Questions about Enlightenment

People are suddenly arguing about the Enlightenment. It’s terribly exciting: Madeleine Bunting posted here, leading to responses here, here, here and here, with, no doubt, more to come. But how many people have a good idea as to what they are talking about?

In the posts that follow (read down: I’ve posted them in reverse order), I ask a few standard questions about the Enlightenment. I think it’s worth having answers to questions like these — otherwise you just end up in a position where you can cheerlead for “the Enlightenment” (the rule of law! democracy! science!) or just slag it off for the bad things you vaguely associate with it somewhere along the way (racism! sexism! Revolutionary Terror!) without letting anything as complicated as history or evidence get in the way of your arguments. And that’d be a shame.

So, here we go…

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