GOOD READ: All You Need to Know About The Enlightment Philosophers

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GOOD READ: All You Need to Know About The Enlightment Philosophers
by Darius Kadivar
30-Mar-2010
 

For the Francophiles on this site and who ever is interested in the thoughts and ideas of the Enlightment Philosophers of the 17th century who invented the ideas of Freedom and democracy, I highly recommend the latest March-April issue n° 26 of Le Point Magazine. the ideas and fundemental texts of Voltaire, Rousseau, Didrot or Montesquieu but also those of non French Adam Smith, , Benjamin Franklin or Emmanuel Kant and others won't be a secret to you anymore ...


Purchase Here (6,50 euros)

Les sources de la Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen:

Déclaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen de 1789:

Description in French:

Le siècle des Lumières ? Trop souvent assimilées à Voltaire et Rousseau, Les Lumières ne sont pas une invention française. Ce mouvement de libération de la pensée ne connaît pas de frontières en Europe quel que soit leur pays d’origine. Rendre aux Lumières ce qu’on leur doit vraiment, c’est l’ambition de ce hors-série du Point : présenter et expliquer les textes qui ont marqué le mouvement des Lumières en montrant tout à la fois leurs richesses, leurs paradoxes, mais aussi leurs contradictions.

Ce nouvel opus des « Textes Fondamentaux du Point » présente les plus grands textes de Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, mais aussi Hume, Smith ou Kant en les accompagnant de commentaires réalisés par les meilleurs experts et spécialistes comme Michel Delon, Tzvetan Todorov, Peter Sloterdijk, Daniel Roche …

Le Point hors-série N° 26 Les textes fondamentaux de la pensée des Lumières – 130 pages

Recommended Watching:

HISTORY FORUM: The Age of Enlightment in France and Europe.


 

Related Blogs:

HISTORY FORUM: Mashallah Ajoudani on Intellectuals and the Revolution

HISTORY FORUM: Nader Naderpour on Iran's Constitutional Revolution and European Rennaissance (1996)

HISTORY FORUM: Ahmad Kasravi's Life, Assassination and Intellectual Legacy 64 years On ...

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Darius Kadivar

Raoul1955 Jaan

by Darius Kadivar on

thanks !


Raoul1955

Thank you

by Raoul1955 on

Your posted material, be it comments or opinions, seem to have been well thought out and well reasoned with clearly defined objective of promoting thoughtful analysis of whatever you have presented or discussed.


Darius Kadivar

Your Welcome Abarmard Jaan

by Darius Kadivar on

Glad you found it thought provoking and useful.


Abarmard

Thanks DK

by Abarmard on

Interesting. A lot of room for discussion here.


Darius Kadivar

Answer

by Darius Kadivar on

Last night I started reading the special issue in Le Point Magazine and learned a good deal about the essential texts that uphold our democratic societies as we know them.

It is always good to take a look back at what we thought we knew and see if our understanding of democratic thought is as knowledgable as we may think it is.

Living in a democracy makes us lazy and we often tend to forget to question or update our knowledge on the basic principles that have founded our free societies.

I came across some essential paragraphs and one assessment about being Autonomous in a democratic state in particular ( pg 8) "Individual Freedom Vs Rule of the Majority"  which I feel perfectly applies to the current debate on the Burqa in France.

Here is a rough translation (but I won't claim exact translation given that in Philosophy semantics and exact choice of words are important in order to render their exact interpretation and understanding):

Being Autonomous (I.e: Independent) can be claimed equally by an Individual ( for instance anyone can run his personal life as he or she wishes ) or a collective entity ( aka the sovereign nation/people) who can formulate the laws which will define life in society and enable them to choose the individuals they deem most competent/legitimate to run the affairs of the State.

Because of the pluralism of autonomous behaviors, the powers within the State ( therefore as defined by the constitution) must be able to compete in order to avoid one another from becoming absolute ( therefore lead to authoritarian or absolute rule of one man or group).

NOTE: Here is where the paragraph gets Interesting and applies to the current debate :

As Much as Individual Freedoms limit Popular Sovereignty, the contrary is also True: concern for our COLLECTIVE GOOD should Limit OUR PERSONAL SATISFACTION.

Necessity of Autonomy (I.e: Independance) should subscribe to Universal Principles

The Need to be autonomous (I.e: Independent) should not be absolute. It is limited by on one hand public action purely aimed at the well being of the collectivity (even if at times it would machiavelically mean "Le Fin Justifie les Moyens" aka "The end result justifies the means") and therefore a purely humane goal, and on the otherhand by the principle of Universality: That is acknowledging an equal right to dignity for all members of the human community and which is commonly known as Human Rights.

Fundamentalism Vs Reductionism

In The Following chapters the article explains how democratic principles can be highjacked by selecting one or two basic principles in the name of Freedom but isolating it from the rest of the democratic principles that sustain it. In otherwords to justify the rights of an individual or community ( religious, ethnic, financial,  etc ) within that larger collectivity we call a nation but by isolating that principle in it's interpretation from the "Entire Spirit" that initialy inspired the drafting of that democratic principle. 

This highjacking of democratic principles in the name of obscure individual freedoms is common to both Fundementalists as well as Reductionists.

Fundementalists by sticking aiming at imposing their life style in the name of religious freedom and Reductionists such as Liberals ( in the French and Not Anglo Saxon definition of the word) who are against the intervention of the State when it comes to the economy in the name of Freedom. Capitalism at it's worst is a result of this distorted interpretation of individual rights as opposed to the nations collective well being.

In both cases they abuse the Freedoms not in an aim of generosity towards the collectivity but to satisfy their own greed or individual eccentricities in the name of the basic principles of democracy.

In short they Pervert the democratic process.  


La Loi de 1905: Séparation de L'Eglise et de L'Etat

France's Republic in Particular was founded on Secularism which imposes a clear cut separation ONLY IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE bewteen Religion and Politics ( truly put into application by the law of 1905. The Republic guarantees and protects the Freedom of Cult and can in no way interfere in the choice of a community for instance in having it's own private religious schools. However Public schooling is the norm given that most people cannot afford private education and sending one's child to school is a duty of all parents towards their children. Public schools are aimed at educating all generations without the distinction of social class, race, religion. In exchange Religion is not tought in classes other than within a history class and from a secularist non dogmatic perspective.

Some Fundementalists in France like Tarek Ramadan (who under the cloak of intellectual discourse try to distort the interpretation of the law of 1905) claim that the choice of Wearing or Not the Burqa IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE has no religious significance and is therefore a Right that needs to be respected as equally as anyother right.

I should say that he has marked some victory in some of his presentations, since one can equally argue why Orthodox Jews who distinguish themselves in the public sphere by wearing their traditional costumes and hats without ever being demanded not to do so.

Les Signes Religieuses Ostentatoires ( aka Visible religious Signs)

However Ramadan avoids mentioning that NO ONE in Public Administrations ( be it Schools, The Army, Police, City Halls) including Jews, Christians or anyother faith is allowed to display VISIBLE Ostentatious signs of Faith. What you wish to do at home or in the Street is respected but Not in the PUBLIC SPHERE of Administrations.

So the debate over the Burqua has become rather a subversive attempt to destroy the Status Quo on the question of Secularism on which this country is founded.

Spinoza and Secularism

However one can also argue that France's Staunch Secularism shaped largley by Not merely the French Enlighted Philosophers but also to a large extent by the Secularist Ideas of Spinoza ( a Dutch citizen of Spanish heritage who fled Spain because of the Inquisition) may not be entirely adequate to all. But that is the norm in this country.

Spinoza was considered a radical in his times by claiming suggesting that Morality has to be based purely on Reason and Not religious dogmas. He made a distinction between Morality and Theology.

He also believed that Republic is the Ideal form of government as opposed to the monarchy. Unlike Voltaire Spinoza had little admiration for the British Parlimentiary Democracy.

However Spinoza's strongest argument for Secularism as a basis to Democratic practice was to make this distinction between Morality in Politics based on Reason and Morality interpreted from a Religious Theological perspective.

This is probably why all modern democracies adopted this principle as the basis of law making and justice.

But took to the letter Spinoza's interpretation also has it's contradictions.

For instance let's take the case of Torture. The British were the first to demand it to be abolished in their BILL OF RIGHTs submitted to their King  and which was to inspire the American Constitution but also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  

Torture is Not Bad because it is Counterproductive or useless ... It is Bad because it is Inhuman.

Yet "Humanism" is purely a religious notion and in a direct product of Christian thought !

Prior to the advent of Christianity, The Roman Republic indulged in seeing gladiatorial games of life and death as pure entertainment. Christians and Jews were fed to the Lions on the same grounds.

What made Human beings question Gladiatorial games as Morally wrong was not only because it was a waste of good slaves who could be used in a better and more constructive purpose but because it was Cruel !

Yet the Roman Institutions, the Senate, their scientific and architectural accomplishments are ALL a Product of REASON !

So it is important to see this Paradox and realize that Morality cannot be purely based on Reason but also on the ability to recognize what is Human ( i.e: Humanistic) and what is Not.

So in a paradoxal sense Christianity is a corner stone to Western Civilization as much as Secularist and democratic thought have been fundemental in protecting Individual rights as much as popular sovereignty over absolute rule.

From this point of view it is interesting that the debate over the Burqua is seen as a threat to the very secular foundations of the French Republic, where as in Great Britain (equally a Secular Democracy ) this debate seems to create less controversy given that Indian Sicks including Policement can wear Turbans and one can see many Indians or Pakistani women in Saris and other traditional costumes co exist with the British Top Hats without being pointed too as dangerous extremists.

Maybe the British Model of Democracy in the form of it's long lasting Constitutional Monarchy is far more tolerant after all ? ;0)

Up to you to draw your own conclusions. I am not dogmatic on this issue, even if personally I am against the Burqa in THE PUBLIC SPHERE as Schools and Administrations ( and Passport photos ) , I do not see it problamatic on an individual basis.

Personally I would feel more comfortable not seeing any one of these Burqas in such places as Airports or crowded malls for essentially security reasons.

Otherwise well I am not bothered by their sights in parks or gardens where one can see women ( or men ? ) taking their kids for a walk or having a picnic.

And Lastly this is for Our IRANICAN Friends ( Watch the Burqua Scene) :


Harry Enfield: The Americans - "Isn't She Probably Pretty & Peek-A-Boo"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Adoxd6wgUOk   


Raoul1955

Question

by Raoul1955 on

Thank you 'Darius Kadivar' for this article, but for those of us who only read in English is there an English version, other than the actual writings of the above referenced philosophers?