Question #5

Do you think the idea of the “Counter-Enlightenment” is a useful category or not, either intellectually or historiographically?

Isaiah Berlin and some others have tried to draw a distinction between the Enlightenment (Voltaire, Diderot, Kant, etc.) and the Counter-Enlightenment (definitely Herder, sometimes Rousseau, sometimes Vico, sometimes Burke, and so on). Does this distinction illuminate more than it misleads?

In particular, how should we understand Rousseau in relation to the Enlightenment? Is he a figure embedded right at its heart, or is he its sharpest critic? How do our understandings of “the Enlightenment” change according to the choices we make in answering this question?

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