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1. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
Robert Elliott Allinson Editorial
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1. female emancipation
2. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
Debra Berghoffen The Body of Rights: The Right to the Body
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This paper examines the ways that feminists have built on and transformed Mary Wollstonecraft’s Enlightenment idea that women’s rights are human rights. It argues that Wollstonecraft’s marginal attention to the issue of sexual violence reflects the mind-body dualism of her era where reason divorced from the body established our dignity as persons. Today’s feminists reject this dualism. They have adopted and retooled Wollstonecraft’s idea that women’s rights are human rights to (1) create solidarity among women of different places, races, classes, religions etc., (2) break the silence surrounding the experience and meaning of rape, and (3) create grassroots, national and international forums that expose the fact that sexual violence is one of the crucial anchors of patriarchy. Wollstonecraft believed that human rights were guaranteed by reason and God. We find that these rights are embodied and fragile. They depend on us to make them real. Addressing this responsibility, the paper ends with a question: Are we up to the task?
3. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
Karen Green Restoring Catharine Macaulay’s Enlightenment Republicanism?
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Can Catharine Macaulay’s enlightenment democratic republicanism be justified from the point of view of contemporary naturalism? Naturalist accounts of political authority tend to be realist and pessimistic, foreclosing the possibility of enlightenment. Macaulay’s utopian political philosophy relies on belief in a good God, whose existence underpins the possibility of moral and political progress. This paper attempts a restoration of her optimistic utopianism in a reconciliation, grounded in a revision of natural law, of naturalist and utopian attitudes to political theory. It is proposed that the coevolution of language, moral law, and conscience (the disposition to judge one’s own actions in the light of moral principles) can be explained as solutions to the kinds of tragedy of the commons situations facing our ancestors. Moral dispositions evolved, but, in the light of its function, law is subject to rational critique. Liberal democracy plausibly offers the best prospect for developing rationally justifiable law.
4. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
Odile Richard Reading Diderot’s Novels and Correspondence: What Can This Philosopher Teach Us about the Education of Young People?
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This study deals with the contemporary relevance of Diderot’s ideas in matters of education. Neither a treatise nor an essay, Diderot’s practical observations are scattered throughout his letter correspondence and his fictional novels. According to our enquiry, the more physiological aspects are dealt with in the Encyclopedia. We will see that Diderot’s position is unconventional but does not necessarily follow in Rousseau’s wake. He rather tries to reach a fair balance between freedom and duty, focusing on women and sexual emancipation.
2. the non-european enlightenment
5. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
Xing Guozhong, Shang Chen Light through Time and Space: The Influence of Confucian Humanism on the European Enlightenment
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Chinese Confucianism, which emerged during the Axial Age, has had a profound influence on many intellectual and cultural movements in history, including the European Enlightenment. This article analyzes the influence of Confucianism on the European Enlightenment from four perspectives: human rights, a benevolent government, religion and nature. The humanist spirit propagated by Confucianism was similar to the views expressed by Enlightenment thinkers on reason and human rights and provided a powerful ideological weapon for Enlightenment thinkers to criticize religious theocracy and break through the darkness of the Middle Ages. During this process of learning and absorbing the humanist spirit of Confucianism, French Enlightenment thinkers developed the rational and critical spirit of the Enlightenment and paved the way for intellectual liberation. Today, the world is facing the new challenges of global climate change, artificial intelligence and genetic technology. In the context of these global problems, China and the West can learn from each other and join efforts to gather new ideological resources to carry out a new ideological enlightenment movement on a global scale and achieve sustainable development for all humanity.
6. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
David Chai Shitao and the Enlightening Experience of Painting
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Having reached its zenith in the Song dynasty, Chinese landscape painting in the dynasties that followed became highly formulaic as artists simply copied the old masters to perfect their skills. This orthodox approach was not accepted by everyone however; some painters criticized it, arguing it was better to learn the ideas behind the techniques of the old masters than to blindly copy them. Shitao was one such critic and his Manual on Painting exemplifies his desire to disassociate himself from the classical approach to painting. This paper will investigate the three major themes of Shitao’s text—the holistic brushstroke, brush and ink, and the method of no-method—in order to show how they shaped his view of landscape painting and how said paintings subsequently embodied them. Unlike the near-scientific approach taken by his contemporaries and predecessors, Shitao paints to capture the unifying simplicity of nature, an onto-aesthetic experience that is profoundly enlightening.
7. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
Dag Herbjørnsrud The Quest for a Global Age of Reason: Part I: Asia, Africa, the Greeks and the Enlightenment Roots
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This paper will contend that we, in the first quarter of the 21st century, need an enhanced Age of Reason based on global epistemology. One reason to legitimize such a call for more intellectual enlightenment is the lack of required information on non-European philosophy in today’s reading lists at European and North American universities. Hence, the present-day Academy contributes to the scarcity of knowledge about the world’s global history of ideas outside one’s ethnocentric sphere. The question is whether we genuinely want to rethink parts of the “Colonial Canon” and its main narratives of the past. This article argues that we, if we truly desire, might create “a better Enlightenment.” Firstly, by raising the general knowledge level concerning the philosophies of the Global South. Thus, this text includes examples from the global enlightenments in China, Mughal India, Arabic-writing countries, and Indigenous North America—all preceding and influencing the European Enlightenment. Secondly, we can rebuild by rediscovering the Enlightenment ideals within the historiography of the “hidden enlightenment” of Europe’s and North America’s past. In Part I, of two parts of this paper, a comparative methodology will be outlined. In addition, examples will be given from the history of ideas in India and China to argue that we need to study how these regions influenced the European history of ideas in the 16th and 17th centuries. Finally, towards the end of this text, a re-reading of the contributions from Egypt and Greece aspires to give a more global and complex context for Western Europe’s so-called Age of Reason.
8. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
Dag Herbjørnsrud The Quest for a Global Age of Reason. Part II: Cultural Appropriation and Racism in the Name of Enlightenment
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The Age of Enlightenment is more global and complex than the standard Eurocentric Colonial Canon narrative presents. For example, before the advent of unscientific racism and the systematic negligence of the contributions of Others outside of “White Europe,” Raphael centered Ibn Rushd (Averroes) in his Vatican fresco “Causarum Cognitio” (1511); the astronomer Edmund Halley taught himself Arabic to be more enlightened; The Royal Society of London acknowledged the scientific method developed by Ibn Al-Haytham (Alhazen). In addition, if we study the Transatlantic texts of the late 18th century, it is not Kant, but instead enlightened thinkers like Anton Wilhelm Amo (born in present-day’s Ghana), Phillis Wheatley (Senegal region), and Toussaint L’Ouverture (Haiti), who mostly live up to the ideals of reason, humanism, universalism, and human rights. One obstacle to developing a more balanced presentation of the Age of the Enlightenment is the influence of colonialism, Eurocentrism, and methodological nationalism. Consequently, this paper, part II of two, will also deal with the European Enlightenment’s unscientific heritage of scholarly racism from the 1750s. It will be demonstrated how Linnaeus, Hume, Kant, and Hegel were among the Founding Fathers of intellectual white supremacy within the Academy. Hence, the Age of Enlightenment is not what we are taught to believe. This paper will demonstrate how the lights from different “Global Enlightenments” can illuminate paths forward to more dialogue and universalism in the 21st century.
9. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
Selusi Ambrogio Discording Enlightenment on China: Pierre Bayle’s Skepticism vs Johan Jacob Brucker’s Exoticism
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It is usually acknowledged that the core contribution of the Enlightenment is primarily twofold: the first being the introduction of reason and science as judgmental principles, and the second being the belief in the future progress of humankind as a shared destiny for humanity. This ‘modern’ reason—an exclusively human prerogative among creatures—could be applied to create a better society from the political, civil, educational, scientific, and religious points of view. What is usually less known is that for most of the Enlightenment thinkers, this philosophical and cultural step was the prerogative of European or Western-educated thinkers, which implied a gradual exclusion of extra-European civilizations from human progress as a natural phenomenon. Thus, with the exception of a few French libertines, the creation of a better society was due to reason and critical thinking absent in other civilizations, who could, at most, inherit this ‘rational power’ from Western education. This exclusion, which is usually attributed to the violence of the colonialist period, is already implied in the arguments of several Enlightenment thinkers. Our investigation will follow three steps: an exposition of the three Western historical paradigms in which Eastern civilizations were inserted between the 17th and 18th century; a comparison between the attitude toward China and Buddhism of two very distant philosophers of the Enlightenment—i.e. Pierre Bayle (1647–1706) and Johann Jacob Brucker (1696–1770)—and a brief reflection on the Enlightenment from an ‘external/exotic’ point of view that will suggest the necessity of a ‘new skeptical Enlightenment’ for inducing actual intercultural dialogue.
10. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
Alexander Cook Ideology or History as “Idéologie:” C. F Volney and the Uses of the Past in Revolutionary France
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The French Revolution had a complex relationship with historical thought. In a significant sense, the politics of 1789 was built upon a rejection of the authority of the past. As old institutions and practices were swept away, many champions of the Revolution attacked conventional historical modes for legitimating authority, seeking to replace them with a politics anchored in notions of reason, natural law and natural rights. Yet history was not so easily purged from politics. In practice, symbols and images borrowed from the past saturated Revolutionary culture. The factional disputes of the 1790s, too, invoked history in a range of ways. The politics of nature itself often relied on a range of historical propositions and, as the Revolution developed, a new battle between “ancients” and ‘moderns’ gradually emerged amongst those seeking to direct the future of France. This article explores these issues by focusing on a series of lectures delivered at the École Normale in the Year III (1795), in the wake of Thermidor and the fall of Robespierre. The lectures, commissioned by the Ministry of Education, were designed to lay out a program for historical pedagogy in the French Republic. Their author, Constantin-Francois Volney (1757–1820), was one of a group of figures who sought, during these years, to stabilise French politics by tying it to the development of a new form of social science—a science that would eventually be labelled “idéologie.” With this in mind, Volney sought to promote historical study as an antidote to the political appropriation of the past, with particular reference to its recent uses in France. In doing so, he also sought to appropriate the past for political purposes. These lectures illustrate a series of tensions in the wider Revolutionary relationship with history, particularly during the Thermidorian moment. They also, however, reflect ongoing ambiguities in the social role of the discipline and the self-understanding of its practitioners.
11. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
Meng Zhang Passionate Enlightenment Redeeming Modernity through David Hume
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This paper aims to redeem part of the Enlightenment project through a critical appreciation of David Hume’s practical philosophy. It argues that Hume’s practical philosophy, if interpreted correctly, is immune to two major charges leveled against the Enlightenment in critical theories and in philosophical ethics, respectively. One trend is represented by Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, who claim that inherent to the advocacy of rationality typical of the Enlightenment is the irrational adoration of instrumental reason, which obliterates individual particularity, commodifies human relationships, and oppresses the human urge to express passionately. The other trend is represented by Alasdair McIntyre, who claims that the Enlightenment project is doomed to fail because it ventures to justify a historically and culturally conditioned morality as universal. Against the first critique, I argue that Hume’s reliance on the affective tendencies to derive a standard of moral values avoids the idolatry of rationality. Against the second critique, I argue that Hume’s characterization of virtues as qualities of personality that facilitate interpersonal relationships allows ample room for the cultural variance of values.
3. reason and religion
12. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
Anna Tomaszewska Spinoza’s Critique and the Making of Modern Religion in the Enlightenment Era
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In recent publications on the Enlightenment, Baruch Spinoza is often associated with the radical “fringe,” advocating against Christianity and giving rise to the incipient process of secularization. In this paper, it is argued that we should look for Spinoza’s influence on the Enlightenment in his ideas inspiring heterodox theologians: radical reformers aiming to “rationalize” revelation but not to dismiss it altogether. Several cases of such thinkers are adduced and shortly discussed: Jarig Jelles, Johan Christian Edelmann, Carl Friedrich Bahrdt and Immanuel Kant. Finally, three ways of conceptualizing the relation between Enlightenment and religion are sketched to address the question whether the sources of secularization can indeed be traced back to the Enlightenment.
13. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
Brian Klug Do We Need a New Nathan the Wise?
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Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s “dramatic poem” Nathan the Wise (1779) stood out at the time because it showed a Jew, Nathan, in a good light—a better light than the average Christian. Nathan is presented as a figure of wisdom largely on account of his approach to religious difference, especially among the religions represented by the three main protagonists: the Sultan Saladin (Islam), the Knight Templar (Christianity) and Nathan himself (Judaism). In the context of the conflicts of early modern Europe, his message—on the nature of religious difference and the need for toleration—might well seem to earn him the epithet “wise.” This message, which is also the message of the play as a whole, is reinforced by the fact that it is a Jew who delivers it. But, on closer examination, is he the person that at first sight he appears to be? Furthermore, if he were teleported to the here and now, would his take on difference and toleration have enough heft? The essay interrogates the figure of Nathan and answers both questions in the negative. It argues that we need a new Nathan for our globalised, post-colonial, post-Shoah world: a Nathan who is wise in a different fashion.
4. the metaphysics of the enlightenment
14. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
Alessandro Pinzani Do We Need a Metaphysics of Morals?: On the Actuality of Kant’s Project of Grounding A Priori Practical Principles
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This paper argues that Kant’s project of a metaphysics of morals represents a normative ideal grounded on the core ideas of Enlightenment. In the first section, it analyzes Kant’s concept of metaphysical principles of morals by establishing a connection between a metaphysics of morals and Kant’s concept of metaphysics in general and of metaphysics of nature in particular. It then discusses what is metaphysical in the Doctrine of Right and the Doctrine of Virtue. In its last section, it tackles the question of whether a non-metaphysical reading of Kant’s doctrines of right and of virtue is desirable if we want to remain faithful to Kant’s Enlightenment project.
15. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 3
Ollie Koistinen Spinoza’s Ode to Reason
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In this paper, the main features of Spinoza’s conception of Reason are laid out. First, how Reason differs on the one hand from opinion and imagination and on the other hand from intuitive knowledge. After that the validation of Reason is considered. As I interpret Benedict de Spinoza, even finite subjects enjoy freedom of Reason. I will give the reasons for this doctrine which seems to be inconsistent with Spinoza’s universal determinism. One of the most fascinating aspects of Spinoza’s rationalism is that the acts of reason are intrinsically motivating in bringing joy to the thinker. I will try to make sense of that view. In the concluding section of the paper, I try to make sense of how this affective feature of reasoning as an intrinsically joyful activity leads to rational love of God which, if things go well, leads to intellectual love of God in which our blessedness or salvation lies.
16. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
Robert Elliott Allinson Editorial
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1. on the idea of tolerance and religious beliefs
17. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
Emilia A. Tajsin Understanding Is Not Enough
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John Locke was one of the first empiricists of the age of modernity who created a masterpiece on systematic gnoseology, and the first Enlightener whose ideas on ethics, law, and politics, preceded and made possible the 18th century and the Great French Revolution, and inspired the key wordings in the American Declaration of Independence. The slogan “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” influenced the course of history becoming the banner “Freedom, Equality, Fraternity” for all revolutionary movements. However, “Possessions” as part of Locke’s slogan is treated and criticized very frequently and on different grounds. The main questions are: Is reason enough for enlightening, and, could property be the fourth slogan of a social revolution? This paper is meant to be a synopsis of Locke’s main ideas, showing their utmost importance for the contemporary world, as well as examining the latest changes in the role performed by the present-day media, now acting as the new means for enlightening.
18. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
Adriana Neacșu John Locke—Theorist of Limiting and Supervising Political Power by Citizens
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This paper aims to analyze John Locke’s ideas on the limited political mandate of the institutions of power, and the need for their supervision and sanctioning by citizens when they violate their duties. It emphasizes the topicality of these ideas, pointing out that they represent two fundamental principles in the functioning of the rule of law, defining the current democracies. Locke justified them starting from the hypothesis that society was founded by people through a deliberate pact, so that the common good could be promoted more effectively, and the legitimacy of political power is conditioned by the observance of this task. Therefore, if political power violates the social pact, it can be overthrown by citizens even by force. The author then raises the question if the use of force to change a political regime can still be justified today. Her answer is that this is an objective mechanism, which appears implacably in all unjust societies, and the only way to defuse it is for states to permanently respect the rights and freedoms of all citizens.
19. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
Diego Lucci Separating Politics from Institutional Religion: The Significance of John Locke’s Theory of Toleration
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Nowadays, more than three centuries after John Locke’s affirmation of the separation between state and church, confessional systems of government are still widespread and, even in secular liberal democracies, politics and religion often intermingle. As a result, some ecclesiastical institutions play a significant role in political affairs, while minority groups and individuals having alternative worldviews, values, and lifestyles are frequently discriminated against. Locke’s theory of religious toleration undeniably has some shortcomings, such as the exclusion of Roman Catholics and atheists from toleration and an emphasis on organized religion in A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689). However, Locke’s theory of toleration, which presents a Christian’s defense of the civil rights of those who have different religious opinions, still provides powerful arguments for the oft-neglected separation of politics from institutional religion, thereby urging us to leave theological dogmas and ecclesiastical authorities out of political life.
20. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
Shmuel Feiner Mendelssohn’s Jerusalem (1783) and The Jewish Vision of Tolerance
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Moses Mendelssohn (1729–1786) wrote Jerusalem with his back to the wall. His Jewish identity and liberal outlook were challenged in the public sphere of the German Enlightenment, and this was his last opportunity to write a book that would perpetuate the essence of his faith and his values as the first modern Jewish humanist. The work, which moves between apologetics for his faith and political and religious philosophy was primarily a daring essay that categorically denied the rule of religion and advocated tolerance and freedom of thought. Neither the state nor the church had the right to govern a person’s conscience; and, no less far-reaching and pioneering: these values are consistent with Judaism. In the summer of 1783, seven years after the resounding voice of protest against tyranny and in favor of liberty and equality was heard in the American Declaration of Independence, less than six years before the French Revolution, but only two years and two months before his death, the man who was called the “German Socrates,” a highly prominent figure in the Enlightenment, published one of the fundamental documents in Jewish modernity.