In the 17th and 18th centuries, the goal of many philosophers, writers, political scholars and scientists was to establish ‘reason’ as man’s defining feature. They believed that only rational investigation could reveal the truths of man, nature and the cosmos. For them, man would never be free unless critical thought and investigation became dominant in all areas of knowledge, most notably, science and politics. Religion, especially Christianity, did not escape scrutiny either. The legitimacy of religious texts and doctrines were thrown into profound doubt. However, there remained one lingering problem: Without the rules of religion, how will a citizen know how to act toward others in a free society? This course surveys the different ethical and moral theories of the Enlightenment and how those same theories remain influential in today’s growing secular world.
Read: The Crisis of the European Mind, Paul Hazard
This course is offered with the generous support of the Association for Continuing Education (ACE).