DO WE NEED A NEW ENLIGHTENMENT FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY?
Our first issue of 2022, “Do We Need a New Enlightenment for the 21st Century” arrives at a critical moment. Some academic intellectuals have described our times as the twilight of democracy, the world gone awry, or heaven in disorder. It is more true than ever, as Immanuel Kant said of his epoch, we may live in the Age of Enlightenment, but this is not an enlightened age. There are serious questions of the maintenance of international rules of conduct, a lack of a world order of just rules and ethical norms, a lack of adherence to the values of human dignity, human life and human rights. In Hegelian terminology, this is a world historical moment. It is time to reflect on the topic of the Enlightenment, as Hegel did in his Phenomenologie des Geistes. The topic of the Enlightenment has become a widening academic, scholarly subject of considerable interest, with a growing plethora of specialist research publications and a growth of Enlightenment Institutes. However, our times, in contrast, are demonstrating a loss of the values of the Enlightenment, a loss of the belief in trust-worthy knowledge, truth and reliance on the values of tolerance, rationality, democracy and humanism.
This is the third issue in the trilogy of issues on the reexamination of the Enlightenment for which I have had the privilege of being the Guest Editor. When I commenced this project, I did not know how germane it would prove to be for the world of current events. I also did not realize the richness of the carefully wrought contributions from significant scholars, educated all around the world that I would receive and have the honor of dialoguing with, reviewing, collating and commenting upon. Here again, in this final installment of articles that investigate and bring to light the contributions of that glorious period from the long enlightenment to our 21st century civilization we find world class scholars reminding us of the important insights that we must not ignore: the insights of the values of Reason, Science, Humanism, Tolerance and Democracy. Our contributors to this issue, each of whom took their responsibility for this issue so seriously, inspire us to explore the new directions that their in-depth investigations of the thinkers of that period have uncovered. Our contributors have paved the way toward correcting the mistaken steps of our present times and pointed the way toward a more enlightened age that, if we sincerely learn the lessons from the Enlightenment, we may hope to create and actualize in our global community today.
If the period that my distinguished contributors and I have been covering is the Age of Enlightenment, then what appellation is appropriate for our 21st century? If we take the death of the great philosopher, Immanuel Kant in 1804 as the end of the Enlightenment, then Kant’s maxim, Sapere Audi, Dare to Know, a maxim that epitomized the motto of the Geist of the Enlightenment, also came to an end with his death. The 20th century, dubbed the Age of Analysis, has now ended. After analysis, then what?
One can think of many competitors for the nomenclature most suitable to name our current age. The Age of Technocracy comes to mind with the increase in the reliance upon technology, robots, and the bourgeoning surge of interest in the use of Artificial Intelligence. Another strong competitor is the Age of the Anthropocene, an age signified by the awareness of the extent to which our human activity has had such a significant effect on our climate and our environment. Equally strong, though doubtless unattractive in its graphic vulgarity, is the Age of Barbarism, with its numerous examples, both highly visible and others cloistered, including, Rwanda, Darfur, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Boko Haram and most recently, Ukraine. War is no longer fought on battlefields between soldiers as it was during the Age of the Enlightenment.
Despite the relevance of these assorted labels as descriptors of our age, what comes most strongly to mind, is the Enveloping Age of Skepticism. Unlike Kant’s maxim, Sapere Audi, the tendency of our current age is a disbelief and consequent unwillingness to discover and examine Knowledge and Truth. The underlying premise of our times is that there is no real Knowledge or Truth to be found. Irrational as this belief is, especially with the growth of science and technology, it is the foundation of the underlying attitude of our times, an attitude that has surrendered human knowledge and human values to technology, and as a sublimized surrogate, has replaced the quest for knowledge with a voyeuristic interest in artificial intelligence, and, laying responsibility aside, has refused to take diligent, sufficient action to slow the ravages of our planet by the need for the fuel of technology, and ultimately that has lost its moral values to allow for (and take necromanced pleasure in watching in real time), the onslaught of barbarism. For it is nihilism that is the inedible fruit of skepticism. And nihilism leaves us unguarded by transcendent norms.
Whereas, the intellectual struggle in the Enlightenment was for greater human rationality to combat religious fundamentalism and political tyranny, the death throes of reason has now enabled the multiplication of both the extremes of religious fundamentalism and the extremes of rulership by tyrants and authoritarians. If it is true that this is an Age of Skepticism, we need, more than ever to renew our historical studies of the Enlightenment and to carry forth from that glorious period of intellectual evolution the same succor of inspiration that the Age of the Renaissance rediscovered by turning to the values of our historic Golden Age of Greece.
The stage has now been set for our intellectuals to take up intellectual arms against the rule of the skeptical. In Hegel’s prescient phrase, the Owl of Minerva flies at twilight. The essays which follow point the way to a return to an enlightened perspective. The flight of the owl begins with essays that cast light on the urgently needed universality of ethical outlooks that characterized iconic figures of the Enlightenment. The flight continues as the owl perceives the mode of the transmission of the ideas of the luminaries of the Enlightenment and its trajectory includes the need to be observant of the modes of knowledge of those cultures that challenge our most accustomed ones. The flight of the owl culminates in the direction of new perceptions of canonic figures of the Enlightenment and discovers new visions and new directions for reason to investigate, explore and imitate, especially in the mode of internal and linguistic transformation that characterizes the thinkers of the Far East.
I have grouped the articles that follow into three sections: 1. Iconic Figures of the Enlightenment; 2. Understanding the Intellectual History of the Enlightenment; 3. Pointing the Way Toward a New Enlightenment: Undiscovered Treasures and Eastern Directions.
Section 1. Iconic Figures of the Enlightenment
Professors Patricia Werhane and David Bevan, in their joint article, “Adam Smith, The Enlightenment, and His Relevance for the 21st Century,” articulate a masterly pithy and concise portrait of Adam Smith, that sets the stage for the ensuing discussion of the Enlightenment. Though the editorial commentary on their work may appear brief, this is due to the fact that their contribution is so precise and comprehensive in its conciseness, that it speaks for itself in its lucidity. More commentary on what they have said could be a gilding of the lily.
They correct the commonly held view of Adam Smith as the apostle of an unrestricted, individual greed and argue with plentiful textual evidence from Smith’s iconic works that Smith was indeed guided by principles of Justice. Their work corrects the view of Adam Smith as the father of neo-classical economics, as he is frequently represented. They offer textual evidence from Smith’s famous works that Smith does not posit an individualist view of man. They point out that Smith, unlike François Quesnay who is credited as inventing the concept of laissez-faire, does not accept the concept of a laissez-faire government. They very carefully delineate Smith’s idea of the self as an idea that includes benevolence and fairness. They sharply distinguish Smith’s view of Man from the view of Bernard de Mandeville and Ayn Rand who portray man as motivated purely by greed. All in all, this might be read as a portrayal of Smith as an anti-Enlightenment figure if one identifies Enlightenment thinking as representing man as an individualist governed by the motivation of the maximization of profit. In a sense, their interpretation of Smith is a blueprint of how a new Enlightenment should be drawn for the future from the cornerstones of the past. It is also an example of how a deep investigation of a thinker reveals insights that alter commonly held views that dominate our scholarly world and our standard pedagogy. With the significant global extension of capitalism and its incalculable influence on geopolitical world events as well as the life of all individuals, a view that reveals the father of economics as a self that embodies and stands for virtue is more needed today than ever before.
In his paper, “David Hume’s Universalism of Moral Precepts,” Professor Tom L. Beauchamp also reveals the advantages that in-depth scholarship can reveal concerning commonly held beliefs about the teachings of philosophers that have resulted in generations of misconceptions concerning these iconic figures, and hence, influencing the views that we should hold concerning these beliefs. Professor Beauchamp corrects the view that David Hume was guided by a pure, empirical approach and presents arguments to demonstrate that Hume was also guided by significant ethical principles. Professor Beauchamp presents a view of Hume’s moral philosophy as universalistic and normative as opposed to the commonly held interpretation of Hume as merely psychological, metaethical and empirical. Professor Beauchamp also argues that Hume is deeply committed to virtue ethics. Professor Beauchamp recounts numerous passages from Hume’s works to substantiate his claim that Hume’s moral theory is meant to be normative. As Professor Beauchamp states, “This Book [A Treatise on Human Nature] should be read primarily as a normative work in moral philosophy.” This view of Hume, markedly different from commonly held interpretations of Hume, paint Hume as representing a better view of the Enlightenment than the view of the Enlightenment normally considered. It portrays Hume as another harbinger of a new Enlightenment. Hume is lifted far higher than his usual reference as an epistemological empiricist to an important figure in the history of virtue ethics. With the priority needed to be accorded to ethics in this present epoch, the mature reexamination of Hume afforded by Professor Beauchamp is a significant corrective to our notions of the history of philosophy.
These two articles demonstrate that the iconic figures of the Enlightenment were not thinkers who embraced a kind of neo-classical economics of market forces but who opined that human agency needed abiding ethical guidepoints to safely structure the course of human events. This precious insight has much to teach us in our present age. It can move us from a complacent view of the operation of forces outside of our control to a much needed concept of human agency and responsibility for guiding our world in more ethical directions. The view of the need for virtue in our economic and political life arises again and again in the essays of all of the contributors to this special issue.
In Professor Tatsuya Sakamoto’s paper, “Hume’s Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth Revisited,” he asks, what are the essential elements that constitute a truly republican tradition of thought. He gives three answers: the rule of virtue whose ultimate purpose is the realization of the good, defined as giving priority to public interest over private interest; the rule of law; the rule of the people, or the greatest majority. He praises Athenian democracy as the exemplary model.
Professor Sakamoto discusses the problematic switch from the virtuous individual to the self-interested individual as engineered by Thomas Hobbes, Bernard de Mandeville and, in his view, Adam Smith. According to Professor Sakamoto, Hume’s article “Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth” presented the idea of a federal republic that greatly influenced Madison and the Federalists in America. Hume argued against the ancient view that commerce and the acquisition of wealth was accompanied by a decrease in morality.
Professor Sakamoto warns us that there is a bottleneck. He reminds us that when Cicero regarded the rule of law by free and equal citizens to be the essence of the Roman Republic, it was the rule of law by slaveholders. In a footnote, Professor Sakamoto points to the argument of Adam Smith that direct democracy is linked to slavery and that a free society requires a representative democracy since workers would not have the time to devote to public affairs. Professor Sakamoto draws our attention to Hume’s essay, Of Some Remarkable Customs, in which Hume wrote that, “[In] The Athenian direct democracy […] the whole collective body of the people voted in every law, without any limitation of property, without any distinction of rank, without any magistrates or senate and consequently without regard to order, justice or prudence.” Professor Sakamoto concludes that Hume sought to avoid both extremes of the tyrannical rule of the monarch and extreme democracy.
Professor Sakamoto also points out in his essay, Populousness of Ancient Nations, Hume did criticize the practice of slavery. However, as even the radicals and republican theorists of 18th century Britain, Hume did not recognize the lower working poor as political citizens. Nevertheless, Professor Sakamoto indicates that the Humean model anticipates a modern parliamentary democracy. Professor Sakamoto writes that in the Humean model, local voters elect only county representatives and not the executive branch. In the modern Japanese parliamentary cabinet system, voters elect the lower house of the Diet but not the Prime Minister. In the U.S. presidential system developed by James Madison, voters directly elect legislators, but the President is elected by the electoral college of their party. This is the same as the Humean model. Professor Sakamoto concludes that the rule of the people through law is Hume’s enduring legacy.
In my editorial comment, what is important to emphasize about Hume’s contribution, is that for Hume, voters at the county level cast their votes according to their own judgement. This contrasts with parliamentary democracy where voters vote according to political party. Supposedly, the Senate ensures the rule of the virtuous. In the U.S.A., in today’s political climate, where, for the most part, considerable wealth is an essential condition for senatorial election, the assurance of the rule of the virtuous is in considerable doubt. As Professor Sa kamoto observes, Hume himself was not optimistic concerning the rule of the virtuous. Therefore, Professor Sakamoto warns that the combination of the emergence of party politics, mass democratization, the reactionary growth of political apathy and populist movements are worrying trends. Professor Sakamoto’s contribution, as an Eastern scholar, reminding us of the lessons of Western history, while interpreting the political thought and influence of Hume, offers a 21st century exposition reminiscent in its perspective of Alexis de Tocqueville’s, Democracy in America.
Professor Lawrence Kaplan carries forward the interest in preserving virtue and reflects upon the Jewish way of learning in his examination of Moses Mendelssohn’s philosophy. In Professor Lawrence Kaplan’s, “Between Action and Reflection: Moses Mendelssohn as Enlightenment Philosopher and Traditional Jew,” he addresses the question of how the “German Socrates,” Mendelssohn in his Jerusalem, integrated universal rational religious reflection and the Halakhah, Jewish ceremonial law. Professor Kaplan distinguishes between mimetic and textual learning, earmarking Mendelssohn’s philosophy as a guidepost and an endorsement of mimetic learning.
Professor Kaplan’s explanation of mimetic learning is such that one learns through and by practice and this practice leads one to thought. The advantage, Professor Kaplan argues, is that one does not, thereby, lose a sense and place of community, but, (and I editorialize here), one’s rationality and thereby universality is invoked in the realm of thought. Halakhah, to utilize an editorial metaphor, becomes a lens through which the great truths of religion can thereby be perceived. In a very abbreviated version of Mendelssohn’s, “Each of [the Laws] prescribed rituals serves as a stimulus to inquire after the purpose of such doings and to seek instruction from wise men.” If one’s learning is from texts, Professor Kaplan in his exposition of Mendelssohn, worries, one can lose one’s tradition and also become isolated from any community. The advantage of the mimetic tradition, and Professor Kaplan notes that Mendelssohn actually created a version of Plato’s Phaedo, that he named Phaedon, is that it is a pedagogy in which one does not lose one’s tradition and community while engaged in the search for wisdom.
In Professor Igor Kaufman’s, “The Reception of Spinoza and Mendelssohn in the Russian Enlightenment and the Russian-Jewish Haskalah,” Professor Kaufman expounds the treatment of Baruch Spinoza and Mendelssohn by Russian authors. Spinoza’s work does not appear in Russian translation until 1866. Mendelssohn, on the other hand, receives a Russian translation of his Phaedon in 1811. The earlier translation of Mendelssohn’s Phaedon published by Novikov in 1777 makes no mention of Mendelssohn’s name as the author. Nonetheless, it is not surprising that Mendelssohn was known as “the Jewish Socrates” as well as “the German Socrates” as Professor Kaplan writes, when one considers that Mendelssohn’s preface to his Phaedon was “The Life and Character of Socrates.” When Mendelssohn’s, Phaedon is published in Russian, there is again no mention of Mendelsohn’s name as the author. This, in my editorial comment, is an indication of antisemitism. Professor Kaufman mentions that the interpretation of Spinoza as an atheist was commonplace in the late 17th century and early 18th century works by Russian authors. One example he treats is that of Feofan Prokopovich who considered that the most significant contradiction in Spinoza is the inclusion of the finite mode of the human mind as a modification of substance or G-d, thereby contradicting the infinity of G-d. Professor Kaufman contrasts this with the counteratheistic reading of Spinoza especially noting the work of Odoevskiy: “Odoevski sharply criticizes the French philosophes’ atheistic reading of Spinoza and sees him as an opponent of zealous atheists,” (such as Boyle and Voltaire).
Professor Kaufman recounts the case of Saul Kovner, a physician educated at the National University of Kyiv in 1866 who explains how Spinoza changed from being a follower of Descartes because of a miracle or interior reasoning and produces a new attempt to reconcile spirit and matter, internal and external worlds and strives to produce a set of extremely sublime ideas. Kovner treats Spinoza’s life as an example of a genuine sage. Kovner seeks to explain Spinoza from a “Jewish world view,” which, for Kovner, consists in insularity and suffering and the intellectual tradition of Spain in which Sephardic Jews sought to reconcile philosophy and religion. Spinoza, Kovner relates, was well-versed in Talmud. By the time of his writing of the Ethics, Spinoza realized his idea of absolute unity that would put an end to the struggle between Church and State. Kovner sees the speculative side of Spinoza as his strongest suit. Kovner follows Kuno Fischer in his interpretation of Spinoza, not as denying G-d, but as denying man.
Professor Kaufman also tracks the work of Yakov Gurliand. Gurliand describes Mendelsson’s self-education as first gaining school knowledge with self-cognition and self-awareness, giving up his ambition to be a learned Rabbi, and finally turning to philosophy as his principal activity. He mentions Mendelssohn’s view that Judaism does not contain a commandment to convert nonJews or to proselytize. Gurliand expounds Mendelssohn as holding that Spinoza’s and Leibniz’s theories of mind and body were very similar and that Spinoza was the true inventor of the doctrine of Harmonia praestabilita.
Section 2. Understanding the Intellectual History of the Enlightenment
In the article by Professor Davide Poggi, “The Issue of Translation: Translation of Concepts or Compositio between Authors? The Case of Locke,” he presents compelling evidence of how important translation is in the proper spreading of intellectual ideas from the language of one country to the language of another. Professor Poggi discusses the many issues and choices facing the translator as is indicated by the title of his article. Professor Poggi focuses on John Locke’s, cardinal work, Essay Concerning Humane Understanding.2 Professor Poggi’s article undergirds the important point that translation cannot avoid the issue of interpretation. Professor Poggi adduces the example of Leibniz, who, in Novuveau Essais, could only rely upon Pierre Coste’s translation, and, in so doing, criticized Locke without a real basis. Such an example demonstrates how important translation is in the interaction between major philosophers with each other and thus how important translation is in the development of the history of philosophy. Professor Poggi’s article illustrates the problem that has developed in intellectual history and the history of philosophy that has arisen from the abandonment, in large part, of the use of a common academic language, e.g., Latin, to a profusion of national languages. In the cases in which Professor Poggi cites, there is the example of a German philosopher, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who must read the British philosopher, Locke, who wrote in English, through the lens of a French translator, Pierre Coste. Thus, the task of interpretation is complicated through its transmission through a triple lens of natural languages. The understanding of Locke which reaches Leibniz is two times removed from its original source. Since Locke’s original work is in English, and Pierre Coste’s native language is French, Pierre Coste’s understanding is already one time removed from Locke’s linguistic understanding. Leibniz, whose native language is German, is two times removed from Locke, since he must read Locke in French, which is one time removed from German and one time removed from Locke. The lesson that is taught by Professor Poggi, in my editorial comment, is that today, as global scholarship becomes more complicated through the required translation from the growing contribution of diverse natural languages, is that we may be more troubled today by the Tower of Babel than ever before. Thus, the lesson for us is the need for a greater humility in our self-concepts of the accuracy of the understanding of other cultures. The relevance for the importance of this lesson for peace among nations can scarcely be overestimated.
Professor Hiroki Ueno extends the issue of true understanding through the veil of different languages to the problem of understanding through the lenses of different cultures. In Professor Hiroki Ueno’s, “Adam Smith between the Scottish and the French Enlightenments,” Professor Ueno emphasizes the perceptible differences within the “Age of Enlightenment” especially in his pluralizing the term, “Enlightenments.” For Professor Ueno, the French philosophes recognized the Scottish Enlightenment to be part of the European Enlightenment in light of the pan-European character of the Scottish Enlightenment as opposed to the characterization of the English as a vulgar and insular nation. Professor Ueno describes Hume and Smith as skeptical Whigs who are Francophiles. For Smith, who was more of a reserved Francophile than Hume, in Professor Ueno’s characterization, this enabled Smith to recognize some pitfalls in French manners. Smith noted the deceitful mode of politeness and flattery found in the French court. Most importantly, for Smith, according to Professor Ueno, “our propensity to sympathize with joy is much stronger than our propensity to sympathize with sorrow,” we are tempted to defer to the rich and great without any rational reason. This tendency, Professor Ueno points out, in the last edition of the Theory of Moral Sentiments, is “… the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.” Professor Ueno’s essay demonstrates that there are strains between the cultures of Europe that preclude any clear and distinct European Enlightenment and reflect rather the concept of European Enlightenments. In sum, as Professor Ueno remarks, “… the Age of Enlightenment already possessed intellectual tensions between England, Scotland and continental Europe within itself.”
Professor Wojciech Starzyński now compounds the problem of language and culture with that of the changing lenses that result from our historical conceptual changes. That our ideas develop and alter in time is the important insight to be gleaned from Professor Wojciech Starzyński’s article, “Three Enlightenments of Modernity in the Historico-philosophical Conception of Kazimierz Twardowski.” In the article by Professor Starzyński, he ventures into the impact of the analysis of the Enlightenment on the 20th century Polish thinker Kazimierz Twardowski, who, in turn, applies Brentano’s cyclical theory of the development of the history of philosophy to the characterization of the Enlightenment in general and Kant in particular.
Professor Starzyński elucidates the changing views of Twardowski concerning the status of Kant from the perception of Kant as the misrecognition of his greatness as the releasing of the last phase of the decline of Modern Philosophy into skepticism to a restoration of his traditional stature as a reconciler of opposing traditions. In a turnabout fashion, Professor Starzyński claims that the seeds to a new Enlightenment reside in turning backward toward Aristotle, Descartes and Locke.
Professor Starzyński reminds us of the importance of always being aware of what our philosophical and historical foundations are. He thus demonstrates to us that we must always be aware of what the Enlightenment indeed consisted and always be open to fresh interpretations. He quotes from Twardowski, “We will always try to be aware of the foundations on which our assertions and views are based.” There is no better description of the attitude of the Enlightenment than this.
Professor Alexandra Cook returns to the problem of different cultures. In Professor Alexandra Cook’s two articles, “The Demarcation Problem in Science: What Has Enlightenment Got to Do with It?” she points out how the Enlightenment thinkers were open to the ideas of the East in the example of Eastern medicine, revealing that our present age would benefit more from exposure and recognition of the intellectual products of cultures other than ones dominantly Western based. She convincingly demonstrates that it has a great deal to do with it. Professor Cook investigates in enormous detail the ongoing narrative of the Enlightenment that catalogues as “pseudo-science” realms of nonWestern knowledge such as Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine.
In addition, Professor Cook elaborates the origins of race theory, detailing the supposed characteristics that belong to each race, specifying the positive characteristics that allegedly belong to the white race and the pejorative characteristics that allegedly belong to the non-white races. She articulates Kant’s and Hegel’s theories in some detail and demonstrates that the white race, according to these renowned historical philosophers, was the superior race. For example, she quotes from Kant’s “Observations on the Feelings of the Beautiful and the Sublime,” that “Africans have no feeling that rises above the trivial.” Professor Cook also speaks to the point that such opinions cannot be separated from the rest of these philosopher’s systems of philosophy. In my editorial comment, I would venture to say that the rest of the philosophies of Kant and Hegel are deficient inasmuch that they did not provide any deterrent to the arising of such opinions about race, or, the great philosophers themselves did not consider how to connect the systems of philosophy that they established with the opinions about race that they themselves perpetuated.
Section 3. Pointing the Way toward a New Enlightenment: Undiscovered Treasures and Eastern Directions
In pointing the way to a new Enlightenment, Professor Paul Lodge elucidates an undiscovered treasure in his article, “Leibniz’s Philosophical Dream of Rational and Intuitive Enlightenment,” the insights contained in a little-known work of Leibniz in the English speaking world, Leibniz’s Philosophical Dream, in which he offers his new English translation that makes its premiere appearance in this issue of Dialogue and Universalism. What Professor Lodge reveals is that Leibniz, known narrowly as a Rationalist in the history of Western philosophy, offers a glimpse into the means of philosophical enlightenment through intellectual intuition (my editorial description), a direction for the future that, at the same time, claims for human knowledge, under special conditions, the capacity to engage the intellect in higher knowledge to initiate and complement our skills in ratiocination. The notion that higher knowledge and higher, transformative wisdom are crucial objectives is a critical reminder that our acquisition and transmission of knowledge needs to shift from a purely horizontal accumulation of data to a vertical search for both higher wisdom as well as how to source intellectual resources for obtaining that higher knowledge.
After presenting his original translation of this unique work of Leibniz, that Professor Lodge understands as autobiographical, in his interpretation of the dream that follows, Professor Lodge notes that Leibniz’s view of himself is melancholic, very unlike the portrait of Dr. Pangloss, the satiric caricature of Leibniz as painted by Voltaire in his Candide. In the end, Leibniz is vouchsafed a new kind of Enlightenment that Professor Lodge labels as “intuitive” and depicts as non-inferential thinking. Among the gifts that attend Leibniz’s new enlightenment is his new-found ability to “notice only wisdom and happiness, wherever men are accustomed to find only vanity and bitterness.” Professor Lodge is right to wonder as he does, “I cannot help but wonder how Leibniz scholarship might have differed had this piece […] stood as one of Leibniz’s canonical writings for Anglophone students and scholars.”
In Pointing the Way toward a New Enlightenment, Undiscovered Treasures and Eastern Directions, Professor Tanishe Otabe’s article, “Kakuzô Okamura and Another Enlightenment in Early Twentieth Century Japan,” uniquely points Eastward and simultaneously points toward a new Enlightenment by focusing on two contrasting figures, Yukichi Fukuzawa and Kakuzô Okakura, with regard to the Japanese reception of the European Enlightenment. According to Professor Otabe, Fukuzawa internalized the Eurocentric view of the history of civilization as a norm and made a significant contribution to the Westernization of Japan.
In contrast, Okakura sought to revive the ideas of the East and, thus, revealed the possibility of another Enlightenment. In the following quotation from Professor Otabe, his analysis of Okakura represents a singular description of what is so unique to Japan: the ability to synthesize the old with the new. Professor Otabe writes: “In contrast with Fukuzawa, Okakura recognizes in Asian art, a historical development comparable to Western art and frees Asia from the image of complacency.” Professor Otabe proceeds to quote Okakura as saying that, “Thus Japan is a museum of Asiatic civilization; and yet, because of the singular genius of the race, leads it to development on all phases of the ideas of the past, in that the living spirit of Advaitism [non-dualism] which welcomes the new without losing the old.” Professor Otabe proceeds to discuss the delicate, gracious and eternal tea ceremony as symbolic of Japanese culture as illustrative, in my editorial rendering, of how the macrocosm can be contained in the microcosm. He also directs our attention to the significant influence of Daoism on Japan and its singular emphasis on the important and sadly neglected art of living. The insight gathered from the Tea ceremony symbolizes for Professor Otabe, seeing the great in the small, announcing the hallmarks of a new Enlightenment. In my understanding, this significantly represents a new Enlightenment since it counteracts the tendency to identify and to equate progress with growth and inspires Humankind to recognize the value of the qualitative richness and the inherent, immediate beauty of experience, and not simply quantitative enlargement and expansion as a sign of progress.
The article by Professor Monique Whitaker reveals undiscovered treasures in her paper, “The Content/Object Equivocation: Shepherd’s Neglected Contribution,” that reveals how ideas thought to be the products of the 20th century were, in fact, already held and developed by a woman philosopher debating with cardinal figures of the Enlightenment. This is a stark, forcible and necessary reminder that we must step out of the narrow constrictions of thought conditioned by a superficial study of the past to discover the riches of the past that can only be revealed by a more in-depth study of the past, most particularly of those works by accomplished women philosophers through the ages.
Professor Whitaker presents a comprehensive analysis of Mary Shepherd’s, Essay on the Perception of an External Universe and Other Subjects Connected with the Doctrine of Causation. In her analysis she demonstrates that her ideas preceded Searle in his use of observation to undermine some of the primary objections to a realist theory of perception. Professor Whitaker addresses Shepherd’s critique of Berkeley and explains how reason provides the distinction between sensation and the fact that external objects exist. With the anachronistic reasoning characteristic of philosophy, Professor Whitaker elucidates that it is this addition of the function of reason of Mary Shepherd that proves to be an improvement upon Searle’s analysis of the content-object equivocation.
Interestingly, in the course of her presentation, Professor Whitaker also makes reference to the student of Brentano, Kazimierz Twardowski, of whose philosophical work, Professor Starzyński writes in his contributed article to this issue. Of the neglect of Mary Shepherd’s work until recently, Professor Whitaker remarks, in a comment reminiscent of Professor Lodge’s remark concerning Leibniz, “… how the course of Western analytic philosophy might have differed had Shepherd’s contribution […] not been all but excised from the philosophical canon and largely forgotten until quite recently.” Though Professor Whitaker provides ample evidence to demonstrate that Mary Shepherd was well known and respected as a philosopher in the times that she lived, the fact that subsequent centuries have made her conspicuous by neglect, is a sign of how stupefying and intolerant our immediately preceding centuries have been to the gifted, intellectual and humane thought of women philosophers.
In our concluding article, to this trilogy, “Against Psychological Atomism,” Professor Michael Slote points both Eastward and toward a new Enlightenment by calling attention to what he refers to as atomistic thinking. He cites two canonical figures of the Enlightenment, Hume and Kant, as illustrations. As an example of anti-atomistic thinking, Professor Slote presents arguments that the quality of empathy for another’s distress includes an inherent desire to redress that distress (though not necessarily the motivation to act on that desire). Slote describes the presence of necessarily wanting to redress distress as objective prescriptivity. In an example of conducting global philosophy rather than considering the history of philosophy to be simply a history of Western philosophy, Professor Slote cites the example of the renowned Chinese philosopher, Wang Yangming, as the first person in the entire history of philosophy to provide a plausible example of an argument for objective prescriptivity. He cites the case in which if you do not value and want to preserve a given beautiful object, then you must not fully know it. In my editorial comment, the echoes of Plato can resonantly be heard in the background. On the other hand, Professor Slote refers to Hume’s Treatise and claims that “Hume clearly thought that reason(ing) and ordinary belief have nothing to do with emotion or motivation.” Professor Slote turns to Chinese philosophy and an interpretation of the classical ideas of Yin and Yang to support his claim that Chinese were anti-atomistic thinkers. For Professor Slote, malice and benevolence are not mere psychological atoms. Malice, he argues, is not an atomistic idea, but arises from a previous harm having being done to one coupled with a desire for revenge. Professor Slote argues that reason and emotion must be perceived as a unity and they do not possess separate, atomistic existence.
Professor Slote, in my editorial comment, presages the need for a new Enlightenment for the 21st century as being comprised of an integration of the philosophical insights of not only different cultures, but of different civilizations. In Professor Slote’s contribution, the differing philosophical languages of different civilizations are not merely to be added to each other, but the superior insight and linguistic usage of one civilization may be taken as a meaningful guide to the formulation of a philosophically gifted viewpoint that may utilize one civilization’s philosophical language and insights to better the others. This is the end of our polylogue and dialectic of the problematic of the Enlightenment and the need for revisiting and reexamining the insights of the Enlightenment philosophes in order to pave the way for a new Enlightenment for the 21st century.
The combined, integrative and comprehensive effect of these essays is to remind us of the signal importance of the in-depth study of the history of philosophy, the hazards and needed understanding of the factors that affect its proper transmission, of our tendency to neglect and even ignore influences from the past and the importance of relating our thinking to other cultures and casting away blinders that direct our vision only to current dominant trends and confine our thinking to ideas emanating from purely Western cultures. We learn that we must ever be wary of thinking that any school of thought possesses a monopoly on truth and that our minds must ever be receptive to learning both what has been hidden in the history of thinkers that belong to the cultures with which we identify, the proper, complete, comprehensive understanding of these influential thinkers, how these ideas were influenced by their being transmitted in the languages of other cultures, and how they could be expanded, altered and enriched with the knowledge of the contrasting thought of other civilizations.
Without fresh openness to the thought of our own past, to the thought of other equally important civilizations, we risk allowing the advent of devastating catastrophes such as the current beginnings of World War III that illustrates how low we have sunk into the barbarism that ignores or even justifies the suffering that is inflicted on innocent human life. With war, especially with the experimentation and wanton employment of the weapons of mass destruction that uninformed and uniformed nations can play with as children, with toys that are too dangerous for them to play, we receive an ever harsh reminder that our only hope is through being constantly educated and educating our young to better and more robust ways of thinking, ways of thinking that include reminders to be open minded to new ways of thinking, to be ever inclusive and mindful of the priority of global ethics in our thinking in the 21st century.
If we do not insist on the priority of universalistic Ethics as the cornerstone of all of our thinking, we may, like it or not, have created the conditions for World War III. To adapt the famous saying of Winston Churchill, “This is not the end of the Beginning; it is the Beginning of the End.” To adapt Einstein’s famous observation, “If there is a World War III, World War IV will then be fought with sticks and stones.” The need for a New Enlightenment for the 21st century is not a mere academic question, it is an urgent, global, existential question of paramount importance for the future of our entire, world civilization, of humankind and the survival of our host planet and its varied creatures for which human beings are the only possible guardians, as well as the only possible destroyers.
The relevance of the values of the Enlightenment is more acute than ever before as the growing globalization of thought is impelled sometimes to embrace, sometimes to confront and sometimes to resist more and more disparate elements, tribal values, variant religious extremists, and ethnic and cultural conflicts. Conflicts that in earlier years could be and were restricted mostly to local regions, now become world conflicts. Conflicts that were local have now become global. The oil in Russia and the grain in Ukraine are not local issues. More than ever before we need global ethical values, values of universalism, that both bring together and transcend the differences that more and more divide us without the commonality of universal rationality and transcendent norms.
The New Enlightenment of the 21st century must both extend the insights of the long Enlightenment to all peoples of the world, curbing the ethical myopia of certain thinkers, and truly borrow from superior moral values of each civilization to create, develop and sustain a world community of persons that in the immortal words of the Second Inaugural of Abraham Lincoln, challenges us to think and act “with malice towards none with charity for all.”
Robert Elliott Allinson
Dialogue and Universalism, 32 (1), 2022
Professor of Philosophy
Soka University of America
Chair, International Society for Universal Dialogue
David Bevan, Patricia H. Werhane
ADAM SMITH, THE ENLIGHTENMENT, AND HIS RELEVANCE FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
In this article we reconsider strands of Adam Smith’s contribution to the project of the Enlightenment. Many of these, as we shall identify, remain poignant, and valuable observations for the twenty-first century. This sampled reconsideration touches both on (i) how Smith is identified, as well as occasionally misread, as an Enlightenment philosopher/economist; and (ii) the extent to which t/his enlightenment survives.
Keywords: Adam Smith, the Enlightenment, impartial spectator, self-interest, invisible hand.
Affiliation: St Martin’s Institute of Higher Education in Malta.
Business Ethics at Darden School of Business, University of Virginia.
Tom L. Beauchamp
DAVID HUME’S UNIVERSALISM OF MORAL PRECEPTS
This article presents an original interpretation of David Hume’s eighteenth-century writings in moral philosophy as universalistic and normative, and not as merely psychological, metaethical, empirical, and the like, which has been common in many interpretations of Hume. Whether his views should or should not be regarded as a type of general moral theory such as utilitarianism is not considered, although I argue that Hume is deeply committed to a form of virtue ethics. I also argue that Hume sees the fundamentals of morality as a human phenomenon that is universally applicable to, and universally shared across, cultures and geographical regions. In this way Hume relies heavily on his conception of a universally shared common morality, which he refers to as the morality present “in common life.” This morality is a major foundation of his moral philosophy.
Keywords: David Hume; East-West differences; human rights; humanity; language of morals; morality in common life; normative ethics; standard of taste; universally shared morality; virtue ethics.
Affiliation: Emeritus of Philosophy and Senior Research Scholar Emeritus, Georgetown University, Washington DC.
HUME’S IDEA OF A PERFECT COMMONWEALTH REVISITED
This paper examines Hume’s theory of republicanism from the perspective of the history of ancient and modern thought. Hume criticized ancient republicanism for its implicit assumption of institutional slavery, and sought the possibility of a republican constitution based on the freedom and equality of citizens. Despite the title “Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth,” its content was a concrete theory and discussed the British society as it existed in the 18th century. His conclusion was the realistic proposal of a highly democratic federal republic, which not only became the origin of the U.S. Constitution through James Madison, but also serves as a valuable source of enlightenment and inspiration for our time, when the challenges and problems of party politics and mass democracy have become extremely serious.
Keywords: David Hume, republicanism ancient and modern, slavery, liberty, equality, federal republic, representation, democracy.
Affiliation: School of Political Science and Economics at Waseda University.
Lawrence J. Kaplan
BETWEEN ACTION AND REFLECTION: MOSES MENDELSSOHN AS AN ENLIGHTENMENT PHILOSOPHER AND TRADITIONAL JEW
Among the many criticisms advanced against the enlightenment is that its emphasis on rational reflection and commitment to universal moral truths serve as solvents of tradition and community. Here, I wish to show how the German Jewish enlightenment figure, Moses Mendelssohn in his classic work, Jerusalem succeeded in bringing together universal rational religious reflection and Halakhah, Jewish ceremonial law. Essentially, the ceremonial law for Mendelssohn, forms a traditional mimetic society, whose members absorb the Halakhah naturally and intuitively both from the community at large and from its teachers through a process of total immersion. If we see religious practice as a language, then members of this halakhic mimetic community, for whom the Halakhah is a first language practiced fluently and intuitively, are able to use this language to intelligently discuss the great truths of religion. In this way, tradition and community and rational reflection turn out to be mutually supportive.
Keywords: Moses Mendelssohn, ceremonial law, reflection, mimetic society, living script.
Affiliation: Department of Jewish Studies of McGill University, Montreal, Canada.
THE RECEPTION OF SPINOZA AND MENDELSSOHN IN THE RUSSIAN ENLIGHTENMENT
AND THE RUSSIAN-JEWISH HASKALAH
My general objective in this paper is to provide (1) the outlines of the reception of Baruch Spinoza and Moses Mendelssohn in the Russian Enlightenment of the late 18th century as well as (2) in the Russian-Jewish Haskalah. In part (1) of the paper I consider Gavrila (Gavriil) Derzhavin’s mention of Mendelssohn in his “Opinion,” the translation of Mendelssohn’s Phaedon in Nikolay Novikov’s Masonic-inspired journal Utrennyi Svet, and the readings of Spinoza’s view on God and then-shared interpretation of his views as an “atheism” in Feofan Propovich, Vasily Trediakovskiy, and Alexander Sumarokov. In the part on the late Russian-Jewish Haskalah of 1860s I examine two intellectual biographies appeared in the period—Saveliy (Saul) Kovner on Spinoza and Yakov Gurliand on Mendelssohn, which aim to interpret positions of Spinoza and Mendelssohn as exemplary strategies of the Jewish emancipation within the framework of claims and prospects of the modern European culture. I also rediscover and reinterpret Spinoza’s approach to religion as the late Russian Haskalah’s authors strongly object to label Spinoza’s philosophy of religion as “atheistic” and consider it as close to the “pure, or true Judaism.”
Keywords: Baruch Spinoza; Moses Mendelssohn; Russian Enlightenment; RussianJewish Haskalah; Russian-Jewish Haskalah.
THE ISSUE OF TRANSLATION: TRANSLATION
OF CONCEPTS OR COMPOSITIO BETWEEN CULTURES? THE CASE OF LOCKE
It was plain long before the 20th century that both the act of translation and the translator’s task were quite complex: it became clear and evident during the Enlightenment, within the République des Lettres, with the emergence and gradual affirmation of national languages. In this general framework, the French translation of John Locke’s Essay concerning Humane Understanding is one of the main protagonists of the circulation of texts and ideas: Pierre Coste’s solutions follow the strategy adopted by Jean Le Clerc in his Extrait of the Essay published in the “Bibliotheque universelle et historique” in 1688 and, in primis, by Locke himself, as a theorist of communication/translation (in the Third Book of the Essay): the French translation is thus the exemplar par excellence and the embodiment of Locke’s theories of language, communication, and communicative ethics, all axed on the concepts of “agreement” and “consensual rationality.”
Keywords: Translation studies, Enlightenment, République des Lettres, John Locke, Pierre Coste, communicative ethics, language.
Affiliation: Department of Human Sciences of the University of Verona (Italy).
ADAM SMITH BETWEEN THE SCOTTISH AND FRENCH ENLIGHTENMENTS
This paper discusses Adam Smith’s intellectual relationship with the French Enlightenment, with a particular focus on his view of French culture as conveyed in The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759). Compared to England at that time, eighteenthcentury Scotland is considered as having a closer affiliation with France in terms of their intellectual and cultural life during what has been dubbed the Enlightenment. While David Hume was representative of the affinity between the French and Scottish literati, Smith also held an enduring interest in the French philosophy, literature, and other aspects of its civilisation, long before the historic visit to Toulouse and Paris (1764–1766) that would shape his political economy greatly. While this paper shall examine Smith’s Francophile and Europeanist tendency within his moral argument, it also emphasises that he was abundantly aware of the moral cultural tensions between these two branches of the European Enlightenment.
Keywords: Adam Smith, David Hume, The Scottish Enlightenment, Moral Philosophy, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Europe, pan-Europeanism, Francophilia, Court Society, vanity.
Affiliation: SFC Research Institute and the Faculty of Economics, Keio University, Japan.
THREE ENLIGHTENMENTS OF MODERNITY IN THE HISTORICO-PHILOSOPHICAL CONCEPTION OF KAZIMIERZ TWARDOWSKI
The aim of this article is to discuss the reflection on the history of philosophy conceived as a cycle of enlightenments in the thought of Kazimierz Twardowski. In 1895 Twardowski adopts Franz Brentano’s model of the cyclical character of the history of philosophy. In the cycle of modern philosophy, the traditional Enlightenment period of the 18th century is shown critically as the one in which the original forces of the scientific revolution of the 17th century weakened, while the philosophy of the beginning of modernity is to be seen as the proper Enlightenment. Critical reflections are crowned with a sharp critique of Immanuel Kant’s philosophy which is supposed to be responsible for a further weakening, or even degeneration, of 19th century philosophy. Twardowski when lecturing on the history of modern philosophy in Lvow in 1896– 1923, softened the four-phase conception of the modern cycle as well as the key role played by Kant’s thought. But in 1904, in the context of the motto of the “return to Kant” and the formation of the Polish Philosophical Society, Twardowski delivered an important speech in which the figure of Kant was instrumentalized for the purposes of what we may call the third modern enlightenment, this time taking place in Polish philosophy.
Keywords: Kazimierz Twardowski, Franz Brentano, Enlightenment, Neo-Enlightenment, Anti-Kantianism, philosophy of history of philosophy, modernity, rationalism.
Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
THE “DEMARCATION PROBLEM” IN SCIENCE: WHAT HAS ENLIGHTENMENT GOT TO DO WITH IT?
THE “DEMARCATION PROBLEM” IN SCIENCE: WHAT HAS ENLIGHTENMENT GOT TO DO WITH IT?
RACE, COLOR AND PHILOSOPHY
Steven Pinker’s recent Enlightenment Now (2018) aside, Enlightenment values have been in for a rough ride of late. Following Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno’s critique of Enlightenment as the source of fascism, recent studies, amplified by Black Lives Matter, have laid bare the ugly economic underbelly of Enlightenment. The prosperity that enabled intellectuals to scrutinize speculative truths in eighteenth-century Paris salons relied on the slave trade and surplus value extracted from slave labor on sugar plantations and in other areas Europeans controlled. Indeed, deprived of its ugly economic underbelly, Enlightenment was barely conceivable; furthermore, its reliance on surplus value extraction from oppressed labor was accompanied by a racism that, with the exception of the thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and a few other thinkers, was arguably inherent to Enlightenment.
However, I am not proposing yet another revelation of Enlightenment’s complicity in exploitation of, or disregard for, the Other. Rather, I want to highlight the damage being done today by an insidious strategy of labelling as “pseudo-science” entire domains of non-Western knowledge such as Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, thereby rendering them no-go zones for serious minds. Even though the term pseudo-science had yet to be coined, the beginnings of this tendency are already evident in Enlightenment-era works such as Jean-Baptiste Du Halde’s Description … de la Chine (1735). The perpetuation of this dismissive treatment of non-Western natural knowledge creates a significant obstacle to superseding a “scientific revolution” whose confines have long been burst: it is increasingly recognized that traditional/indigenous knowledge affords a vast reservoir of materials, skills and insights of which the world has desperate need, no more urgently than in response to the covid-19 pandemic.
Keywords: Science, pseudo-science, demarcation problem, indigenous knowledge, racism, Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, Jean-Baptiste Du Halde, Jean le Rond D’Alembert, Montesquieu, Karl Popper.
Affiliation: University of Hong Kong.
LEIBNIZ’S PHILOSOPHICAL DREAM OF RATIONAL AND INTUITIVE ENLIGHTENMENT
This paper is a new translation and interpretation of the essay by Leibniz which has come to be known as “Leibniz’s Philosophical Dream.” Leibniz used many different literary styles throughout his career, but “Leibniz’s Philosophical Dream” is unique insofar as it combines apparent autobiography with a dreamscape. The content is also somewhat surprising. The essay is reminiscent of Plato, insofar as Leibniz describes a transition from existence in a cave to a more enlightened mode of being outside of it. But, in contrast with the usual identification of Leibniz as a “rationalist,” the mode of being that is valorised involves cognition that is intuitive and supra-rational. The paper begins with the translation followed by an interpretation of the essay. I conclude by considering the ramifications of my interpretation for our conception of Leibniz’s philosophy.
Keywords: Leibniz, Plato, Duns Scotus, rationalism, intuition, enlightenment.
Affiliation: University of Oxford.
KAKUZÔ OKAKURA AND ANOTHER ENLIGHTENMENT IN EARLY TWENTIETH-CENTURY JAPAN
Western Enlightenment ideas had already been introduced to Edo-period Japan in the early nineteenth century. However, it was not until the Meiji Restoration in 1868 that the modern Japanese Enlightenment movement really took off, when Japan left the sinocentric sphere and adopted Western civilization as its frame of reference. In this paper, I focus on two contrasting thinkers: Yukichi Fukuzawa (1835–1901) and Kakuzô Okakura (pseudonym: Tenshin) (1863–1913). Fukuzawa, one of the leading thinkers of the Japanese Enlightenment, internalized the Eurocentric view of the history of civilization as a norm and made a significant contribution to the Westernization of Japan. In contrast, in the face of the oncoming modernization, or Westernization, Okakura sought on the one hand to revive the ideals of the East, which were in danger of being forgotten, and on the other hand, to relativize Western modernity itself. He thus reveals the possibility of another Enlightenment.
Keywords: History of civilization, Asian stagnation, the Renaissance in Japan, the greatness of little things, the “art of being in the world,” the art of life, tea ceremony or Teaism.
Affiliation: University of Tokyo.
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THE CONTENT/OBJECT EQUIVOCATION: SHEPHERD’S NEGLECTED CONTRIBUTION
John Searle roundly rejects what he calls the Bad Argument: a long-standing equivocation in philosophy over the contents and the objects of perception. But, as Josh Armstrong points out, this insight is not unique to Searle. By the late 19th Century the equivocation had been observed by Franz Brentano and students of his, such as Alexius Meinong and Kazimierz Twardowski, and was highlighted too in the 20th century by G. E. M. Anscombe. What Armstrong does take to be a novel to Searle is his use of this observation to undermine some of the primary objections to a realist theory of perception. In fact, though, it had already been put to much the same use by Mary Shepherd in her 1827 book Essays on the Perception of an External Universe and Other Subjects Connected with the Doctrine of Causation. Shepherd not only argues that the equivocal use of the term “things we perceive” is a crucial flaw in Berkeley’s case for Idealism, but also goes on to use this in service of her own, largely realist, theory of perception.
Keywords: Mary Shepherd, early modern, perceptual realism, women philosophers, history of philosophy, contents of perception, objects of perception.
Affiliation: University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
AGAINST PSYCHOLOGICAL ATOMISM
Total permissiveness can be captured by the phrase “anything goes.” Psychological atomism can be informally characterized by the idea that in the mind anything goes with anything. There is a strong tendency toward such thinking in Western philosophical thought—both in classical antiquity and during and since the Enlightenment. Perhaps the two most important philosophers of the Enlightenment, Hume and Kant, accepted more or less limited forms of atomism, and I shall explain in what follows in the main text and footnotes, why and how I think their atomism goes astray. Since much of Western philosophy since the Enlightenment to some extent bears its imprint, we shall also be seeing some recent examples of ill-conceived atomism. However, and despite the main themes of the present volume, I shall go well beyond the task of dealing with themes in Enlightenment thinking. In fact, I shall be relying on some unfamiliar aspects of Chinese thought to correct quite generally what I take to be erroneous atomistic thinking.
Keywords: psychological atomism, non-cognitivism, Elizabeth Anscombe, David Hume, Immanuel Kant.
Affiliation: University of Miami.