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Hey there, everyone. It's me, Josh. And for this week's X Y. S case selects chosen how the Enlightenment works. And the reason we named it works rather than worked is because we realized during this episode that this battle between rationalism and superstition is still going on today. The Enlightenment is still going on today. And I've chosen it this week because I feel like it explains a lot, a lot of the division in the world today, not just in the United States, but just in the West, but all over the world where there's a dividing line that is separating people.
This golf, this wedge is getting deeper and deeper. And I think that this is the basis of the whole thing. See if you agree.
If not, it's fine. It's still an interesting episode. Either way, I hope you enjoy.
Welcome to stuff you should know.
A production of I Radios HowStuffWorks. Hey, and welcome to the podcast, I'm Josh Clark, there's Charles to be Chuck Bright and cheery. Ah, so this is stuff you should know, the enlightened ones. Exactly. The three of us. Yeah. No one else know we're the enlightened ones. I am going to go ahead and preface this with what I just said off the air. This is a very tough subject to distill. Yeah. In a 30 to 45 minute podcast because volumes of books can be written on the age of enlightenment and have been and have been.
So is this stuff. There's going to be a very bird's eye view. Yeah.
There's a dude named Jonathan Israel who just came out with, I think, this third volume of a three volume set on the Enlightenment. And he wrote literally several thousand pages of it. And it's considered an obscure text. Yeah, he probably doesn't even think that he covered it in full. No, no, he doesn't.
Although his fourth volume coming soon, I think he does have another one coming. So maybe it was the second. But he said that the idea that he doesn't think that it's done, that it's not finished is actually a pretty standard view of the Enlightenment. Like during research for this, I realized that there are tons of intellectual arguments going on right now, like the Bill Maher thing, Bill Maher and Islam.
Yeah, he's been accused of being like a just a complete racist. Xenophobic. Yeah, dude. Because of his recent statements on Islam. Did you see him and Ben, Ben Affleck?
Did you see them get into it? Yeah, OK, that argument is an enlightenment argument. Yeah. Like it provided the Enlightenment was so massive that the ripple effects are still being felt on a daily basis because it was such an enormous change in the way humans think that we're still trying to sit there and analyze what the heck happened. And that is one manifestation of it.
Yeah, sure is is like what Bill Maher is saying is, well, you know, Islam is a religion or whatever, and and therefore it's an aesthetic goal to progress in culture and like real thought and rationalism. And Ben. Ben. Yeah. Ben Affleck is saying, like, you can't say that about a culture, like each culture is its own thing. So what we're seeing there is the idea of moral absolutism arguing with moral relativism. And that is like textbook enlightenment argument.
Yeah. Pretty interesting, sure, like researching this article seriously tied together probably 10 different things that I didn't realize were connected. Well, yeah, I mean, I love it when stuff like that.
It was the start of and, you know, the the age of enlightenment, quote unquote started and ended.
But it was the birth of just a new kind of thought, a new value system, uh, philosophical, scientific, cultural, intellectual, basically saying reason over this previous long held belief that just strict religious dogma is all you need to worry about.
Don't question anything. Right. Don't try and think about science and nature and things like that other than just this is God's creation. And what does it mean in terms of religion? Exactly.
So of course, that's still going on.
But it wasn't it wasn't just that. It was definitely enlightenment was the if you're an Enlightenment fan, you would say enlightenment was the domination of reason over religion or faith.
You know, it was a value system, basically.
But there is another aspect of the Enlightenment, the domination of the will of the people over the monarchy. Yeah, economic. There was a religious economic change. Huge economic changes.
Thanks to Adam Smith. There were a lot of like huge monumental changes in the way people thought. So much so that modern historians who are trying to unpack the Enlightenment, still one of the schools of thought, is that you can't just call it the Enlightenment.
Yeah, it happened in too many different places under different circumstances.
And then again, the different aspects of it, the fact that one part of it dealt with governmental change, one part of it dealt with religious change, in other part dealt with economic change, that the it's been kind of distilled into separate compartments now.
Yeah. I mean, separate compartments somewhere divergent and contradictory. It occurred nearly simultaneously in the 18th century in France, Great Britain, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Portugal, American colonies all over the place. Um, I like to say it's the period of time where the world started waking up and pulled their heads from their rear ends. Right. Basically.
Well, the question now, I mean, if you're a religious type, you're probably happy about the fruits of the Enlightenment like everybody points to. The Industrial Revolution is proof positive. The Enlightenment was great or the American experiment proof positive. The Enlightenment was great.
But you probably don't like the fact that the world completely turned its back on religion are not completely but largely dead. If you're pro enlightenment type, you're probably saying this is for the best. Like we were backwards. We emerged from the Dark Ages thanks to the Enlightenment. And this is the argument that's still going on today. Like, yes, the Enlightenment changed everything, but did it go too far?
Right. So that's we'll get into all that. But Konger, who wrote this article, I think, did a very good job of taking the whole thing back further than the 18th century out of the French salons and set the stage for what created the basis for this change in thinking.
Yeah, I think Chryson did a great job of distilling a complex topic down to like an eight page article. Yeah, but she does take it back to there were a couple of things that sort of laid the groundwork. Well, a lot of things, but a couple of them are Mr Sir Isaac Newton and the famous story of the apple falling on his head, which makes a great story. He told a lot of people that I don't know how factually exactly true that is, but it makes for a great story.
But either way, you want to look at it. Isaac Newton looked at the space at some point between that apple in the ground and said there's something going on in that empty space. Right. That should be explained because that Apple doesn't fall up. Something's keeping us all rooted here on the ground.
And I want to look into that. Although if you were a fan of David Hume's, you would say, well, actually, it could conceivably fall because we've never proven it won't fall up.
Yeah, and he was one of the proponents of not proponents, but he was active in the age of Enlightenment. Yeah.
Another thing that really laid the groundwork was the Thirty Years War from 16, 18 to 16. Forty eight, which pretty much paved the way for Protestant Reformation. And the Roman Catholic Church took a lot of the teeth away from the Roman Catholic Church. Hugely first time.
Yeah, it was there was a huge change. So what you just described, Chuck, is a the foundation for the intellectual branch of of the Enlightenment thinking, usurping the power from theological thinking. And then with the 30 year war, the political power was taken away from the church because for the first time now, the precedent has been set that you as a citizen, your allegiance is not split between church and state. Your allegiance is first and foremost to the state.
And we see that still today, like if somebody kills their their parents or whatever, because it's the seventh sign and Demi Moore is running around and it turns out that they were brother and sister. So you kill them because it's the will of God. The state says, I don't care if it's the will of God. You can't kill your parents. The state's law is more powerful and more important than God's law. That's straight out of the Thirty Years War.
That changed everything.
Everything is inside me. And I saw that like when it came out. I don't remember anything about it.
I just remember, like, one of the characters was this kid with Down's syndrome. And he murdered his parents because he found out that they were brother and sister and he was super religious and they were kids that to execute him.
Yeah, when they execute, I think he was like the last martyr.
OK, man, I have to check that out again. Yeah. Demi Moore. Uh, so Konger points out even further back about the dark ages, sort of laying the groundwork, which the dark ages were dark for many reasons.
But one of the big ones was that the Roman Catholic Church basically ruled everything.
Latin was the language, the center of life and academia, where monasteries and Abbi's. You weren't encouraged to get educated outside of theological realms, right?
It was not encouraged.
You have to actually, I want to say you have to be careful using the term Dark Ages, because apparently it is a disparaging label that people on the Enlightenment side of the argument, the humanists, they say they say these are the dark ages. That is back when the church controlled everything, when everybody was just an ignoramus. Yeah. Once the Enlightenment came along, we emerged from the Dark Ages. Technically, once the Renaissance came along, we emerged from the dark ages.
So if you're an historian, you call it the Middle Ages. But even the Middle Ages are kind of sad because it just says these are just kind of existed between this important age in this important age. We just call those the Middle Ages, but it's better than the Dark Ages. I like Dark Ages, but that's a that's a an argument or a label that a disparaging label that humanists use. Yeah.
Unfairly because there were scientists working and laying the groundwork for future science in the Dark Ages. And Congress even mentioned them in this article like Thomas Aquinas came up with scholasticism. Yeah. And scholasticism is basically the idea that you can understand God even more and be even more pure and divine yourself by studying nature.
Yeah, Roger Bacon was another monk who was a proponent of that. And I think that allowed them. And I don't think that's the reason they did it, but that allowed them to pursue these scientific avenues because it was still tied to God.
Another big change was, uh, like I said before, in the not so dark ages, perhaps Latin was the language and they didn't have something called the printing press until Johann Gutenberg came along in fourteen thirty eight and says, you know what, everyone should be able to read start printing stuff in your native tongue. Uh, and that led directly to people starting to educate themselves.
It was the democratization of education. Right. Exactly.
And all of this didn't happen like out of the blue, like Roger Bacon and Thomas Aquinas and a guy named Leonardo Bruni, they didn't necessarily come up with their ideas on their own. There was some this really seminal thing that happened back in the mid 13th century where somebody I don't know who did somebody translated, um, Aristotle, I believe his works in the Latin. And all of a sudden the Greek rational thinkers of antiquity, their ideas were suddenly available to the West for the first time.
And it just so happened that some people started paying attention to these things. Leonardo Bruni read Petrarch and revived the idea of humanism.
Yeah, which is a huge sea change because humanism says humans are pretty awesome. And the fruit of our labors, the fruit of our intellect, the fruit of everything that we do comes from human ability, not God.
Yeah. Like we're not just vessels for God's brilliance to be shown through. If you create something, you come up with a work of art. This is because God did that. You did that. Let's figure out how you did it. Right.
That's humanism. And this is what the Renaissance started to revive.
It was a huge change. Like maybe we should start paying attention to ourselves a little more. Exactly.
Let's explore the human condition. Yeah. Aristotle was not a heretic because he tied his geocentric universe ideas to God as well. He thought the universe was composed of 10 separate crystal spheres and beyond the tenth sphere, there was heaven and God. Copernicus, um, she pretty much said, no, that's not true. The universe is infinite. And he was pretty alone in that thinking. Early on, you faced a lot of criticism from like every every religion, Protestants and Catholics.
Yeah, it was a they thought it was a dangerous way of thinking because he didn't make room for God in the cosmos.
And it definitely was a dangerous way of thinking to the church like the Protestant Reformation was going on. You had the Thirty Years War coming down the pike. You had Copernicus thanks to this revival of interest in astronomy. Yeah. And Galileo Galilei.
Yeah. Starting to to look at the universe around us and finding even symbolic stuff like who was it, Kepler. He was an assistant to Tycho Brahe.
And Kepler figured out that the planets revolve around the sun in an ellipse. Yeah, well, the the church the Holy Roman Church said that the circle was a symbol of perfection. So, of course, everything revolves around the Earth in a circle where not only did things not revolve around the Earth, it revolved around the sun. And they didn't even do that in a circle. They did an ellipse.
So the church is just losing its mind because all these people are coming forward saying everything that you're saying over here is starting to prove to smell like beasts.
And the church is losing its power left and right, both politically and intellectually.
It's losing its authority. Yeah, Galileo even recanted because he was accused of heresy for his theory that the Earth rotates on its axis. So he said, I'll take it all back.
I didn't mean that, right. Please don't kill me.
He's like, but just make sure my manuscripts survive. So we were talking about bacon.
He is the creator of the scientific method and he says, you know what, we should use experiments to actually try and explain things. And so it's six twenty. I think it's high time we have a method for doing so.
So that was Francis Bacon. Yes. I wonder if he's related to Roger Bacon. I don't know, they they're separated by a few centuries, but they could have been Färm, sure. I think so. And he was. Did you ever take philosophy in college? No. Um, I think I might have.
Yeah. I didn't get much out of it if I did this. I don't remember.
I took one class. We studied Descartes a lot. I've grown to be a little more interested in it, but I like the more I like, like existential crisis philosophy, like Nick Bostrom stuff. I don't know.
That's just basically how the world's going to end. OK, this stuff is I think, like Descartes is interesting, but I'm not like a I'm not it doesn't light my fire.
Yeah, it was right. I think I made an A in that class actually, because it interested me at the time. But I never took a follow up class. I just took the intro. So yeah, it clearly didn't mean that much to me, but I get it.
Well, yeah. And what Descartes was saying is our experience is not it's not what you thought. Yeah.
Like mind and matter are two different things. And the human experience is a subjective experience in the mind. What the mind produces is different than what is reality and really kind of the changed things tremendously to seek. You've got all these people that contributing to this. We haven't even reached the eighteenth century yet. Yeah, like the groundwork is definitely being laid and it's still being laid. Um, as far as the like the government goes, John Locke was one of the people who contributed to the idea of the social contract and social contract.
There was hobs, Locke and later on, Rousseau and others contributed this idea that humans are born with natural rights. You're born free. I'm born free, even Jerry's born free.
I look at her and to form a society, you give up some of these natural rights. For example, one one thing that you give up is your right to kill in retribution.
Any society typically demands a state monopoly on violence, which means that if somebody kills your family member, you don't go kill that person. You go to the state and say, that guy killed my family member, try him, convict him and kill him on my behalf because there's a state monopoly on violence. So that's a natural right that you give up? I think appropriately so, and for the better. But as part of the social contract. And so the idea that that humans had these rights in that society, in turn had rights because humans gave them rights, um, that was a big basis of enlightenment thinking that would be added to later on, too.
And Locke also was one of the first champions of what would kind of become nurture over nature, his idea of the tabula rasa that when humans are born, their minds are a clean slate and they are shaped by experience and education and not some preordained thing that you're born with. And this French intellect gobble that stuff up.
His name was Francois Marie Auret, and he went by a name you might know Voltaire, and he really loved this stuff and went back to France with all these ideals and said, we got to get on this and let's, you know, we can't go out in the streets right now and talk about this stuff. But we can meet in private in homes like a Tupperware party and we'll call them salons and we'll we'll talk about these radical ideas and in this new way of thinking, in the privacy of homes for those that are willing to host it.
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Just like now, it's feeling like one day on a Saturday night, make it up as we go only on the podcast network in association with audio of media created by Scarlett Burke and Jared Goosestep. So Chuck, Voltaire has been lit up, he was in England from seventeen twenty six to seventeen twenty nine living in exile because he was already critical of the French monarchy. While he was there, he ran into the ideas of Locke, of apparently Descartes as well.
He he basically got turned on to rationalism and he was primed and ready for it. Like this guy was just waiting for these ideas to pour into him. And when they did, he became a lightning rod for what we think of as the Enlightenment. Like Voltaire was the main dude to start, from what I understand. Yeah.
And like we mentioned, the salons, they had to do this in private because Louis the Fourteenth.
Yeah, that right. Yeah. Better at that.
He was pretty hard on the he didn't like that kind of talk. It threatened him for good reason. Uh well yeah.
I mean the reason why is like the power was taken from the church and placed more in the monarchy, but in very short order, people said, you know, we're not really that fond of the monarchy either. We think we should rule ourselves or at least elect people to rule ourselves to the divine right of kings. Things seems kind of hinky now that we think about it. So the monarchies were threatened as well by the Enlightenment?
Well, yeah, the monarchy like the dumb masses, right. That stayed under their thumb. And any kind of like radical thought or original thought was super dangerous.
Sounds familiar. Yeah, exactly.
It is interesting how you talked about I think there are periods of time where things like the age of Enlightenment keep popping up. That's like the 1960s in the United States. And I think, like you said, we're in one right now.
I think we're probably more than even the sixties right now.
Yeah. And I think there are periods where that lulls like maybe the 1980s where they're seeing the 70s.
Remember disco. Yeah. Like a dumbing down of things. Yeah. Just people not caring or whatever. Yeah. It's weird and cyclical.
I read, I read this article called Things Fall Apart How Social Media Leads to a Less Stable World. It was by a guy named Curtis Howland, Leandy and so on. Knowledge at Wharton. Yeah, like the Wharton Business School website. And it was basically saying it wasn't I thought it was condemning social media. And this guy was just basically stating matter of factly that social media erodes the state in that now we have ways to connect with other people in ways that are more important to us than, say, our allegiance to the state.
So you may feel you may feel more connected to somebody over Hello Kitty and your fondness for Hello Kitty more than you would identify yourself as an American. Right. And with social media, you're able to connect with other people who feel the same way. And so you form on social media basically bodies that supersede the state. In your opinion, no boundaries. Exactly. And as this happens, more and more of the states, what's called sovereignty, erodes more and more and more and it becomes less and less stable world.
The guy's point was that, yes, while it's very unstable and things are much more dangerous during periods like this, it's it's basically just a period of upheaval and change and then eventually things stabilize again. But what this guy was saying, using this as an example, is that we are in a like right now, possibly on the cusp of a period of tremendous fundamental change in the world.
Oh, I see that every day. Yeah. Yeah. It's pretty interesting. Time to be alive. Yeah, a little scary to me. Yeah.
Well, I mean, it's like the guy said, it's more dangerous than your average time. Yeah. Because change frequently comes out of spasms of violence or upheaval where nobody's in charge.
Yeah. Because there's a power struggle going on or are normal structures are being eroded.
It's interesting. It's super interesting. So back to the salons.
We're back to the age of enlightenment, the traditional age of enlightenment. Uh, uh, the salons, the members were known there was a group of people known as the philosophers. We've mentioned a few of them. Rousseau did. Harro Voltaire. How do you pronounce that?
It's not Monty, is it, Montesquieu, Montesquieu, uh, um, and they were their kind of skeptics and critics of not everything but the establishment of government or the way government was at the time, especially the church hated the church.
Yeah, like Voltaire, especially hated the church in the very fact that it even existed.
And a lot of the enlightened ones were deists and deism. Basically, I like the way Konger put it in a big picture way. They believe in a clockmaker God, which means maybe God created everything and set things in motion, but then was like, all right, that's it, I'm out. Right? I'm not getting my fingers in all the pies of everyone. And it's you have free will basically.
Yeah. After you're born, which again, was pretty dangerous to the religious establishment. Yeah.
So you've got the basics. You've got the foundation of the Holy Roman Empire in the West, losing tons of power and political and intellectually.
You've got the monarchy now being assaulted by the French Cylons who are planting the seeds of democracy. Yeah, like Montesquieu, for example, wrote in 1748, The Spirit of the laws. And he basically proposed the idea of a separation of powers is like the first guy to do that. He's the lawyer who is in the salon scene. And all of a sudden it's like separation of power. What are you talking about? No, you've got a monarch.
And what the monarch says is right. And as a result of this kind of thinking, the seeds of democracy are planted and then a hostility toward religion of almost any kind. Yeah. That you still see today, like in the form of like Bill Maher or Richard Dawkins or formerly Christopher Hitchens. All of this started coming out of the French salons. Yeah. All right.
After this message, we're going to talk a little bit about how the age of enlightenment manifested itself in different parts of the world.
So we've mainly been in Europe this whole time, uh, in France, there was an emphasis on the arts. In England, they had a more emphasis on science and economics. You mentioned Adam Smith at the beginning, Scottish man and some 1976 in 1776 wrote his Wealth of Nations, uh, which basically said the government should not interfere with matters of finance and economics.
Yeah, there should be the invisible hand guiding all these principles.
Yeah, I read this article by this guy who is explaining that change in thought like before that it was that whole social contract thing, like Rousseau saying, you know, this is an interplay between citizens and citizens and citizens in their government. And the government's role is to protect the rights of people. What Hume said is the government is legitimate and so are not Hubert Smith. It's the government's legitimate insofar as it steps out of people's affairs and lets free trade take place.
Yeah, which that might sound familiar if you subscribe to Republican or conservative or libertarian ideology. Right. You know. Yeah, sure. Like the whole laissez faire attitude of government is what what legitimizes government and the government that medals in someones affairs is an illegitimate government as far as classical economic thought goes.
Yeah, and we talked about that in our stuff. You should know. Go to the economy. Yeah. Which we got an email. Someone bought that the other day.
The other that was 17 hours long or something, you know, and then also in Scotland was David Hume, who's like my favourite philosopher of all time because he's like a he's only when he started he's a meat now he's a meme, but he's the only one he's ever really spoken to me of the Enlightenment philosophers. And Hume is this meat and potatoes dude who basically said, like, show me the proof.
Yeah, he was a skeptic. He was an empiricist. He said, you basically can't believe anything that you can't see with your own eyes. My belief in his philosophy has been eroded with the idea that consciousness is a subjective experience. Yeah, like just totally subjective, basically. But I like his his idea. And it was like the the calls in effect. Right. I think he used like billiards as an example where you hit a ball like you're playing eight ball, you hit like the eight ball with the cue ball.
Like you can predict where that's going to go. Yeah. Like where the eight ball is going to go based on how you hit it with the cue ball.
But Hume's point is, is you can't say for certain that that's what's going to happen. Right. You're basing that strictly on previous experience rather than proof that this is what will happen. So we can't prove that hitting that cueball will make this eight ball go in the certain direction ahead of time. And so, therefore, we've come up with this thing called cause and effect, which basically serves as a stop gap between what we think will happen and the phenomenon we've already observed.
Like in other words, you can't say for certain the sun's going to come up tomorrow just because it's already come up so many days before. And the reason why is because we don't have empirical proof. And I liked him for that.
So you don't think the sun will come out tomorrow necessarily?
It's not the point that I think it won't come up tomorrow. It's what Hume was saying is we can't prove that it will work. You can't prove that it will just based on previous experience. Right.
Well, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were on board that train to a certain degree. Yeah. And we mentioned earlier that most of the establishment was pretty threatened by most of these ideas and the people in power, but not everybody. Some people wanted to get on the Enlightenment train because I think it was progressive and maybe made them seem open to ideas and modern, perhaps.
Right. Empress of Russia Catherine the Great was one of those who had a lot of dealings with the philosophers and Frederick, the Great of Prussia, even had Voltaire over and said, you know, why don't you come and live here? Yeah, and he did.
Yeah, it's for free. And he said for free.
He said, OK, I'm just trying to think of Prussian money, but I have no idea the prowlers the probable way.
But it was also happening in Germany all over the world with Emmanuel Conte. He was one of the first champions of freedom of the press. And his motto is one that I love dare to know. And again, he was just challenging people go out there and learn about something and don't just accept, uh, what these religious leaders are telling you. You have to accept. Yeah.
And actually, he came up with this idea called the categorical imperative, basically. The world, the idea that there is such a thing as moral absolutes, right, and I guess he didn't give the world that because the Judeo-Christian ethic in most religious ethics say that there is such a thing as right or wrong. Yeah. And today you have that argument of is there such a thing as moral absolutism or is moral or cultural relativism a thing? Right. That's the argument.
That's one of the arguments that's playing out right now in the intellectual world. Yeah, I just think it's fascinating to be totally is.
So what does this all lead to? Eventually it's going to lead to war because any time there's well, not at any time, but a lot of times when there's an uprising of radical thought, people are going to want to take action. And it happened in the United States by way of the American Revolution and in France by way of the French Revolution. And they had different results. Yeah, to say the least.
They were both experimentations in this new idea of democracy. Yeah, pretty much. And yeah, the American one worked out pretty well, some would say. Yeah, the French won not so much because apparently Robespierre, who was the head of the Jacobin party that took power during the French Revolution, Robespierre was a follower of Rousseau.
And remember, Rousseau contributed to the social contract by saying the people will say something and then it's up to the people in charge to carry out that will. Right. And so Robespierre took that to mean that the people storming the best deal and overthrew the monarchy. And so it was his job as the head of the Jakobsson party, which is now in power to kill everybody who wasn't down with the revolution. And so thousands and thousands of French people lost their lives at the guillotine as a result during this reign of terror.
So some people would say America founded itself based on democratic principles. And let's not pay attention to some of these darker spots over here and just pay attention to the democratic experiment. And it worked out great. And then the French won. There was a revolution. They tried to install democratic ideals and thousands of people had their heads chopped off. It didn't work quite as well.
Well, and some people say that effectively killed the age of enlightenment as we know it, the French Revolution, because the chaos and violence that erupted was in certain circles blamed on the Enlightenment and proof that we can't self govern.
And these are radical ideas and that's why we got stomped on. Yeah. Um, have you ever heard the theory that the French Revolution was due to moldy bread? No.
There is one theory that people got a hold of bad bread, so ergo poisoning and basically were tripping on acid on July 14th, 1789, when they decided to storm the best deal.
That was one of the explanations for the Salem witchcraft trials. Yeah, crazy. I hadn't heard that.
Yeah. So they were like, it's go time, so let's get this party started. But like I said, some people say that in the age of enlightenment, as we know it, romanticism was soon ushered in and was way more appealing to the common folk than this weird radical thoughts that were going on before.
Well, it was the romanticism was the first time people questioned the idea on a large scale that maybe the rationalism of the humanism of the Enlightenment went too far in the other direction. Like, sure, maybe we were way too religious in the religious organizations, had way too much power.
But we swung way over here and just rationalism had this idea to and it became dogmatic in and of its own. Right. And so this is we still never really figured out if how to how to fine tune it enough. And that's what we're still figuring out right now. A lot of people say the Enlightenment, the idea that you're that the course of humanity is always towards civilization and rational thought and that any culture that's not there is inferior to a culture that does think rationally.
Right. So that means that colonialism and imperialism was supported by enlightenment thought, which is a huge enlightenment. It's not supposed to be about that. It's supposed to be about good things and freedom and all that. But it also supported colonialism. Right. That was a huge that's people are arguing about that right now, too.
Yeah. Let's go conquer these people and make them modern and bring them into today's world. Exactly. Yeah. So there's another article I want to recommend. It's called The Trouble with the Enlightenment. It's by a guy named Orli, cousin from Prospect magazine. Awesome. Awesome article about this. That's just he basically reviews a couple of books, one one by Jonathan Israel, who I mentioned earlier. Yeah.
Where he basically says, forget the philosophes. You got to look at Baruch Spinoza, who is a Dutch philosopher from, I think, the 17th century. He was the one who came up with the Enlightenment ideas. And had we followed his enlightenment ideas, there wouldn't have been any governments now or there wouldn't be any religion whatsoever. He came up with the real revolutionary enlightenment. And what we got, what we think of as the Enlightenment was a watered down, moderate version.
That was change. Sure, there was tons of change, but it was still palatable to the elite that the people could still be governed easily. Right. Even in these new democratic experiments and stuff like that, there's a lot of people who take issue with his book, but it's pretty interesting to discuss it, what they call democratic enlightenment.
I think he's the one who wrote the several thousand page trilogy, that guy. And then there's another guy, an Austrian named Anthony Paduan. He believes that the Enlightenment project is still going on and basically that as long as there's religion in the world, the Enlightenment won't be fulfilled entirely.
Right. Which is again, it's it's like this this idea that rationalism has become dogmatic. And if you don't if you're not just strictly rational, if you hold any kind of what could be considered irrational or superstitious belief. Right. You're acting irrational. You're not thinking correctly, and therefore you have to be converted.
Right. Which is just as dogmatic. Yeah, sure. Yeah, that's going on right now, huge time of change and also greed, the Dark Age Myth and the Atheist reviews God's Philosophers by Tim O'Neill and strange notions, dotcom, Tip O'Neill, Tim O'Neill.
And I think that's about it, huh?
That is it for me.
If you want to learn more about the Enlightenment, go check out those three articles or check out and check out how the Enlightenment worked and by typing that in the search bar HowStuffWorks. And now it's time to listen to me.
I'm going to call this mad cow theory from Seattle. Hey, guys, just listen to your podcast on fatal familial insomnia. In it, you mentioned the late 18th century cases in Venice and then wondered about the unrelated cases and what they were eating. This made me finally sit down and write my first email.
For years, I've had a theory about prion disease and mad cow and specific. Years ago, I was watching a program on Egyptian mummies.
They talked about how mummification may have started out with the pharaoh, but the practice eventually made it down to call it budget mummification. They talked about how in the late 18th, the 19th century crypts of these early mummies, there would be ground up and sold as fertilizer, specifically in England.
Sometime later, when I learned about prions and how nearly indestructible they were, I wondered, could ground up mummies have been used to fertilize the field.
Then a cow comes along and eats grass that has been contaminated with prions leading to mad cow disease. A human eats the mad cow brain. Its Kreutzfeld Jakobs. Uh, so I've always wondered.
Could never figure out if you could prove it or disprove it. If CSJ it was a real mummy's curse of desiccated Egyptian corpses. And that is Darren Grea in Seattle.
And man, I just like that kind of speaking of radical thought, I had not heard that one Darren's having.
Well it's Darren's own, uh, Greisman.
Nice going, Darren. Yeah. Uh, if you have anything to say about that, anybody else we would like to hear from you. Can you prove or disprove that Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a mummy's curse? You can tweet to us as well as Kay podcast. You can join us on Facebook dot com slash stuff. You should know you can send us an email which seems appropriate to stuff podcast, that HowStuffWorks dot com and join us at our home on the web stuff you should know dot com.
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