N° 22 of Lumières,
Freemasonry and radical Enlightenment.
Table of contents:
The Enlightenment and Freemasonry: A Critical Enquiry
Prof. Dr. Margaret Jacob
University of California, United States
The Radical Enlightenment's Critique of Freemasonry:
from Lessing to Mirabeau
Prof. Dr. Jonathan Israel
Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, United States
English freemasonry during the Enlightenment: how radical, how conservative?
Prof.Dr Cecile Révauger
Université Bordeaux Montaigne
Radicalité des illumines de Bavière ?
Prof.Dr Jean Mondot
Université Bordeaux Montaigne
Cosmopolitanism versus conflicting local and national identities
in the Habsburg territories.
Dr. Tristan Coignard
Université Bordeaux Montaigne
Enlightenment, either way!
Dr Gerard J.M. Bonneke
Franc-maçonneries et radicalismes
Dr Eric Saunier.
Université Le Havre
Margaret Jacob The Enlightenment and Freemasonry: A Critical Enquiry
Rather than debate the arid question of whether enlightened ideas were present in the lodges – the proof of which seems incontrovertible – this paper will interrogate
various Masonic archives for social practices in keeping with enlightened
ideals as well as incompatible with them.
Jonathan Israel . The Radical Enlightenment's Critique of Freemasonry:from Lessing to Mirabeau
Freemasonry as a broad social movement acquired an increasingly
negative reputation among the writers of the European Radical Enlightenment
in the later eighteenth century. Lessing, Adam Weishaupt, Von Knigge, and
Mirabeau all reflect this tendency to dismiss the main body of Freemasonry
as bogus and unenlightened. This article will explore the several dimensions
of this important critique.
Cecile Révauger. English freemasonry during the Enlightenment: how radical, how conservative?
Historians disagree about the origins of English freemasonry. Those who contend that there was a continuity between the “operative” masons of the previous centuries and the Grand Lodge of 1717 are in fact denying the essential input of the Enlightenment into Anderson’s masonry as well as the novelty and radical dimension of the latter. As Margaret Jacob, I contend that the Grand Lodge of 1717 was directly inspired by the Enlightenment values. Yet one should try to assess how much it was indebted to the radical Enlightenment. The same question prevails throughout the eighteenth century. I shall focus on three major issues, religious liberty, political liberties and finally individual liberties in terms of ethnic diversity, gender, freedom and slavery.
While the direct link between English freemasonry and the Enlightenment can be ascertained, we need to qualify our answer when we examine how committed freemasons were to the so-called radical Enlightenment.
Jean Mondot . Were the Illuminati radical freemasons ?
We shall try to show how the Illuminati were first committed to a rigorous moral programme and how in order to implement it they joined forces with the Freemasons and later addressed a political agenda against their will. We shall question whether their commitment was radical and whether the very notion of radical Enlightenment is relevant in this context. Weishaupt and De Knigge’s original texts will come under scrutiny in order to highlight the evolutions made by those two writers.
Tristan Coignard . Cosmopolitanism versus conflicting local and national identities in the Habsburg territories.Masonic networks and their political involvement under Joseph II
Examining the relationship between Joseph II and freemasonry offers a relevant opportunity to take a stock of his ruling methods and of his policy of reform. Joseph II decided to control all secret societies as well as Freemasonry in 1785 at a time when political protest increasingly informed the public debate and when lodge Zur wahren Eintracht in Vienna adopted a cosmopolitan posture. By the end of the decade, Joseph II saw freemasonry as an obstacle to his programme of reforms whose purpose was to unify and centralize the Habsburg territories.
Gerard J.M. Bonneke. Enlightenment, either way!
Perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions about Dutch freemasonry is
the involvement of the Patriots in the politics and culture of the revolution in the latter quarter of the 18th century. Has freemasonry played a considerable role in that period or is its influence marginal? If freemasonry and freemasons are studied for this purpose only, the result may be that the influence was indeed negligible. If we however consider freemasonry and freemasons as active partaking in the development of the
cultural and political sociability in the second half of the eighteenth
century, a completely different picture comes to light. Now it appears that
freemasons have found a way to share their views on Enlightenment and the
creation of a better world. In the words of Pieter Vreede, a famous Dutch
patriot and freemason, in order “to enrich the Enlightenment considerably, to
ennoble society and to increase the happiness of life.” (“aan de
verlichting een aanmerkelijke aanwinst toebrengen, de zamenleving veredelen,
het levensgeluk vermeerderen”).
Eric Saunier. Freemasonry and the French revolution or the origins of liberal freemasonry. In 1989, when the bicentenary of the French Revolution was commemorated, freemasonry was still a controversial issue among historians. While some were arguing that the Freemasons were directly responsible for the political crisis, - a thesis upheld by Augustin de Barruel in his Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire du jacobinisme and which had not been totally discarded by then – others were pointing at the importance of lodge sociability in revolutionary practices so that nobody denied the influence of freemasonry in the subsequent events and in the building up of a revolutionary culture. Such an assumption however was challenged after twenty years of Masonic studies relying on the methods of social history so much so that historians are now emphasizing the fact that the French revolution fostered new forms of philanthropy but also encouraged the emergence and development of a liberal Freemasonry – a fact largely ignored so far –because Napoleon’s regime tried to use it in order to rebuild Europe according to revolutionary principles.
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