Enlightenment Darrin McMahon

In session 1 of BB2E2, historian Darrin McMahon ends his presentation with a reading from Peter Gay's The Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Paganism:

"The world has not turned out the way the philosophes wished and half expected that it would. Old fanaticisms have been more intractable, irrational forces more inventive than the philosophes were ready to conjecture in their darkest moments. Problems of race, of class, of nationalism, of boredom and despair in the midst of plenty have emerged almost in defiance of the philosophes’ philosophy. We have known horrors that the men of the Enlightenment did not foresee in their worst nightmares. Yet, though few are inclined to believe it, none of this impairs the permanent value of the Enlightenment’s human and libertarian vision or the permanent value of its critical method any more than the philosophes’ failure to live up to their own prescriptions or realize their own ideals compromises the worth of those same prescriptions and ideals. It remains as true today as it was in the 18th century, the world needs more light than it has, not less, and the cure for the shortcomings of Enlightened thought lies not in obscurantism, but in further Enlightenment."

No comments: