(Why) does the Enlightenment matter?

Ann Thomson


Starting from the reactions to the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015 and appeals to Enlightenment values (above all toleration), this article reflects on the meaning of the enlightenment today and how to study it. Several examples are discussed, which show the diversity and complexity of eighteenth-century thinking and the need to adopt a more nuanced and, where necessary, critical attitude towards it. This also applies to the notion of toleration. The study of the Enlightenment should help us think more critically about its implications and about the ambiguities inherent in our own attitudes.


Enlightenment; toleration; materialism; slavery; racism

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13128/ds-18691

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY- 4.0)

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