“Reading the morning paper is a kind of realistic morning prayer”
Hegel's best known treatment of the European Enlightenment (in his Phänomenologie des Geistes) singles out the problem of religious faith, or the new, modern struggle between insight and faith, between enlightenment and what its defenders saw as mere “superstition”.
This treatment is distinctive and on the face of it highly controversial. For one thing, while the topic is simply announced as die Aufklärung, Hegel makes no attempt at a comprehensive survey. Bacon, Swift, Smith and the British seem to play no discernable role; oddly, neither do Lessing or Mendelssohn or the German, “Berlin” Enlightenment. If there is a focus in these highly typological and categorial distinctions, it is clearly le siècle du lumière, not die Aufklärung or the Battle of the Books; if there is a representative figure, it is unquestionably Diderot; if there is a theme, it is ethical and broadly normative, not scientific or even political.
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