The Age of Enlightenment

Not a single culture up to the New Age could be said that the core and basis of its development was the search for individuality, the desire to understand and justify the independent dignity of a particular individual opinion, taste, talent, lifestyle, that is, the intrinsic value of difference. Having received the first impulses in the Italian Renaissance, having undergone a series of complex transformations in the 17th century, it was only at the end of the Enlightenment that this idea was fully formed and in the last century began to build its way onto European soil, gradually losing its insolent habits.

The idea of ​​“individuality,” as strange as it may seem, was unknown to all traditionalist societies, including Greco-Roman Antiquity. This word “individuality”, as well as the word “personality”, appeared some two or three hundred years ago. The specific and revolutionary idea of ​​individuality, which of necessity could not be unfamiliar to any culture, since it reflected biosocial reality.

This fundamental supra-historical reality lies in the simple fact that humanity is made up of people … The following two fundamental conclusions were drawn from this fundamental fact. First, it was argued that human nature, like the nature of all living things, is heterogeneous. As between the bodies of individuals, between their faces, voices, gestures, there is no complete similarity, so their souls, temperaments, morals and inclinations appear similar and different. They tried to survey and organize this diversity, attributing each person to a known variety and category. Thus, it was possible not to leave anyone unique and explain the uniqueness, reducing it to the general.

Secondly, the rationality of co-knowledge, co-knowledge, co-fertilized by the idea of ​​individuality, was understood as knowledge (news) only in the head of one person. And at the same time as continuing beyond the limits of individual consciousnesses, rolling through them and as if carrying them away in their eternal flow. However, every small individual shred of world rationality was considered the most whole, for it contained in itself and at times tried to add something else to it – with itself. Any culture could not help but think about this paradox of consciousness, about the attitude towards it of the universal Spirit and a detached partial existence.

Within this framework, renaissance thinking (consciousness) moved from the concept of “individual” to “individuality”.

“Individual” is a word that initially defines one person through his lack of independence, through his lot, production. The existence of corpuscles of mankind created a problem for the consciousness of people whose life was inseparable from the family, community, faith, corporation and whose spirituality needed an absolute starting point.

The individuality of existence was obvious, but obviously frightening! From imaginary mental atomicity from the surface of things, the thought stubbornly turned to the fact that an individual person is authentic only insofar as he is put in a common row and even eventually merges with the world substantial beginning. In this regard, only the living Cosmos or God is truly and solely individual.

With all the details of European (Antique or Judeo-Christian) socio-cultural models that turned out to be so significant in the transition to the New time, when regional peculiarities were historically in demand, used and when the concepts “East” and “West” first appeared – Until then, the “I ”Or was evaluated negatively, or, in any case,“ I ”was in no way perceived by itself, but only in the context of some involvement. Social and metaphysical community – these are the alpha and omega characteristics of each individual.

From her, an absolute and authoritarian instance, all withdrawal from the crowd was returned and returned to her. This does not mean that no one stood out. On the contrary, superiority was encouraged. Suffice it to recall the Olympic laurels, the “agon”, continuous competition among the ancient Greeks, the Roman “triumphs” and other honors of prominent citizens. In this connection medieval warriors come to mind, and later, poetic tournaments, finally church life and beatification, holy fools and saints.

The isolation of the ancient hero, athlete, commander or rhetorician, as well as the chosenness of the medieval righteous, is at the same time the greatest degree of inclusion, normativity, the maximum incarnation of the generally accepted – a certain exemplarity, that is, the opposite of what is meant by individuality in the Renaissance.

The concepts of “individuality” and “personality” germinated in the New time with a certain synchronicity, only in everyday life mixing, like synonyms. Being cultural, social, logical projections of a radically changed relationship between the individual and society, the individual and the world, these concepts are in many respects related, but in general, in essence, they are different.

In the idea of ​​individuality, the new economic and political reality of European history relating to the individual person most directly expressed itself. The content of the category “individuality”, embracing all spheres of life, from the state to domestic diversity, is fertilized by the pathos of the uniqueness and originality of each individual, directly associated with the principle of individual freedom affirming at this time.

The ideal of sociality developed in this era is a model of the individual, not of society, it is an image of a sensitive reality permeated with the highest world meaning, it is a cross-cutting idea of ​​humanization (“universalization”) of man and the cultivation of all earthly existence, in the center of which he stands. Over time, when the course of history found that, based only on the individual person’s self-activity, from his inner potential and prowess, it is impossible to build a happy existence, then by the middle of the 16th century, the renaissance ideal of sociality began to turn into a utopia, into the opposite.

French education. The problem of man is one of the central places in the philosophy of the French Enlightenment. It was solved mainly from the standpoint of open materialism (Lametri, Diderot, Helvetius, Holbach) or from the standpoint of deism, more precisely the deistic form of materialistic philosophy (Voltaire, Rousseau).

The French materialists opposed their understanding of man to religious-philosophical anthropology, resolutely rejecting the dualistic interpretation of human nature as a combination of physical, material substance and an immaterial, immortal soul. As for the philosopher-deists, Rousseau, for example, allowed the immortality of the soul and the after-death retribution, while Voltaire denied that the soul is immortal, and on whether “divine justice” is possible in the afterlife, preferred to keep “reverent silence.”

In the interpretation of human nature, Voltaire came out as an opponent of Pascal, rejecting not only his dualism, but also the main idea of ​​the philosopher that man is one of the weakest and most insignificant creatures in nature, a kind of “thinking reed.” People are not so pathetic and not as evil as Pascal believed, Voltaire emphasizes. The idea of ​​Pascal about solitude and abandonment of people, he contrasts his thesis about man as a social being, striving to form “cultural communities”. Voltaire does not accept Pascal and condemnation of human passions, selfishness. “Love for oneself”, other inclinations and passions are, according to Voltaire, the root cause of all human actions, the impulse that unites people, leads to the formation of prosperous cities and great states.

The desire for a consistently materialistic solution to the problem of man was vividly expressed in the writings of Lametri, Diderot and Helvetius, extracts from which are published in this edition. The leitmotif of their philosophical anthropology is the statement about the material unity of man, the closest dependence of the “abilities of the soul”, all mental processes, starting with sensation and ending with thinking, on the nervous system and brain, on the states of “bodily substance”. In accordance with this point of view, the death of the body was considered as the reason for the cessation of all human mental activity, as the natural and logical conclusion of earthly life, the only possible and real.

The materialistic solution of the psychophysical problem, which rejected the theological spiritualism and religious-philosophical dualism, was different at the same time as mechanism. Most of all, he appears in the work of Lametri “Man-machine”. However, the mechanism of the French materialists should not be interpreted literally, to simplify their views on the person. The latter was understood not as an ordinary mechanism or machine, but as an instrument of nature, endowed with the ability to feel, feel and think. Therefore, materialist philosophers showed particular interest in physiology, in the study of the nervous system and the brain as a material substrate of the psyche.

To a greater extent than Voltaire, the French materialists emphasized the sensual-emotional nature of man, the role of personal interest in the activities of people. This is especially characteristic of Helvetius. “Sensual impressions, self-love, pleasure and correctly understood personal interest, Marx wrote about Helvetia, – form the basis of all morality. But it would be a mistake to think that Helvetius’s man is an ingrained egoist and self-lover. After all, he was talking about interest “, which presupposes a rational combination of the interest of an individual, or” private interest “, with the interest of society, or” public interest. “Such” rational egoism “did not at all exclude a person’s striving for” common good “, for” social happiness. ” m, the “selfish morality” of the French materialists of the XVIII century. how often it is called, not only was not alien. universal moral values, but on the contrary, assumed the humanization of interpersonal relations.

Didro took a somewhat different position on this issue. He shared the theory of innate moral feeling, adjoining the sensationalistic and altruistic ethics of the English educator Shaftesbury. The most important manifestation of the moral feeling that nature has endowed man with, Diderot considered striving for virtue, for mutual love and support. But the innate tendency toward good does not exclude, in his opinion, the need for moral education. The latter develops and strengthens the “natural” virtue, forms high moral qualities in people.

In general, the teachings of the French philosophers, enlighteners about man had a humanistic and democratic orientation, had a significant impact on the further development of materialistic anthropology.

English education. Philosophical thought of Britain in the second half of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. developed under the dominant influence of the ideas of Hobbes, Locke, Hume. Far from the last place in their work was the problem of man.

Hobbes, who can be considered one of the early enlighteners in England, derived “human nature” from the life drives and practical interests of people, from their “natural” motives for self-preservation, wealth, honor, glory. People act, according to Hobbes, “for the sake of love for oneself, and not for others,” and are guided, as a rule, by selfish aspirations. Therefore, there are relations of rivalry and hostility between people, the end of which can and should be the establishment of a powerful state power, the introduction of clear laws binding for all citizens without exception.

In the political theory of Hobbes, the state acts as a product of a social contract, a guarantor of peace and prosperity of members of society, enables every person to realize the rights that he possesses “by nature”: the right to life, to security, to own property. A supporter of the absolute power of the state, Hobbes, however, did not exclude certain freedoms that citizens should have: freedom of choice of residence, occupation, one way or another way of life, etc.

Following Hobbes, Locke also considers the state as a product of mutual agreement of people, but unlike his predecessor, he brings to the fore not so much the legal, legal, as moral criteria of the behavior of people in society. Not civil laws, but norms of morality, which are established “by implicit and tacit consent”, should be, according to Locke, a natural regulator of interpersonal relations. He draws attention to the fact that people “strive for good,” that most of them approve not virtue, but virtue. True, Locke immediately points out the usefulness of virtuous deeds for people, their necessity for preserving and strengthening social ties, and ultimately, for the benefit of all members of society.

Hume, unlike Hobbes and Locke, recognized both the principle of “universal benevolence” and the egoistic foundations of human nature. “Most of humanity,” he observed, “oscillates between vice and virtue.” And although people are quite selfish, usually the feeling of “sympathy” that they nourish each other takes the upper hand. In addition, there is a “mutual exchange of good services” in society, which even more fastens social ties.

In his skeptical manner he treats Hume and the nature of the human soul. Looking at the soul as an intangible and indestructible substance is, in his opinion, nothing more than an illusion. However, this does not mean that Hume is inclined to a materialistic solution to the psychophysical problem. This would lead him to deny the immortality of the soul. He preferred the position of philosophical skepticism, the result of which was his agnosticism.

In the writings of Hobbes, Locke and Hume, extracts from which are published in this edition, various aspects of the problem of man are explored, the diverse manifestations of his physical and spiritual life are examined.

German education. Unlike the French, the German Enlightenment as a whole did not resort to traditional anthropological subjects. There is no direct discourse on human nature or human subjectivity in the philosophical texts presented by us. We are talking about the peculiarities of the national character, then the moral progress of mankind, then about humanity. Actually the anthropological theme seems blurred, difficult to extract from the complex of philosophical knowledge.

Meanwhile, it was in the German Enlightenment that philosophical anthropology was gradually shaped into an independent area of ​​philosophical reflection along with, say, the theory of knowledge or ethics. The famous Kantian questions: “What can I know?”, “What should I do?”, “What can I hope for?” Were prepared by previous philosophical reflection, a complex ascent to the formulation of the problem of man.

German enlighteners viewed themselves as peculiar missionaries of the mind, designed to open people’s eyes to their nature and purpose, to direct them to the path of inspiring truths. In the Age of Enlightenment, the Renaissance ideal of a free personality acquires the attribute of universality: it must think not only about itself, but also about others, about its place in society. In the Renaissance, man, conceived as the absolute basis for nature, society and history, was not, however, fully correlated with sociality, with the social idea. The enlighteners, on the other hand, sought to recognize the specifics of these interhuman connections. In the center of their attention are the problems of the best social order, the development of programs of social transformations that most closely correspond to human nature.

What is the main, determining, in their opinion, in human nature? The educators are convinced that the all-pervading mind is a sovereign trait that determines the quality of a person. Especially rationalistic early Enlightenment. This is the age of rational thinking. However, gradually comes disappointment. The question arises: “Are there any limits to the mind?” Then salvation is sought in “direct knowledge,” in feelings, in intuition, and somewhere ahead one can also see the dialectical reason. But as long as any increment of knowledge is taken for good, the ideals of the Enlightenment remain unshakable.

Another characteristic feature of the Enlightenment is historical optimism. It is based on the idea of ​​human intelligence, on the belief that in human nature there is a lot of beautiful, positive inclinations. As for the vices, bad deeds, passions, they are surmountable, obsolete. There is no such side of human nature that cannot be ennobled by the standards of reason. Hence the idea of ​​progress as the possibility of infinite improvement of man and humanity, the “education of the human race”, changes in sociality in the search for the best forms of human existence.

The idea of ​​progress is generally the conquest of an era. Previous times did not reflect on self-justification. Antiquity did not want to know anything about its predecessors. Christianity attributed its appearance to the account of higher destinies. Even the Renaissance, who mediated in the dialogue of the two preceding cultures, considered it not a task to strive forward, but return to the original sources. The Enlightenment first realized that it was a new era. From here it was already within reach of historicism as a type of thinking. And although not all the enlighteners have risen to the historical view of things, its roots lie in this era.

In German philosophy, the beginning of the Enlightenment is associated with the name of Christian Wolf (1 679 – 1 754), the systematizer and popularizer of the teachings of Leibniz. For the first time in Germany, Wolf created a system covering the main areas of philosophical knowledge. Volfiontsy were convinced that the spread of education immediately lead to the solution of all the pressing issues of our time. The cult of reason combined with their reverence for the Christian faith, which they tried to give a “rational” interpretation. Wolf himself did not pay enough attention to anthropological subjects.

Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804) is a prominent representative of Wolffian educational philosophy in his early, “subcritical” period. In his work one can trace a certain evolution from the problems of natural science and general “metaphysics” to the problem of man. Before you ask general fundamental questions about the purpose of man, about his essence. Kant refers, it would seem, to private themes – to the dreams of the Svyoddenborg spiritual seeker, to the world of human feelings, to the assessment of the national characteristics of people.

The evolution of the early Kant proceeded under the influence of Rousseau. He was indebted to the books of the French enlightener for the emancipation of the armchair scholar. He is now interested in many questions of human existence proper. The real worldly man is more and more captivated by his attention. Kant discovers that this is a very interesting object of philosophical reflection. He views the turn to anthropological subjects as a kind of revolution in thinking.

The most characteristic work for this period was “Observations on the sense of the beautiful and the sublime” (1764). This treatise, which has endured eight lifetime editions, brought Kant the glory of a fashion writer. The philosopher appears in an unusual genre – as an essayist. His syllable acquired grace and affinity, the author willingly resorts to irony. The choice of such literary letters is not accidental. Kant addresses the world of human feelings. Expressing the life of emotions is much more difficult than reproducing the movement of thought. That is why there are many images in the treatise, but no strict definitions.

Human feelings in work are viewed through the prism of two categories – Beautiful and Exalted. Treatise on aesthetics? Nothing like this. It is rather an anthropological sketch, giving the opportunity to get closer to more rigorous reflections on human nature.

Kant expresses some thoughts about the difference of people by temperament, not at all trying to exhaust the topic. The Beautiful and the Sublime serves as the core for him, on which he strung his very entertaining observations about the human in man. In the realm of the Sublime, according to Kant, the temperament is melancholic, to which the German enlightener gives a clear preference, although he also sees some of his weaknesses. Man as a living being has a clearly fixed nature. But at the same time, what a variety of characters, temperaments! In “Observations on the sense of the beautiful and the sublime,” Kant discusses the peculiarities of the national character.

This is one of the first steps of the social psychology of science, which today has acquired a more rigorous empirical base. Of course, the German enlightener does not yet have a broad sociological approach. He is content mostly with his own observations of national behavior patterns. Subsequently, Kant repeatedly returned to these observations, each time he read an anthropology course. Its conclusions are not always accurate, sometimes controversial, mostly original. Behind the bright, though arbitrary, passages, there is a deep meaning: they anticipate a change in the spiritual atmosphere of the country, the coming turn from reason to feelings, the emergence of interest in individual experiences of the individual.

A contemporary of the early Kant – Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729 – 1781) – poet, playwright, literary critic, philosopher. Abstracts “Education of the human race” (1730) are programmatic. first of all, for the thinker himself. We will appreciate the range of his ideas, which are, in our opinion, a kind of introduction. First of all, this is the idea of ​​the unity of the human race, of its all-inclusive integrity. Of course, Lessing is based primarily on European history. He reasons in the spirit of European humanity. Nevertheless, the thinker proceeds from the idea of ​​the universal fate of people.

Another fruitful idea of ​​Lessing: humanity arises when this community is realized. Without intense self-awareness, no unity arises. Only a gradual feeling of sameness contributes to the birth of such a universal education as humanity. And it goes without saying that one cannot do without certain stages, concrete stages through which this identity is understood.

From this point of view, Lessepit’s view that the human mind is viewed as the sovereign force of history does not look archaic. We are accustomed to correlate the birth of a global civilization with the deployment of productive forces, economic ties, means of communication. The human race must also realize its commonality: we are only now getting used to this thought.

Lessing highly appreciated the role of Christianity in human history, magnifying the moral side in it. The doctrine of universal love, the requirement of virtuous deeds, according to the philosopher, provided Christianity with a victory over other religions. He emphasized that in order for the mind of a person to reach full clarity and create the purity of the heart, which instills in us the ability to love, above all, to love virtue for its own sake, the mind must exercise in understanding spiritual objects.

But does the high appreciation of Christian holiness mean that the spiritual evolution of the human race ends precisely with this religion? According to Lessing, humanity will not stop at this stage. A new stage of maturity will come – “the era of the new, eternal Gospel”. It is at this time that morality will prove to be a universal, unconditional principle of behavior. The New Testament will become obsolete in the same way as the Old Testament. The third world state is coming not immediately. It certainly requires preliminary steps.

This idea of ​​Lessing about the gradual cultivation of morality, about the patient advancement to the highest steps of the spirit in our day once again reveals its deepest meaning. Radical and early programs of alteration of the world, divorced from spiritual traditions, caused considerable damage to humanity. Against this background, the judgment of the great German thinker seems impressive and spiritual: “Walk with your inconspicuous step, eternal providence!” The work of the disciple of the early Kant and Lessing Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803) is permeated with profound humanistic reflections.

While still a student, he came to the idea that, in philosophy, the problem of man should become central. “What fruitful possibilities,” he exclaimed, “will open up when all philosophy becomes anthropology!” Herder’s philosophical basis was the teaching on development, on the progress of mankind. The first attempt to state this doctrine was the work “Another Philosophy of History for the Education of Mankind” (1774). In this work, being within theological views on the origin of the human race and on the driving forces of history, Herder expresses deep thoughts about the natural progressive nature of the changes taking place in society.

Humanity, according to Herder, corresponding to the nature of man, is such a state of society when everyone, without fear of the other, is free to develop his abilities. If people have not reached such a state, then they should blame only themselves: no one will help them from above, but no one will tie their hands. They should learn from their past, which clearly demonstrates that humanity seeks harmony and perfection. The whole history of nations is a school of competition in the speedy achievement of humanity.

Thus, we can say that the German Enlightenment, animated by the pathos of historicism, organic development, considering the movement of man to perfection as the inevitable law of social dynamics, marked a number of major milestones on the way to the search for individuality, to the creation of philosophical anthropology as an independent area of ​​philosophical knowledge.

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