Where are Proponents of the Enlightenment?

The place of the Enlightenment in public debate has all but disappeared. Renowned philosophers who do engage with criticism of the Enlightenment, such as Jürgen Habermas and Charles Taylor, do not catch the imagination of a wide public in the way Foucault did 40 years ago. Even the great scientists of NASA and Caltech, heirs of Isaac Newton, armed with massive modern reams of data, cannot sway the majority of the American public into believing that global warming is man-made. Instead of major philosophers, entertainers like Bill Nye and Ken Ham debate evolution at the Creation Museum (a museum that asserts the world came about in a strict biblical chronology), with many in the audience applauding the creationist.

If science is contested, the Enlightenment, it seems, has become a relic. And yet the Enlightenment is not forgotten everywhere. As Ferrone notes, Pope Benedict XVI has spoken numerous times about the Enlightenment as an ongoing challenge to the Catholic Church. Indeed, Benedict debated the idea of the Enlightenment with Habermas in a work called “The Dialectics of Secularization” when he was still Joseph Ratzinger—the first time a future pope has sat down with a modern philosopher to discuss the Enlightenment. Not surprisingly, Benedict regrets many secular values and nonreligious government, yet at the same time he speaks of the importance of the Enlightenment in bringing individuals the freedom to believe and in asserting human rights in a global society. This doesn’t make Benedict an Enlightenment philosopher, but it does make him the most influential world figure to engage in the old dialectic.


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Pope Benedict XVI (0.948504): website | dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
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Immanuel Kant (0.644098): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
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 The Culture of Criticism, What do we owe the Enlightenment?
Electronic/World Wide Web>Internet Article:  Soll, Jacob (2015-05-20), The Culture of Criticism, What do we owe the Enlightenment?, New Republic, Retrieved on 2015-05-21
  • Source Material [www.newrepublic.com]
  • Folksonomies: enlightenment culture