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The Enlightenment Legacy of David Hume

Description: Although many historians assert the unity of the Enlightenment, their histories essentially belie this notion. Consequently, Enlightenment history is confused and meaningless, urging the reader to believe that diversity is similarity and faction is unity. Fundamental among the common denominators of these various interpretations, however, are the scientific method and empirical observation, as introduced by Newton. These, historians acclaim as the turning point when mankind escaped the ignorance of superstition and the oppression of the church, and embarked upon the modern secular age. The Enlightenment, however, founders immediately upon its own standards of empiricism and demonstrable philosophical tenets, with the exception of David Hume. As the most consistent and fearless empiricist of the era, Hume's is by far the most "legitimate" philosophy of the Enlightenment, but it starkly contrasts the rhetoric and ideology of the philosophe community, and, therefore, defies attempts by historians to incorporate it into the traditional Enlightenment picture. Hume, then, exposes the Enlightenment dilemma: either the Enlightenment is not empirical, but rather the new Age of Faith Carl Becker proclaimed it, or Enlightenment philosophy is that of Hume. This study presents the historical characterization of major Enlightenment themes, such as method, reason, religion, morality, and politics, then juxtaposes this picture with the particulars (data) that contradict or seriously qualify it. As a result, much superficial analysis, wishful thinking, even proselytizing is demonstrated in the traditional Enlightenment characterization, especially with regard to the widely heralded liberal and progressive legacy of the era. In contrast, Hume's conclusions, based on the method of Newton-the essence of "enlightened" philosophy, are presented, revealing the authoritarian character (and legacy) of the Enlightenment as well as the utility and relevance of its method when honestly and rigorously applied. Through David Hume, the twentieth century can truly acquire what the Enlightenment promised—an understanding of human ...
Date: December 1989
Creator: Jenkins, Joan (Joan Elizabeth)
Partner: UNT Libraries

David Hume and the Enlightenment Legacy

Description: Generally acclaimed as the greatest philosopher of the Enlightenment, David Hume has been, nevertheless, a problem for Enlightenment historians. In terms of the Enlightenment's own standards of empiricism and demonstrable philosophical tenets, Hume's is by far the most "legitimate" philosophy of the age, yet it is almost diametrically opposed to the traditional historical characterization of the Enlightenment. Consequently, historians must re-assess the empirical character of the Enlightenment, acknowledging it as yet another Age of Faith rather than science (as Becker contends), or acknowledge Hume's as the most valid Enlightenment philosophy. Such a re-assessment and study of Hume's conclusions would dramatically alter Enlightenment histories and provide meaningful insights into the actual Enlightenment legacy regarding modern man and his society.
Date: December 1983
Creator: Perez, Joan Jenkins
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Eighteenth Century Worker: Goya's Tapestry Cartoons and the Influence of the Enlightenment [Presentation]

Description: Presentation for the 2011 University Scholars Day at the University of North Texas discussing research on the eighteenth century worker and Francisco de Goya's Tapestry Cartoons and the influence of enlightenment.
Date: April 14, 2011
Creator: England, Erin; Hopkins, Caitlin; Thompson, Shana & Donahue-Wallace, Kelly, 1968-
Partner: UNT Honors College

Sensitivity, Inspiration, and Rational Aesthetics: Experiencing Music in the North German Enlightenment

Description: This dissertation examines pre-Kantian rational philosophy and the development of the discipline of aesthetics in the North German Enlightenment. With emphasis on the historical conception of the physiological and psychological experience of music, this project determines the function of music both privately and socially in the eighteenth century. As a result, I identify the era of rational aesthetics (ca.1750-1800) as a music-historical period unified by the aesthetic function and metaphysical experience of music, which inform the underlying motivation for musical styles, genres, and means of expression, leading to a more meaningful and compelling historical periodization. The philosophy of Alexander Baumgarten, Johann Georg Sulzer, and others enable definitions of the experience of beautiful objects and those concepts related to music composition, listening, and taste, and determine how rational aesthetics impacted the practice, function, and ultimately the prevailing style of music in the era. The construction, style, and performance means of the free fantasia, the most personal and expressive genre of the era, identify its function as the private act of solitude, or a musical meditation. An examination of pleasure societies establishes the role of music in performance and discussion in both social gatherings and learned musical clubs for conveying the morally good, which results in the spread of good taste. Taken together, the complimentary practices of private and social music played a significant role in eighteenth-century life for developing the self, through personal taste, and society, through a morally good culture.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Fick, Kimary E.
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Enlightenment and the Englishwoman

Description: The present study investigates the failure of the Enlightenment to liberate Englishwomen from the prejudices society and law imposed upon them. Classifying social classes by lifestyle, the roles of noble, middleclass, and criminal women, as well as the attitudes of contemporary writers of both sexes, are analyzed. This investigation concludes that social mores limited noblewomen to ornamental roles and condemned them to exist in luxurious boredom; forced middle-class women to emulate shining domestic images which contrasted sharply with the reality of their lives; subjected women of desperate circumstances to a criminal code rendered erratic and inconsistent by contemporary attitudes, and impelled the Enlightenment to invent new defenses for old attitudes toward women.
Date: December 1983
Creator: Morris, Jan Jenkins
Partner: UNT Libraries

Ours is the Kingdom of Heaven: Racial Construction of Early American Christian Identities

Description: This project interrogates how religious performance, either authentic or contrived, aids in the quest for freedom for oppressed peoples; how the rhetoric of the Enlightenment era pervades literatures delivered or written by Native Americans and African Americans; and how religious modes, such as evoking scripture, performing sacrifices, or relying upon providence, assist oppressed populations in their roles as early American authors and speakers. Even though the African American and Native American populations of early America before the eighteenth century were denied access to rights and freedom, they learned to manipulate these imposed constraints--renouncing the expectation that they should be subordinate and silent--to assert their independent bodies, voices, and spiritual identities through the use of literary expression. These performative strategies, such as self-fashioning, commanding language, destabilizing republican rhetoric, or revising narrative forms, become the tools used to present three significant strands of identity: the individual person, the racialized person, and the spiritual person. As each author resists the imposed restrictions of early American ideology and the resulting expectation of inferior behavior, he/she displays abilities within literature (oral and written forms) denied him/her by the political systems of the early republican and early national eras. Specifically, they each represent themselves in three ways: first, as a unique individual with differentiated abilities, exceptionalities, and personality; second, as a person with distinct value, regardless of skin color, cultural difference, or gender; and third, as a sanctified and redeemed Christian, guaranteed agency and inheritance through the family of God. Furthermore, the use of religion and spirituality allows these authors the opportunity to function as active agents who were adapting specific verbal and physical methods of self-fashioning through particular literary strategies. Doing so demonstrates that they were not the unrefined and unfeeling individuals that early American political and social restrictions had made them--that instead they were ...
Date: May 2016
Creator: Robinson, Heather L
Partner: UNT Libraries

Dramatic Technique in the Major Fictional Works of Diderot

Description: The purpose of this thesis is to examine evidences of dramatic technique in Diderot's three major fictional works, "La Reliieuse," "Le Neveu de Rameau," and "Jaccues le fataliste." The management of dialogue, setting, and gesture is of particular concern, along with style and structure and the recurrent theme of the actor. The conclusion reached is that the influence of dramatic technique is everywhere present in the three works under consideration. Diderot enlists the reader's visual and auditory participation by the use of fast-paced dialogue, striking gestures, and dynamic settings. He also borrows certain stylistic and structural devices from the theater and enhances the dramatic impression by presenting many of his main characters as actors playing their own special roles.
Date: August 1975
Creator: Johnson, Aleta Jo
Partner: UNT Libraries

Commentary on "Nondualistic Experiences of Light in Near-Death Experiences and in The Tibetan Book of the Dead"

Description: Abstract: René Jorgensen's editorial comparing the Clear Light in The Tibetan Book of the Dead (or Bardo Thodol) and the experience of light in some near-death experiences (NDEs) does not adequately acknowledge either the diversity of NDEs or the possibility that the content of The Tibetan Book of the Dead may be metaphorical. Similarities between descriptions of light in some NDEs and descriptions of the Clear Light in The Tibetan Book of the Dead may reflect similar underlying neural mechanisms and does not provide validation for either description. Any relevance of these descriptions to enlightenment is speculative.
Date: Autumn 2006
Creator: Murphy, Todd
Partner: UNT Libraries

Dr. Richard Price, the Marquis de Condorcet, and the Political Culture of Friendship in the Late Enlightenment

Description: The eighteenth century saw many innovations in political culture including the rise of the public sphere where political ideas were freely and openly discussed and criticized. The new public sphere arose within the institutions of private life such as the Republic of Letters and salons, so the modes of behavior in private life were important influences on the new political culture of the public sphere. By studying the lives and careers of Richard Price and the Marquis de Condorcet, I examine the role that the private institution of friendship played in the new political culture of the late Enlightenment. During the 1780s, friendship became an important political symbol that represented the enlightened ideals of equality, reciprocity, liberty, and humanitarianism.
Date: August 2001
Creator: Kruckeberg, Robert Dale
Partner: UNT Libraries