What Is Enlightenment?: Eighteenth-Century Answers and Twentieth-Century Questions

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James Schmidt
University of California Press, Sep 8, 1996 - History - 563 pages
This collection contains the first English translations of a group of important eighteenth-century German essays that address the question, "What is Enlightenment?" The book also includes newly translated and newly written interpretive essays by leading historians and philosophers, which examine the origins of eighteenth-century debate on Enlightenment and explore its significance for the present.

In recent years, critics from across the political and philosophical spectrum have condemned the Enlightenment for its complicity with any number of present-day social and cultural maladies. It has rarely been noticed, however, that at the end of the Enlightenment, German thinkers had already begun a scrutiny of their age so wide-ranging that there are few subsequent criticisms that had not been considered by the close of the eighteenth century. Among the concerns these essays address are the importance of freedom of expression, the relationship between faith and reason, and the responsibility of the Enlightenment for revolutions.

Included are translations of works by such well-known figures as Immanuel Kant, Moses Mendelssohn, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, and Johann Georg Hamann, as well as essays by thinkers whose work is virtually unknown to American readers. These eighteenth-century texts are set against interpretive essays by such major twentieth-century figures as Max Horkheimer, Jürgen Habermas, and Michel Foucault.
 

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Contents

What Is Enlightenment?
1
What Is to Be Done toward the Enlightenment of the Citizenry? 1783
49
What Is Enlightenment? 1784
58
Thoughts on Enlightenment 1 784
65
A Couple of Gold Nuggets from the Wastepaper
78
For Princes
87
Censors and Writers 1787
97
Publicity 1792
114
The Berlin Wednesday Society
235
The Vocabulary of Public and Publicity
253
On Enlightenment for the Common Man
270
Hamann versus Kant
291
Early Romanticism and the Aufkldrung
317
Ideas Skepticism and Critique
330
What Is Enlightenment?
345
Rudiger Bittner
359

Letter to Christian Jacob Kraus 18 December 1784
145
Metacritique on the Purism of Reason 1784
154
Is It and Could It Be Dangerous to the State
168
A Commentary on Journeys
191
True and False Political Enlightenment 1792
212
Does Enlightenment Cause Revolutions? 1795
225
What Is Enlightened Thinking?
368
The Unity of Reason in the Diversity of Its Voices
399
The Failure of Kants Imagination
453
The Political Perspective
517
CONTRIBUTORS TO PARTS II AND III
533
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About the author (1996)

James Schmidt is Chair of the Department of Political Science at Boston University. He is author of Maurice Merleau-Ponty: Between Phenomenology and Structuralism (1985).

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