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9-08-2015, 17:54


In their swirling, dramatic forms, baroque art, architecture, and music might seem to be the opposite of the emphasis on reason that marked the Scientifi c Revolution and the Enlightenment, and to some degree they are. We can fi nd some overarching themes in all the intellectual and cultural developments of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, however. Scientists, philosophers, writers, artists, and composers, and the people who read, saw, heard, and discussed their works in clubs, coffeehouses, salons, newspapers, and journals were interested in issues of order and structure. What were the underlying structures of the universe? Of human society? Of the individual? How did people learn these? How could natural structures be reproduced, or enhanced? Should they be? How could social structures be improved? Should they be? Could disorderly things be made orderly? Were there limits to human nature, or were individuals infi nitely improvable? All individuals, or just some? Were there limits to human knowledge and understanding? If so, who or what set those limits? The answers to many of these questions had long been provided by religious authorities, but, as we will see in the next chapter, religious institutions were themselves deeply split by concerns about structure and order in these centuries. So instead many people looked to other types of authorities as well, or developed new ways to contemplate the universe and the place of humans in it for themselves. Physicians, chemists, and alchemists observed and experimented on the natural world in order to discover underlying patterns and substances. Astronomers such as Galileo searched the skies with the newly invented telescope, and mathematicians such as Newton posited laws to explain how basic forces worked. Philosophers increasingly argued that reason – given to humans by God and by nature – was the best tool for understanding the world, though most thought that the capacity for rational thought varied widely among different types of people. Concern with order and the limits of human understanding emerged in literature as well, including poetry, comedies, and serious plays performed in theatres, courts, and schools, and the new genre of the novel. Many of these works focused on contemporary people confronting realistic problems instead of on classical heroes or ancient kings. Art and music saw giant works on a huge scale – baroque churches, enormous palaces, opera – but also smaller, more refl ective pieces that attempted to capture individual personalities and intimate spaces. None of the questions that people addressed through science, philosophy, literature, art, or music provoked a uniform answer, but by the end of the eighteenth century the number of people thinking, talking, and writing about them, at least in the larger cities of Europe, was far greater than had been the case two centuries earlier. This expansion of what Renaissance humanists called the “Republic of Letters” did not include the vast majority of the European population, who remained agricultural producers living in villages, but it was an important part of the creation of what was later termed “middle-class” culture. This broadening was also accompanied by a growing split between professional and amateur. Though there were many popularizations of scientifi c and philosophical works, scientifi c advances increasingly required expensive equipment and an understanding of mathematics beyond the reach of most people. Musical forms such as the opera or the oratorio were not for singing or playing at home. People did share in such things, but as audiences, not participants. These two trends – broadening and professionalization – are actually linked, because both created a larger market for many types of cultural products. By the end of the eighteenth century, culture was a commodity to be purchased, through paintings for a sitting room, tickets to performances, subscriptions to journals, or visits to museums. The “Republic of Letters” had become the “market place of ideas,” a new metaphor appropriate in an increasingly commercialized world. Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientifi c Revolutions ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press , 1962), is brief and very readable, as is Peter Dear’s Revolutionizing the Sciences: European Knowledge and its Ambitions, 1500–1700 ( Princeton: Princeton University Press , 2001), which explores continuities between seventeenth-century and earlier science. Jürgen Habermas, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, trans. Thomas Burger and Frederick Lawrence ( Cambridge, MA : MIT Press , 1989), is a bit more ponderous. Studies of new cultural institutions include James E. McClellan III , Science Reorganized: Scientifi c Societies in the Eighteenth Century ( New York : Columbia University Press , 1985); Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, Grub Street Abroad: Aspects of the French Cosmopolitan Press from the Age of Louis XIV to the French Revolution ( Oxford : Oxford University Press , 1992); Geoffrey V. Sutton, Science for a Polite Society: Gender, Culture, and the Demonstration of Enlightenment (Boulder: University of Colorado Press , 1995); Paula Findlen, Possessing Nature: Museums, Collecting and Scientifi c Culture in Early Modern Italy ( Berkeley: University of California Press , 1996); David Zaret , Origins of Democratic Culture: Printing, Petitions and the Public Sphere in Early-Modern England ( Princeton: Princeton University Press , 2000); James Van Horn Melton, The Rise of the Public in Enlightenment Europe ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 2001); David Freedberg , The Eye of the Lynx: Galileo, his Friends, and the Beginnings of Modern Natural History ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press , 2003); Joad Raymond, ed., News Networks in Seventeenth Century Britain and Europe ( London: Routledge, 2006); Margaret C. Jacob, Strangers Nowhere in the World: The Rise of Cosmopolitanism in Early Modern Europe ( Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press , 2006). Dorinda Outram, The Enlightenment, 2nd edn ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 2005), provides a solid one-volume introduction to the topic, and Thomas Munck, The Enlightenment: A Comparative Social History ( New York : Bloomsbury , 2000), examines the 1 What new cultural institutions developed in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe, and how did these shape public opinion? 2 How did alchemical ideas contribute to the development of new methods of scientifi c inquiry? 3 How did Brahe, Kepler, and Galileo modify Copernicus’s ideas about planetary motion? What tools and techniques allowed them to do this? 4 What was the impact of mathematical principles on astronomy, philosophy, and government administration in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? 5 Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, and Locke all developed explanations for how humans come to know things. What similarities and differences were there in their ideas about the sources and limits of human knowledge? 6 For thinkers of the Enlightenment, how did climate, race, and gender affect people’s capacity for reason and natural rights? 7 How did political theories, science, and Enlightenment values shape the literature, music, and art of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? 8 What qualities typifi ed baroque art, architecture, and music, and how were these expressed through new forms of production, display, and performance that were developed in this era? FURTHER READING QUESTIONS impact of the Enlightenment on ordinary people. For historians and books mentioned in the box on the changing shape of the Enlightenment, see Peter Gay , The Enlightenment: An Interpretation, 2 vols. ( New York : W. W. Norton , 1966 and 1969); Robert Darnton , The Literary Underground of the Old Regime ( Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press , 1985); Margaret C. Jacob, Living the Enlightenment: Freemasonry and Politics in Eighteenth-Century Europe ( New York : Oxford University Press , 1991); Roy Porter , The Creation of the Modern World: The Untold Story of the British Enlightenment ( New York : W. W. Norton , 2001); Dena Goodman, The Republic of Letters: A Cultural History of the French Enlightenment ( Ithaca, NY : Cornell University Press , 1994); Reinhart Kosseleck, Critique and Crises: Enlightenment and the Pathogenesis of Modern Society ( Boston: MIT Press , 1998); Peter Hulme and Ludmilla Jordanova , The Enlightenment and its Shadows ( London: Routledge, 1990); Steven Kale, French Salons: High Society and Political Sociability from the Old Regime to the Revolution of 1848 ( Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press , 2006); Jonathan Israel, Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity ( Oxford : Oxford University Press , 2002) and the much briefer Democratic Enlightenment: Philosophy, Revolution, and Human Rights ( Oxford : Oxford University Press , 2011); Laurent Dubois, A Colony of Citizens: Revolution and Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787–1804 ( Durham: University of North Carolina Press , 2006); Daniel Carey and Lynn Festa, eds., The Postcolonial Enlightenment: Eighteenth-Century Colonialism and Postcolonial Theory ( New York : Oxford University Press , 2010). Brief general surveys of the Scientifi c Revolution include Steven Shapin, The Scientifi c Revolution ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press , 1998), which argues that there wasn’t one, and John Henry , The Scientifi c Revolution and the Origins of Modern Science, 2nd edn ( Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2002), which argues that there was. Margaret J. Osler , ed., Rethinking the Scientifi c Revolution ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 2000), includes articles that take both positions. For the culture of science, see Lisa Jardine , Ingenious Pursuits: Building the Scientifi c Revolution ( London: Anchor , 2000). On magic and alchemy in science, see Charles Webster , From Paracelsus to Newton: Magic and the Making of Modern Science ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 1982), and Bruce T. Moran, Distilling Knowledge: Alchemy, Chemistry, and the Scientifi c Revolution ( Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press , 2010). On Newton, see Michael White’s very readable biography, Isaac Newton: The Last Sorcerer ( London: Perseus Group , 1999). On issues relating to women and science, see Londa Schiebinger , The Mind Has No Sex? Women in the Origins of Modern Science ( Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press , 1989). The most authoritative studies of seventeenth-century political philosophers remain the works of Quentin Skinner : The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, 2 vols. ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 1978), and Visions of Politics, 3 vols. ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 2002). On the changing culture of art and music, see Thomas E. Crow , Painters and Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Paris ( New Haven : Yale University Press , 1985); Simon McVeigh , Concert Life in London from Mozart to Haydn ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 1993); John Butt, Music Education and the Art of Performance in the German Baroque ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press , 1994); James H. Johnson, Listening in Paris: A Cultural History ( Berkeley: University of California Press , 1995); Pamela H. Smith and Paula Findlen, eds., Merchants and Marvels: Commerce, Science, and Art in Early Modern Europe ( New York : Routledge, 2002). For more suggestions and links see the companion website www.cambridge.org/wiesnerhanks . NOTES 1 Immanuel Kant, “An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?” (1784), in James Schmidt, ed. and trans., What is Enlightenment? Eighteenth-Century Answers and Twentieth-Century Questions ( Berkeley: University of California Press , 1996), p. 58. 2 Johannes Kepler, The Harmony of the World (1619), trans. E. J. Aiton, A. M. Duncan, and J. V. Field, Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society, vol. CCIX ( Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society , 1997), p. 304. 3 Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, book 17, “How the laws of political servitude bear a relation to the nature of the climate,” at www.constitution.org/cm/sol__11_17.htm#002 . 4 Ibid., book 16. 5 David Hume, “ Of National Characters ,” in The Philosophical Works of David Hume, vol. III (Boston: Little, Brown and Company , 1854), p. 228. 6 Condorcet, Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind, from Modern History Sourcebook, ed. Paul Halsall, at www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/condorcet-progress.html . 7 Ibid. 8 Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, trans. Allan Bloom ( New York : Basic Books , 1979), p. 358. 9 Translated and quoted in Jane Bowers, “The Emergence of Women Composers in Italy, 1566–1700,” in Jane Bowers and Judith Tick , eds., Women Making Music: The Western Art Tradition, 1150–1950 ( Urbana: University of Illinois Press , 1986), p. 139. 10 John Essex, The Young Ladies’ Conduct: Or Rules for Education ( London, 1722), p. 85.