An Introduction to the Philosophy of the Enlightenment

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What’s it all about?

Like life under Malcolm Turnbull today, the eighteenth century was a very exciting time to be alive. In the previous century Isaac Newton had shown that man alone by careful observation and reason could map the inner workings of the cosmos.

Buoyed by new confidence in the power of the human mind, the thinkers of the eighteenth century began demolishing centuries of cant and superstition, replacing armchair intuition with empirical science, revelation with reason, the Divine Right of Kings with the Rights of Man, and the sovereignty of the Church with the sovereignty of the individual.

They were so impressed with the luminosity of their new perspectives on everything that they called it “Enlightenment”.

What will we cover?

In this class you will explore how thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, Benjamin Franklin, Voltaire, David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Jefferson, Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill changed the way we see ourselves and the world around us, and why they still matter today.

Who will be teaching?

Ian Robinson is President Emeritus of the Rationalist Society of Australia and immediate past Chairman of the Rationalist Association of Australia. He has been a tutor in Philosophy at the University of Melbourne, a lecturer in Philosophy of Education at Coburg Teachers’ College, leader of the Curriculum Project Team (Primary) for the Victoria Ministry of Education and Manager of the Music and Writing Department at Chisholm Institute, from which he retired in 2010.