In defence of the Enlightenment

In its youth, the ascendant capitalist class produced intellectual giants like Galileo, Bacon, Descartes and Spinoza: men who challenged the theological dogmas that had kept human thinking chained throughout the Middle Ages. In turn, they cleared the way for a blossoming of culture and thinking: the age of the Enlightenment, which produced men like Locke, Newton, Diderot, Helvetius, Rousseau, and Kant.

But today, capitalism is crumbling, outworn and irrational. The ruling class, saturated with despair, has turned its back on rationality, science and Reason. Capitalism today threatens us with a great throwback to a new Dark Age.

In this session, Ben Curry will discuss what we mean by the ‘Enlightenment’, why the ruling class in its decline rejects it, and why we as Marxists defend it, despite all its limits.

Recommended reading: The Enlightenment and Spinoza’s revolutionary rationalism

Further reading: In Defence of Materialism / Scientific revolution and materialist philosophy

Recommended listening: