What was Enlightenment?

History 280B/285B.001

Fall 2017
2303 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
M 10-12
Class Number: 
See Course Description

For 280B, please use Class Number 22740. For 285B, please use Class Number 14926. In its ten pages, Immanuel Kant’s 1784 essay “An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment” built a startlingly durable framework for thinking about the meaning of the eighteenth century. This class will investigate its key-terms – reason, the public, the state, religion, freedom, machines, mankind, human nature, progress – to reassess what Enlightenment was, both for Kant and for those who saw themselves involved in its intellectual, political, and religious projects. Readings for the course will include key authors like Spinoza, Diderot, Rousseau, and Kant, a wide range of contextual studies of eighteenth-century political and intellectual history, and a few influential contemporary perspectives on the still exigent question: what is Enlightenment?