Skip to main content
×
×
Home

FREDERICK THE GREAT AND JEAN LE ROND D'ALEMBERT ON PHILOSOPHY, TRUTH, AND POLITICS

  • SHIRU LIM (a1)
Abstract

The prize question of the Berlin Academy of Sciences for 1780, on the utility of deception, has attracted both controversy and scholarly interest. Yet very little attention has been dedicated to the question's peculiar beginnings in the correspondence between the philosopher and mathematician Jean Le Rond d'Alembert and Frederick the Great, king of Prussia, in a discussion concerning the expulsion of the Jesuits from France. This correspondence not only reveals the prize question's complex genealogy in long-standing debates on the true ends of philosophy, but also helps revise conventional frameworks for understanding the relationship between philosophy and politics in Enlightenment Europe. Far from an adornment intended to boost the ‘Enlightened’ credentials of an absolutist king, d'Alembert held the momentum in this relationship, and recruited Frederick to his own campaign of promoting publicly useful philosophy. ‘Philosophy’ here amounted to a commitment to the truth and its public defence, rather than subscription to or belief in a specific set of ideas or political reforms. Placing pressure on rulers to disavow deceitful politics, the far-reaching implications of this conception of philosophy for political life were no less ambitious than the agendas espoused by protagonists of a supposed ‘radical Enlightenment’.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Department of History, University College London (UCL), Gower Street, London, wc1e 6bt s.lim.10@ucl.ac.uk
Footnotes
Hide All

Many thanks are due to Avi Lifschitz for judicious reading and feedback on earlier versions of this piece, as well as to the journal's two anonymous reviewers for their comments. All translations – and errors – are my own.

Footnotes
References
Hide All

1 The contest provoked reactions from some illustrious commentators in both France and Prussia, including the marquis de Condorcet and Jacques-Pierre Brissot. The former composed a vehement response in the negative, published only in 1790: Condorcet, Dissertation philosophique et politique, ou réflexions sur cette question: s'il est utile aux hommes d’être trompés (Paris, 1790). See also idem, Political writings, ed. Lukes, Stephen and Urbinati, Nadia (Cambridge, 2012), pp. xxi; Mortier, Roland, Clartés et ombres du siècle des lumières: études sur le XVIIIe siècle littéraire (Geneva, 1969), pp. 99100. Brissot criticized the question for being far too vague to be seriously considered as a philosophical enquiry in De la verité ou méditations sur les moyens de parvenir à la vérité dans toutes les connoissances humaines (Neuchâtel, 1782), pp. 266–70.

2 Adler, Hans, ‘Ist Aufklärung teilbar? Die Preisfrage der Preussischen Akademie für 1780’, in idem, ed., Nützt es dem Volke, betrogen zu werden? Die Preisfrage der Preussischen Akademie für 1780 (Stuttgart, 2007), p. xiv.

3 No. 189, D'Alembert to Frederick, Paris, 22 Sept. 1777, in Œuvres de Frédéric le Grand (OFG), xxv, ed. Johann D. P. Preuss (Berlin, 1854), pp. 96–7.

4 No. 65, d'Alembert to Frederick, Paris, 18 Dec. 1769, in OFG, xxiv, ed. Johann D. P. Preuss (Berlin, 1854), p. 517.

5 Archiv der Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften (BBAW Archiv), Historische Abteilung (Hist. Abt.), MSS i-vi-10, fo. 33r.

6 The most recent extensive study of the origins of this prize essay question is Hans Adler's introduction to the two-volume collection of all the submissions to the contest, in Die Preisfrage der Preussischen Akademie, pp. xiii–lxx. Adler's collection follows an earlier volume of selected francophone responses to the question: Krauss, Werner, ed., Est-il utile de tromper le peuple? Ist der Volksbetrug von Nutzen? Concours de la classe de philosophie speculative de l'académie des Sciences et de Belles-Lettres de Berlin pour l'année 1780 (Berlin, 1966). See also Buschmann, Cornelia, ‘Die philosophischen Preisfragen und Preisschriften der Berliner Akademie der Wissenschaften im 18. Jahrhundert’, in Förster, Wolfgang, ed., Aufklärung in Berlin (Berlin, 1989), pp. 165228; Krauss, Werner, ‘Eine politische Preisfrage im Jahre 1780’, in idem, Studien zur deutschen und französischen Aufklärung (Berlin, 1963), pp. 6371; Peter Weber, ‘“Ist der Volksbetrug von Nutzen?” Zur politischen Konstellationen deutscher Spätaufklärung’, in idem, Literarische und politische Öffentlichkeit: Studien zur Berliner Aufklärung, ed. D'Aprile, Iwan-Michelangelo and Siebers, Winfried (Berlin, 2006), pp. 125–39; Wehinger, Brunhilde, ‘Faut-il éduquer les peuples? D'Alembert et Frédéric II’, in Borm, Jan, Cottret, Bernard, and Cottret, Monique, eds., Savoir et pouvoir au siècle des lumières (Paris, 2011), pp. 165–82.

7 The exception to this was when the crown saw it fit to use the contests to canvass for specific ideas and expertise. In such cases, the crown's involvement in the setting of the question would be explicitly announced. This happened sufficiently frequently for it not to have been unusual to academicians or entrants, and, famously, was the means by which the French crown established a system of street lighting in Paris. See Caradonna, Jeremy L., The Enlightenment in practice: academic prize contests and intellectual culture in France, 1670–1784 (Ithaca, NY, 2012), ch. 6. In fact, precisely such an extraordinary question, on ‘le secret de donner au sable la dureté & la solidité des pierres, & de le rendre par là propre à en faire des colonnes & des statues’, was announced at the same time as the question on the utility of deceit. See BBAW Archiv, Hist. Abt., MS i-vi-10, fo. 91v.

8 BBAW Archiv, Hist. Abt., MSS i-vi-10, fos. 34–47. See also Adler, ‘Preisfrage’, pp. xxxiv–xlviii.

9 Their discussion and d'Alembert's insistence on pressing Frederick on the question of deceit in politics was all the more delicate owing to Frederick's own history as an erstwhile champion of anti-Machiavellian politics, in the form of his Anti-Machiavel, ou essai critique sur le Prince de Machiavel, published in September 1740. See Anti-Machiavel, ed. Bahner, Werner and Bergmann, Helga, in Œuvres complètes de Voltaire, xix (Oxford, 1996).

10 D'Alembert, Jean Le Rond, Essai sur la société des gens de lettres et des grands: sur la réputations, sur les mécènes et sur les récompenses littéraires (Paris, 1753), esp. pp. 344, 359, 372.

11 On Frederick in particular, see Pečar, Andreas, Die Masken des Königs. Friedrich II. von Preußen als Schriftsteller (Frankfurt, 2016), esp. chs. 1, 2, and 8.

12 Most notably Israel, Jonathan, Radical Enlightenment: philosophy and the making of modernity, 1650–1750 (Oxford, 2001); idem, Democratic Enlightenment: philosophy, revolution, and human rights, 1750–1790 (Oxford, 2011). For a critique of Israel's insistence on the centrality of Spinozist ideas to eighteenth-century philosophy and to the Enlightenment, see inter alia La Vopa, Anthony J., ‘A new intellectual history? Jonathan Israel's Enlightenment’, Historical Journal, 53 (2009), pp. 717–38.

13 See for instance Van Kley, Dale, ‘Pierre Nicole, Jansenism, and the morality of enlightened self-interest’, in Kors, Alan Charles and Korshin, Paul J., eds., Anticipations of the Enlightenment in England, France, and Germany (Pittsburgh, PA, 1987), pp. 6985; Kors, Alan Charles, Atheism in France, 1650–1729, i: The orthodox sources of disbelief (Princeton, NJ, 1990); Mulsow, Martin, Enlightenment underground: radical Germany, 1680–1720, trans. Erik Midelfort, H. C. (Charlottesville, VA, and London, 2015), esp. chs. 1–3.

14 See Israel, Radical Enlightenment; idem, ‘Libertas Philosophandi in the eighteenth century: radical Enlightenment versus moderate Enlightenment (1750–1776)’, in Powers, E., ed., Freedom of speech: the history of an idea (Lanham, MD, 2011), pp. 117; idem, Les “antiphilosophes” et la diffusion de la philosophie clandestine dans la seconde moitié du XVIIIe siècle’, La Lettre clandestine, 17 (2009), pp. 7388. Israel reiterates this premise about ‘philosophy’ in his Revolutionary ideas: an intellectual history of the French Revolution from the Rights of man to Robespierre (Princeton, NJ, 2014).

15 Lilti, Antoine, ‘Comment écrit-on l'histoire intellectuelle des lumières? Spinozisme, radicalisme et philosophie’, Annales HSS (2009), pp. 171206, at pp. 197–9.

16 The correspondence between the philosophes and various crowned heads has conventionally been seen within the context of salon culture, in which the reading aloud and free circulation of letters among friends, associates, and attendees of the same salons was customary. On such practices and customs that governed salons, see Lilti, Antoine, Le monde des salons: sociabilité et mondanité à Paris au XVIIIe siècle (Paris, 2005); Goodman, Dena, The Republic of Letters: a cultural history of the French Enlightenment (Ithaca, NY, and London, 1994), esp. ch. 4.

17 Abrosimov, Kirill, Aufklärung jenseits der Öffentlichkeit. Friedrich Melchior Grimms ‘Correspondance littéraire’ (1753–1773) zwischen der ‘république des lettres’ und europäischen Fürstenhöfen (Ostfildern, 2014); idem, Comment sortir de l'espace public? Fonctions de la forme épistolaire dans la Correspondance littéraire de Grimm 1753–1773’, in Baillot, Anne and Coulombeau, Charlotte, eds., Die Formen der Philosophie in Deutschland und Frankreich – Les formes de la philosophie en Allemagne et en France 1750–1830 (Hanover, 2007), pp. 5384; Schlobach, Jochen, ‘Secrètes correspondances: la fonction du secret dans les correspondances littéraires’, in Moreau, François, ed., De bonne main: la communication manuscrite au XVIIIe siècle (Paris, 1993), pp. 2942; idem, Zur Funktion der Geheimhaltung in den Correspondances littéraires’, Das Achtzehnte Jahrhundert, 18 (1994), pp. 3343.

18 No. 65, d'Alembert to Frederick, Paris, 18 Dec. 1769, p. 517.

19 See Van Kley, Dale, The Jansenists and the expulsion of the Jesuits from France, 1757–1765 (New Haven, CT, and London, 1975); and Burson, Jeffrey D. and Wright, Jonathan, eds., The Jesuit suppression in global context: causes, events, and consequences (Cambridge, 2015), esp. chs. 1 and 2.

20 No. 23, d'Alembert to Frederick, Paris, 1 Mar. 1765, p. 434.

21 Ibid., pp. 434–5.

22 On the reception of d'Alembert's pamphlet, see Van Kley, Expulsion of the Jesuits, pp. 208–28. D'Alembert responded to various Jansenist attacks and clarified his arguments in a follow-up pamphlet, Lettre à M. xxx conseiller au parlement de xxx pour servir de supplément à l'ouvrage qui est dédié à ce même magistrat, et qui a pour titre, Sur la destruction des jésuites en France, par un auteur désintéressé (Paris, 1767).

23 D'Alembert, Jean Le Rond, Sur la destruction des jésuites en France, par un auteur désintéréssé (Paris, 1765), p. 193.

24 Ibid., p. 193.

25 Ibid., p. 192. Van Kley argues that it was at this precise argument that the Jansenist responders to d'Alembert's pamphlet took umbrage, for it diluted the Jansenists’ contribution to the Society's dissolution, attributing the real victory to reason and to philosophy, which the Jansenists had themselves energetically attacked. Van Kley, Expulsion of the Jesuits, p. 215.

26 Hoekstra, Kinch, ‘The end of philosophy (the case of Hobbes)’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 106 (2005), pp. 2562, esp. pp. 25–7, 56–62, makes an excellent methodological case for the need for interpreters of philosophical utterances to first determine what the authors or performers of those utterances sought to do, or, in other words, what philosophers sought to do in doing philosophy.

27 The challenges of studying ‘key words’ have been laid out in Skinner, Quentin, Visions of politics, i: Regarding method (Cambridge, 2002), ch. 9. See also Williams, Raymond, Keywords: a vocabulary of culture and society (Oxford, 1976).

28 For an overview of conceptions of philosophy and the breadth that the academic study of it encompassed, see for instance Werner Schneiders, ‘Concepts of philosophy’, and Koch, Carl Henrik, ‘Schools and movements’, in Haakonssen, Knud, ed., The Cambridge history of eighteenth-century philosophy (Cambridge, 2006), pp. 2644 and 45–68 respectively; Van Damme, Stéphane, ‘Philosophe/philosopher’, in Brewer, Daniel, ed., The Cambridge companion to the French Enlightenment (Cambridge, 2014), pp. 153–66; idem, À toutes voiles vers la vérité: une autre histoire de la philosophie au temps des lumières (Paris, 2014), esp. the introduction and ch. 1; Benoist, Jocelyn, ‘La philosophie comme métier’, L'Aventure humaine. Savoirs, libertés, pouvoirs, 7 (1997), pp. 3952. For an overview of the complications in the historiography of the history of philosophy stemming from this variety in meanings of ‘philosophy’, see Levitin, Dmitri, Ancient wisdom in the age of the new science: histories of philosophy in England, c. 1640–1700 (Cambridge, 2015), pp. 412.

29 Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française, 1st edn, ii (Paris, 1694), p. 230. See also the second volume of the following three editions, published in 1718, 1740, and 1762, on pp. 266, 328, and 366 respectively.

30 Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française, 1st–4th edns, pp. 230, 266, 328, and 366 respectively.

31 Israel, Democratic Enlightenment, pp. 140–2; idem, ‘Les “antiphilosophes”’. On ‘philosophy’ as a sweeping, radical force, see also idem, Radical Enlightenment, esp. the introduction, and chs. 2–3, 8, 13–15.

32 Israel, Democratic Enlightenment, p. 149.

33 D'Alembert, Jean Le Rond, ‘Essai sur les éléments de philosophie’, ed. Schwab, Richard N., in idem, Œuvres philosophiques, historiques et littéraires, ii (Hildesheim, 2003); idem, Discours préliminaire des éditeurs’, in Diderot, Denis and d'Alembert, Jean Le Rond, eds., Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, par une société des gens de lettres, i (Paris, 1751), pp. ixlv. Frederick the Great himself had praised the work on several occasions, often singling it out as d'Alembert's greatest work. See for instance No. 226, Frederick to d'Alembert, 20 Nov. 1780, pp. 185–6.

34 D'Alembert, ‘Discours préliminaire’, p. ii.

35 Ibid., pp. ii, x–xi, xx–xxi.

36 D'Alembert, ‘Essai sur les éléments de philosophie’, pp. 27–41.

37 D'Alembert, ‘Discours préliminaire’, p. xiii.

38 Ibid., p. xxiii.

39 Philosophe’, in Diderot, Denis and d'Alembert, Jean Le Rond, eds., Encyclopédie, xii (Paris, 1765), pp. 509–11; Le philosophe’, Nouvelles libertés de penser (Amsterdam, 1743), pp. 173204. Herbert Dieckmann confidently attributes the redaction of Du Marsais's article for the Encyclopédie to Voltaire in his ‘Le philosophe’: texts and interpretations (St Louis, MS, 1948), pp. 7–17.

40 ‘Philosophe’, in Diderot and d'Alembert, eds., Encyclopédie, xii, p. 510.

41 Ibid., p. 510.

42 No. 25, Frederick to d'Alembert, Landeck, 20 Aug. 1765, pp. 439–40.

43 No. 26, d'Alembert to Frederick, Paris, 28 Oct. 1765, p. 442.

44 No. 33, d'Alembert to Frederick, Paris, 14 Sept. 1766, p. 454.

45 The Jesuits in France ran 85 collèges – more than half of all the French collèges – and 152 other educational establishments. This monopoly meant that their expulsion left the entire French education system in urgent need of reconstruction. Gill, Natasha, Educational philosophy in the French Enlightenment: from nature to second nature (Farnham and Burlington, VT, 2010), p. 229 n. 3. On the debates and consequences of this pre-revolutionary period of educational reform, see ibid., pp. 235–54.

46 No. 33, d'Alembert to Frederick, Paris, 14 Sept. 1766, p. 454. It is worth noting that it was another ruler, Catherine the Great, empress of Russia (1762–96), who was the most vocal in offering to sponsor the publication of the Encyclopédie when its completion appeared threatened by censorship and persecution in France in the 1760s. On this, see Wilson, Arthur M., Diderot (Oxford, 1972), chs. 33–4.

47 No. 44, Frederick to d'Alembert, 7 Jan. 1768, p. 475.

48 Ibid., p. 475.

49 Ibid., p. 475.

50 Ibid., p. 475.

51 Ibid., pp. 475–6.

52 Frederick II, Avant-propos du Dictionnaire historique et critique de Bayle’, in OFG, vii, ed. Preuss, Johann D. E. (Berlin, 1847), pp. 143–7. See No. 19, Frederick to d'Alembert, [Oct. 1764], pp. 426–7; No. 20, d'Alembert to Frederick, Paris, 3 Nov. 1764, pp. 427–8; No. 23, d'Alembert to Frederick, Paris, 1 Mar. 1765, pp. 433–4.

53 Frederick II, ‘Avant-propos’, pp. 146–7.

54 No. 63, Frederick to d'Alembert, Potsdam, 25 Nov. 1769, p. 514.

55 Ibid., p. 514.

56 No. 65, d'Alembert to Frederick, Paris, 18 Dec. 1769, p. 517.

57 Frederick had insisted on appointing d'Alembert to the presidency of the Berlin Academy after the death of the incumbent Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis, keeping the post vacant after Maupertuis's death, harbouring the hope that d'Alembert might accept the appointment. See for instance No. 16, Frederick to d'Alembert, Sans-Souci, 15/16 Aug. 1763, pp. 419–20, where Frederick declares ‘je conserverai la place de president de l'Academie, qui ne peut etre remplie que par lui’.

58 No. 67, Frederick to d'Alembert, 8 Jan. 1770, p. 522.

59 Ibid., p. 522.

60 No. 71, Frederick to d'Alembert, 3 Apr. 1770, p. 531.

61 Ibid., p. 531.

62 Ibid., p. 531.

63 Ibid., p. 531.

64 Ibid., p. 531.

65 No. 44, Frederick to d'Alembert, 7 Jan. 1768, p. 475.

66 No. 67, Frederick to d'Alembert, 8 Jan, 1770, pp. 522–3. While certainly celebrated for his numerous literary and scientific achievements, Fontenelle had also acquired a significant place in francophone debates concerning the limits of education and Enlightenment, owing principally to the dictum Frederick had quoted. The neatness and literary and semantic flexibility of the metaphor made it a convenient topos through which to distance or align oneself with Fontenelle's position towards the masses. Like the oft-quoted aphorism on the freedom of speech often attributed to Voltaire, this line concerning the concealment of truths within one's hand has not been found in any of Fontenelle's surviving writings. Yet because even his contemporaries attributed it to him, there is no conclusive evidence to argue that it is apocryphal. See Mortier, Clartés et ombres, pp. 64, 69–71; Krauss, Werner, ed., Fontenelle und die Aufklärung (Munich, 1969); Crocker, L. G., ‘The problem of truth and falsehood in the age of Enlightenment’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 14 (1953), pp. 575603, at pp. 579–80, 583.

67 No. 70, d'Alembert to Frederick, Paris, 9 Mar. 1770, p. 527.

68 No. 74, d'Alembert to Frederick, Paris, 30 Apr. 1770, p. 535.

69 No. 70, d'Alembert to Frederick, Paris, 9 Mar. 1770, p. 527.

70 D'Alembert, Essai sur la société des gens de lettres, p. 344.

71 Paul-Henri Thiry, baron d'Holbach, Essai sur les préjugés, ou de l'influence des opinions sur les mœurs et sur le bonheur des hommes, ouvrage contenant l'apologie de la philosophie, par M. D. M. (London, 1770); idem, Système de la nature ou des lois du monde physique et du monde moral par M. Mirabaud (London, 1770). On responses to d'Holbach's Système de la nature in the francophone literary world, see Curran, Mark, Atheism, religion and Enlightenment in pre-revolutionary Europe (Woodbridge and Rochester, NY, 2012), ch. 5.

72 Wolffian philosophy had long been dismissed as fruitless in d'Alembert's scholarly circles. An interesting anomaly to this general trend was Pierre Louis Moreau de Maupertuis (1698–1759), the Berlin Academy's president from 1744 to 1757, whose Leibnizian influences sat unusually comfortably with mainstream French philosophical circles. See Terrall, Mary, The man who flattened the earth: Maupertuis and the sciences in the Enlightenment (Chicago, IL, 2002), chs. 6 and 9. On metaphysics and intellectual culture at and around the Academy, see inter alia Harnack, Adolf, Geschichte der Königlich-Preußischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, ii (Berlin, 1900), pp. 383–9, 422–6; Puech, Michel, ‘Tetens et la crise de la métaphysique allemande en 1775’, Revue Philosophique de la France et de l’Étranger, 182 (1992), pp. 329; Clark, William, ‘The death of metaphysics in enlightened Prussia’, in idem, Golinksi, Jan, and Schaffer, Simon, eds., The sciences in Enlightened Europe (Chicago, IL, 1999), pp. 423–73.

73 D'Alembert conveyed the mockery that the recent question had earned in a letter to his long-time friend and collaborator Joseph Lagrange, then the director of the class of mathematics at the Academy in Berlin. Describing it as ‘inintelligible’, d'Alembert claimed that ‘[t]out le monde se moque de ce programme, et l'Académie n'a pu s'empêcher d'en rire quand M. de Condorcet l'a lu’. See No. 148, d'Alembert to Lagrange, Paris, 22 Sept. 1777, in Œuvres de Lagrange, ed. Serret, Joseph-Alfred, xiii: Correspondance inédite de Lagrange et d'Alembert (Paris, 1882), p. 332.

74 No. 189, d'Alembert to Frederick, Paris, 22 Sept. 1777, pp. 95–6.

75 Ibid., p. 96.

76 Ibid., pp. 95–6.

77 On explorations of the noble lie in eighteenth-century French thought, see for instance Crocker, ‘The problem of truth and falsehood’, pp. 575–80, 586, 601–2; Smith, D. W., ‘The “useful lie” in Helvétius and Diderot’, Diderot Studies, 14 (1971), pp. 185–95; Treuherz, Nicholas, ‘Useful lies: the limits of enlightening the common man: Frederick the Great and Franco-German cultural transfer’, Collegium, 16 (2014), pp. 5885.

78 No. 191, Frederick to d'Alembert, [Oct. 1777], p. 99.

79 This approach and dismissal of (in this case political) rhetoric as ‘flapdoodle’ was famously articulated in Namier, Lewis, ‘Human nature in politics’, in idem, Personalities and powers (London, 1955), pp. 17; and idem, The structure of politics at the accession of George III (2nd edn, London, 1957), preface and ch. 1, and roundly undermined in Skinner, Quentin, ‘The principles and practice of opposition: the case of Bolingbroke versus Walpole’, in McKendrick, N., ed., Historical perspectives: studies in English thought and society in honour of J. H. Plumb (London, 1974), pp. 92128.

80 At the time of Frederick's intervention on 16 Oct. 1777, even the king's reader and close confidant Henri de Catt, and the Academy's perpetual secretary, Samuel Formey, appeared not to know the source of the question. See OFG, xxv, Appendix 4, de Catt to Formey, Potsdam, 16 Oct. 1777, p. 309. After the Academy had accepted the new question, Lagrange wrote to d'Alembert, ‘Vous aurez sans doute appris que Sa Majesté a fait proposer une autre question: S'il est utile de tromper le people.’ Only in d'Alembert's response to Lagrange did he reveal himself to be the origin of the question. See No. 150, Lagrange to d'Alembert, Berlin, 27 Jan. 1778, and No. 151, d'Alembert to Lagrange, Paris, 30 Mar. 1778, pp. 336–7. For Frederick's part, in response to a clarification from the Academy, he specifically conveyed his desire not to be named as the origin of the question. His orders were duly followed. See BBAW Archiv, Hist. Abt., MS i-vi-10, fos. 45r, 46r, 91r, 91v. Reactions to the contest suggest that both Frederick and d'Alembert's involvement remained undisclosed.

81 The debate on Popularphilosophie revolved around the relationship of the advancement of intellectual life and philosophy to the instruction of the masses, and it, too, touched on the true duties of the philosopher, as well as both ‘true philosophy’ and ‘true Enlightenment’ (wahre Aufklärung). On this, see for instance the contributions in Böning, Holger, Schmitt, Hanno, and Siegert, Reinhart, eds., Volksaufklärung. Eine praktische Reformbewegung des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts (Bremen, 2007); and Van Der Zande, Johan, ‘In the image of Cicero: German philosophy between Wolff and Kant’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 56 (1995), pp. 419–42. Furthermore, as Hans Adler points out, it is no coincidence that Rudolf Zacharias Becker, the writer and governor to the baron of Dachroeden in Erfurt who won the Academy's contest with an essay answering the question in the negative, later became a prominent Volksaufklärer. See Adler, ‘Preisfrage’, p. xv.

82 Habermas, Jürgen, The structural transformation of the public sphere: an inquiry into a category of bourgeois society, trans. Burger, Thomas (Cambridge, MA, 1989), esp. pp. 2858, 72–87.

83 See for instance Goodman, Republic of Letters, esp. ch. 4.

84 No. 70, d'Alembert to Frederick, Paris, 9 Mar. 1770, p. 527.

Many thanks are due to Avi Lifschitz for judicious reading and feedback on earlier versions of this piece, as well as to the journal's two anonymous reviewers for their comments. All translations – and errors – are my own.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Historical Journal
  • ISSN: 0018-246X
  • EISSN: 1469-5103
  • URL: /core/journals/historical-journal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 742 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 25th October 2017 - 20th September 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.