Exam #3 covers the extention of the Enlightenment from the Seventeenth to the Eighteenth Century.
We can think of the Enlightenment as falling into roughly two phases, which of course somewhat overlap. What is sometimes referred to as the "Seventeenth Century Enlightenment" might be more specifically described as the Early Modern Scientific Revolution. It's focus was primarily within what was known at the time as natural philosophy, the inquiry into the nature of Nature, and involved the liberation of scientific method from the fetters of tradition -- the teachings and assumptions passed into the 16th and 17th Centuries from scholastic philosopy, grounded in the physics and astronomy of Aristotle (d. 322 BCE) as elaborated by Ptolemy (d. 168 CE) and integrated into Christian theology under the authoritative guidance of the late medieval Catholic Church.
The bare term "the Enlightenment" often refers more specifically to what it is useful to think of as "the Eighteenth Century Enlightenment." While investigation into nature continued apace, an additional focus emerged: upon man, and human affairs -- the domain of what was traditionally known as moral philosophy. The term "moral philosophy" covered a broad range of human-centered inquires which by the end of the 18th Century were generally recognized as falling into two methodologically distinct domains -- the human sciences and the normative disciplines. It was within "moral philosophy" that, beginning in the late 17th Century (and lasting through the 19th), a gradual process began of differentiation and specialization, resulting in the various sciences we today know as psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, political science, and the normative disciplines we call "political thought" (or "political philosophy") and ethics. This "18-Century Enlightenment" was importantly connected the "17th-Century Enlightenment" in three logically distinct ways: (1) It brought the new empirical-rational methods of explanation to bear on further aspects of the natural world; (2) it began to rethink the nature of man in the light of his place in the new picture of nature continuing to evolve; and (3) it began to explore the implications of detaching thought about "the laws of human nature" itself from traditional assumptions, and discovering these laws -- both descriptive and normative -- by empirical and rational methods independent of supernatural revelation or ecclesiastical pronouncement. Our focus in the last third of the course has been on some works of art, chiefly literature, that illustrate some of the issues that arose in connection with the last two of these -- ways in which the Eighteenth Century Enlightenment was inspired to take bring the new methods and attitudes to bear within "moral philosophy," and some of the ways in which these new approaches in turn called forth what has been called a "Counter-Enlightenment.".
This would be a good time to review what was said in Part 3 of the Course Schedule about how we arrived at where we by now have.
Like each of the previous exams, Exam #3 is worth 100 points. Follow the directions for each section (A-E). Be sure to address the issues posed, and not to rewrite the question to suit yourself. In providing the called-for explanations, it is essential that you be specific and accurate in referring to relevant concrete details of the works you discuss. You may wish to refresh your acquaintance with either the detailed or the succinct description of the criteria I use for evaluating essay exams.
Part 3 of the Course Schedule gives you the readings on which all of the questions are based.
Section A. (25 points) Molière's Tartuffe, considered as a comedy about abuses of religious and secular authority. Write on one question.
A-1. Explain the contribution of one of the satellite characters -- Dorine, Cleante, Madame Pernelle, or Damis -- to the plot and theme.
A-2. Explain what motivates Orgon, and show how the play prompts us to infer this. Explain how your understanding of his motivation is important for an understanding of the overall theme of the play.
A-3. Explain what the play invites us to think about Augustinian Christianity (Calvinism and Jansenist Catholicism) and the authoritarian social relations it is often used to legitimate. (What counter-picture does Molière favor concerning natural humanity [its desires, its faculty of reason]? Is human nature basically sound, or innately depraved as a result of Original Sin?)
A-4. Explain what the play invites us to notice about the relationship between general human reason and the political doctrine of the divine right of kings.
Section B. (13 points) Book III of Swifts Gullivers Travels as a protest about the premises and priorities of the Enlightenment. Describe one of the following and explain its significance for appreciating Swifts skepticism about the assumptions and aims of the Enlightenment.
B-1. the episode about the Flying Island.
B-2. one of the projects at the Grand Academy of Legado. (You could discuss one of the projects for improving the practical arts, one of the speculative projects, or -- if you read on beyond our required readings -- one of the proposals of the "moral projectors" at work there.)
Section C. (12 points) Alexander Pope as an exponent of Enlightenment deism. Answer one of the following.
C-1.. How does what we read of Alexander Pope's Essay on Man indicate that this is a deist vision of the human condition? What features of Voltaire comic dream vision "Dogmas" lead us to infer that Voltaire is probably a deist? What, in Voltaire's piece, is nevertheless contradictory to an important part of Pope's overall picture of how people should respond to what life offers them?
C-2. What aspects of Pope's Essay on Man indicate the impression that Newton's achievement made on Pope? What have these aspects of Pope's poem to do with the the complex of ideas we refer to as "deism"?
C-3. How is the picture of Divine Providence set forth in Pope's Essay on Man like and unlike the traditional Christian picture of Divine Providence?
Section D. (25 points) Voltaire's Candide as an expression of the Enlightenment.
Here you will answer 3 short-answer questions that will demonstrate your familiarity with the basic plot of Candide's adventures. These will be basic descriptive tasks. Each will be worth 5 points.
Then you will answer one of the following, for 10 points. Notice that these call for some interpretive inferences about the meaning of some aspect of the story.
A. How does the religious life in El Dorado differ from religion in the Europe Candide and Cacambo are familiar with? What is Voltaire implying?
B. How does the Old Turk provide an illustrative example of the wisdom of the Dervish. (Of course, youll have to spell out what that wisdom is, and how it is expressed in the Dervishs replies to Pangloss and Candides questions.)
C. How does the visit to the Old Turk provide an explanation of what is amiss with Senator Pococurantes mode of life? What does this say about European aristocracy? (An enhancement: can you relate Voltaires attitude to that of the painter Jacques-Louis Davids?)
D. How does the life led by the Old Turk compare (in its conditions, assumptions, and results) with the life led in El Dorado?
Section E. (25 points) Book IV of Swift's Gulliver's Travels as an expression of a Counter-Enlightenment.
Here you will answer three short-answer questions that will demonstrate your familiarity with the basic facts of Gulliver's visit to the land of the Houyhnhnms. These will be basic descriptive tasks. Each will be worth 5 points.
Then, for 10 points, you will answer one of the following. Notice that these call for some interpretive inferences about the meaning of some aspect of the story.
X. Explain how the Houyhnhnms exemplify what life would be like if man were a rational animal, and how the Yahoos clarify what life would be like if man had no capacity for reason at all. Topics to touch on: sex, food, anger, friendship, marital relations, parenting. (You might find it useful to bring in Swifts remark, in his letter to his friend Alexander Pope, about mankind being not a rational animal but rationis capax.)
Y. What does Gullivers Houyhnhnm master think of Gullivers explanation of why he wears clothes? How does this connect with his difficulties in understanding the concept of lying? How would Swifts original readership be prompted to think of the Biblical story of the Fall? What, in your view, is the point Swift is using these details to draw our notice to, about the Houyhnhnms? Explain.
Z. What are we supposed to notice about the way in which the Houyhnhnms resolve conflict? What are the arguments in opposition over whether should be allowed to stay? Does the right side prevail? How does Gullivers master respond to the result? What is the significance of this?
Section E. Extra-credit possibilites. Answer one of the following (up to 10 points). Do not begin writing on an extra-credit question until you have offered an answer for each question you are required to answer in the main exam, above.
EC-1. What does Voltaire's dialogue "Freedom of Thought" have to do with the case of Galileo OR with Orgon, in Molière's play OR with Tartuffe himself?
EC-2. Explain how the palace complex at Versailles fit into Louis XIVs political project. You will need to say what that project aimed at and what theory was put forward to justify it. You will want to say something about how life at the palace was designed to serve that project, and how the appearance of the palace and its gardens tied in with the idea of the Sun King as an agent of progress through Reason.
EC-3. Discuss one of Jacques-Louis Davids canvases from Greek or Roman history as an example of French neo-classical painting on the eve of the French Revolution. Organize your discussion in terms of the general logical structure of a period style concept. Although your focus should be on one of Davids paintings, feel free to make reference to more than one.
EC-4. Summarize Kants definition of Enlightenment. Then show how it illuminates Voltaires dialogue between Lord Boldmind and Count Medroso. (Who are the "guardians" active in the background of the latter? What are the qualities of character that account for Count Medroso's condition? How do they compare with the traits Kant hold's responsible for a adult's not being enlightened?)
You are encouraged to discuss these questions with each other before the exam. Consider making use of our discussion board on the web. I will visit this myself from time to time, and may respond with hints or, in some cases, answers. (To make best use of this tool, you should first consult the memo on The Discussion Board for English 233.
Go to the Home Page of the course.
Suggestions, comments and questions are welcome. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Contents copyright © 1999 by Lyman A. Baker.
Permission is granted for non-commercial educational use; all other rights reserved.
This page last updated 05 December 1999.