, which suggested a social and political world more accommodating to the French aristocracy and less religiously austere than that of his predecessor


the houses of French aristocrats, that were small scale and had elaborately decorated walls, making them seem lighter and more spacious

(Francois) Boucher

a famous Rococo artist that painted the French king and his wife often, as well as many sexually suggestive pictures

Imperial Hall

the most spectacular Rococo work of art, in Bavaria, painted by Neumann with ceilings with scenes from Greek mythology

fetes galantes

scenes of elegant aristocratic parties in lush gardens, and carefree men and women pursuing lives of leisure, romance, and seduction

(Jean-Antoine) Watteau

one of the most prominent Rococo artists, that painted "Pilgrimage to Isle of Cithera", which depicted young lovers embarking to pay homage to the goddess Venus

(Johann Joachim) Winckelmann

the German archaeologist that published "Thoughts on the Imitation of Greek Works in Painting and Sculpture" and "The History of Ancient Art", which compared the superficiality of Rococo art with the seriousness of ancient art and architecture

(the) Grand Tour

the movement of European aristocrats visiting Italy in the mid 18th century, which caused them to admire the ancient and Renaissance art being produced there


the movement that returned art to themes, topics, and styles of the ancient and Renaissance eras, often depicted austere figures, and encourages acts of self-sacrifice and heroism to promote public morals and public life; the art style that many philosophes embraced

Oath of the Horatii

the Neoclassical painting by Jacques-Louis David, which was directed as a criticism of the French monarchical government, and at the same time displayed women as emotional and incapable of entering civic life

History of the Russian Empire (under Peter the Great)

Voltaire's 1759 book that emphasized the monarchy over democracy, and said, "Peter was born, and Russia was formed".

enlightened absolutism

the form of government in which the monarchy was strengthened and rationalized at the expense of the church, parliament, aristocracy, and other lesser political institutions; the policies of countries where the liberalism and humanity of the Enlightenment faced the most rejection

Frederick (the Great)

the monarch who embodied enlightened absolutism the most; the Prussian ruler who promoted merit, religious toleration, and reforms in economics and the legal system

Prussian Civil Service Commission

the 1770 overseeing of the education and examinations required for all major government appointments in Prussia, which emphasized Frederick's policies on merit rather than birth

legal reform

the process that Frederick the Great employed to codify Prussian law as a more rationalized system, and that many other enlightened monarchs saw as a way to extend and strengthen royal power

Joseph (II)

the Austrian ruler that was not so much a political oppurtunist as a rational, impersonal force; he centralized authority, promoted religious toleration and brought the Church under direct royal control, and brought about changes to the social structure of Austria so daring that the nobility resisted and forced him to rescind many of his policies


the location of the central power of the Austrian crown; the home of the Magyars, who resisted Joseph's centralization measures

Maria Theresa

the ruler of Austria who guaranteed the aristocracy considerable independence, but also built a larger bureaucracy than previous rulers, and brought the peasants more rights by limiting the nobility, which ensured a supply of military recruits for the army


the amount of labor that nobles could demand of peasants; this was later commuted into a monetary tax of which only part went to the nobility, which was a cause for tension between the nobles and monarchy


the religious policies that prefigured those of the French revolution; they included the closing of hundreds of monasteries unaffiliated with schools or hospitals, the education of bishops as servants of the state, not the pope, and the toleration of Lutherans, Calvinists, and Greek Orthodoxies (with considerable acceptance of Jews as well)

Leopold (II)

the Austrian ruler that got rid of noble taxation and returned to them political and administrative power, but also maintained the religious policies and political centralization of his predecessor

Peter III

the Russian tsar who was weak (and maybe mad), and saved Prussia in the Seven Years' War by allying with them; the husband of Catherine the Great

Catherine (the Great)

the Russian empress who made Russia an enlightened European power through economic growth, some limited administrative reform, and territorial expansion, and who was a close correspondent with many philosophes

legislative commission

the body that Catherine the Great assembled from 1767-1768 to revise law in Russia that was unsuccessful, but gave information about life in Russia and support for an absolute monarchy

Charter of Nobility

the 1785 creed by Catherine the Great that gave nobility power, since they had the power to overthrow her, and Russia had no education for bureaucracy or wealth for an army

Ottoman Empire

the military opponent of Russia that declared war on them in 1769 over warm water ports, but were defeated by Catherine the Great

Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainardji

the treaty that gave Russia a direct outlet on the Black Sea, free navigation rights, in its waters, and free access throguh the Bosporus; it also allowed Catherine to annex Crimea and made her the protector of Orthodox Christians living in the Ottoman Empire

(First) Partition of Poland

the division of Polish territory between Prussia (annexed territory to merge two halves), Russia (gained a large territory), and Austria (large territory with important salt mines); the way of Prussia, Russia, and Austria avoiding conflict at the expense of a lesser country

Pugachev Rebellion

the 1773-1775 peasant uprisings in Russia that created social and political upheaval that Catherine never really recovered from

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