Well-read

Some people are just not well-read. They observe a phenomenon in 18-century literature and immediately attribute it to the Enlightenment philosophy. They think that if it happened in the era of the Enlightenment it must have happened because of the Enlightenment. And that’s a logical leap nobody should take.

If this person had done her reading, she would have known that said phenomenon existed since at least the 16th century and up until the early twentieth.

I specialize in the most contemporary Spanish literature possible. Stuff that was published five minutes ago is what interests me. But I’m constantly reading up on medieval, on Golden Age, on the Enlightenment, etc because you have to keep your scholarly base fresh. You need to know what led to what. Everything is connected and nothing exists in isolation.

You can’t just “know one thing but know it well” if you are a research scholar. You need to read widely and assiduously. And never assume you know all there is.

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10 thoughts on “Well-read”

    1. I don’t want to bore but it’s the idea that women have a civilizing impact on men and that men must learn from women how to be less brutish (which is their nature) and more refined, sensitive and good (which is female nature).

      Do I need to point out I don’t personally believe any of this garbage? I don’t but in Spanish literature this was an idea that had currency for centuries.

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  1. That’s not (only) a case of not being well-read. The person simply assumed causality without doing additional research to verify their assumption.

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    1. Exactly. And then assumed that this line of thinking died in early 19th century because it just had to. And there is a mountain of evidence that contradicts it.

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  2. Part of the problem of talking about the Enlightenment causing anything is that there were lots of Enlightenments. There were monarchical, aristocratic, democratic, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, English, French, German, and Italian Enlightenments and yes even a Spanish one. I am sure the person most of having talking about an F. H. Jacobi style Enlightenment were we embrace the radical skepticism found in Spinoza and Hume in order to conclude that reason is limited and we must all take a leap of faith in Jesus Christ. πŸ™‚

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    1. Hey, I’m reading A Secular Age like you recommended and I’m loving it. So well written. It’s just the kind of stuff I’m into. Thank you so much!

      And thank you for knowing that the Spanish Enlightenment existed. Many people still think it didn’t. Even specialists iny field.

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        1. On the topic of the Enlightenment not just about some people in 18th century France stopping to believe in God, I suggest Jonathan Israel. His focus is on the Netherlands in the 17th century and on the more moderate elements of the Enlightenment. His essential narrative is how the more radical “fringe” elements of the Enlightenment managed to win out at the end of the 18th century, giving us a very skewed view on what the Enlightenment actually was.

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