The Age of Reason

Images from Diderot and Alembert’s Encylopedia.

Reading Revolution–when reading became “individual and silent” (McKay 471). Critical thinking was fashionable and practiced in the salons of the elite.

The Late Enlightenment

According to Rousseau,”man was born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” Freedom was man’s natural state; the chains are those of the political economy, epitomized in the burdens of property ownership.

 

Rousseau rejected the early enlightenment devotion to rationalism and he thought civilization destroyed, rather than liberated, the individual.

The Noble Savage was an important trope for Rousseau. this presaged Darwin as well as the Romantics of the 19th Century. Rousseau thought women were naturally passive and ought to always occupy passive roles in both public and private spheres.

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