Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The term Counter-Enlightenment is intended to capture self-conscious critics of the Enlightenment and its legacy. The term achieved widespread scholarly usage following the 1981 republication of Isaiah Berlin's essay “The Counter-Enlightenment.” Berlin's essay examined a late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century intellectual reaction against the Enlightenment ideals of the French philosophes, expressed by thinkers such as Giambattista Vico, J. G. Hamann, Johann Gottfried Herder, Friedrich Schelling, Edmund Burke, and Joseph de Maistre. Berlin identifies a common enemy for these otherwise diverse thinkers: the doctrine that there is a universal human nature, everywhere and always the same, defined by natural laws accessible by human reason, knowledge of which can provide the basis for a more just, humane, and rationally organized human society. Against the rationalism, universalism, and progressive optimism of this doctrine, Berlin's Counter-Enlightenment thinkers represent the positions of skepticism and relativism. These positions can be enlisted in a wide variety More ...