Enlightenment and Revolution

Enlightenment and Revolution

PASCHALIS M. KITROMILIDES
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Harvard University Press
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wppms
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Enlightenment and Revolution
    Book Description:

    Greece sits at the center of a geopolitical storm that threatens the stability of the European Union. To comprehend how this small country precipitated such an outsized crisis, it is necessary to understand how Greece developed into a nation in the first place.Enlightenment and Revolutionidentifies the ideological traditions that shaped a religious community of Greek-speaking people into a modern nation-state--albeit one in which antiliberal forces have exacted a high price. Paschalis Kitromilides takes in the vast sweep of the Greek Enlightenment in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, assessing developments such as the translation of modern authors into Greek; the scientific revolution; the rediscovery of the civilization of classical Greece; and a powerful countermovement. He shows how Greek thinkers such as Voulgaris and Korais converged with currents of the European Enlightenment, and demonstrates how the Enlightenment's confrontation with Church-sanctioned ideologies shaped present-day Greece. When the nation-state emerged from a decade-long revolutionary struggle against the Ottoman Empire in the early nineteenth century, the dream of a free Greek polity was soon overshadowed by a romanticized nationalist and authoritarian vision. The failure to create a modern liberal state at that decisive moment is at the root of Greece's recent troubles.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-72641-3
    Subjects: History, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Note on Transliteration
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. Introduction to the American Edition
    (pp. 1-13)

    BOOKS, LIKE ALL other products of cultural expression, tell stories, but they have their own individual histories as well. This book is no exception. The history of each book supplies intimate knowledge which can help decipher the inner logic and the deeper motivations that went into its writing and also can help chart its course in the life cycle of the culture of which it forms a part. It might be useful, therefore, to begin this attempt to introduce the American reincarnation of this book to its prospective English-reading audience with a few words about its history.

    The American edition...

  6. Prologue: The Political Meaning of the Enlightenment
    (pp. 14-20)

    THE PHILOSOPHY OF the Enlightenment in its mature formulation in the thought of the eighteenth century represented the final emancipation of the European mind from the fetters of the medieval worldview. By negating the philosophical presuppositions of medieval thought, and substituting an alternative set of cognitive and axiological premises, the philosophy of the Enlightenment claimed the eventual victory of modernity after long intellectual and political struggles in European cultural history.¹

    The Enlightenment signified the deliverance of human thought from the darkness of error, ignorance, and prejudice. Its sources were the Cartesian radical doubt toward all established authority and traditional opinion...

  7. CHAPTER ONE The Long Road to Enlightenment
    (pp. 21-62)

    THIS ESSAY ATTEMPTS to reconstruct a process of intellectual change and to identify the political problems that emerged from it by looking at the reception and fate of the ideas of the Enlightenment in the Greek cultural tradition. A number of important methodological issues, concerning the study of the history of ideas, arise from this project.¹ The primary focus of interest is on the effects produced by new ideas on the prevailing modes of thought in the culture that received them. The analysis proceeds by tracing the transmission of influences across cultures and the impact and manifestation of ideas in...

  8. CHAPTER TWO The Formation of Modern Greek Historical Consciousness
    (pp. 63-88)

    THE “CONQUEST OF THE HISTORICAL WORLD” was an integral part of the intellectual experience of the Enlightenment. This intellectual achievement, however, presupposed the superseding of historical Pyrrhonism, which had undermined the earlier view of history during the initial phase of the Enlightenment, which coincided with the “crisis of the European conscience.” The beginnings of historical criticism were associated with profound skepticism, with regard not only to Greek and Roman mythology, but also to the chronological accuracy of the Holy Scriptures, in consequence of which the traditional narratives of the past began to be perceived as frivolous tales. This assessment ultimately...

  9. CHAPTER THREE The Geography of Civilization: From Adulation to Revolution
    (pp. 89-116)

    THE INTELLECTUAL EXPERIENCE of the Enlightenment involved not only a discovery of secular time in the shape of social and cultural history, but also an expansion and secularization of the consciousness of space. This was largely the effect of the outpouring of travel literature that transformed the conception of space in eighteenth-century thought. The pedagogical value of travel was generally recognized by successive generations of European thinkers from Fénelon to Rousseau. The unreliability of existing travel literature, composed by authors who carried their prejudices with them and traveled like courtiers rather than like explorers, did not obscure in Rousseau’s estimation...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR Enlightened Absolutism as a Path to Change
    (pp. 117-155)

    THE PARADIGMS OF civilization projected in the geography of human achievement were expected to be attained by means of the policies of change that might be followed by benevolent and enlightened princes. This expectation provided the psychological basis of the idea of an enlightened absolutism in the eighteenth century. Historical criticism has effectively pointed out the many ambiguities and inner contradictions in the nature of the concept as well as the limits of its applicability in describing actual historical experience and the political practice of eighteenth-century monarchs.¹ That the older popular term “enlightened despotism” is self-contradictory and hardly meaningful, as...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE Ancients and Moderns: Cultural Criticism and the Origins of Republicanism
    (pp. 156-174)

    THE QUARREL OF Ancients and Moderns as a dilemma of intellectual self-definition had already become noticeable in European culture during the Renaissance and went through a number of fluctuations and culminating points, particularly during the seventeenth century.¹ The advent of the Enlightenment, however, symbolized the final resolution of the dispute in favor of the Moderns. The nostalgia for classical antiquity that was associated with the revival of civic humanism gave expression to the radical current of the Enlightenment, and consequently belonged to the world of the Moderns.² Even the aspirations of the German Hellenists and Hegel’s praise of the ancient...

  12. CHAPTER SIX The Revolution in France: The Glow and the Shadow
    (pp. 175-199)

    THE FRENCH REVOLUTION, as a great world historical drama with which a civilization reached its culmination and one historical epoch transcended itself into another, was felt in European consciousness as the realization of the Enlightenment. Hegel saw it as the triumph of absolute independence, which followed Enlightenment’s battle with superstition.¹ Marx captured the way the Revolution was perceived in European conscience when he pointed out that it appeared as the actualization of the claims of “Practical Reason.”² It was this perception of the French Revolution as the practical product of the Enlightenment that turned it into the great catalyst in...

  13. CHAPTER SEVEN The Enlightenment’s Political Alternative
    (pp. 200-229)

    THE FERMENT CREATED by the French Revolution in Greek politics and Greek social thought in the last decade of the eighteenth century found its most dramatic expression in the intellectual and political activities of Rhigas Velestinlis (1757–1798). The seminal historical experiences that marked that decade, the bitter disappointment in Russian policies and promises following the conclusion of the Russo-Turkish war of 1787–1792, and the abandonment of the Greeks to their fate once again, as well as the excitement provoked by the French Revolution throughout Southeastern Europe, acted as catalysts for the emergence of a new style of politics...

  14. CHAPTER EIGHT The Enlightenment as Social Criticism
    (pp. 230-259)

    THE WILL TO criticism was the defining characteristic of the Enlightenment. The conscious pursuit of criticism can be seen as the underlying mental attitude that reconciled the diverse outlooks that made up the Enlightenment. Criticism and doubt toward established beliefs and accepted authority represented the most daring manifestations of the early Enlightenment in a period of “crisis for the European conscience.”¹ Later on, social criticism and the vision of social reconstruction that activated it was what made Rousseau, and his opponents among the philosophes, representatives of the same intellectual movement.²

    The sharpest edge of Enlightenment criticism was directed against conventional...

  15. CHAPTER NINE The Republican Synthesis: A Matrix for Nationalism
    (pp. 260-290)

    SOCIAL CRITICISM PREPARED the ground for positive theoretical reflection. The old society was shown to be corrupt beyond repair and existing morality to have utterly decayed. Radical social criticism invited constructive political theory to take over. The Enlightenment’s response to this challenge involved the creative interplay of criticism and utopia. Once again that eloquent critic of the pretensions of the Enlightenment, Jean Jacques Rousseau, offers the most profound commentary on the problem. His yearning for Sparta and for the Age of Gold¹ was not an escape from society but an indictment of its corruption. The elaboration of the utopian vision...

  16. CHAPTER TEN The Fate of the Enlightenment
    (pp. 291-335)

    THE VISION OF radical transformation of Greek society involved in the message of the Enlightenment did not naturally remain unchallenged. The articulation of a political alternative, based on systematic social and cultural criticism that demythologized and rejected existing structures of social relations and accepted codes of moral values, was bound to provoke the reaction of all those with a stake in thestatus quo.

    The counterattack began with the reaction of conservative circles against the French Revolution in the 1790s.¹ The polemic culminated in a campaign against the ideas of Rhigas, whose theory and practice represented the most radical expression...

  17. Epilogue: The Conditions of Liberal Politics
    (pp. 336-348)

    THE CONSIDERATION OF Greek intellectual and political history in the eighteenth and the early nineteenth centuries in this book has made possible the reconstruction of an integral ideological curve from the initial pains of rationalism to its culmination in a conscious and articulate political liberalism. Along this trajectory, nevertheless, the Enlightenment often precipitated reactions from the representatives of conventional culture and ideology, notably the Orthodox Church, which, during the centuries of Ottoman rule, had assumed the political leadership of the subject Christian peoples of the Balkans and had become the unquestionable exponent of authoritative opinion and values. The transmission of...

  18. Abbreviations
    (pp. 349-352)
  19. Notes
    (pp. 353-428)
  20. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 429-432)
  21. Index
    (pp. 433-452)