Catherine the Great
Catherine II known as Catherine the Great, born Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, was Empress of Russia from 1762 until 1796, the country's longest-ruling female leader. She came to power following a coup d'état which she organized—resulting in her husband, Peter III, being overthrown. Under her reign, Russia was revitalized; that said, she was a usurper of the Russian throne because her son, Paul I, should have been the Tsar following Peter III’s death. In her accession to power and her rule of the empire, Catherine relied on her noble favourites, most notably Grigory Orlov and Grigory Potemkin. Assisted by successful generals such as Alexander Suvorov and Pyotr Rumyantsev, admirals such as Fyodor Ushakov, she governed at a time when the Russian Empire was expanding by conquest and diplomacy. In the south, the Crimean Khanate was crushed following victories over the Ottoman Empire in the Russo–Turkish wars, Russia colonised the territories of Novorossiya along the coasts of the Black and Azov Seas.
In the west, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, ruled by Catherine's former lover, king Stanisław August Poniatowski, was partitioned, with the Russian Empire gaining the largest share. In the east, Russia started establishing Russian America. Catherine reformed the administration of Russian guberniyas, many new cities and towns were founded on her orders. An admirer of Peter the Great, Catherine continued to modernise Russia along Western European lines. However, military conscription and the economy continued to depend on serfdom, the increasing demands of the state and private landowners led to increased levels of reliance on serfs; this was one of the chief reasons behind several rebellions, including the large-scale Pugachev's Rebellion of cossacks and peasants. Catherine decided to have herself inoculated against smallpox by Thomas Dimsdale. While this was considered a controversial method at the time, she succeeded, her son Pavel was inoculated as well. Catherine sought to have inoculations throughout her empire stating: "My objective was, through my example, to save from death the multitude of my subjects who, not knowing the value of this technique, frightened of it, were left in danger."
By 1800 2 million inoculations were administered in the Russian Empire. The period of Catherine the Great's rule, the Catherinian Era, is considered the Golden Age of Russia; the Manifesto on Freedom of the Nobility, issued during the short reign of Peter III and confirmed by Catherine, freed Russian nobles from compulsory military or state service. Construction of many mansions of the nobility, in the classical style endorsed by the Empress, changed the face of the country, she enthusiastically supported the ideals of the Enlightenment and is regarded as an enlightened despot. As a patron of the arts she presided over the age of the Russian Enlightenment, a period when the Smolny Institute for Noble Maidens, the first state-financed higher education institution for women in Europe, was established. Catherine was born in Stettin, Kingdom of Prussia as Princess Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg, her father, Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst, belonged to the ruling German family of Anhalt, but held the rank of a Prussian general in his capacity as governor of the city of Stettin.
Two of her first cousins became Kings of Sweden: Gustav III and Charles XIII. In accordance with the custom prevailing in the ruling dynasties of Germany, she received her education chiefly from a French governess and from tutors. Catherine was known by the nickname Fike, her childhood was quite uneventful. She once wrote to her correspondent Baron Grimm: "I see nothing of interest in it." Although Catherine was born a princess, her family had little money. Catherine's rise to power was supported by her mother's wealthy relatives who were both wealthy nobles and royal relations; the choice of Sophie as wife of her second cousin, the prospective tsar Peter of Holstein-Gottorp, resulted from some amount of diplomatic management in which Count Lestocq, Peter's aunt Elizabeth and Frederick II of Prussia took part. Lestocq and Frederick wanted to strengthen the friendship between Prussia and Russia to weaken Austria's influence and ruin the Russian chancellor Bestuzhev, on whom Empress Elizabeth relied, who acted as a known partisan of Russo-Austrian co-operation.
Catherine first met Peter III at the age of 10. Based on her writings, she found, she disliked his fondness for alcohol at such a young age. Peter still played with toy soldiers. Catherine wrote that she stayed at one end of the castle, Peter at the other; the diplomatic intrigue failed due to the intervention of Sophie's mother, Johanna Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp. Historical accounts portray Johanna as a abusive woman who loved gossip and court intrigues, her hunger for fame centred on her daughter's prospects of becoming empress of Russia, but she infuriated Empress Elizabeth, who banned her from the country for spying for King Frederick of Prussia. The Empress Elizabeth knew the family well: she had intended to marry Princess Johanna's brother Charles Augustus, who had died of smallpox in 1727 before the wedding could take place. In spite of Johanna's interference, Empress Elizabeth took a strong liking to the daughter, who, o
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher and composer. His political philosophy influenced the progress of the Enlightenment throughout Europe, as well as aspects of the French Revolution and the development of modern political and educational thought, his Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract are cornerstones in modern political and social thought. Rousseau's sentimental novel Julie, or the New Heloise was important to the development of preromanticism and romanticism in fiction, his Emile, or On Education is an educational treatise on the place of the individual in society. Rousseau's autobiographical writings—the posthumously published Confessions, which initiated the modern autobiography, the unfinished Reveries of a Solitary Walker —exemplified the late-18th-century "Age of Sensibility", featured an increased focus on subjectivity and introspection that characterized modern writing. Rousseau befriended fellow philosophy writer Denis Diderot in 1742, would write about Diderot's romantic troubles in his Confessions.
During the period of the French Revolution, Rousseau was the most popular of the philosophers among members of the Jacobin Club. He was interred in 1794, 16 years after his death. Rousseau was born in Geneva, at the time a city-state and a Protestant associate of the Swiss Confederacy. Since 1536, Geneva had been the seat of Calvinism. Five generations before Rousseau, his ancestor Didier, a bookseller who may have published Protestant tracts, had escaped persecution from French Catholics by fleeing to Geneva in 1549, where he became a wine merchant. Rousseau was proud. Throughout his life, he signed his books "Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Citizen of Geneva". Geneva, in theory, was governed "democratically" by its male voting "citizens"; the citizens were a minority of the population when compared to the immigrants, referred to as "inhabitants", whose descendants were called "natives" and continued to lack suffrage. In fact, rather than being run by vote of the "citizens", the city was ruled by a small number of wealthy families that made up the "Council of Two Hundred".
There was much political debate within Geneva, extending down to the tradespeople. Much discussion was over the idea of the sovereignty of the people, of which the ruling class oligarchy was making a mockery. In 1707, a democratic reformer named Pierre Fatio protested this situation, saying "a sovereign that never performs an act of sovereignty is an imaginary being", he was shot by order of the Little Council. Jean-Jacques Rousseau's father, was not in the city at this time, but Jean-Jacques's grandfather supported Fatio and was penalized for it; the trade of watchmaking had become a family tradition by the time of Rousseau's father, Isaac Rousseau. Isaac followed his grandfather and brothers into the business, except for a short stint teaching dance as a dance master. Isaac, notwithstanding his artisan status, was well educated and a lover of music. "A Genevan watchmaker", Rousseau wrote, "is a man. In 1699, Isaac ran into political difficulty by entering a quarrel with visiting English officers, who in response drew their swords and threatened him.
After local officials stepped in, it was Isaac, punished, as Geneva was concerned with maintaining its ties to foreign powers. Rousseau's mother, Suzanne Bernard Rousseau, was from an upper-class family, she was raised by a Calvinist preacher. He cared for Suzanne. In 1695, Suzanne had to answer charges that she had attended a street theater disguised as a peasant woman so she could gaze upon M. Vincent Sarrasin, whom she fancied despite his continuing marriage. After a hearing, she was ordered by the Genevan Consistory to never interact with him again, she married Rousseau's father at the age of 31. Isaac's sister had married Suzanne's brother eight years earlier, after she had become pregnant and they had been chastised by the Consistory; the child died at birth. The young Rousseau was told a romantic fairy-tale about the situation by the adults in his family—a tale where young love was denied by a disapproving patriarch but that prevailed by sibling loyalty that, in the story, resulted in love conquering all and two marriages uniting the families on the same day.
Rousseau never learnt the truth. Rousseau was born on 28 June 1712, he would relate: "I was born dying, they had little hope of saving me", he was baptized on 4 July 1712, in the great cathedral. His mother died of puerperal fever nine days after his birth, which he described as "the first of my misfortunes", he and his older brother François were brought up by their father and a paternal aunt named Suzanne. When Rousseau was five, his father sold the house that the family had received from his mother's relatives. While the idea was that his sons would inherit the principal when grown up and he would live off the interest in the meantime, in the end the father took most of the substantial proceeds. With the selling of the house, the Rousseau family moved out of the upper-class neighborhood and moved into an apartment house in a neighborhood of craftsmen—silversmiths and other watchmakers. Growing up around craftsmen, Rousseau woul
François-Marie Arouet, known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer and philosopher famous for his wit, his criticism of Christianity the Roman Catholic Church, his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, separation of church and state. Voltaire was a versatile and prolific writer, producing works in every literary form, including plays, novels and historical and scientific works, he wrote more than 2,000 books and pamphlets. He was an outspoken advocate of civil liberties, despite the risk this placed him in under the strict censorship laws of the time; as a satirical polemicist, he made use of his works to criticize intolerance, religious dogma and the French institutions of his day. François-Marie Arouet was born in Paris, the youngest of the five children of François Arouet, a lawyer, a minor treasury official, his wife, Marie Marguerite Daumard, whose family was on the lowest rank of the French nobility; some speculation surrounds Voltaire's date of birth, because he claimed he was born on 20 February 1694 as the illegitimate son of a nobleman, Guérin de Rochebrune or Roquebrune.
Two of his older brothers—Armand-François and Robert—died in infancy, his surviving brother Armand and sister Marguerite-Catherine were nine and seven years older, respectively. Nicknamed "Zozo" by his family, Voltaire was baptized on 22 November 1694, with François de Castagnère, abbé de Châteauneuf, Marie Daumard, the wife of his mother's cousin, standing as godparents, he was educated by the Jesuits at the Collège Louis-le-Grand, where he was taught Latin and rhetoric. By the time he left school, Voltaire had decided he wanted to be a writer, against the wishes of his father, who wanted him to become a lawyer. Voltaire, pretending to work in Paris as an assistant to a notary, spent much of his time writing poetry; when his father found out, he sent Voltaire to study law, this time in Normandy. But the young man continued producing essays and historical studies. Voltaire's wit made him popular among some of the aristocratic families with. In 1713, his father obtained a job for him as a secretary to the new French ambassador in the Netherlands, the marquis de Châteauneuf, the brother of Voltaire's godfather.
At The Hague, Voltaire fell in love with a French Protestant refugee named Catherine Olympe Dunoyer. Their affair, considered scandalous, was discovered by de Châteauneuf and Voltaire was forced to return to France by the end of the year. Most of Voltaire's early life revolved around Paris. From early on, Voltaire had trouble with the authorities for critiques of the government; as a result, he was twice sentenced once to temporary exile to England. One satirical verse, in which Voltaire accused the Régent of incest with his daughter, resulted in an eleven-month imprisonment in the Bastille; the Comédie-Française had agreed in January 1717 to stage his debut play, Œdipe, it opened in mid-November 1718, seven months after his release. Its immediate critical and financial success established his reputation. Both the Régent and King George I of Great Britain presented Voltaire with medals as a mark of their appreciation, he argued for religious tolerance and freedom of thought. He campaigned to eradicate priestly and aristo-monarchical authority, supported a constitutional monarchy that protects people's rights.
The author adopted the name Voltaire following his incarceration at the Bastille. Its origin is unclear, it is an anagram of AROVET LI, the Latinized spelling of his surname and the initial letters of le jeune. According to a family tradition among the descendants of his sister, he was known as le petit volontaire as a child, he resurrected a variant of the name in his adult life; the name reverses the syllables of Airvault, his family's home town in the Poitou region. Richard Holmes supports the anagrammatic derivation of the name, but adds that a writer such as Voltaire would have intended it to convey connotations of speed and daring; these come from associations with words such as voltige, volte-face, volatile. "Arouet" was not a noble name fit for his growing reputation given that name's resonance with à rouer and roué. In a letter to Jean-Baptiste Rousseau in March 1719, Voltaire concludes by asking that, if Rousseau wishes to send him a return letter, he do so by addressing it to Monsieur de Voltaire.
A postscript explains: "J'ai été si malheureux sous le nom d'Arouet que j'en ai pris un autre surtout pour n'être plus confondu avec le poète Roi", This refers to Adenes le Roi, the'oi' diphthong was pronounced like modern'ouai', so the similarity to'Arouet' is clear, thus, it could well have been part of his rationale. Voltaire is known to have used at least 178 separate pen names during his lifetime. Voltaire's next play, Artémire, set in ancient Macedonia, opened on 15 February 1720, it was a flop and only fragments of the text survive. He instead turned to an epic poem about Henry IV of France that he had begun in early 1717. Denied a licence to publish, in August 1722 Voltaire headed north to find a publisher outside France. On the journey, he was acco
Jean-Philippe Rameau was one of the most important French composers and music theorists of the 18th century. He replaced Jean-Baptiste Lully as the dominant composer of French opera and is considered the leading French composer for the harpsichord of his time, alongside François Couperin. Little is known about Rameau's early years, it was not until the 1720s that he won fame as a major theorist of music with his Treatise on Harmony and in the following years as a composer of masterpieces for the harpsichord, which circulated throughout Europe. He was 50 before he embarked on the operatic career on which his reputation chiefly rests today, his debut, Hippolyte et Aricie, caused a great stir and was fiercely attacked by the supporters of Lully's style of music for its revolutionary use of harmony. Rameau's pre-eminence in the field of French opera was soon acknowledged, he was attacked as an "establishment" composer by those who favoured Italian opera during the controversy known as the Querelle des Bouffons in the 1750s.
Rameau's music had gone out of fashion by the end of the 18th century, it was not until the 20th that serious efforts were made to revive it. Today, he enjoys renewed appreciation with performances and recordings of his music more frequent; the details of Rameau's life are obscure concerning his first forty years, before he moved to Paris for good. He was a secretive man, his wife knew nothing of his early life, which explains the scarcity of biographical information available. Rameau's early years are obscure, he was born on 25 September 1683 in Dijon, baptised the same day. His father, worked as an organist in several churches around Dijon, his mother, Claudine Demartinécourt, was the daughter of a notary; the couple had eleven children. Rameau was taught music before he could write, he was educated at the Jesuit college at Godrans, but he was not a good pupil and disrupted classes with his singing claiming that his passion for opera had begun at the age of twelve. Intended for the law, Rameau decided he wanted to be a musician, his father sent him to Italy, where he stayed for a short while in Milan.
On his return, he worked as a violinist in travelling companies and as an organist in provincial cathedrals before moving to Paris for the first time. Here, in 1706, he published his earliest known compositions: the harpsichord works that make up his first book of Pièces de clavecin, which show the influence of his friend Louis Marchand. In 1709, he moved back to Dijon to take over his father's job as organist in the main church; the contract was for six years, but Rameau left before and took up similar posts in Lyon and Clermont-Ferrand. During this period, he composed motets for church performance as well as secular cantatas. In 1722, he returned to Paris for good, here he published his most important work of music theory, Traité de l'harmonie; this soon won him a great reputation, it was followed in 1726 by his Nouveau système de musique théorique. In 1724 and 1729, he published two more collections of harpsichord pieces. Rameau took his first tentative steps into composing stage music when the writer Alexis Piron asked him to provide songs for his popular comic plays written for the Paris Fairs.
Four collaborations followed, beginning with L'endriague in 1723. On 25 February 1726 Rameau married the 19-year-old Marie-Louise Mangot, who came from a musical family from Lyon and was a good singer and instrumentalist; the couple would have four children, two boys and two girls, the marriage is said to have been a happy one. In spite of his fame as a music theorist, Rameau had trouble finding a post as an organist in Paris, it was not until he was approaching 50 that Rameau decided to embark on the operatic career on which his fame as a composer rests. He had approached writer Antoine Houdar de la Motte for a libretto in 1727, but nothing came of it. Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie premiered at the Académie Royale de Musique on 1 October 1733, it was recognised as the most significant opera to appear in France since the death of Lully, but audiences were split over whether this was a good thing or a bad thing. Some, such as the composer André Campra, were stunned by its wealth of invention; the two camps, the so-called Lullyistes and the Rameauneurs, fought a pamphlet war over the issue for the rest of the decade.
Just before this time, Rameau had made the acquaintance of the powerful financier Alexandre Le Riche de La Poupelinière, who became his patron until 1753. La Poupelinière's mistress, Thérèse des Hayes, was a great admirer of his music. In 1731, Rameau became the conductor of La Poupelinière's private orchestra, of an high quality, he held the post for 22 years. La Poupelinière's salon enabled Rameau to meet some of the leading cultural figures of the day, including Voltaire, who soon began collaborating with the composer, their first project, the tragédie en musique Samson, was abandoned because an opera on a religious theme by Voltaire—a notorious critic of the Church—was to be banned by the authorities. Meanwhile, Rameau had introduced his new musical style into the lighter genre of the op
1891 in literature
This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1891. January – The Strand Magazine is first published in London. On June 25 Arthur Conan Doyle's private consulting detective Sherlock Holmes appears in it for the first time, in the story "A Scandal in Bohemia". January 31 – Henrik Ibsen's play Hedda Gabler published in 1890 is first performed, at the Königliches Residenz-Theater in Munich, the city where it was written; the lead is played by Clara Heese. The first British performance is on April 20 at the reopened Vaudeville Theatre, with Elizabeth Robins as Hedda and co-directing. March 13 – Henrik Ibsen's play Ghosts achieves a single London performance, its English-language stage première. To evade the Lord Chamberlain's Office's censorship it has to be staged by the Independent Theatre Society, but still attracts strong criticism on moral grounds. April – Oscar Wilde's novel The Picture of Dorian Gray is first published in book format by Ward and Lock in London with the aphoristic preface published in the March 1 issue of The Fortnightly Review.
May – William Morris establishes the Kelmscott Press as a private press at Hammersmith and produces its first book, the first edition in book format of his fantasy novel The Story of the Glittering Plain. May 21 – Maurice Maeterlinck's play Intruder is premièred at Paul Fort's Theatre d'Art in Paris. C. Late June – In a meeting of decadent poets in London, Oscar Wilde is first introduced to Lord Alfred Douglas by Lionel Johnson at Wilde's Tite Street home. July 1 – International Copyright Act of 1891 comes into effect in the United States permitting foreign authors to register their works for copyright. On July 3, the first such work, the play Saints and Sinners by English author Henry Arthur Jones, is registered. July 4 – December 26 – Thomas Hardy's novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles is serialized in expurgated form in the weekly illustrated newspaper The Graphic. August 22 – Israel Zangwill's The Big Bow Mystery, the first classic full-length locked room mystery, begins serialization in The Star.
October 9 – Émile Zola's stage adaptation of his novel Thérèse Raquin achieves a single London performance, its English stage première. To evade the Lord Chamberlain's Office's censorship it has to be staged by the Independent Theatre Society, but still attracts criticism on moral grounds. September 4 – Ambrose Bierce dates the preface of Tales of Soldiers and Civilians for this day, although it will not be issued until 1892, it includes "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", one of his best known works. December – Thomas Hardy writes "The Son's Veto", which he regards as his best short story. December 7 – Maurice Maeterlinck's play The Blind is premièred. Tristan Bernard adopts his pseudonym. Sophia Alice Callahan's Wynema, a Child of the Forest is published, the first work of fiction by a Native American woman in English. Publication of the first complete one-volume popular German translation of Shakespeare's plays. Approximate date – Edmund Clerihew Bentley, G. K. Chesterton and fellow pupils of St Paul's School, compose the first pseudo-biographical comic verses which become known as clerihews.
Grant Allen – The Great Taboo Hall Caine – The Scapegoat J. M. Barrie – The Little Minister Mary Elizabeth Braddon – Gerard. Gardener – Is This Your Son, My Lord? André Gide – Les Cahiers d'André Walter George Gissing – New Grub Street Thomas Hardy A Group of Noble Dames Tess of the d'Urbervilles J.-K. Huysmans – Là-bas Henry James – "The Pupil" Jerome K. Jerome – Diary of a Pilgrimage Jean Lorrain – Sonyeuse Lucas Malet – The Wages of Sin Herman Melville – Timoleon Georges Ohnet – Dernier Amour Daniel Owen – Enoc Huws Howard Pyle – Men of Iron José Rizal – El filibusterismo Jules Verne – Mistress Branican Oscar Wilde – Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories Margaret L. Woods – Esther Vanhomrigh Charlotte M. Yonge Two Penniless Princesses Unknown to History Émile Zola – L'Argent Selma Lagerlöf – Gösta Berlings Saga Laura E. Richards – Captain January Molly Elliot Seawell – Midshipman Paulding William Gordon Stables – The Cruise of the Crystal Boat Carlo Favetti – Fusilir e granatir, un scherz comic Jacob Mikhailovich Gordin – Siberia Maurice Maeterlinck – Intruder Victorien Sardou – Thermidor Rosario de Acuña – El padre Juan Frank Wedekind – Spring Awakening Oscar Wilde The Duchess of Padua Salome William Morris – Poems by the Way Marie Bashkirtseff – Lettres Black's Law Dictionary, 1st edition John Churton Collins – The Study of English Literature: a plea for its recognition and organization at the Universities John Gibson – The Emancipation of Women Edmond de Goncourt – Utamaro George Holyoake – The Co-operative Movement of To-day Frederic G. Kenyon Aristotelous Ἀθηναιων Πολιτεια: Aristotle on the Constitution of Athens Classical Texts from Papyri in the British Museum.
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century, the "Century of Philosophy". Some consider Descartes' 1637 statement "I think" to have sparked the period. Others cite the publication of Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica. French historians traditionally date the Enlightenment from 1715 to 1789, from the beginning of the reign of Louis XV until the French Revolution. Most end it with the turn of the 19th century. Philosophers and scientists of the period circulated their ideas through meetings at scientific academies, Masonic lodges, literary salons, coffeehouses and in printed books and pamphlets; the ideas of the Enlightenment undermined the authority of the monarchy and the Church and paved the way for the political revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries. A variety of 19th-century movements, including liberalism and neo-classicism, trace their intellectual heritage to the Enlightenment; the Enlightenment included a range of ideas centered on reason as the primary source of knowledge and advanced ideals such as liberty, toleration, constitutional government and separation of church and state.
In France, the central doctrines of the Enlightenment philosophers were individual liberty and religious tolerance, in opposition to an absolute monarchy and the fixed dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church. The Enlightenment was marked by an emphasis on the scientific method and reductionism, along with increased questioning of religious orthodoxy—an attitude captured by the phrase Sapere aude; the Age of Enlightenment was preceded by and associated with the scientific revolution. Earlier philosophers whose work influenced the Enlightenment included Bacon, Descartes and Spinoza; the major figures of the Enlightenment included Beccaria, Hume, Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Voltaire. Some European rulers, including Catherine II of Russia, Joseph II of Austria and Frederick II of Prussia, tried to apply Enlightenment thought on religious and political tolerance, which became known as enlightened absolutism. Benjamin Franklin visited Europe and contributed to the scientific and political debates there and brought the newest ideas back to Philadelphia.
Thomas Jefferson followed European ideas and incorporated some of the ideals of the Enlightenment into the Declaration of Independence. One of his peers, James Madison, incorporated these ideals into the United States Constitution during its framing in 1787; the most influential publication of the Enlightenment was the Encyclopédie. Published between 1751 and 1772 in thirty-five volumes, it was compiled by Diderot, d'Alembert and a team of 150 scientists and philosophers, it helped spread the ideas of the Enlightenment across Europe and beyond. Other landmark publications were Voltaire's Dictionnaire Letters on the English; the ideas of the Enlightenment played a major role in inspiring the French Revolution, which began in 1789. After the Revolution, the Enlightenment was followed by the intellectual movement known as Romanticism. René Descartes' rationalist philosophy laid the foundation for enlightenment thinking, his attempt to construct the sciences on a secure metaphysical foundation was not as successful as his method of doubt applied in philosophic areas leading to a dualistic doctrine of mind and matter.
His skepticism was refined by John Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding and David Hume's writings in the 1740s. His dualism was challenged by Spinoza's uncompromising assertion of the unity of matter in his Tractatus and Ethics; these laid down two distinct lines of Enlightenment thought: first, the moderate variety, following Descartes and Christian Wolff, which sought accommodation between reform and the traditional systems of power and faith, second, the radical enlightenment, inspired by the philosophy of Spinoza, advocating democracy, individual liberty, freedom of expression and eradication of religious authority. The moderate variety tended to be deistic, whereas the radical tendency separated the basis of morality from theology. Both lines of thought were opposed by a conservative Counter-Enlightenment, which sought a return to faith. In the mid-18th century, Paris became the center of an explosion of philosophic and scientific activity challenging traditional doctrines and dogmas.
The philosophic movement was led by Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who argued for a society based upon reason as in ancient Greece rather than faith and Catholic doctrine, for a new civil order based on natural law, for science based on experiments and observation. The political philosopher Montesquieu introduced the idea of a separation of powers in a government, a concept, enthusiastically adopted by the authors of the United States Constitution. While the Philosophes of the French Enlightenment were not revolutionaries and many were members of the nobility, their ideas played an important part in undermining the legitimacy of the Old Regime and shaping the French Revolution. Francis Hutcheson, a moral philosopher, described the utilitarian and consequentialist principle that virtue is that which provides, in his words, "the greatest happiness for the greatest numbers". Much of what is incorporated in the scientific method
Philosophical Thoughts is a 1746 book composed by Denis Diderot. In this book, Diderot argued for a reconciliation of reason with feeling so as to establish harmony. According to Diderot, without feeling there would be a detrimental effect on virtue and no possibility of creating any sublime work. However, since feeling without discipline can be destructive, reason was necessary to rein in feeling. At the time Diderot wrote this book. Hence there is a defense of deism in this book, some arguments against atheism; the book contains criticism of any kind of self-torture, including self-flagellation. For the 1770 edition of the work, Diderot included some additional material which contained greater heresies. A suburb resounds with outcries: the ashes of one of the elect perform more prodigies there than Jesus Christ performed in the whole of his life. People run, or are carried to the spot, I follow the crowd. I have no sooner arrived than I hear people exclaiming "Miracle!" I approach, I look, I see a little lame boy walking with the help of three or four charitable onlookers.
Miracle!" Where is the miracle you fools? Cannot you see that the rogue has done no more than change one pair of crutches for another?... Would a God full of goodwill find pleasure in bathing in tears? Would such terrors not be a reflection on his clemency? If criminals had to appease the fury of a tyrant, what more could be expected of them than this? People begin to speak to us of God too soon, another mistake is that his presence is not sufficiently insisted upon. Men have hidden him in a sanctuary. Fools that you are, break down these limitations. If I had a child to bring up, I would make his God his companion in such a real sense that he would find it less difficult to become an atheist, than to escape his presence. Instead of confronting him with a fellow-man I would say outright: “God hears you and you are lying.” Young people are influenced by their senses. I would multiply about him symbols indicating the divine presence. If there were a gathering at my house, I would leave a place for God, I would accustom him to say: “We were four-God, my friend, my tutor, myself.”
In July 1746, the Parlement of Paris ordered it to be burned in public. This enhanced the book's popularity. Since the book was well written, since Diderot preferred not to reveal himself as its author, it was thought by both Diderot's friends and enemies that the work was of some established author like Voltaire, La Mettrie, or Condillac