European Intellectual History from Rousseau to Nietzsche 9780300212914

One of the most distinguished cultural and intellectual historians of our time, Frank Turner taught a landmark Yale Univ

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European Intellectual History from Rousseau to Nietzsche

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Published with assistance from the Kingsley Trust Association Publication Fund established by the Scroll and Key Society of Yale College. Published with assistance from the Annie Burr Lewis Fund. Copyright © 2014 Frank M. Turner Charitable Remainder Trust All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part, in any form (beyond that copying permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press) without written permission from the publishers. For information about this and other Yale University Press publications, please contact: U.S. Office: [email protected] Europe Office: [email protected] Typeset in Minion Pro by IDSUK (DataConnection) Ltd Printed in Great Britain by TJ International Ltd, Padstow, Cornwall Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Turner, Frank M. (Frank Miller), 1944-2010. Western intellectual history from Rousseau to Nietzsche / Frank M. Turner ; edited by Richard A. Lofthouse. pages cm Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-300-20729-3 (alk. paper) 1. Civilization, Western—History—18th century. 2. Civilization, Western—History— 19th century. 3. Europe—Intellectual life—18th century. 4. Europe—Intellectual life—19th century. 5. Philosophy, Modern—18th century. 6. Philosophy, Modern—19th century. I. Title. CB245.T88 2015 909'.09821—dc23 2014021369 A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1



Editor’s Preface 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15


Rousseau’s Challenge to Modernity Tocqueville and Liberty J.S. Mill and the Nineteenth Century The Turn to Subjectivity Medievalism and the Invention of the Renaissance Nature Historicised Darwin and Creation Marx and the Transcendent Working Class The Cult of the Artist Nationalism Race and Anti-Semitism Wagner The Ideology of Separate Gender Spheres Old Faiths and New Nietzsche

1 21 35 52 67 84 102 121 136 155 175 193 208 226 243

Notes Glossary of Names Suggested Reading List of Illustrations Index

266 273 280 286 288



In memory of Frank M. Turner, 1944–2010 There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved. Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

‘Could I not be preparing myself now to be more useful?’ said Dorothea to him, one morning early in the time of courtship; ‘could I not learn to read Latin and Greek aloud to you, as Milton’s daughters did to their father, without understanding what they read?’ ‘I fear that would be wearisome to you,’ said Mr. Casaubon, smiling, ‘and, indeed, if I remember rightly, the young women you have mentioned regarded that exercise in unknown tongues as a ground for rebellion against the poet.’ ‘Yes; but in the first place they were very naughty girls, else they would have been proud to minister to such a father; and in the second place they might have studied privately and taught themselves to understand what they read, and then it would have been interesting. I hope you don’t expect me to be naughty and stupid.’ George Eliot, Middlemarch

Thus the question is not how to reconstruct aristocratic society, but how to make liberty proceed out of that democratic state of society in which God has placed us. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America


1 Despite his life being cut short by tuberculosis, Richard Parkes Bonington (1802–28) was a central figure in English Romantic landscape painting. A Sea Piece (1824) depicts commercial shipping in the English Channel, probably observed from Dunkirk. The smaller craft to the right is in distress and the brisk swell, low horizon and huge sky are typical of Bonington and also typically Romantic. Frank Turner was well acquainted with this painting not only as part of the Wallace Collection in London, but also as a preparatory watercolour sketch that resides at the Yale Center for British Art. The sketch is inscribed ad naturam (from nature) and was a conscious departure from academic values.

2 John Constable (1776–1837) was a major figure in English Romantic painting. Embodying the artist’s belief that ‘painting is but another word for feeling’, Hadleigh Castle (1829) depicts a ruined castle at the mouth of the Thames Estuary east of London. At once forlorn and picturesque, the medieval ruin marks the changed sensibility of the age towards the Middle Ages discussed in Chapter 5, and may have helped Constable’s election to the Royal Academy the following year. Art historian Angus Trumble notes, ‘While dwelling on the decay of the medieval building in its pastoral setting and causing the Thames Estuary to shine under grand shafts of light, Constable perhaps also alludes to the ancient Christian metaphor of death: all his boats point downstream, and, receding, sail out to sea.’

3 William Holman Hunt (1827–1910) was an English painter and one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The intention of the group was to reject a mechanistic approach to art, emphasising spiritualism over materialism and nature over artifice. They found inspiration for both in medievalism. Inspired by Alfred Lord Tennyson’s 1832 poem, ‘The Lady of Shalott’, Hunt’s depiction captures the moment after she has broken the rule of the curse forbidding her to look directly at the outside world. Her unravelling tapestry is symbolic of a world that is collapsing and will lead to her death. It can also be read as echoing the Fall from the Garden of Eden. Equally, the picture, as the poem, narrates an everyday world from which women are banished, and which they enter at their peril.

4 John Martin (1789–1854) was an English Romantic painter. He invoked Old Testament narratives to conjure the sublime, as depicted here in The Deluge (1834), his rendering of Noah’s flood, simultaneously an image of vast punishment and divine protection. It shares with other Romantic work of the period a dramatised nature and naturalised apocalypse consistent with Martin’s defence of deism and natural religion, early evolutionary thinking, and rationality. Preoccupied with technology, Martin cannot be easily categorised merely as a Romantic. He was a major figure of his generation and spanned the Enlightenment as well.

5 J.M.W. Turner (1775–1851) took Romanticism to an almost abstract expression long before abstraction was categorised. In The Angel Standing in the Sun (1846) he depicts the Archangel Michael appearing on the Day of Judgment with flaming sword. It evokes religiosity in a dazzle of atmospheric light but without exactly being religious: a personal expression consistent with a period in which religion and art alike were becoming creatures of subjective interpretation.

6 Joseph Wright (1734–97) replaces a religious narrative (such as the Nativity) with a mechanical one – an orrery – in the meticulous painting A Philosopher Giving a Lecture on the Orrery (1766). An orrery is a mechanical model of the solar system which illustrates the relative position of planets and moons. Wright is celebrating the rational miracle, as he saw it, of technology. The dramatic source of light is neither the sun nor God: it is a man-made lamp.

7 Caspar David Friedrich (1744–1840) paints his wife looking out of a partshuttered window onto a harbour. There are numerous commentaries on Woman at a Window (1822), which by the late twentieth century had become a celebrated instance of German Romantic painting. Aside from the contemplative air it clearly shows a female confined to a strictly ordered interior, while life – symbolised by the ship’s mast – literally passes her by.

8 In The Good Mother (c. 1777), Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806) paints an idealised, even idyllic rendering of the desired social role of a woman as a devoted mother, the mature counterpart to her role as coquette, as shown in The Swing (Plate 9).

9 Fragonard was a French painter associated with the final decades of the Old Regime, before the French Revolution. The Swing (c. 1767) shows a young man watching a woman on a swing, being pushed by an elderly man. As a depiction of gender roles, it shows her the objectified plaything of men, her only destination in life the status of wife or lover or mother. She has no role outside of those designations.

10 The preeminent artist of his generation and enormously influential in France, Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825) represented the academic, historical tradition of painting that is associated with the final years of the Old Regime before the French Revolution. In The Death of Socrates (1787) he reproduces the scene in which Socrates took his own life, depicting a calm, stoical death shorn of Christian symbolism and presented in an equally calm, Neoclassical style. The stern tone contrasts with Fragonard’s Rococo flippancy while also offering an example of salon painting against which Romantics would rebel.

11 Having succeeded in overthrowing the monarchy and establishing the Roman Republic, Brutus is forced to condemn to death his own sons for taking part in a plot to restore the monarchy. The unsubtle point of re-evoking the classical scene in Lictors Bring Back to Brutus the Bodies of his Sons (1789) was to impress upon France – in the year of revolution – the importance of reason embodied in civic duty, attuned to the purposes of the Republic. David himself aligned with the Revolution and his reputation rose accordingly. He would later trim his position with successive changes of leadership, eventually becoming an exile.

12 Augustus Egg (1816–63) scored a hit with this sensationalist instance of Victorian social moralism, Past and Present, nos. I, II and III (1858), a triptych showing the complete fall of a woman from middle-class respectability to homelessness. In the first painting a family remains together but the drawing-room scene is full of dread portents, the husband having just received proof of his wife’s infidelity. In the second image, five years later, the two girls are orphans, the father dead and the mother gone. The third painting is synchronous with the second, as shown by the moon, and depicts the mother shivering under a railway arch, with an infant, the offspring of the affair, now long over. The triptych embodies the Victorian double standard. As Caroline Norton, an early feminist, wrote, ‘the faults of women are visited as sins, the sins of men are not even visited as faults’.

13 George Clausen (1852–1944) painted this group portrait, Schoolgirls, Haverstock Hill (1880), when he was still single. There is an implicit tension in the frank gaze of the ‘schoolgirls’, who look more like young women than children. The opposite of Friedrich’s turned-away, wistful wife, they are in the public sphere and not afraid to look you in the eye; they are educated and they are unmarried. The picture is all the more remarkable for its consideration of class tension, the flowerseller and milkmaid confined to working roles and marginalised within the composition.

14 One of at least a dozen portraits of one of the greatest novelists of the nineteenth century, this one painted in 1865 by Irish portraitist Sir Frederic William Burton (1816–1900) is notable for its colour. George Eliot, in her novel Middlemarch, captures a world in which women were largely denied an education. Published as a single volume for the first time in 1874, it came five years after the founding of the first women’s college at Cambridge (Girton), but four years before that at Oxford (Lady Margaret Hall). Virginia Woolf described Middlemarch as ‘the magnificent book that, with all its imperfections, is one of the few English novels written for grown-up people’.


E D I T O R ’ S P R E FA C E


his volume consists of fifteen lectures originally delivered to undergraduates at Yale University. Their author, Frank Turner, developed the content over many years as John Hay Whitney Professor of History at Yale. ‘History 271’, as it was fondly referred to, was shorthand for a big ticket, crowd-drawing class offered by the Department of History. Enrolment typically exceeded a hundred students, allowing Frank to employ at least half a dozen teaching assistants (‘TAs’), of whom this editor was one. The model, as familiar to an American as it is unfamiliar to a British or European student, comprised weekly lectures delivered to everyone from a lectern. The TAs, all of them doctoral students, would then teach sections, often in smaller seminar rooms and often in the evenings. Frank treated all his TAs as future colleagues, valuing the informal, grassroots feedback that underpinned the wellbeing of a class this large. He took us all to lunch every week at Yorkside Pizza, an old-fashioned diner in York Street, and always footed the bill. He joked that amidst the modest tuna salads, chosen no doubt partly from politeness and to keep a lid on the final bill, there would always be one TA who would let rip and order the fried chicken sandwich and large fries, and maybe some dessert too. The ix



anecdote serves here to illustrate not just Frank’s generosity (he always paid!) but the good humour with which this particular class was taught at a time in the 1990s when graduate student politics at Yale were fraught. Frank embodied a particularly strong tradition of the Yale Department of History, which in turn found its echo elsewhere in the liberal arts establishment of North America, including Frank’s own undergraduate institution, the venerable College of William and Mary in Virginia. That strength consisted of the ability to convey in an accessible yet scholarly manner a broad mass of ideas, the prerequisite to more specialised inquiry. The exact origins of this tradition of intellectual history at Yale are obscure, but Frank’s immediate predecessor and doctoral supervisor, Franklin le Van Baumer (1913–1990), editor of the immensely respected and still valuable reader, Main Currents of Western Thought (1952, reaching its 4th edition in 1978), spanned the mid-twentieth century formation of the department and was the modern creator of this approach at Yale. He was also suspicious about the boom in popularity of the subject, and said so. Baumer’s obituarist, unattributed, noted that he ‘declined to espouse a philosophy of history’, giving ‘only primary source materials to his students, encouraging them to form their own philosophical views.’ Turner continued in much the same vein, regularly quipping that intellectual history was always better for being historical rather than intellectual. In the lectures presented here, he continually privileges the primary sources, never shying from citing passages at length rather than substituting his own voice. Frank deployed slides in abundance to illustrate historical realities, in particular the depiction of gender roles covered in Chapter 13. Yet in his use of art, Frank sought also to stimulate an aesthetic appreciation for the paintings on their own terms. When it came to Wagner, Frank knew that it wasn’t enough merely to describe the music. So he brought with him a diminutive, portable CD player and at the right moment cranked up the volume, if not to fill the vast lecture hall exactly, then to convey to the expectant ranks of students a tinny, slightly hysterical rendering of a loud passage from Tannhauser or its equivalents. As he



subsequently noted, it was these quirky effects that were most often and most fondly remembered by former students. The most evident quality of the lectures, which were written out and constantly developed over a long career, is their scrupulousness. Turner did not confuse education with entertainment, and neither did he load the lectures with his own scholarship, at the expense of balance and coverage. The English Tractarian John Henry Newman, for example, the subject of a monumental intellectual biography published by Frank in 2002, is only briefly invoked, while Frank’s lecture on Marx does not betray a single ounce of his not inconsiderable animus towards the German philosopher. His only concern is to extricate Marx from the posthumous burden of thinking about Marx. In this as in other lectures covering infamous or difficult thinkers (he always joked, ‘You can say what you like about Nietzsche, but you can’t really take him home to mother’), his concern is always to pinpoint what they were trying to say in the context of their own day, and only then to consider what that might mean. Nonetheless, some of the fruits of Frank’s extensive scholarship are perceptibly on offer here, particularly in Chapter 6 on the historicisation of nature, a necessary intellectual precursor, as he saw it, to Darwin’s theory of evolution, treated in Chapter 7. In both chapters Frank begins to develop a reading that takes account of the fact of Darwin’s life-long familiarity with William Paley and hence natural theology, all too readily forgotten and discarded. Of Frank’s legendary dry wit there is plenty as long as you are listening attentively. Following a brief and dizzying capsule biography of the rise and rise of Richard Wagner, and the cult associated with him, we learn that, ‘The next year Wagner died in Venice in a building that now houses the municipal casino.’ Almost certainly observed on a trip to Venice, one can only imagine Frank’s delight at learning such a prosaic detail. Here as elsewhere it is his juxtaposition of one set of facts with another, dead-pan, that leaves the audience to smile, but Frank is never tendentious. As he saw it, the matter of historical inquiry was far too serious for frivolity; yet he never forgot his late-adolescent audience and typically



made room in lectures for some of the observed absurdities of human experience. The twinkling eye was accompanied by a sharp edge. Very early in the first lecture, to cite a single instance, we are stopped in our tracks by a particular observation, that, ‘It was Rousseau who made the hatred of one’s own culture the stance of the cultivated person.’ If this comment betrays the stance of a cultural conservative, then it did so only in the sense that Frank wanted his students to be wary of fashionable theories and movements. He was fully of the view that the role of the historian was to debunk nonsense and lay bare a subject for what it was, cutting through the vanities of present and past ages. It is one of the great sadnesses that Frank’s sudden death in 2010 brought to an end not only a great career, but precluded the appearance of his planned volume in a partially realised series of monographs, The Yale Intellectual History of the West. Seeking to provide a chronological account of the intellectual life and the development of ideas in Western Europe from the early medieval period to the present day, the series bore rich fruit in three volumes by Colish, Bouwsma and Burrow, respectively concerning the chronologies 400–1400, 1550–1640 and 1848–1914. Frank’s volume was to have been Intellectuals in a Revolutionary Age, 1750–1860. While it would be unduly speculative to link them, nonetheless this unrealised volume would undoubtedly have drawn from the lectures here presented. In the absence of the planned volume, the lectures are an invaluable record. The epigraphs chosen to dedicate this volume reflect known sympathies: Frank was deeply respectful of Darwin, because he represented a bulwark of utmost civilisation amidst grave intellectual discoveries of the most profoundly unsettling variety. The inclusion of a citation from George Eliot reflects the fact that Frank spent his entire career championing the rights of women and minorities. In the lecture on gender, he would always remind the audience, as an informal aside and with a never diminishing sense of amazement, that within fairly recent living memory the self-same venue would have been filled exclusively with



men. Finally, he admired Tocqueville’s wise sense of the realistic possibilities of democracy, which in Frank’s view came to acquire new resonance following the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union. It is believed that the lectures were last worked on by Frank in 2003–04. While the voice and content have been preserved, all major quotations have been tracked down and duly noted, and, where necessary, the sources and translations have been updated to more recent scholarly editions. The suggested further reading is completely new and reflects recent scholarship, without forgetting its primary purpose of giving students, scholars and the reading public a broad interpretation of a span of ideas without which it would be impossible to comprehend the world we inhabit in the twenty-first century. The work of preparing this volume has been greatly aided by the help of two University of Oxford-based scholars, Dr Henry Mead and Dr John-Paul McCarthy, whom the editor wishes to thank most warmly. Thanks are also due to Dr Simon Skinner of Balliol College, Oxford, for his encouragement and insight. The editor also wishes to thank a good friend and former Yale doctoral student, New Haven-based Parley Agner, who checked Yale history department records held in Sterling Memorial Library; and for the memoir of Franklin le Van Baumer by his former doctoral student and contemporary of Frank’s, Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., President of Fairfield University. Profound thanks are due to Frank’s widow the Rev. Ellen Tillotson, who rescued the lectures from the hard drive of a computer and provided encouragement at all stages of the process while still giving the editor full freedom. It remains to thank Yale University Press and in particular Robert Baldock, Managing Director of the Press in London, for his encouragement and assistance at all stages of the book’s production. Richard A. Lofthouse, London, 2014





ean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78) stands at the fountainhead of modern European thought. He is not the only figure about whom one could make this contention, but he is the one for whom the strongest case could be made. Isaac Newton was surely more important for the sciences. Voltaire brought the force of critical reason and biting satire to bear against many of the institutions of his day. David Hume cast many of the alleged certainties of the empiricist tradition into doubt. Montesquieu wrote the most influential work of political philosophy in the eighteenth century in his Spirit of the Laws. Adam Smith, as we shall see, recast the spirit of much economic thought. Immanuel Kant carried out what he and others regarded as a philosophical Copernican Revolution. Yet it is Rousseau who remains the most problematical and haunting intellectual of the eighteenth century. What did Rousseau do? He established the idea and the cultural role of the intellectual as it has come to influence modern culture not only in the West but throughout much of the world. He made intellectuals different from simply being influential writers. He made the social role or social function of the intellectual to be that of a critic who found himself alienated from his or her society while at the same 1



time actually living a life deeply embedded in that society. Christian priests and clergy and Jewish rabbis had denounced the sin and evil of the world from the standpoint of some kind of religious or divine dispensation. Rousseau called the world to a judgment from within itself. Beginning with Rousseau, non-religious European intellectuals and writers claimed the right and even the duty to judge their society and to set forth solutions to its evils that were as radically transforming as those proposed by the great religious traditions. What Rousseau declared, in contrast to the religious traditions, was that the transformation would occur within history or within the saeculum and not in the context of eternity. Rousseau also established a new personal stance for the intellectual. He may be seen as the father of sincerity. Although Rousseau was by no means the first person to emphasise the importance of sincerity, he was the person who championed it in a manner that touched readers as no other author did. For Rousseau the quality that gave himself and later other authors and social critics their authority was sincerity. He established this sincerity in two ways. First, he revealed especially in his Confessions more personal details of his life than any previous European author. He carried his readers through his childhood, his experiences with sexuality, revealing intimate details about his body, about his friendships, his mistresses, his betrayals, his fears, his uncertainties, and his weaknesses. He claimed to exclude nothing about himself. The reader could make his judgment, but Rousseau would have revealed all. Second, he undergirded sincerity by championing feelings over reason. Throughout his writings he would reveal his own feelings and would appeal to the feelings of his readers rather than to their reason. But who was this man who was described by perhaps the only woman he ever really loved, in her old age, in this manner? He was ugly enough to frighten me and life did not make him more attractive. But he was a pathetic figure and I treated him with gentleness and kindness. He was an interesting madman.1



Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in 1712 in Geneva. His family was Protestant and citizens of that republic – the republic which he would praise in the introduction to his Second Discourse. Until his late thirties, he had been a kind of unsuccessful jack of all trades. He was a secretary, a musician, a copier of musical manuscripts, a lackey, and the like. He had entered into a number of relationships with women which he would describe in what some of his contemporaries regarded as embarrassing detail in his Confessions. During these years there commenced one longterm relationship in which he fathered five children – each and every one of which he placed in a foundling hospital. By the time he was almost forty he had written a successful opera, received praise from the king of France, and established a working relationship with Denis Diderot who was the chief editor of the Encyclopedia to which Rousseau contributed articles on music. Yet during these first four decades of his life Rousseau regarded himself as neglected, unappreciated, and unsuccessful. And indeed his was a fragile developed personality. In 1750 Diderot was imprisoned in Vincennes for several months. Rousseau decided to visit his friend. It was on that walk to Vincennes that he decided to enter a competition sponsored by the Academy of Dijon. He won that competition with his First Discourse which I shall discuss more fully shortly. He became immediately famous because he had decided to say that arts and letters did not contribute to human progress. That instant fame arose from his determination to reject or to challenge most of the commonplace ideas of his culture. A person of no note or reputation had discovered how to make and to keep himself famous. During the next twelve years Rousseau would write his most influential books. He thereafter affected a simple style of life. He dressed simply and finally dressed only in robes which he wore everywhere he travelled. He wrote his Confessions to be published only after his death, but conducted long public readings of them. He transformed himself into a public personality. After he had made his reputation and achieved entry into all the best salons of Paris, and received English patronage including a royal pension, Rousseau nonetheless cultivated the image of a person



persecuted. He believed there existed enemies everywhere. He did have critics – many of them voices from the Enlightenment such as Voltaire – but Rousseau contended there existed real conspiracies against him fomented by the secretary of state of Louis XVI. Only those who lived close to him knew of the paranoia; what the readers of Europe knew was the person whose persona was projected in his books – the man of sincerity, feeling, truthfulness – the secular prophet. It was this latter personality that was honoured during the French Revolution when his ashes were deposited in the Pantheon. It was this latter personality around whom nothing less than a cult developed during the second half of the eighteenth century. It was Rousseau who made the hatred of one’s own culture the stance of the cultivated person. Rousseau regarded Emile (1762), his long novel-essay about education, as the key to his thought. Consequently, it may be best to begin there and then return to some of his earlier writings to understand the insights that he achieved in the middle decade of the eighteenth century – the very same years that saw the uncertain peace following the War of the Austrian Succession and then the Seven Years War. In Book I of Emile, Rousseau declares: Forced to combat nature or the social institutions, one must choose between making a man or a citizen, for one cannot make both at the same time . . . Natural man is entirely for himself. He is numerical unity, the absolute whole which is relative only to itself or its kind. Civil man is only a fractional unity dependent on the denominator; his value is determined by his relation to the whole, which is the social body. Good social institutions are those that best know how to denature man, to take his absolute existence from him in order to give him a relative one and transport the I into the common unity, with the result that each individual believes himself no longer one but a part of the unity and no longer feels except within the whole. A citizen of Rome was neither Caius nor Lucius: he was a Roman . . . He who in the civil order wants to preserve the primacy of the sentiments of



nature does not know what he wants. Always in contradiction with himself, always floating between his inclinations and his duties, he will never be either man or citizen. He will be good neither for himself nor for others. He will be one of these men of our days: a Frenchman, an Englishman, a bourgeois. He will be nothing.2

Rousseau here and elsewhere in his work creates a series of dualisms which he sees as his responsibility to overcome. They are man–citizen; nature–civil society; ancient–modern; inclination–duty; partial social existence–whole social existence. For Rousseau the fundamental feature of modern society is these tensions and contradictions. These categories have become relatively familiar to all of us because we and many of the other writers and philosophers we have read and studied are children of Rousseau. The contention that Rousseau developed in the 1750s and 1760s is fundamental to modern Western thought. It may be stated relatively simply: There is something in the character of modern society which either dehumanizes human beings or prevents them from realizing their humanity. This would become a fundamental outlook of modern thought. Several aspects of this contention should be noted. It implicitly rejects a religious and more specifically a Christian explanation of the unhappiness and evil that human beings encounter in their social relations. Christian writers, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, explained the wrongs of human society as a result of sin. Human beings, because of their sinful nature inherited from their original ancestors, could not live in harmony either with each other, within themselves, or with God. Christian writers differed on exactly what they thought sin had done to humankind and the degree of damage that it had done, but they agreed that the problem of humankind was its sinfulness. The answer to human sinfulness tended to be seen as a strong government which would repress anti-social behaviour, a large role for Christian Churches as moral guides in the social order, and faith in a large sorting-out process in eternity. This would have been largely the outlook of Rousseau’s contemporaries, Jonathan Edwards or John Wesley.



Rousseau’s view that human society has dehumanised humankind also stood in opposition to contemporary non-Christian views of European society. We will discuss these more fully in the next lecture which considers Adam Smith. But Rousseau rejected the solutions to human discord and unhappiness associated with most Enlightenment thinkers who believed the spread of reason in public life, and of science and economic growth, would make human beings healthier, happier, and less likely to seek to harm and destroy each other. That is to say, Rousseau staked his position as much, indeed even more, in opposition to contemporary secular, non-Christian thinkers as he did against religious thought. It is important to notice this opposition because there exists much misunderstanding about the development of modern intellectual life. Scholars and other commentators for a long time tended to present modern intellectual and cultural life as a struggle between religious and secular outlooks. Such a struggle has taken place, but it is only part of the picture. There have also been struggles in modern intellectual life within the religious spectrum of thought and struggles within the secular spectrum. Rousseau is a key figure because he conducts a struggle on both fronts. His works were at different times and sometimes at the same time condemned and burned by Christian authorities in Geneva and Paris; they were also condemned by the likes of Voltaire. This brings us back to Rousseau in 1750 and his Discourse . . . on this Question . . . Whether the Restoration of the Sciences and the Arts Contributed to the Purification of Mores? The point of this exercise posed by the Academy of Dijon was whether or not the developments in European intellectual life from the fourteenth century onwards – the developments we associated with the Renaissance and Scientific Revolution – had actually made Europeans morally better. Virtually all learned Europeans including those of a Christian outlook would have answered yes. Indeed, as will be seen in subsequent chapters, whole theories of history had been based on this premise.



In contrast to the progressive view of the last several centuries of European intellectual and social development, Rousseau set forth a declinist view. It should be noted that, from Rousseau’s day to the present, declinist views have strongly gripped the Western imagination. He contrasts the material improvements and the civilising effects of recent developments with what he considers a moral decline. What Rousseau did was to redefine the terms of debate. The material and civil improvement was virtually irrelevant if it had been accompanied by or, even worse, had caused moral decline. In addition, Rousseau contended that just such moral decline had accompanied the emergence of civility, politeness, science, and enlightenment. Prior to the insidious workings of the civilising process, ‘our mores were rustic but natural, and differences in behaviour heralded, at first glance, differences of character.’3 Rousseau did not believe that this less civilised state was better, but rather that it was more authentic. It involved fewer inherent contradictions between appearances and realities. Society was for him a world of false appearances and poses. There could be no certainty among human relationships, because we do not really know the kind of people to whom we are actually relating. He explained: What a retinue of vices must attend this uncertitude! No more sincere friendships, no more real esteem, no more well-founded confidence. Suspicions, offenses, fears, coldness, reserve, hatred, betrayal will increasingly hide under that uniform and deceitful veil of politeness, under that much vaunted urbanity that we owe to the enlightenment of our century.4

Respectability leads to moral decline and insincerity. Rousseau accounts for the emergence of a world of false and insincere social appearances through the corruption of the advancement of ‘our sciences and our arts . . . toward perfection’.5 Indeed, he went so far as to declare, ‘Virtue has been seen taking flight in proportion as their light rose on our horizon, and the same phenomenon has been observed in



all times and in all places.’6 Rousseau found this decline in all ages and places. There was, however, one point of exception to the decline into knowledge and civility. That was ancient Sparta. Of Sparta, he wrote: Could I forget that it was in the very bosom of Greece that there was seen to arise that city as famous for her happy ignorance as for the wisdom of her laws, that republic of demi-gods rather than men, so superior to humanity did their virtues seem! O Sparta! Eternal shame to a vain doctrine!7

This passage normally surprises and may even shock present-day readers, if they are familiar with Sparta’s formidable reputation for producing warriors. For Rousseau the Spartans constitute a mode of humanity wholly different from that of modern times. The Spartans – with their slavery, their warrior organisation, their communitarian life, their rejection of the softening influence of art, their failure to develop science, and their general ferocity of spirit – constitute for Rousseau a wholly different mode of human life. They demonstrate that a human society may exist in which reality and appearances are the same and in which human beings are fully integrated into the community. The Spartans in their happy ignorance possess the virtue that moderns through art, science, reason, and luxury have lost. Rousseau associates the life of the reflective mind and philosophy with useless citizens who contribute little or nothing to the community. The men of intellect and reason go about using such reason to undermine the faith and morals of the community: They smile contemptuously at such old-fashioned words as homeland and religion, and dedicate their talents and their philosophy to destroying and degrading all that is sacred among men. Not that at bottom they hate either virtue or our dogmas; they are enemies of public opinion, and to bring them back to the feet of the altars it would be enough to consign them among the atheists.8



Rousseau then comes to his key critique of the modern: Ancient politicians spoke incessantly about mores and virtue; ours speak only of commerce and money.9

Rousseau seeks to contrast an ancient Spartan world where virtue flourished through the preponderance of military and religious values with a corrupt, luxurious modern world where all is measured by money and commerce. He urges modern politicians to realise ‘that with money one has everything, but morals and citizens’.10 Rousseau repeatedly urges his contemporaries to think about the life in ancient, simpler times when virtue guided political and social life. He deplored modern times and the education of modern times that led to physical weakness, moral corruption, the loss of military discipline and values, and the neglect of duty. The problem of the day was that: we have physicists, geometers, chemists, astronomers, poets, musicians, painters; we no longer have citizens. Or if there are still some left to us, dispersed in our abandoned countryside, they perish there indignant and despised.11

Rousseau closes the First Discourse with a passage of praise for the great geniuses such as Bacon and Newton, but he sees them as virtually sui generis. They should not be models for the general population. For most people the goals of life should be moral behaviour, not the life of intellect or reason. In 1754 Rousseau wrote his Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men. This is normally known as the Second Discourse. It is one of the most radical and influential works of the eighteenth century. From the standpoint of these lectures, the Second Discourse constitutes the first of several visions of history that we shall confront. Rousseau in this essay attempted to explain how inequality had come to exist in human society. It is the story of the fall of humankind from innocence in the state of nature to a kind of depravity in



society. It is also the story of how humankind came to decline from being a creature in which the sentiment of pity dominated to one in which the sentiment and falsehoods of vanity dominated. It is the story of humankind falling from a world of reality to a world of deceptive appearance. Rousseau’s analysis constitutes a secular version of the Christian vision of the fall in the Garden of Eden. Because I shall return to the subject in a later lecture, I would note that at the very opening of the Second Discourse, Rousseau distinguished between two kinds of inequality. He distinguished between ‘natural or physical [inequality], because it is established by nature and consists in the difference of ages, health, bodily strength, and qualities of mind or soul’ and ‘[t]he other, which may be called moral or political inequality, because it depends on a kind of convention and is established, or at least authorized, by the consent of men’.12 In his other writings, Rousseau would use that distinction to sustain various modes of inequality, most conspicuously gender inequality. Having quickly made this distinction, Rousseau developed the concept for which he is probably most famous. This was his version of the state of nature. The idea of such a state was not by any means new. Numerous writers had discussed a state of nature in which they claimed humankind had once dwelled. Ancient myth had told of golden ages or of allegedly long-ago historical epochs. In Rousseau’s day the two most familiar ideas of a state of nature were those of Thomas Hobbes as discussed in Leviathan of 1650 and of John Locke outlined in his Second Treatise of Government of 1690. Locke had portrayed the state of nature as an epoch in which human beings dwelled in a social setting with numerous social institutions and lived more or less according to their natural reason. What human beings needed in Locke’s state of nature was a government that he described as a kind of umpire. That is to say, Locke’s human beings before the institution of government were social but unruly. Hobbes’s state of nature had been a very different matter. According to Hobbes, human beings were creatures of insatiable desires and strivings. They were inherently anti-social and necessarily fell into harsh



conflict with each other. It was life in that state of nature that he described in the phrase ‘nasty, brutish, and short.’13 Hobbes believed that because human beings had an innate fear of death, they would eventually for the sake of security of person and property establish an absolute government which would hold back their anti-social tendencies. It was against Hobbes in particular that Rousseau constructed his own vision of the state of nature. As he wrote, ‘The philosophers who have examined the foundations of society have all felt the necessity of going back to the state of nature, but none of them has reached it.’14 Rousseau sought to probe human history at a far earlier era than had either Locke or Hobbes. He would then trace human history through the states that Hobbes and Locke had termed the state of nature, but for Rousseau the states of nature of Hobbes and Locke were not states of nature but stages in human history after humankind had departed from the state of nature. As Rousseau declared, ‘[t]hey spoke about savage man, and it was civil man they depicted’.15 For Rousseau, no existing human society no matter how primitive, or as he would have said ‘savage’, displays human beings in the state of nature. In that regard, his state of nature is a total political fiction. It is an intellectual foil against which he will contrast the evils of human beings in civil society. In Rousseau’s state of nature human beings wander about as individuals who have virtually no interaction that may be described as ‘social’. They engage in casual sexual relations which may result in the birth of children but not in long-term relationships between the parents. His state of nature is thus not a simple society or an innocent society. It is not a society at all, and that is the important point. There are a number of benefits from this situation. Human beings are not in any significant sense dependent upon each other. They are wholly independent. They are healthy and strong. Primitive human beings have no concern except for their self-preservation. What separates these human beings from animals is their capacity to be free agents. In this state, human beings are directed by their passions rather than by their reasons. In this respect, Rousseau echoed his contemporary David Hume, who a few years earlier had written that, ‘Reason is



the slave of the passions.’ Furthermore, in the state of nature human beings give little thought to the future. For all practical purposes human beings in Rousseau’s state of nature are virtually without any of the characteristics that most of us associate with human nature. They are as he conceives of them creatures who have potential rather than any set character. That is to say, in Rousseau’s state of nature human nature is fundamentally indeterminate. In the state of nature human beings refrain from vice because of the innate instinct for pity, an instinct that precedes reason. Through pity human beings could commiserate with the situation of other creatures and thus refrain from harming them. Pity moderates human action and moderates human self-love. Furthermore, in the state of nature there is an absence of other evils associated with society, such as vanity, contempt, the angers that arise from thine and mine. According to Rousseau: Let us conclude that, wandering in the forests, without industry, without speech, without dwelling, without war, without relationships, with no need for his fellow men, and correspondingly with no desire to do them harm, perhaps never even recognising any of them individually, savage man, subject to few passions and self-sufficient, had only the sentiments and enlightenment appropriate to that state; he felt only his true needs, took notice of only what he believed he had an interest in seeing; and that his intelligence made no more progress than his vanity. If by chance he made some discovery, he was all the less able to communicate it to others because he did not even know his own children. Art perished with its inventor. There was neither education nor progress; generations were multiplied to no purpose. Since each one always began from the same point, centuries went by with all the crudeness of the first ages; the species was already old, and man remained ever a child.16

In this wholly unenlightened, unprogressive state human beings were free and innocent.



They were free and innocent because they had not yet entered into significant social relationships. For Rousseau, it was society that caused the fall of humankind from this state of alleged bliss. Note, however, that by society is meant quite simply what most of us and other previous writers would regard as normal and even natural social interaction. It is not fully developed society that corrupts humankind; it is the process of socialisation from its very inception, though to be sure society in Rousseau’s view becomes more corrupt because as it develops it embodies more inequality and hence more oppression. What are the steps whereby humankind falls into society and hence into a situation in which its essential humanity comes to be denied it?17 1. Human beings discover that they must labour and work. They discover that at least in certain parts of the world the resources of nature are scarce, and they must labour to turn them to their own needs of self-preservation. This process leads them to early forms of social interaction. 2. There follows a kind of major technological change whereby human beings form families and villages. These organisations again address very basic human needs, but human beings find that their needs grow and the social setting nurtures the tendency for people to compare themselves to each other. Both of these steps lead human beings to the process of reflective thought. Even in this benevolent society human beings will quickly begin to compare their abilities, possessions, and physical appearance with each other. The seeds of vanity have been sown. 3. The next step is a loss of this friendly patriarchal society and the development of a more systematic and extensive division of labour. They move from an economy of subsistence to one in which they can produce more than they need. Here lie the seeds of luxury. Rousseau declares: Metallurgy and agriculture were the two arts whose invention produced this great revolution. For the poet, it was gold and



silver; but for the philosopher, it was iron and wheat which have civilised men and ruined the human race.18

4. These created a mode of human labour whereby human beings who worked could first claim the fruits of their labour and then the soil or land upon which they laboured. Here we are in Locke’s state of nature where the industrious and the smart carve out for themselves landholdings and the right to maintain their property. But for Rousseau that happy sociable Lockean state of nature is a rapidly passing phase. Very quickly, quarrels over property lead to violent conflict which resembled Hobbes’s state of nature. In order to escape that conflict, the strong and the rich persuade the weak, the poor, and the unintelligent that government is necessary. And that government protects the inequality that has arisen. The rights of property were not natural and had not existed earlier. They are the creation, the invention, of the rich and propertied and the strong. In the words of Jean Starobinski, one of the great Rousseau scholars, ‘We are the heirs of this fool’s bargain, which eliminated overt violence by ending the war of all against all but replaced it with the hypocritical violence of conventions favourable to the rich.’19 The result of this violence and turmoil is political and economic inequality. It is also a society in which vice, oppression, insincerity, and unreal appearances predominate. Yet Rousseau did not believe that human beings could or possibly even should return to the state of nature. The departure from the state of nature through the processes of history was as absolute and as irreversible as was the fall in the Garden of Eden in the Christian vision. What Rousseau insisted upon was that human society must be so transformed as to make the loss of nature worth it. Humanity must be restored through political processes to a being as good or better than the being who had dwelled in the state of nature. And unlike the Christian



vision the radical transformation must occur without any divine intervention. It must come from human beings themselves; it must occur within the historical process. The Second Discourse stands as one of the seminal documents in European cultural criticism. Rousseau had declared and provided a plausible, rhetorical explanation lodged in historical and anthropological categories for the evil that Europeans found in their society. For all who could read he had provided an explanation for the inequality, oppression, and insincerity they experienced daily in their lives. He had provided a condemnation for virtually any problem of a political or social nature that one encountered. He made modern European society as despicable and wanting and evil from a secular standpoint as the Christian vision had made it sinful. Furthermore, that culture could not simply be reformed but had to be transformed at its very roots. In his fashion Rousseau laid the foundation for a moral condemnation of both modern commercial culture and modern intellectual culture. Rousseau’s condemnation was also extremely malleable. It could be turned against political corruption, aristocratic luxury, commercial luxury, and the oppression of any group. Rousseau set forth his own solution in two works both of which were published in 1762. These were The Social Contract and Emile. They established a foundation, on the one hand for political utopianism and, on the other, for educational utopianism. In Emile Rousseau discussed at great length his programme for educating a young man in such a manner that he would emerge from that education uncorrupted by society. It was as you might imagine a solitary education and an education that put much emphasis on feeling. It was in the course of this work that Rousseau set forth his ideas about gender and about religion which I will discuss in later lectures. The Social Contract has been widely read in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries though much less so in the eighteenth. The volume opens with a famous, much quoted sentence:



Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. He who believes himself the master of others does not escape being more a slave than they. How did this change take place? I do not know. What can render it legitimate? I believe I can answer this question.20

He sets out to defend and to justify the chains in which he finds human beings. As he explains, ‘. . . the social order is a sacred right which serves as a foundation for all other rights. Nevertheless, this right does not come from nature. It is therefore founded upon convention.’21 Rousseau seeks to provide a formula for a set of conventions that will provide a legitimate basis for human beings bowing to the laws of society. The society in which he lived he regarded as corrupt and illegitimate. How was it possible to establish a legitimate society and a legitimate government for such a society? He contends that the only legitimate society is one that enshrines human freedom. He declared, ‘Renouncing one’s liberty is renouncing one’s dignity as a man, the rights of humanity and even its duties.’22 To possess such a society, there must at least once have been a point in which all human beings – and Rousseau would appear to have thought simply all men – had reached a unanimous agreement. The social contract had to allow human beings to be part of a community and yet still free individuals. As he explained the terms of the contract: Each of us places his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will, and as one we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole.23

That act is seen as creating in place of the individual a collective moral body or a moral community. For Rousseau, human beings can really constitute moral beings only if they are part of such a community and only if they subordinate their individual interests to that community. Freedom comes to be defined as acting in conformity to the general will of that community. The danger to the community is the presence of particular wills or individual interests on the part of its members. To



preserve the social compact, the individual wills of citizens must be made subordinate to the general will. In one of the most notorious passages of modern European thought, Rousseau contended: Thus, in order for the social compact to avoid being an empty formula, it tacitly entails the commitment – which alone can give force to the others – that whoever refuses to obey the general will be forced to do so by the entire body. This means merely that he will be forced to be free. For this is the sort of condition that, by giving each citizen to the homeland, guarantees him against all personal dependence – a condition that produces the skill and the performance of the political machine, and which alone bestows legitimacy upon civil commitments. Without it such commitments would be absurd, tyrannical and subject to the worst abuses.24

In Rousseau’s mind what legitimises this collective enforcement of the general will is the transformation that the passage from the state of nature to civil society makes possible. Although civil society is unjust and corrupt, it is also the scene of the possibility of the achievement of human justice. In civil society a person exchanges natural liberty which can be protected only by the physical strength of the individual for civil liberty which is protected by the general will. In the civil state human beings have the possibility of being morally free because there through their participation in, and their obedience to, the general will they can obey a law which they have prescribed to themselves. Furthermore, Rousseau argues that political and community sovereignty may not be transferred by citizens to a separate governmental or administrative unit. Hence, he has called for a radical citizen democracy. When the members of that democracy function using their right reason and patriotic spirit to overcome any individual or particular or vested interests, the general will functions properly and in such a situation Rousseau declares that the General Will is then always right. Rousseau believed that such a government and the laws that it required would not come about easily or automatically. Nor would such



a regime arise from the democracy itself. Like many political philosophers before him, he turned to a figure whom he called ‘the Legislator’. This figure would undertake the challenge task of founding a regime. He provides a remarkable description of what the Legislator must do: He who dares to undertake the establishment of a people should feel that he is, so to speak, in a position to change human nature, to transform each individual (who by himself is a perfect and solitary whole), into a part of a larger whole from which this individual receives, in a sense, his life and his being; to alter man’s constitution in order to strengthen it; to substitute a partial and moral existence for the physical and independent existence we have all received from nature. In a word, he must deny man his own forces in order to give him forces that are alien to him and that he cannot make use of without the help of others. The more these natural forces are dead and obliterated, and the greater and more durable are the acquired forces, the more too is the institution solid and perfect. Thus, if each citizen is nothing and can do nothing except in concert with all the others, and if the force acquired by the whole is equal or superior to the sum of the natural forces of all the individuals, one can say that the legislation has achieved the highest possible point of perfection.25

It was little wonder that Rousseau believed, ‘Gods would be needed to give men laws.’26 The mission of the legislator was proved by the greatness of his soul. The examples of legislators whom Rousseau had in mind as patterns for the legislator were Lycurgus of Sparta, Solon of Athens, Romulus in Rome, Moses in ancient Israel, and John Calvin in his native Geneva. In addition to establishing laws, they also understood the secret of establishing the authority of morality, custom, and public opinion. The last major element in The Social Contract to deserve mention is Rousseau’s concept of Civil Religion. Rousseau had no faith in human reason or utility or any mode of human calculation to preserve a government which made men both free and moral and creatures who were



better than they had been in the state of nature. He looked to civil religion. Like Machiavelli before him, Rousseau believes Christianity is harmful to the survival of a good society because it makes human beings answerable to both the society and to God. There is a double loyalty. Indeed, he regards a Christian Republic as a contradiction in terms. What is needed is a religion which will make citizens live duty and their country. Rousseau contended: There is . . . a purely civil profession of faith, the articles of which it belongs to the sovereign to establish, not exactly as dogmas of religion, but as sentiments of sociability, without which it is impossible to be a good citizen or a faithful subject. While not having the ability to obligate anyone to believe them, the sovereign can banish from the state anyone who does not believe them. It can banish him not for being impious but for being unsociable, for being incapable of sincerely loving the laws and justice, and of sacrificing his life, if necessary, for his duty. If, after having publicly acknowledged these same dogmas, a person acts as if he does not believe them, he should be put to death; he has committed the greatest of crimes: he has lied before the laws.27

This civil religion would provide the social glue to hold together the democratic community. In The Social Contract Rousseau stands as the intellectual heir to Plato, Machiavelli, and Calvin. And much attention might be devoted to the origins of his ideas and the manner in which he uses, misuses, and transforms the ideas of earlier political and social philosophers. But there is a prophetic side to The Social Contract just as there was to the Second Discourse. It is an exceedingly abstract, even bloodless work. Yet it holds many of the seeds of future secular collectivist utopian political thought, including nationalism, socialism, and communism. The next two centuries would see repeated attempts to establish ideals and realities of community in which individual liberty would be subordinated to some version of a general will. There would come forth from the late



eighteenth century onward a host of would-be modern lawgivers who would seek, in just Rousseau’s terms, to transform humanity or significant portions thereof. The next two centuries would see one version after another of civil religions according to which the loyalty of citizens could not deviate from loyalty to the collective community. I do not believe Rousseau was responsible for all of these developments. His thought was far more subtle and complicated than many of his later disciples or derivative disciples would make it. Yet Rousseau from his personal unhappiness, paranoia, and duplicity sowed the seeds that other thinkers with whom we shall become acquainted nurtured to a maturity that would often become frightening. That they should be frightening should not surprise us. Rousseau was fully honest – his great models were the warriors of Sparta and Rome.




he period from the beginning of the French Revolution through the opening volleys of the First World War was characterised by enormous changes. This era began with Newtonian physics firmly accepted throughout the Western scientific community and it closed with the early assimilation of the theories of Einstein. In 1789 the atomic theory of matter had been formulated in only the most rudimentary fashion and oxygen had only recently been discovered. By 1914 the solid atom had given way to the pursuit of subatomic particles and radioactive elements had been discovered. In 1789 the Linnaean system was still intact, but by 1914 various evolutionary systems were accepted throughout the scientific community. In 1789 Locke’s associationist psychology remained the dominant theory of mind; by 1914 Freud had formulated his major theories. The changes in the manner in which women and men thought about and conceived the world were no less radical than the changes in their relationship to the physical environment itself. In 1789 travel in Europe and America was difficult at best. It had taken Washington ten days to move from Virginia to New York for his inauguration. By 1914 railroads stretched completely across the American continent. The Trans-Siberian 21



Railway had been constructed. Automobiles, bicycles, and airplanes had been invented. The telegraph, the Atlantic Cable, and the wireless had revolutionised the world of communication. These new modes of transportation and communication were but the most spectacular elements in a whole new physical environment forged by human beings. It was what the British scientist, T.H. Huxley once termed ‘the New Nature begotten by science upon fact’.1 Other elements of that new nature included subways, electric lights, telephones, apartment houses, department stores, and systems to furnish pure water and removal of waste. The nineteenth century, because of these developments and the industrial basis established in Europe, created an unprecedented cultural situation. During the nineteenth century Europeans possessed more sheer power – economic, industrial, and military – to be sorted out among themselves and to be exercised over the rest of the world than ever before or since in history. All of these changes need to be kept in mind when thinking about the political thought of the nineteenth century. It was the great century of -isms and we ourselves continue to live in the wake of the problems caused by many of them. European political thought would have had to change in light of all these developments. But that these occurred over the same decade that Europe had to adjust itself politically to the changes wrought by the French Revolution meant that European political thought had to re-orient itself in the most profound fashion during the nineteenth century. Most of the presuppositions and even much of the vocabulary of previous political thinking no longer applied. Three broad groups of changes gave rise to three more or less distinct but sometimes interrelated groups of political ideas. It is significant that these groups of ideas were generally set forth by writers who were themselves not a part of the group to whom the ideas most applied. Political ideology in the nineteenth century was perhaps more than ever the product of the intellectual or professional classes or persons who spent their lives in the world of print culture.



1. Economic growth through commercial, agricultural, and industrial expansion produced greater wealth and eventually a higher standard of living and prosperity. This growth and economic transformation also caused severe social dislocation. There was a general, if uneven, movement away from the countryside and into cities – a movement that has continued in Europe to the present day. The misdistribution of goods and the appalling living conditions in cities furnished the conditions for the development of socialism. 2. A different concept of the character of political association also emerged in the nineteenth century. The political state became defined not by loyalty to a particular royal family or dynasty but rather by loyalty to a nation with a particular historical or cultural identity that separated it from other nations. People came to see themselves as distinct nations because they shared a common language, a common history, a common religion, or a common cultural heritage. Political entities defined in this manner and people who came to be loyal to such entities would completely redraw the map of Europe during the nineteenth century. 3. Both nationalism and socialism could become such dynamic forces in the long run because of liberalism. Liberalism under the impact of both fascism and communism became the most scorned political creed of the nineteenth century. It also became perhaps the least well understood and most thoroughly underestimated. The reason for the weakness of liberalism in defending itself lay within itself. The main intellectual tenets of liberalism were formulated to attack the political, religious, and economic abuses of the Old Regime, and later the critical character of habit of mind of liberalism could and would be turned against itself. Furthermore, since the liberal creed was fundamentally a reforming creed, it often seemed to have little to say after its reforms had been achieved. There is, however, a more important reason for the difficulties of nineteenth-century liberalism. Unlike socialism or nationalism or fascism or communism, liberalism did not embrace a utopian vision.



Although liberals sought to reform the world, liberals did not seek to transform the world or to transform human nature. In competition with political forces that were utopian, liberalism always seemed somewhat humdrum and satisfied with the world as it found it. Furthermore, in the course of the century even liberals could find themselves temporarily or permanently transported to utopianism, especially to the siren songs of nationalism. What did nineteenth-century liberals seek to do? They wanted to build upon what they regarded as the positive and irreversible changes of the French Revolution. They wished to find ways in which to realise institutionally a mode of popular sovereignty that would embrace neither the absolutism of the reign of terror nor popular democracy. They sought a world in which government would be led and dominated by persons of property and education. They wanted a world in which the state would protect and sustain the social organisations and associations of civil society. What most liberals did not understand was first that it would not be possible to achieve long-term political stability after the French Revolution. The forces unleashed by the French Revolution would quite simply continue to stir and change European political institutions. Second, they did not realise that the forces of industrialisation and urbanisation were fundamentally changing the character of civil society, making it more dynamic and inherently unstable. Most of the ideas of political liberalism had originated in the Enlightenment and under a political and economic order that was changing very slowly. During the nineteenth century they sought to apply those ideas and that vocabulary to a rapidly and constantly changing situation. More specifically, liberals sought a system of economic liberty with little government interference in the domestic economy and free trade in the international economy. They wanted responsible government, by which they meant the ministers of monarchies should be responsible to parliaments and legislatures rather than to the monarchs. This may seem a modest goal, but in 1830 responsible ministries did not prevail in a single European nation, including Great Britain. Liberals also favoured quite restricted elector franchises. They were leery of democracy;



indeed, they were fundamentally anti-democratic, believing that only persons of property should participate in the political nation. In this regard they entertained an almost pathological fear of the working classes. Liberals wanted the powers of the central state to be quite limited and the freedoms of speech and press honoured. Finally, liberals tended to be very distrustful of established churches, because they saw those churches as supporters of the monarchies and aristocracies. There was a general tendency – of which many exceptions could be cited, however – for liberals to be mildly to radically anti-clerical. This rather discursive and circuitous route brings us to Alexis de Tocqueville. He stands as one of the thinkers who opened the intellectual path to an understanding of this new world of politics, economics, and ideologies that was emerging pell-mell in the early nineteenth century. When we read his Democracy in America, we find ourselves on what seems to be familiar terrain. He writes about Connecticut, Ohio, Kentucky, and New York. He discusses a federal constitution which still governs us. He alludes to the writings and lives of the founding fathers with whom most of us are at least somewhat familiar, and many of his terms are our terms: democracy, elections, constitutions, voluntary associations, townships, city councils, and the like. And there are all of those seemingly prophetic passages where he seems to have understood almost exactly where the course of American and Western history was headed. All of this familiarity is, I believe, largely deceptive and illusory. Familiarity may or may not breed contempt, but illusory familiarity does breed confusion. Virtually all of those elements in Democracy in America that make us feel comfortable and at home in the text represent monumental modes of analytical achievement on the part of that young French visitor of a century and a half ago. He wrote, ‘A new political science is needed for a world itself quite new’.2 And what Tocqueville sought to provide was a new conceptual framework with which to understand and analyse the newly emerging political world. His works seem so familiar to us because he is one of the nineteenth-century writers who have taught us to think in the categories of public discourse that we now use virtually without thought.



I would like to begin with the title of the book, Democracy in America. Prior to the middle of the nineteenth century few, if any, political writers, historians, or philosophers had anything good to say about political democracy either as a fact in its historical existence in antiquity or as a theoretical concept. Popular government of almost any form was traditionally equated with disorder. In particular, ancient Athens had long been an object of particular contempt. In Great Britain, David Hume in his political essays had repeatedly pointed to the tumultuous nature of Athenian democracy. Other historians regarded Pericles as little more than a successful demagogue. Athens as a democracy had proved itself incapable of achieving domestic stability or successful foreign empire. Nor had it been able to defend itself against either Sparta or ultimately Macedonia. Even English political radicals, such as Joseph Priestley, who called for an extension of the franchise, hastened to assure all concerned that they had no desire to establish an Athenian-style democracy. The excesses of the French Revolution had confirmed in modern times the dangers and tumult of democracy. The attempt to create a republic of virtue in France during 1792 and 1793 raised doubts about the idea of any modern virtuous republic modelled after ancient Sparta, Athens, or Rome. Because so many of the French leaders associated with the Reign of Terror appealed to the language and rhetoric of Rousseau, the foremost modern defender of democratic principles stood under a dark cloud. The fall of the French Republic into the military dictatorship of Napoleon further supported the conviction that democracy necessarily led to tyranny. Throughout Europe the era of the revolution and the Napoleonic wars saw the emergence of the new political philosophy of reactionary conservatism. Edmund Burke stood as the chief protagonist of this position, but there were others. These writers provided a theoretical critique of modern democracy, and in that respect they rigidified and turned into concrete political attitudes that prior to the revolution had been rather nebulous and informal. Consequently, it is important to see that reactionary conservatism is ‘modern’ in the sense of post-dating the



political philosophies associated with liberal democracy. Although we think of this reactionary philosophy as evoking a world then passed, that political philosophy was very much a part of the new world of early nineteenth-century political ideologies. Furthermore, reaction was not simply a matter of political thought or ideology. From 1815 to 1830 exceedingly conservative and reactionary political leaders dominated French political life. Even after the liberal revolution of 1830, these ‘ultras’, as they were called, continued to plot against the government established by that revolution. Tocqueville was well acquainted with such persons and on one occasion he had acted a lawyer for a friend involved in such activity. These reactionary political figures denied that political life could be based on rational principles. They believed politics to be too complex a matter to be adequately expressed or contemplated through written constitutions. They believed that virtually all stable, orderly, governments must be based on legitimate monarchies, landed aristocracy, and established churches. In particular, they believed that democracy was always and necessarily opposed to the Christian religion and to Christian morality. Part of Tocqueville’s genius was to consider democracy as a mode of human government outside all of these standard contexts. In the first place, he dared to think about democracy as an open-ended problem and political question and not as a problem, all the ramifications of which are already known through the history of the ancient republics and the French Revolution. America provided him with the opportunity to examine democratic structures outside the context of either the ancient republics or the ongoing trauma of French political life and experiment. In that respect he picked up the stick from the other end. He decided to look at democracy on the broadest landscape that it had yet established for itself. As he explained: I confess that in America I saw more than America: I sought the image of democracy itself, with its inclinations, its character, its prejudices, and its passions, in order to learn what we have to fear or to hope from its progress.3



However, Tocqueville made another very important leap of the political imagination. He was determined to attempt to persuade the ultrareactionary conservatives, first that they would abandon their particular kind of opposition to democracy and, second that all of the evils they associated with it were accidental rather than essential. And finally, he wished to urge upon both conservatives and liberals an understanding of what were the true potential evils and difficulties of democracy. In very large measure the character of Tocqueville’s argument and the points he wishes to make are established for him by those ultras. They tend to set the parameters of his concerns. They also in part determine the character of his conclusions because he must prove to them that to a certain extent properly constructed and regulated democracy is compatible with their own firmest political goals. Most of Tocqueville’s discussion of religion and democracy is conditioned by these conservative preoccupations. Throughout the ‘Author’s Introduction’, Tocqueville goes to rather elaborate lengths to demonstrate that equality of conditions and what he seems to regard as the more liberal and eventually democratic structures that flow therefrom are the result of the providential purposes of God. The springs of later democracy flow through all Western history in a way hidden from the intentions of the historical actors. Since history is the realm of the Providence of God (and upon this conservatives insist), the lesson of history is that democracy is a part of God’s providential intention: The various occurrences of national existence have everywhere turned to the advantage of democracy; all men have aided it by their exertions: those who have intentionally laboured in its cause, and those who have served it unwillingly – those who have fought for it, and those who have declared themselves its opponents – have all been driven along the same track, have all laboured to one end, some ignorantly, and some unwillingly; all have been blind instruments in the hands of God.4

It had been conservative writers who had introduced the issue of historical roots as a source of political legitimacy and who had also



emphasised the importance of God in history and politics. Tocqueville uses this argument from history and providence to support the inevitability of democracy rather than to present democracy as a departure from the divine order of things. No less important was Tocqueville’s ongoing polemic throughout Democracy in America about the vast role that religious institutions and sentiments played in American social and political life. He is attempting to provide an empirical demonstration that democracy and religion are compatible. Furthermore, in Volume 2 he seeks to suggest that the presence of religion works as a tempering force on the various dangers posed by democracy to itself. It is religion that in a sense permits democracy to rise to its best state. Religion perfects democracy. Here again Tocqueville is adopting a conservative argument to persuade conservatives to accept the new political world. Finally, Tocqueville hits on the conservative theory of patriotism and political obligation. He wrote quite eloquently of a new and of an old form of patriotism. He explores what he regards as the old instinctive version and contrasts it with the new rational mode of patriotism. He describes the two in this fashion: There is one sort of patriotic attachment which principally arises from that instinctive, disinterested, and undefinable feeling which connects the affections of man with his birthplace. The natural fondness is united to a taste for ancient customs, and to a reverence for ancestral traditions of the past; those who cherish it love their country as they love the mansion of their fathers . . . This patriotism is sometimes stimulated by religious enthusiasm, and then it is capable of making the most prodigious efforts. It is in itself a kind of religion: it does not reason, but it acts from the impulse of faith and of sentiment.5

This view rather clearly and succinctly states a Burkean view of political obligation and the kind of non-rational ties that conservatives saw at the core of political life. But Tocqueville then uses a conservative argument from history to declare the epoch of such patriotism to be past:



But epochs sometimes occur, in the course of the existence of a nation, at which the ancient customs of a people are changed, public morality destroyed, religious belief disturbed, and the spell of tradition broken, while the diffusion of knowledge is yet imperfect, and the civil rights of the community are ill secured, or confined within very narrow limits . . . The country is lost to their senses, they can neither discover it under it under its own, nor under borrowed features, and they entrench themselves within the dull precincts of a narrow egotism. They are emancipated from prejudice, without having acknowledged the empire of reason; they are animated neither by the instinctive patriotism of monarchical subjects, nor by the thinking patriotism of republican citizens; but they have stopped half-way between the two, in the midst of confusion and of distress.6

Such was also the perception of conservatives of the difficulties of their own day. They saw political action and affection having escaped the bounds of inherited prejudice. However, Tocqueville then quickly sets forth an argument that the conservative did not want to hear but which is gauged to persuade him to assent. Tocqueville contends that under present political circumstances the most probable way to rouse patriotism is to extend the scope of exercisable civic rights. In effect, he is saying that the choice confronting conservatives is not the existence or non-existence of patriotism and the qualities of personal self-sacrifice that go with patriotism, but rather the means to that end, and that the great example of such modern civic virtue, patriotism, and public spirit arising from political participation is to be found in America: As the American participated in all that is done in his country, he thinks himself obliged to defend whatever may be censured; for it is not only his country which is attacked upon these occasions, but it is himself. The consequence is, that his national pride resorts to a thousand artifices, and to all the petty tricks of individual vanity.7



In this respect, Tocqueville is seeking to lead his conservative friends to distinguish between the means and the ends of political life. Like Adam Smith, Tocqueville believes patriotism and civic spirit may be fostered by attaching self-interest and the pursuit of self-interest to civic life. He believes that the extremes of the pursuit of self-interest will be restrained by the influence of religion. Tocqueville is also concerned with carrying on another political dialogue in Democracy in America that again requires him to think deeply and open-endedly about the character of democracy. He is very concerned to come to grips with Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws of 1747. This work may well have been the single most influential work of Enlightenment political thought. At least two of Montesquieu’s ideas were very important for Tocqueville in the sense that, as with conservative thought, he had to embrace them in order to extinguish them. The first was Montesquieu’s strong belief that climate and geography are among the most fundamental determining factors of politics. Tocqueville came to America with that idea firmly implanted in his head. It would seem that to his surprise it did not seem to account for the character of American political life. However, the dominance of this conceptual framework accounts for those many pages in which Tocqueville discusses the physical character of America and its possible relationship to politics. In this respect, one can view Tocqueville working his way to free himself of a major political theory which he had hoped to use to explain American life and society. The second major idea associated with Montesquieu was the idea that liberty could be achieved through structures, and in particular through a mixed or balanced constitution such as he believed had existed in eighteenth-century Great Britain. Tocqueville was well acquainted with this idea of the mixed constitution, which dates from the time of Polybius. Tocqueville, however, clearly and decisively rejects it: The form of government which is usually termed mixed has always appeared to me to be a mere chimera. Accurately speaking, there is no



such thing as a mixed government (with the meaning usually given to that word), because in all communities some one principle of action may be discovered, which preponderates over the others.8

He then noted that in England, despite its reputation for a mixed government, what really prevailed was the domination of the aristocracy. This rejection of Montesquieu’s concept of the role of a mixed constitution in assuring liberty is of major significance. This is because, like Tocqueville’s rejection of the ultra-conservative standpoint, it allowed him to look at politics in a new light. Montesquieu had tended to believe that political structures and laws were the dominant factor in political life and the best guarantor of liberty. Tocqueville, without doubting the importance of institutions and laws, sees other factors as being more important than political structures. This issue leads us to the historical importance of Tocqueville’s concept of the Tyranny of the Majority. Again, this is a phrase of our daily political discourse which has been supplied to us by Tocqueville and which we use without much understanding of its significance. What Tocqueville grasped more clearly than any writer before him was the character of the real dangers and evils that lay inherent in modern democracy. Previous conservative writers from antiquity through Burke and company had presented the gravest danger of democracy as the potential for political indecision and political anarchy or disorder. Prior to Tocqueville, democracy was equated with tumult, turmoil, and confusion. Tocqueville did not deny that, in the transitional stage of political development toward democracy, there had occurred much disorder, as any Frenchman could attest. But Tocqueville, who had allowed himself to think freely about the unthinkable – democracy in its mature stage and as an actually functioning stable government – came to perceive a different danger. The problem of democracy was not really confusion and turmoil but rather the existence of far too much order. Despotism not anarchy was the problem. Throughout Democracy in America Tocqueville provides an ongoing anatomy of despotisms possible under democracies. He worries about legislative despotism, bureaucratic despotism, and the despotism of



the strong leader. But what he perceives as the most important and insidious despotism is that tyranny of the majority that works its way through the quiet channels of public opinion and which can then influence the structures of government; and in perceiving this mode of despotism and suggesting a solution for it, Tocqueville again transcends the work and thought of his predecessors. He in effect tells the ultra-conservatives that they are worrying about the wrong thing. He says to the latter-day followers of Montesquieu, who represent the intellectual forces of moderate liberalism, that they are putting forth the wrong kind of solution to the problem of despotism. The tradition of Montesquieu worried about the despotism of a strong monarchy and the various forces that the monarchy could bring to bear against the citizenry. Their solution had been some kind of balanced or mixed constitution. For Tocqueville, the real source of majoritarian despotism in democratic states arises not from political structures and cannot be prevented by political structures. The structures that give rise to majoritarian despotism lie embedded in the society – that is to say, in the social life of a democratic people – in their morals, mores, and customs. It is the social situation that fosters the drive and desire for equality which will in his view predominate over the political desire for liberty. Tocqueville set out on his journey to America interested in politics and he returned to France more interested in society. In this regard, his thinking represents one of the major conceptual transformations in liberal thought. Previously liberal thought had been concerned about civil society and the state. Tocqueville introduces a third concept that of society – society which involves more than the commercial relations of civil society, society which involves a whole host of values and customs and aspirations which may very well overcome both political structures and the structures of civil society. Tocqueville’s solution to the problem of majoritarian despotism is in large measure a social solution. Private associations or voluntary associations that stand between the individual and his or her private interests and the state will in Tocqueville’s view act as a buffer. Those



voluntary associations compete with each other, they subsume social and political energy, and in that respect prevent the government or the state from becoming the creature of the majority. His answer to the spectre of a majoritarian despotism is democratic pluralism. Here we see Tocqueville rejecting the idea of balanced or mixed structures and bringing to the fore the idea of large private interest groups that will curtail the dominance of each other. For this idea he was indebted to James Madison’s discussion of factions in The Federalist Papers, but both Tocqueville and Madison are indebted to Machiavelli who in his Discourses observed that the conflict between the orders in republican Rome had accounted for both liberty and stability.9 In closing, I would simply note one other remarkable feature that resulted from Tocqueville’s allowing himself to dare to think freely and open-endedly about democracy. He discerned as no one before him the ongoing conflict that would emerge in all states where political liberalism and liberal democratic structures prevailed. He saw the tension between liberty and equality. He discerned that the problem of democracy would be tension between political demands and social demands. Other writers had, of course, written about the social question and the problem of the working class. But Tocqueville before Marx had posed the social question in a manner that allowed it to be discussed within the context of liberal democratic institutions, rhetoric, and analysis. In the long run that may be the real greatness of Tocqueville. It is not that his writings are prophetic, but rather it was his writings that taught us how to talk and write about the political issues of the now post-French Revolution political world. He began to provide us with the conceptual vocabulary necessary to discuss the new problems of modern political life. In that regard, it is also possible that he may provide similar concepts for modern Europeans in a post-Marxist world.




ohn Stuart Mill was born in 1806. His father was James Mill, a Scot (and a one-time Calvinist clergyman), who had left the land of his birth to move to the southern clime of London. James Mill was a major political radical of early nineteenth-century British politics. He and others like him, were determined to see the British constitution reformed. They wanted it made much more democratic. Indeed, James Mill came very close to arguing for universal manhood suffrage. James Mill was also the principal British disciple of the British political and legal reformer Jeremy Bentham. Bentham is regarded as the father of British utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is a much-maligned and even more misunderstood creed that is usually simply described as advocating the greatest good for the greatest number. Actually, beginning with The Fragment on Government (1776), Bentham had advocated the reform of British law. He believed that the existing law and legal procedures primarily favoured lawyers and wealthy clients. He wanted to see the law reformed to serve the larger public. By using the principles of the greatest good for the greatest number, Bentham became the great questioner of all things established. The principle itself was never very clear in its exact meaning, but it could be turned against any number of targets. 35



James Mill was probably the single most important figure in the utilitarian tradition. He was more than Bentham’s disciple, he converted Bentham to democracy. He transplanted Bentham’s ideas, often poorly written, into a more popular form. He enriched the tradition by his own study of psychology, economics, and government. It is through Mill and his friendships that utilitarianism and classical economics became inextricably tied together. James Mill may be said to be the midwife of Philosophic Radicalism. It was called Philosophic Radicalism because unlike many other forms of British radicalism it was formally informed by a more or less coherent set of ideas. James Mill’s political radicalism was based on the philosophy of Bentham, the psychology of David Hartley, the economics of David Ricardo, and the population theory of Thomas Malthus. He criticised the existing constitution, not for its flagrant abuses but because those abuses were contrary to good philosophy and a sound understanding of man and society. It was in the third generation, however, that Philosophic Radicalism may be said to have entered the vital bloodstream of English public life. This generation included J.S. Mill, Arthur Roebuck, Charles Austin, George Grote, Joseph Hume, William Molesworth and Edwin Chadwick. This was the most influential generation of Philosophic Radicals. Of these men John Stuart Mill wrote in his Autobiography: though none of us, probably, agreed in every respect with my father, his opinions . . . were the principal element which gave its colour and character to the little group of young men who were the first propagators of what was afterwards called ‘philosophic Radicalism’. Their mode of thinking was not characterised by Benthamism in any sense which has relation to Bentham as a chief or guide but rather by a combination of Bentham’s point of view with that of the modern political economy, and with Hartlein metaphysics. Malthus’ population principle was quite as much a banner, and point of union among us, as any opinion specially belonging to Bentham. This great doctrine, originally brought forward as an argument against the indefinite



improvability of human affairs, we took up with ardent zeal in the contrary sense, as indicating the sole means of realising that improvability by securing full employment at high wages to the whole labouring population through a voluntary restriction of the increase of their numbers. The other leading characteristics of the creed, which we held in common with my father, may be stated as follows: In politics, an almost unbounded confidence in the efficacy of two things: representative government, and complete freedom of discussion . . . These various opinions were seized on with youthful fanaticism by the little knot of young men of whom I was one: and we put into them a sectarian spirit, from which, in intention at least, my father was wholly free.1

The absence of a sectarian spirit prior to the younger Mill’s generation, and the reading back of such a spirit into the earlier utilitarians has, I think, caused much of the confusion over them. It is, I think, true to say that not until this third generation may they be called a school, and this close cooperation may be said to have ceased even in this generation by 1840. They were the only group who, at the time of the Reform Bill of 1832, had some programme which they were to see enacted, or a set of principles which they wished the reformed Parliament to follow. How did they attempt, and in many cases succeed, in achieving their influence? 1. They served on parliamentary commissions, the most famous of which was the Poor Law Commission. 2. They became civil servants – both Mills had worked in the East India Company, and influenced imperial policy – others worked in other bureaux. 3. Some of them entered Parliament and formed, until about 1840, a coherent group pressuring the Whigs toward further reform. 4. They furthered James Mill’s project of University College in London, which did not require religious creeds. 5. They wrote widely:



a. the Westminster Review; b. numerous works by J.S. Mill which by the middle of the century had permeated the curriculum of Oxford and Cambridge; c. George Grote’s History of Greece (1846–56); d. vast numbers of other journal and newspapers articles. 6. They were wise enough to enlarge their own connections so that they came to appreciate thinkers who were anathema to James Mill. J.S. Mill’s appreciation of Coleridge is the foremost example. 7. They embraced other causes, such as women’s rights. At the same time the Philosophic Radicals kept themselves separate from movements such as Chartism and the Anti-Corn Law League. This third generation entered the system, moulded it, and in turn were moulded by it. As their ideas came to be accepted, they were also used by men of narrower ken, who turned their ideas into the caricatures which Dickens criticised in the opening pages of Hard Times. Were the English Philosophic Radicals and the earlier generation the spokesmen of the middle class? The answer is both yes and no. They did not consciously set out to establish the predominance of that class. However, as James Mill pointed out in his Essay on Government, it was the middling ranks who could, they believed, be best trusted with government. The end result: economics awakened middle-class antagonism with the aristocratic establishment and gave it an ideology. What linked them with the middle class was the fact that the test of utility – the greatest good for the greatest number – could be used to attack the aristocracy and established church who hindered the full participation of the dissenting middle classes in the political and social life of the nation. The middle classes could identify with the idea that government should belong to the energetic and productive classes. Most importantly, the Benthamites spoke for the ideal of professionalism in all areas of life, and the professions were rapidly becoming the stronghold of the middle class. On the other hand, the principle of inspectorships for enforcement of factory laws and public health measures could interfere with middle-



class influence. Thus, while no group could so agree with them as the middle class, they were not consciously trying to achieve middle-class predominance. The weaknesses of Philosophic Radicalism were many. It emphasised the individual to such an extent that it tore him from his setting in society. Its view of humankind, as Mill suggests, left unexplored far too many areas of human life and endeavour. Carlyle well observed, when he said that utilitarianism was ‘Admirably calculated for destroying only not for rebuilding’.2 It was indeed an ideology for transition from the old society, but by the third quarter of the century its insufficiency for rebuilding was becoming evident and men would seek new ideas and new views of freedom. In the meantime, however, it was a mighty solvent for old ways and old ideas. It provided powerful legislative machinery in its mode of gathering evidence, evaluation, and legislation to be followed by inspection. Its inherent, though perhaps shallow, optimism about the improvability of man and society gave men confidence to face an untried future. It allowed men to become free from the past and to compete freely with their fellows, but probably it did not provide them with a means of becoming fully developed, free human beings. Philosophic Radicalism was closely associated with the outlook and social policy of classical economics – a term invented by Karl Marx. There were certain tensions between the two positions. The Philosophic Radicals, as civil servants, tended to want to strengthen the bureaucratic state. In terms of economic life, they tended to favour a minimal degree of state interference. The major figures of this tradition and economic thought were David Hume, Adam Smith, Jeremy Bentham, T.R. Malthus, James Mill, David Ricardo, Robert Torrens, Nassau Senior, John McCulloch, and John Stuart Mill. Their ideas on the nature of the operation of the economy tended to call into question the economic practices of the paternalistic society. There exists, in the popular mind, a large number of misconceptions about these men and their work. Certain of these should be laid aside immediately.



1. They did not represent a single school or a single set of doctrines. They disagreed as to proper economic policy. What allows them to form a group is first, their close personal relationships, and second, their belief that economics and economic policy could be based on scientific knowledge. 2. Classical economics is not the economics of the so-called Manchester school, which advocated free trade and the repeal of the Corn Laws in the 1840s. 3. The classical economists were not the rabid advocates of a rigid doctrine of laissez-faire. Indeed, they assigned major tasks to the government. The men who are normally classified as the classical economists were united on broader grounds than those of agreement about specific policy. 1. They believed in economic reform resulting in more goods and services and the possibility that such reform could have a scientific basis. 2. They saw consumption as the object of economic activity and were largely concerned with the welfare of the consumer – that she receive those goods and services which she desired in the quantities she desired, and at the lowest possible price. But their idea of consumption also extended to the provision of capital goods for the future and to the provision of government services, such as defence. 3. They were united by agreement on certain economic ideas or theories: a. anti-mercantilist bias of the Wealth of Nations; b. security of property and free enterprise; c. the efficiency of individuals working through the mechanism of the market to produce desired goods and services; d. the Malthusian image of stagnation through excess population. 4. Until the work of John Stuart Mill, these men all dreaded the future ‘stationary state’, where there would be no further economic growth,



but only such production that would meet the demand of a population using all available resources. 5. They were individualists in terms of both ends, and with some reservations in terms of means. To achieve economic consumption and production within the framework of maximum liberty, they advocated a system of economic freedom. However, despite the fact that they may not be considered unabashed advocates of laissez-faire, nor as defenders of the special interests of business, their ideas, both as formally presented and as popularised, constituted an effective solvent to the values and institutions of the old society. The belief that material improvement came about by each man’s maximising his own economic situation was not wholly compatible with a society and social structure which had largely guaranteed that a man receive that income and those rights which pertained to a particular rank. It was incompatible with an economic life, where the vestiges of guilds, corporations, local price and wage fixing, and settlement laws still prevailed. More important, certain general and certain specific ideas of these economists directly contributed to the emergence of class-conscious society and to the demise of paternalism. Ricardo, echoing the Scottish writers of the eighteenth century, opened the preface of his Principles by declaring: The produce of the earth – all that is derived from its surface by the united application of labour, machinery, and capital, is divided among three classes of the community; namely, the proprietor of the land, the owner of the stock or capital necessary for its cultivation, and the labourers by whose industry it is cultivated.3

Ricardo then set out to determine what were the rules for the distribution of this wealth or produce. In doing so, he and later writers established the analytical framework for seeing society, not only in terms of



classes, but in terms of classes that were competing for the enjoyment of the produce of the earth – though with differing interests. In particular four views of the classical economists suggested conflicts inherent in the commercial and industrial orders: 1. The class which earned profits – the capitalist class or, if you like, the middle class – emerges from this analysis as the group that really makes things work. The savings of the capitalists in terms of accumulated capital, when invested, produces jobs for workers and thus an enlarged demand for food which increases the landlord’s rent. 2. The Doctrine of Rent – simply by having more land under cultivation, landowners through no effort of their own collected increased rents. This concept of rent, shared by all the classical economists, was a clear indictment of the landlord class as being lazy and unproductive – they reaped where they had never sown. It provided a rationalisation for the hatred of the middle class for the aristocracy and landowners during the 1820s, and was one of the reasons that writers such as James Mill could speak of the middle class as the vigorous and industrious segment of the population. Indeed, the most naked class conflict in these writers is that between the middle class or the capitalist class and the aristocracy. 3. The Iron Law of Wages – the paternalism of the old society had assumed that some primitive management of the local economies of the counties and parishes could provide subsistence for workers and even keep wages high. The economists – especially Malthus and Ricardo – refuted this belief. They contended that the wages paid to labour would always tend toward subsistence in the long run. If the real wages of labour were raised above the natural level, then the worker would marry or, if married, probably have more children. This in turn would mean that the labour force would be expanded and the wages would fall below the natural level. Ricardo and Malthus, however, did believe that this law could be overcome. In a later essay, Malthus actually projects the abolition of poverty through raising the minimum standard of the expectations of all workers through



prudence and moral restraint and education. However, note that both the Iron Law, and the means of alleviating it, suggest that paternalism will, in the first case, not make the poor any better off, and in the second case, will prevent the worker from becoming independent and looking to himself to improve his condition. 4. Labour Theory of Value – there is some question whether, in the intricacies of these men’s work, they actually advocated a labour theory of value. This is a matter of technical theory. Whether they did or did not, most of their readers believed that they did. Again, this was a solvent of the old economy, and especially of the subordination of the poor and the working class. If all value came from labour, eventually people were going to see that labour might not be receiving its due reward. The ideas of these men, in a sense, took England by storm. Reading and discussing political economy became something of a popular pastime. No doubt the fact that new economic opportunities were opening for many people had something to do with this. Moreover, many people had reason to be unhappy with their economic lot in life, and looked to scientific ideas to improve it. Finally, the business cycle was upon them and the upswings and downswings of that cycle were facts of life for everyone. Thus far, my remarks have addressed Mill’s experience and that of similarly minded persons from the public standpoint. But for Mill, there also existed an ongoing, and I believe never fully resolved, inner struggle for personal liberty and autonomy. Bentham had believed that rationality should rule supreme in life and that rational reform and rationality alone could bring about human happiness. James Mill agreed and he set out to raise his son according to good rational principles, to make him a utilitarian, and to make him into a person dedicated to the happiness of humankind. The result of these high-minded goals was one of the most remarkable childhoods of which we have an extensive record. It is the record of a child reared in the narrowest vision of the Enlightenment reaching out for the impulses of Romanticism.



John Stuart Mill commenced to learn Greek when he was three years old. His father taught him the language while he was writing his, then famous, History of India. He read a considerable body of Greek literature in Greek before his instruction in Latin commenced at the age of 8. Before he was 10 years old, John Stuart Mill was reading a goodly number of histories, such as Gibbon’s Decline and Fall. Mill also read widely in Latin literature. In his early adolescence and perhaps before, he was introduced to political economy and logic. He had already been trained in advanced mathematics. Throughout this extraordinary process, Mill was kept away from other children his own age. He seems to have had very little understanding at the time of how different his education and experience were from those of other children. The only elements that were lacking in this system of education was a recognition for the role of sentiment, tenderness, and feeling. In effect, John Stuart Mill was reared to be an emotional cripple. For some time that state did not consciously bother him. In 1822–23 he and other young men of radical political leanings founded the Utilitarian Society. Of that group and their opinions, Mill later wrote: What we principally thought of was to alter people’s opinions; to make them believe according to evidence, and know what was their real interest, which when they once knew, they would, we thought, by the instrument of opinion, enforce a regard to it upon one another. While fully recognizing the superior excellence of unselfish benevolence and love of justice, we did not expect the regeneration of mankind from any direct action on those sentiments, but from the effect of educated intellect, enlightening the selfish feelings.4

As Mill also later confessed: From this neglect both in theory and in practice of the cultivation of feeling, naturally resulted, among other things, an undervaluing of poetry, and of imagination general, as an element of human nature.5



During these years of his late adolescence, when Mill was the same age as an undergraduate student, he thought he firmly understood what his life was about. He had a single object in life – ‘to be a reformer of the world’, and his conception of his own happiness was thoroughly identified with that object. Then, almost without warning, that confidence was shattered and Mill entered upon what he described as ‘A Crisis in My Mental History’. The mental crisis struck when he was 20 years old, and this is how he described it: I was in a dull state of nerves, such as everybody is occasionally liable to; unsusceptible to enjoyment or pleasurable excitement; one of those moods when what is pleasure at other times becomes insipid or indifferent; the state, I should think, in which converts to Methodism usually are, when smitten by their first ‘conviction of sin’. In this frame of mind it occurred to me to put the question directly to myself: ‘Suppose that all your objects in life were realized; that all the changes in institutions and opinions which you are looking forward to, could be completely effected at this very instant: would this be a great joy and happiness to you?’ and an irrepressible self-consciousness distinctly answered, ‘No!’ At this my heart sank within me: the whole foundation on which my life was constructed fell down. All my happiness was to have been found in the continual pursuit of this end. The end had ceased to charm, and how could there ever again be any interest in the means? I seemed to have nothing left to live for.6

In time, Mill emerged from this depression. The vehicle of his emergence was Romantic poetry, and in particular the poetry of Wordsworth. The realm and reality of human feelings opened to him, and he discovered by his feelings that life and intelligence must involve the feelings as well as the rational. I have dwelt at this length upon Mill’s education and the depression, and later emergence from depression, not simply because it is one of the most fascinating stories of the nineteenth century and of the struggle within one person of the intellectual and emotional forces of



Enlightenment and Romanticism. There is another reason. Mill’s own deeply personal experience had made him exceedingly sensitive to the role of public opinion in forming character. More to the point, his experience had made him exceedingly sensitive to the manner in which an atmosphere, such as the one in which he had been reared, an atmosphere in which there was little or no toleration or clash of opinion, could produce mentally and emotionally maimed human beings. The intolerant public opinion against which he argued in On Liberty (1859) in a very real sense replicated the atmosphere of his childhood, in which his father’s ideas and those of Bentham prevailed without check. On Liberty has for a century stood as one of the foremost defences of freedom of thought, speech, and personal behaviour. It is the foremost statement of individualism penned in the nineteenth century. Mill came to believe that the clash of opinion was necessary, first, to keep people more or less honest in their arguments and, second, to help them to remain capable of making arguments that might be telling. He also came to see that the suppression of some portion of the truth on no matter what well-intentioned grounds, could actually do harm to the person from whom it was withheld. Mill maintained a steady scepticism that any person or group of persons could possess a monopoly on the truth. This conviction led him in two separate, though complementary, directions. He believed the free expression of opinion and the free action of the individual must be defended, first, to ensure happiness for the individual and, second, to ensure the happiness and progress of the human species. Again, both of these goals were closely related to his personal concerns. Throughout On Liberty, Mill makes an extensive and a repeated argument for freedom of speech and of opinion. But he is no less concerned with freedom of action and freedom for what he called ‘experiments in living’. Mill had himself engaged in a long and, for him, often difficult and painful experiment in living. When he was 25 years old he met a young woman, then 23. Her name was Harriet Taylor. She was a Unitarian associated with radical politics. Mrs Taylor was married



to Mr Taylor, who was considerably older than the lady in question. Mill, whose emotions had been ignited by the poetry of Wordsworth and Coleridge, became deeply enamoured with Mrs Taylor and, to the extent that it was possible for him, he became in love with her. He described her in the following manner: Up to the time when I first saw her, her rich and powerful nature had chiefly unfolded itself according to the received type of feminine genius. To her outer circle she was a beauty and a wit, with an air of natural distinction felt by all who approached her; to the inner, a woman of deep and strong feeling, of penetrating and intuitive intelligence, and of an eminently meditative and poetic nature. Married at an early age to a most upright, brave and honourable man, of liberal opinions and good education, but without the intellectual or artistic tastes which would have made him a companion for her, though a steady and affectionate friend, for whom he had true esteem and the strongest affection through life, and whom she most deeply lamented when dead; shut out by the social disabilities of women from any adequate exercise of her highest faculties in action on the world without her life was one of inward meditation, varied by familiar intercourse with a small circle of friends, of whom only one . . . was a person of genius, or of capabilities of feeling or intellect kindred with her own, but all had more or less alliance with her in sentiments and opinions.7

From that time onward, Mill established a close, but apparently thoroughly platonic, relationship with Mrs Taylor. This relationship continued for twenty years before Mr Taylor died. During this time Mill worked closely with Harriet Taylor, discussed his writing with her, and made her a very large part of his life. He paid a very high price for this relationship. Most of his friends and their own wives – and all of these people were politically radical – disapproved of this relationship. They abandoned Mill and he abandoned them. Even when, in 1851, they were married, Mill’s friends and his family continued to disapprove. This



situation is one major reason why his mother is not mentioned in the Autobiography. This disapproval is somewhat more complex than it might first appear. There is no question that many of Mill’s friends quite simply disapproved of his relationship with another man’s spouse, and that was not merely a Victorian convention. However, there was another element involved in this disapproval. None of Mill’s contemporaries, and virtually none of his biographers and other scholars of his life, have held Harriet in the esteem that he held her. Virtually everyone felt that Mill was mistaken about her intelligence and the genius that Mill ascribed to her. The personal experience of the reaction of his friends and family to the relationship with Harriet Taylor in no small fashion contributed to Mill’s understanding of the subtle pressures that society could and almost inevitably would exert over the individual. This subtle pressure to conformity, and in the long run to mediocrity, was in Mill’s mind exerted through social institutions such as the family, the neighborhood, the church, and through virtually every one of those voluntary, secondary associations that Alexis de Tocqueville so admired because they preserved mores, tempered the extreme tendencies of democracy, and constituted stout barriers to preserve the individual against the intrusive powers of the centralised state. Mill came to hate all of these because he thought they prevented those necessary experiments in living such as he had known in his life with Harriet. Mill believed that Harriet had unleashed the genius within him, and that genius had been made possible only by their own experiment in living. That emotional conviction on Mill’s part led him to write some passages in On Liberty that were in every regard quite extreme. Indeed, paradoxically, it is important to see that one of the most exceedingly rational and abstract discussions of individual liberty ever written stemmed in large measure from its author’s emotional nature and commitments. But let us for a moment return to Tocqueville. There is a curious opposition between Mill and Tocqueville, both of whom are regarded rightly or wrongly as nineteenth-century liberals. Tocqueville’s vision of a democratic



world tempered by secondary associations was Mill’s worst nightmare. And Mill’s vision of utter free atomistic individuals was Tocqueville’s nightmare. The clash between the analysis of Mill and that of Tocqueville stems in part from their different goals. Both writers are fearful of an allsmothering conformity leading to mediocrity. Both are deeply apprehensive about democracy. But Tocqueville is primarily concerned with preserving liberty in the face of what he regarded as the inevitable approach of equality throughout the Western world. Tocqueville wanted human beings to be and to remain creatures of freedom. Mill’s interest was really quite different. Despite the title of the work, Mill’s On Liberty is not really a book about liberty. Rather, it is a book about progress. Mill, first and foremost, regarded human beings as creatures capable under certain conditions of progress and improvement. To ensure progress, Mill was only partially concerned with protecting liberty in general. Rather, he was primarily interested in protecting the liberty of one very special kind of person – the genius in society. Mill believed that humanity was improved only by great men and women, and his argument for liberty was an argument designed to protect their freedom so that, through their activity, humanity might progress. In other words, Mill wanted to ensure the preservation of individualism for a collective goal. As Mill wrote in On Liberty: Genius can only breathe freely in an atmosphere of freedom. Persons of genius are . . . more individual than any other people – less capable, consequently, of fitting themselves, without hurtful compression, into any of the small number of moulds which society provides in order to save its members the trouble of forming their own character. If from timidity they consent to be forced into one of these moulds, and to let all that part of themselves which cannot expand under the pressure remain unexpanded, society will be little the better for their genius.8

Tocqueville had believed that an educated, middling sort of political class could protect freedom, and allow democracy to work. Mill would



have none of that. The zeal of Plato’s bureaucratic vision had afflicted him. The emerging democratic age must make way for an elite of human geniuses who would allow the species to progress, improve, and develop. What Mill did not tell us was how we were to recognise these people. One suspects they would, in his mind, have looked somewhat like the reflection of himself and Harriet in the mirror. Mill’s thought went much further than that, however, because Mill was one of the few men of his day firmly to grasp the real implications of his mode of liberty and extreme individualism. To return to some of my opening thoughts. Liberals had among other things wanted to liberate men to make great profits and to achieve prosperity. Socialists had wanted to improve the lot of the working class. Nationalists had wanted nations to be organised and to realise their providential role. Mill’s elitism, his conviction that only great persons could help the progress of the species, and his devotion to Harriet Taylor, opened another vista to him. Mill believed, as did virtually no other thinker of his stature in his day, that human progress could be achieved through gifted persons and the vast wealth of human talent really tapped only if women were also drawn actively into the political and intellectual nations. Because for Mill, as he wrote a decade after On Liberty in The Subjection of Women, the most blatant example of a collective nature of the smothering of the human spirit and of the attempt to inhibit the excellence of individuals occurred in the political, intellectual, moral, and sexual subjection and degradation of women. Mill described this situation in the following manner: Men do not want solely the obedience of women, they want their sentiments . . . They have therefore put everything in practice to enslave their minds . . . The masters of women wanted more than simple obedience, and they turned the whole force of education to effect their purposes. All women are brought up from the very earliest years in the belief that their ideal of character is the very opposite to that of men; not self-will and government by self-control, but



submission, and yielding to the control of others. All the moralities tell them that it is the duty of women, and all the current sentimentalities that it is their nature, to live for others; to make complete abnegation of themselves, and to have no life but in their affections. And by their affections are meant the only ones they are allowed to have – those to the men with whom they are connected, or to the children who constitute an additional and indefeasible tie between them and a man. When we put together three things – first, the natural attraction between opposite sexes; secondly, the wife’s entire dependence on the husband, every privilege or pleasure she has being either his gift, or depending on his will; and lastly, that the principal object of human pursuit, consideration, and all objects of social ambition, can in general be sought or obtained by her only through him – it would be a miracle if the object of being attractive to men had not become the polar star of feminine education and formation of character. And, this great means of influence over the minds of women having been acquired, an instinct of selfishness made men avail themselves of it to the utmost as a means of holding women in subjection, by representing to them meekness, submissiveness, and resignation of all individual will into the hands of a man, as an essential part of sexual attractiveness.9

For Mill, this repugnant condition into which society and all of its secondary associations has thrust women, stood as a simple and selfevident utilitarian argument for the necessity of a kind of intellectual and social freedom that could break the cake of custom and unleash upon the world the full capacity for genius of the human race. What Mill’s development suggests is that, even in that century of elephantine social and political forces, the development, love, and even frustration of a single writer could open intellectual, moral, and social vistas ignored by the larger forces of the day.




ne of the most fundamental changes in the intellectual and cultural history of the West during the past two centuries has been the emergence of subjective authority as a touchstone for validating a whole host of experiences, viewpoints, and ethical outlooks. I like to call this development the Great Internalisation. What I mean by this term is the development of a belief and practice that internal, subjective feelings, experiences, epiphanies are the truest and most certain indications of the truthfulness, seriousness, or correctness of a point of view, or an assertion, or an ethical value. In the seventeenth century Descartes had announced, ‘I think therefore I am’. Commencing in the eighteenth century, European intellectuals and then their readers began to declare, ‘I feel therefore I know that I have certainty’. The results that have flowed from this monumental change are enormous. They have included redirections in philosophy, theology, art, music, psychology, literature, criticism, and social theory. It is this redirection that has led to the multitudinous efforts to explore and to express not outward truths but rather inward, hidden realities. From the eighteenth century to the present there has arisen a whole variety of new ways whereby men and women have learned to explore their inner selves. These have included 52



the novel, Romantic poetry, idealist philosophy, evangelical religion, and psychoanalysis. Up to the most recent two centuries, most of the intellectual and cultural history of Europe emphasised the external. Homer’s poetry almost exclusively emphasises the external and describes externalities in meticulous detail. The gods manifest themselves externally or through dreams or visitors. The same is true of Virgil’s poetry. The entire classical tradition and the new emphasis it received during the Renaissance stressed the external. Furthermore, virtually all European art sought to portray the external. I shall discuss these matters more fully in other lectures, but prior to the eighteenth century European art both literary and plastic had been understood in the concept of M.H. Abrams to function as a ‘mirror’ to external reality. Within the Christian tradition God was understood to have revealed himself externally. For Christians God had revealed himself through the Bible, through nature, through the Church and its clergy, and through history. The Roman Catholic and the Protestant branches of Christianity differed in their emphases on divine revelation, but they agreed that it was an external revelation that could be taught and shared communally. One great Christian voice, however, had presented a very personal story of his relationship to God and his passage from paganism to Christianity. This was Saint Augustine, whose Confessions provided an example from one of the major fathers of the Church of an exploration of his relationship with God. This volume would provide a model for other later writers who would develop the genre into a mystical direction. Furthermore, modern writers such as Descartes, Pascal, and Rousseau would echo Saint Augustine. There was, however, an alternative tradition within Christianity, albeit a minority one, and one that was deeply distrusted by Church authorities both Protestant and Roman Catholic. This was a tradition of faith in personal or mystical revelation. This was a tradition embodied in the mystics of both the Roman Catholic and Protestant communions. Mystics believed that God spoke to and through them and that revelation was validated by their internal experience. In this respect they



somewhat resembled the prophets from Hebrew scripture. The mystics had always been distrusted despite the often obvious holiness of their lives, because they claimed to receive divine truth outside the regular channels of revelation. Their claims to internal truth challenged ecclesiastical authority. The general fear was that mysticism or faith in internal revelation would lead to antinomianism. Such was the fear of the leaders of Puritan Massachusetts when confronted with the likes of Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams. Such was also the fear of English political and religious authorities when confronted with the early Quakers. There existed even deeper fears of antinomianism when the person claiming the special insights from God was a woman. There had always been a significant number of women represented in the mystical tradition. Within Protestantism there was much tension in congregations when women claimed the right to teach and preach based on their own authority or spiritual insights. I have very briefly outlined this religious background because during the early eighteenth century a remarkable religious movement swept across the transatlantic world from central Europe to Massachusetts. This movement is known as the Protestant Evangelical Awakening. The awakening commenced in the 1730s and lasted for about a quarter of a century though in different degrees of intensity in different regions. There seems to have arisen among local Protestant congregations a fear that Protestantism was in danger. The sense of danger originated in the German states where the conversion of some rulers to Roman Catholicism led to fears that the religion of the states would be changed. In other regions, such as the Connecticut Valley, there was concern that the Protestant faith of a century earlier had grown cold and lacked fervour. The clergy and many members of these congregations read the same books and corresponded with each other so as to create an effective transatlantic network. Many of these Protestant leaders such as Count Zinzendorf and George Whitfield travelled back and forth across the Atlantic. All of these widespread local revivals which collectively amounted to the Awakening shared to a greater or lesser degree certain characteristics.



1. They emphasised a personal conversion experience achieved either through preaching or through some kind of personal devotional life. 2. They emphasised the doctrine of the atonement – that is, faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as the path to forgiveness of sins. 3. The awakening generally challenged the authority of established churches and emphasised the invisible church of believers in Jesus of Nazareth. 4. They emphasised a sense of inner sinfulness. 5. The ultimate test of religious faith and of conversion to faith in the atonement was feeling. The example of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, exemplifies the process. He had been reared a member of the Church of England and had attended Oxford University. At Oxford he and his brother Charles participated in what was known as the ‘Methodist Society’ because the members attempted methodically to live lives of spiritual holiness. After being ordained, Wesley went to the American colony of Georgia as a missionary. His career was conspicuously unsuccessful in Georgia. But while there he came to know Protestant missionaries from Moravia and was deeply attracted to their piety. On the return voyage to England, the ship encountered a major storm. Wesley found that he was deeply afraid of death, but that his fellow Moravian passengers were very much at peace with themselves. Once back in London he attended these Moravian services. On 24 May 1738 Wesley attended a service in which a passage from Luther’s Preface to the Epistle of the Romans was being read. Something happened to Wesley that evening. He later wrote in his diary: I felt my heart strangely warmed: I felt I did trust in Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me, that he had taken away my sins, even mind, and saved me from the law of sin and death.1



Within weeks of this internal religious experience Wesley would undertake preaching to hundreds and then thousands of people in the fields because the pulpits of Anglican Churches were closed to him. His message was that God provided grace to those who would believe and that the internal experience of conversion provided assurance of that salvation. From those beginnings Methodism grew to become the most dynamic religious movement of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Like other such movements, it did, though against Wesley’s desires, develop schisms and antinomian tendencies. Eventually, it produced its own clergy. The story of the evangelical awakening is a large one that can only be touched upon in this lecture. It is important, because that awakening revivified the Protestant impulses in European and American culture to inwardness. It also fostered the antinomian impulse to challenge existing ecclesiastical structures and established clergy. What would occur in the next two centuries was the working-out of this movement religiously, especially in the United States, and in a secular fashion more particularly in Europe. Both internal validation of cultural outlooks and an antinomian stance toward all intellectual authorities would characterise and continues to characterise Western thought. The next several stopping points on this journey are Protestants whose lives were deeply influenced by Protestant pietism and Protestant theology if not necessarily the revivals themselves. The first of these voices is Rousseau, about whom we have already spoken. Recall his praise of Calvinist Geneva. Throughout his writings, but most especially in Emile and La Nouvelle Heloise, as well as his Confessions, he had emphasised the personal, the internal, and the feelings. His own life had been an antinomian protest against social and religious authority. His works were read and translated all over Europe. For our purposes there is one particular passage that would reverberate over the decades in both ethical and theological writings. This passage occurs in Emile and is known as ‘The Confession of the Savoyard Vicar’. The Vicar is a poor and unorthodox Roman Catholic



clergyman who befriends Emile and provides instruction in religion. At the commencement of this instruction, the Vicar proclaims: I shall unbosom all the sentiments of my heart to you . . . You shall see me, if not as I am, at least as I see myself. When you have received my whole profession of faith, when you know well the state of my heart, you will know why I esteem myself happy and, if you think as I do, what you have to do to be so.2

The Vicar continues repeatedly to contrast the complexities of reason to the simplicity of the heart, and he urges Emile to consult his own heart to decide what to make of the Vicar’s declarations. Here Rousseau is obviously echoing Pascal’s famous statement, ‘The heart has its reasons which reason knows not’, and of course it is important to recall that Pascal was a Jansenist and as such a member of a group of Roman Catholic rigorists condemned by both the Church and the French state. The Vicar then emphasises what he terms ‘the insufficiency of the human mind’. He declares: We are a small part of a great whole whose limits escape us and whose Author delivers us to our mad disputes; but we are vain enough to want to decide what this whole is in itself and what we are in relation to it.3

What he seeks to stress is that, if human beings use their discursive reason to examine nature and to think about their place therein, they will experience only confusion. Confronted with such confusion, the Vicar said that he had been led to consult his inner light. It would allow him to avoid such confusion and would also mean whatever mistakes he made would be his own. Thus the interiorisation represents another way in which Rousseau seeks to reject the corruptions and falseness of society. The Vicar declares, ‘I am resolved to accept as evident all knowledge to which in the sincerity of my heart I cannot refuse my consent’.



The Vicar then proposes a natural theology which he has developed through his own thinking. As the first principle of that theology he affirms that there is a will which moves and animates nature and he believes that will is an intelligence. He simply cannot believe that the universe consists of dead matter. There is an intelligence behind this matter: This Being which wills and is powerful, this Being active in itself, this Being, whatever it may be, which moves the universe and orders all things, I call God. I join to this name the ideas of intelligence, power, and will which I have brought together, and that of goodness which is their necessary consequence. But I do not as a result know better the Being to which I have given them; it is hidden equally from my sense and from my understanding. The more I think about it, the more I am confused.4

Rousseau rejects the confusion into which reason leads him. He rejects a materialist solution whereby the universe and human nature are merely the manifestations of matter. He resolutely affirms that human beings have a free will and liberty. He declares that human beings are free and are animated by an immaterial substance. He further declares that he knows his soul exists ‘by sentiment and thought’. Rousseau concedes that he may not have a direct knowledge of God, but he has no doubt that he exists. At this point Rousseau moves very directly inward. This leads him to a remarkable passage on the conscience: Conscience is the voice of the soul; the passions are the voice of the body . . . Too often reason deceives us. We have acquired only too much right to challenge it. But conscience never deceives; it is man’s true guide. It is to the soul what instinct is to the body; he who follows conscience obeys nature and does not fear being led astray.5

Later he declares:



There is in the depths of souls, then, an innate principle of justice and virtue according to which, in spite of our own maxims, we judge our actions and those of others as good or bad. It is to this principle that I give the name conscience.6

Conscience acts according to sentiments rather than according to reason. Rousseau then praises the conscience: Conscience, conscience! Divine instinct, immortal and celestial voice, certain guide of a being that is ignorant and limited but intelligent and free; infallible judge of good and bad which makes man like unto God; it is you who make the excellence of his nature and the morality of his actions. Without you I sense nothing in me that raises me above the beasts, other than the sad privilege of leading myself astray from error to error with the aid of an understanding without rule and a reason without principle.7

In still another lecture we shall return to the ‘Confession of the Savoyard Vicar’ for its implications for nineteenth-century theology, which is another area of thought in which we can witness the turn to subjectivity. For our purposes here, I would point out that Rousseau appeals to the heart over discursive reason or understanding. He directly attacks the empiricist philosophy of John Locke and David Hume. He believes there exist in human beings capacities beyond that of passively receiving sense experience. And he locates that capacity in the heart or the sentiments. Second, he affirms or declares that human beings have free will. He sees human beings as part of a natural order in which they appear to be subject to material laws, but he thinks there is more to the human experience than this material existence. They are capable of freely determined moral acts, the capacity for which he locates within human beings’ souls. Third, he locates a powerful force or voice in human beings which he calls conscience and which he portrays as a link to the divine. Finally, throughout ‘The Confession of the Savoyard Vicar’ Rousseau directly criticises empiricism, revelation, bookish culture, and organised Christianity.



In Emile as in so many of his other works, Rousseau expounded and declared, but did not provide any significant form of philosophical reasoning for his positions. He was viewed at the time as one who challenged his own culture, championing feeling and sentiment and attacking reason. He was in all these and other respects the antagonist of the Enlightenment. Yet Rousseau also deeply influenced a German philosopher who is often regarded as the epitome of enlightened philosophy, Immanuel Kant. Kant spent virtually his entire life as a bachelor philosopher living in Königsberg. He was a person of minutely habitual life. It was said that housewives in Königsberg set their clocks according to the moment Kant took his afternoon walk. But one afternoon Kant did not appear. He had received a copy of Rousseau’s Emile and was so attracted to the book that he forwent his afternoon perambulation. This philosopher who championed reason and who demanded that human beings realise freedom was nothing less than bowled over by Rousseau. Both of them were in their own way rebels. Rousseau was a flagrant rebel; Kant was a quiet, deeply intellectual rebel who nonetheless as an old man was threatened by the censors of the Prussian monarchy. Rousseau had challenged the social smugness and self-satisfaction of the Enlightenment. Kant challenged its concept of reason. The person who made Kant question the Enlightenment concept of reason was the Scottish philosopher David Hume. In various of his works David Hume had argued that human beings actually had no real experience of cause and effect. All that they could experience was the habitual association of sensations following each other, and they termed that habitual association as ‘cause and effect’. This argument opened the way for scepticism about Newtonian science and other science which was based on the idea of cause and effect. Kant once said that Hume had awakened him from his dogmatic slumbers. Kant set about to ensure that the world of Newtonian science – that is, a world in which the human mind could discover laws of physical nature – was safe. He attempted to provide a philosophical basis on which Newtonian science in particular, and science and mathematics in general, would be valid.



In 1781 Kant published his Critique of Pure Reason, which is arguably the most important work of philosophy of the past three centuries. Kant’s philosophy cannot be easily or simply summarised. However, the general thrust of what he wrote and the manner in which it struck writers of his generation and the next can be grasped in a relatively straightforward manner. Prior to Kant philosophers and psychologists, certainly those writing after John Locke, had tended to see the human mind as a passive instrument. A vast array of sensations impinged upon the human mind from outside it. The mind then more or less passively organised these sensations according to laws of association. What the human mind did not do was to contribute anything to the process of knowing. In the Critique of Pure Reason Kant attempt to carry out what he called a new Copernican Revolution. He explained: Hitherto it has been assumed that all our knowledge must conform to objects . . . We must . . . make trial whether we may not have more success in the tasks of metaphysics, if we suppose that objects must conform to our knowledge . . . For experience is itself a species of knowledge which involves understanding; and understanding has rules which I must presuppose as being in me prior to objects being given to me, and therefore as being a priori. They find expression in a priori concepts to which all objects of experience necessarily conform, and with which they must agree.8

Now let us attempt to see more simply what Kant was trying to accomplish. Kant in his philosophical Copernican Revolution was attempting to reverse the previously accepted empirical concept of the human mind and human knowledge. He argued that there did exist a manifold of sense experience that impinged on the mind. However, he then contended that the human mind itself organised those sense impressions according to categories such as time and space and cause and effect – categories which were innate to the human mind. In effect, Kant



claimed that the mind constructed the world of appearances so far as such a world could be known. The laws of Newtonian physics were safe from Hume’s scepticism because they were laws of the human mind’s apprehension of sense experiences. Kant was arguing in effect that the human mind constructed its own experience. It was an active entity rather than a passive receptor. Kant attempted to explore and explicate activities or categories of the human mind that existed prior to sense experience and that rigidly determined how we could experience sensation. Those categories were transcendental or before the experience of sensation. The criticism to which he subjected reason was that of attempting to discern its limits. Kant found very many limits to the world that human beings could actually know through the organisation of the senses by the categories of the mind. If human beings were left to grasp the world according to the manner in which the mind organised the senses, there were certain ideas very dear to humanity that could not be found. Kant argued that science was secure, but using the understanding, he contended there could be no certain knowledge of the existence of God, no certain knowledge that human beings were creatures of morality, and no certain knowledge that human beings could exercise free will. Through a much more complicated process than Rousseau, Kant found himself, if confined to the material world, in a religious and moral dilemma which he disliked. On the other hand, in contrast to Rousseau, Kant did very much want to assure the certainty of human knowledge within the material world. Kant refused to leave his readers or himself in the dead-end of a material world about which knowledge was safe because it was organised by the categories of the mind. This was a phenomenal world of appearances. The human mind using its innate categories could organise sense experience, but could not go beyond sense experience. Using what Kant, following Locke and Hume, called the ‘understanding’, human beings could never go beyond a world of appearances. They could never discover, experience, or explore whatever reality might look like behind or beyond the appearances – a reality that Kant termed the ding an sich



or ‘thing in itself ’. Some contemporary religious thinkers were so angry that it was said they named their dogs after Kant. Kant was dissatisfied with a situation that avoided scepticism about science but seemed to result in scepticism about God, immortality, and human freedom and ultimate reality. Kant devised a response to this potential moral and religious scepticism. He contended that there was a problem only if human beings were by nature limited to the world of sense appearance. He believed, however, that human beings by virtue of their reason had certain intuitions about a noumenal world, a world which was not of the senses but purely of the mind – a transcendental world. Kant, unlike many later German philosophers, never believed human beings could actually know the character of the ding an sich, but he did believe that reason gave indications of the existence of God, human freedom, and immortality. In other words, for Kant the most important religious and moral issues could be addressed only by looking within ourselves. For Kant, the Reason was the unity of the mind which existed before sense experience. It organised that experience. But the Reason could also think about itself. It was in the Reason’s thinking about itself that the most important and most revered elements of humankind’s humanity were realised. It was only in this internal contemplation liberated from empirical experience that human beings could grasp their capacity for freedom and for free moral action. Kant explored all of these matters in his Critique of Practical Reason, his Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, his Critique of Judgment, and his Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone. Kant’s thought was deeply influenced by both the Protestant tradition within which he had been reared and by his careful reading of Rousseau. Kant in his extremely precise, analytic fashion addressed himself to virtually all of Rousseau’s concerns, just as he addressed himself to the epistemological problems bequeathed him from Enlightenment empiricism. In his moral philosophy Kant in a very real sense responded to many of Rousseau’s concerns raised in The Social Contract. In his moral philosophy Kant pictured human beings living



according to their reason in a world in which they treated each other as ends in themselves rather than as means to individual self ends. You will recall that Rousseau had attempted to devise a manner whereby in the social contract each member of the commonwealth could lay down laws for each other and for themselves at the same time. It is unclear to me whether Kant thought this could happen in the world of experience. But in the moral world Kant believed that human beings could behave in a manner whereby each person would take no action which he was unwilling to make into a law for everyone else. That is a very rigid and austere morality. In a very real sense Kant makes the human conscience the Legislator that Rousseau discussed in the Social Contract. There the Legislator, the exogenous political figure, would create laws that would allow human beings to function in freedom. For Kant it is the individual conscience legislating for itself in a manner in which it would legislate for every other person. At this point I would interject two explanations of what occurs in German philosophy after Kant. The first relates to the influence of the seventeenth-century Dutch philosopher Spinoza. He had seen the entire world – mind and matter – as composed of a single substance which he thought was God. In the most simple-minded terms Spinoza may be regarded as a pantheist. During the 1780s and 1790s there was a vast revival of Spinoza studies in Germany. Much Kantian philosophy and its various successors became read in Spinozistic ways. As I have noted, Kant actually said very little about the ding an sich. Later philosophers would be much less cautious. There was a tendency to argue that there was something divine about the ding an sich. That they saw it as divine was because of the influence of Spinoza’s pantheism. Second, Kant had been quite austere about the Reason and ego in his philosophy. It was for him a very abstract concept, indeed almost an abstraction. Beginning with Fichte, German philosophers began to speculate in very extreme ways about the ego. Indeed, the ding an sich became in some cases equated with the ego. By the time Hegel began his philosophy he saw, as we shall see later, all world history as the story of the world spirit, which conceptually derives from the ding an sich,



coming to have knowledge of itself. In that regard all historical experience became a vast turn to subjectivity and self-knowledge. Arthur Schopenhauer, of whom we shall hear more in at least one subsequent lecture once made a very telling observation about what happened to the term ‘reason’ in later German philosophy: Our professors of philosophy have thought fit to do away with the name which had hitherto been given to that faculty of thinking and pondering by means of reflection and conceptions, which distinguishes man from animals . . . [and] decided that this faculty should henceforth be called Understanding instead of Reason . . . The fact was, they wanted Reason’s place and name for a faculty of their own creation and fabrication, or to speak more correctly and honestly, for a completely fictitious faculty . . . a faculty for direct, metaphysical knowledge: that is to say, one which transcends all possible experience, is able to grasp the world of things in themselves and their relations, and is therefore before all, consciousness of God; that is, it knows God the Lord immediately, construes a priori the way in which he has created the universe, or, should this sound too trivial, the way in which he has produced it out of himself, or to a certain degree generated it by some more or less necessary vital process . . . Reason, to which all this wisdom is falsely and audaciously imputed, is pronounced to be a ‘supersensory faculty’, or a faculty ‘for ideas’; in short, an oracular power laying within us, designed directly for Metaphysics.9

What, if anything, holds together the lives and thought of writers so personally diverse as John Wesley, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant? There is first their common Protestantism forged in a pietistic mould. Second, there is their common rejection of the self-satisfaction of Enlightenment philosophy and the world of the senses it championed. This also implies a rejection of the adequacy of a world of civil society in which human beings function as means rather than ends in themselves. Third, there was a desire to explore and to believe in the



authenticity and validity of inner human emotional and intuitive experience. Fourth, all three were deeply concern with freedom. John Wesley, for all his personal authoritarianism within the Methodist movement, rejected the determinism of Calvinism and preached a gospel emphasising human action and human capacity for what he called ‘perfection’. Some historians have seen this as a teaching that repressed the freedom of his followers, but others have seen it as giving his followers the confidence to exercise both religious freedom and the freedom of their communities. We have discussed Rousseau and freedom earlier, but it may be repeated that he wanted human beings to be free of what he regarded as the appearances and false values of contemporary society. He also has been seen by many, including myself, as having deeply repressive tendencies. But there is also no doubt that many parts of his thinking were devoted to attempting to work through a manner in which human beings might experience individual autonomy. Finally, Kant also took the path to subjectivity in his very clear pursuit of freedom. His freedom was a moral freedom that was often abstract. Yet at the same time his philosophical anthropology emphasised the dignity of the individual human being and the individual conscience. It was a view of human freedom which made the authorities of the absolutist Prussian monarchy most uncomfortable. In each case the turn to subjectivity represented a rejection of existing intellectual, social, or religious authority. The only judge was to lie within the individual human being. In the world of the eighteenth century that turn to subjectivity created pockets of individual freedom that were virtually impossible in the society itself. The rub would come in the next century as the institutions and practices of the old regime were overthrown or collapsed. Then Europe and the world would witness differing concepts and attempted realisations of such subjective freedom clashing with each other.




he nineteenth century was notable for its fascination with history. But historical concerns, philosophy, scholarship, preservation, and sensibilities flourished as never before and since. Three epochs especially fascinated nineteenth-century women and men: ancient Greece, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. Today I shall discuss primarily medievalism and one case of the manner in which medievalism affected the interpretation of the Renaissance. From the revival of learning in the Renaissance through the middle of the late eighteenth century European writers and thinkers had generally disparaged the era of the Middle Ages. To be sure there were some people who appreciated that the medieval past and the monuments of the Middle Ages – most notably the cathedrals and castles – were an ongoing part of the European landscape. But from the humanists onward European writers had seen the Middle Ages as a period of bad Latin and incorrect science. The philosophes of the Enlightenment had criticised the Middle Ages as a period clothed in religious darkness and priestcraft. Some of that anti-medieval sentiment appears in the historical passages of Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Furthermore, with the revival of learning in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the ancient world 67



and classical literature had been established as the political, intellectual, literary, and aesthetic models for learned Europeans. The winds of historicist thinking commencing in the middle of the eighteenth century began to transform these attitudes. In 1762 Richard Hurd published, Letters on Chivalry and Romance, in which he noted: When an architect examines a Gothic structure by Grecian rules, he finds nothing but deformity. But Gothic architecture has its own rules by which, when it comes to be examined, it is seen to have its merits as well as the Grecian.1

That statement itself reflects the historicist spirit and the changing sensibility toward the Middle Ages. From that time onward, especially in England and then later on the Continent, wealthy people began to construct houses and garden buildings in the Gothic style. The Gothic revival would become a European-wide and transatlantic phenomenon, with medieval houses being constructed across the Western world and even houses not neo-Gothic in style being decorated in a Gothic style. The Gothic revival would influence church building around the entire globe. Collegiate Gothic would become the hallmark of scores of American colleges and university campuses with Yale’s Dwight Chapel and Harkness Tower and Quadrangle being notable examples. Perhaps the most famous icon of the Gothic revival is the castle at Disneyland and later at Disney World. Those structures would never have been built except for the revival of medievalism in the nineteenth century. Why did the medieval revival take place and what are its major monuments? The long and the short answer to that question is that the Middle Ages became for nineteenth-century writers across the Western world the single most important historical foil to criticise their own day. And as time passed and the amount of material produced relating to the Middle Ages expanded almost exponentially, nineteenth-century medievalism became a self-referential world of its own which in part spawned new ideas about the revival of letters and what some scholars regard as the invention of the Renaissance.



The interest in and approval of Gothic revival architecture originated in the middle of the eighteenth century, but the fundamental impetus for appreciating the Middle Ages arose in response to the French Revolution. Those writers who opposed the French Revolution needed to defend the social, political, and religious order of the Old Regime. Burke and others had pointed to a long line of historical development which justified many of the institutions which the revolution had destroyed. In particular they sought to defend religion. Yet at the same time the critics of the French Revolution knew there had been real abuses prior to 1789. Consequently, they looked for a period in which religion had been pure, Christianity united and incorrupt, and faith rather than reason the predominant fact in intellectual life. They found it in the Middle Ages. They were also attracted to the Christian Middle Ages because the revolutionaries had upheld the values of the ancient pagan republics. The Middle Ages was to be everything that the faulty modern world was not. In the process of carrying out this agenda, writers, poets, painters, novelists, and musicians, such as Wagner, made neo-medievalism a fundamental part of modern culture. Among the earliest advocates of the Middle Ages as a model for modern times were the chief literary figures of German Romanticism. For example, Novalis published Christendom or Europe in 1799 in which he praised the cultural and religion unity of the Middle Ages as a model for contemporary Europe. One of the most important and influential statements on the value of the Middle Ages occurred in Friedrich Schlegel’s Lectures on the History of Literature Ancient and Modern (1815). There Schlegel undertook a systematic defence of the Middle Ages against those who admired only the classical world and against those who had adopted what he regarded as the destructive, sceptical ideas of the Enlightenment. Schlegel explained: We often think and represent to ourselves the middle age, as a blank in the history of the human mind, an empty space between the refinement of antiquity and the illumination of modern times. We are



willing to believe that art and science had entirely perished, [with the fall of Roman and barbarian invasions] that their resurrection [in the fifteenth century] after a thousand years’ sleep may appear something more wonderful and sublime . . .2

Schlegel rejected this view. Ancient learning had not completely died in the Middle Ages, and those centuries had seen the origin of much that was regarded as best in modern literary genius. The Middle Ages served as a kind of seed time for the development of literature in northern Europe – that part of Europe which had not been able to benefit from the ancient world. He defended this function of the Middle Ages in terms of organic growth: The beautifully silent process of growth necessarily precedes the appearance of the blossom, whilst the blossom, in its turn, reveals its graces before the matured charms of fruit are displayed. As in individuals, growth is the poetic budding of life, so in the career of nations there are moments of sudden development and intellectual expansion. With this universal spring-time of poetry, in the history of Western nations, the age of the Crusades, of chivalry, and love-songs may be fittingly compared.

Schlegel especially praised the knights of the Middle Ages and the Crusades: As youth in individuals is the period most abounding in feeling, so does lyrical poetry flourish most in the youth of nations. The age of Crusades was the youth of modern Europe. It was the time of unsophisticated feelings and ungovernable passions, the era of love, war, enthusiasm, and adventure. After the Crusades, perhaps, nothing had so much influence in giving a new direction to the imagination of the European nations as the expeditions of the Normans. The foundations of chivalry were indeed everywhere laid in the original modes of thinking of all the Germanic nations; the poetical belief in the



wonderful, in gigantic spirits, in mountain heroes, mermaids, maids, elves and dwarfish sorcerers had everywhere kept its hold in the imagination, from the days of the old mythology of the North. But into all these superstitions, and all these opinions, a new life was infused by the arrival of the Normans. They were fresh from the North, and had breathed in its original purity the atmosphere of poetry and chivalry . . . Their whole opinions and lives were poetic and the wonderful was the perpetual object of all their worship and all their ambition.3

As much as Schlegel admired the poetry of the Middle Ages with its stories of Arthur, the Nibelungen, and Roland, he thought the spirit of the era best captured in its Gothic architecture. He thought both that architecture and chivalry remained ideals that had not been fully realised or developed. He explained: The spirit of the middle age has nowhere more powerfully expressed itself as in those monuments of an architecture whose origin, after all, is unknown to us. I speak of that style of Christian architecture which is characterised by its lofty vaults and arches; its pillars which have the appearance of being formed out of bundles of reeds; its profusion of ornament; its flowers and leaves . . . That this was not invented by the Goths is now admitted on all hands; for the nation of the Goths had passed away long before any existing specimens of it were formed; and we know that it was not an art that took centuries to perfect it . . .4

For Schlegel the special value of Gothic architecture was its embodying of ideas and not simply its embodying of functions. German, Christian, Gothic architecture embodied special hidden meaning. According to Schlegel: The first and greatest of [Gothic architecture’s] objects is to express the elevation of holy thoughts, the loftiness of meditation set free from earth, and proceeding unfettered to the heavens . . . every part of the structure is as symbolical as the whole, and of this we can perceive



many traces in all the writings of the times. The altar is directed towards the rising of the sun, and the three great entrances are meant to express the conflux of worshippers from all the regions of the earth. Three towers express the Christian mystery of the triune Godhead. The shape of the cross is in common with the Christian churches even of earlier times . . . The rose is the essential part of all the ornament of this architecture; even the shape of the windows, doors and towers, may be traced to it, as well as all the accompanying decoration of flowers and leaves. When we view the whole structure, from the crypt to the choir, it is impossible to resist the idea of earthly death leading to the fullness, the freedom, the solemn glories of eternity.5

Schlegel indicated that he felt he needed to explicate the medieval cathedral in these lectures on literature because the great monuments of the Middle Ages had been so neglected and consequently left unappreciated or misunderstood. It should be noted that Chateaubriand in his The Genius of Christianity has similarly pointed to the religious mystery surrounding the medieval cathedrals. These passages from Schlegel reflect much of the idealism and love of the mystical that characterised German thought in his day. But one contemporary German commentator saw, and I believe correctly saw, a strong political motive in these lectures which when published were dedicated to Metternich. Heinrich Heine in The Romantic School (1832– 33) contended that Schlegel here and elsewhere had been writing in the cause of Roman Catholicism against the rationalism and scepticism associated with the Enlightenment, French Revolution, and Napoleonic empire. Of Schlegel’s love of the Middle Ages, Heine commented: Friedrich Schlegel surveys the entire literature from an elevated point of view, but this elevated point of view is nonetheless always the belfry of a Catholic church. And with everything Schlegel says, you hear these bells ringing; sometimes you even hear the croaking of the church ravens that flutter around him. To me the whole book is redolent of the incense of high mass, and I seem to detect nothing but



tonsured ideas peeking out of its most beautiful passages. Yet in spite of these defects I know of no better book in this field.6

Heine was very much on target. Nonetheless, this Schlegelian image of the Middle Ages when combined with the contemporary story of the Middle Ages found in many of the novels of Sir Walter Scott created a climate that affected every area of culture. Other authors who appealed to the Middle Ages were John Keats in ‘The Eve of St. Agnes’, Victor Hugo in Notre Dame de Paris (1831), Alfred Lord Tennyson in ‘The Lady of Shalott’ and ‘Idylls of the King’, as well as Mark Twain in A Connecticut Yankee at the Court of King Arthur and G.B. Shaw as late as the 1920s in Saint Joan. Although the emphasis on the Middle Ages commenced and was most associated with Christian writers, secular visionaries like the SaintSimonians saw the Middle Ages as the last great organic period of European history when society had been held together by a common faith, a sense of social hierarchy, and some kind of shared values. It is important to remember this Saint-Simonian appreciation of the Middle Ages because it helps to explain why some secular political and social thinkers who might otherwise be regarded as disliking the Middle Ages had good things to say about them. Some writers who had read both the Germans and the Saint-Simonians were able to construct still a different picture of the Middle Ages which was acceptable in the profoundly Protestant worlds of Victorian Britain and nineteenth-century America. Chief among such people was Thomas Carlyle who in 1843 published Past and Present. This book continued to influence radical social thought and radical criticism of the industrial order until the end of the century. Carlyle more than any other person of the 1840s established the Middle Ages as a cultural and social ideal. Past and Present became a kind of cult book for the 1840s. It especially held this position among the young. In Past and Present Carlyle addressed himself to the problems of early industrialism, unemployment, hunger, and political turmoil that had become known as ‘The Condition of England Question’.



Carlyle rejected mere economic analysis of this problem. The Condition of England was not simply a problem of input and output or of abstract analysis. He rejected all current solutions to the Condition of England problem as examples of what he called ‘quackery’. What was needed was an Aristocracy of Talent and a new breed of heroes. But where did Carlyle in 1843 look to find a hero? He looked to the Middle Ages and the character of one Abbot Samson who had restored a very lethargic, rundown monastery to vigour and productivity. The story of Abbot Samson became prototypical of what Carlyle thought needed to be done in England. Carlyle carries us through Samson’s election as abbot and outlines all the problems of the monastery that had fallen upon hard times. It was not simply that Abbot Samson had restored the discipline of the monastery, he had restored real life and vitality into traditional forms. Of that medieval hero, Carlyle wrote: Abbot Samson built many useful, many pious, edifices; human dwellings, churches, church-steeples, barns; – all fallen now and vanished, but useful while they stood. He built and endowed ‘the hospital of Babwell’; built ‘fit houses for the St. Edmundsbury Schools’. Many were the roofs once ‘thatched with reeds’ which he ‘caused to be covered with tiles’; or if they were churches, probably ‘with lead’. For all ruinous incomplete things, buildings or other, were an eye-sorrow to the man . . . To change combustable decaying reed-thatch into tile or lead, and material, still more, moral wreck into rain-tight order, what a comfort to Samson!7

What Carlyle so admired in Samson was his commitment to work and his belief that the will of God was realised in the world through work. And Carlyle meditated deeply on the meaning of work. It is all work and forgotten work, this peopled, clothed, articulatespeaking, high-towered, wide-acred World. The hands of forgotten brave men have made it a World for us; they, – honour to them; they, in spite of the idle and the dastard. This English Land, here and now,



is the summary of what was found of wise, and noble, and accordant with God’s Truth, in all the generations of English Men . . . This land of England has its conquerors, possessors, which change from epoch to epoch, from day to day; but its real conquerors, creators, eternal proprietors are those following and their representatives if you can find them. All the Heroic Souls that ever were in England, each in their degree; all the men that ever cut a thistle, drained a puddle out of England, contrived a wise scheme in England, did or said a true and valiant thing in England . . . Work? The quantity of done and forgotten work that lies silent under my feet in this world, and escorts and attends me, and supports and keeps me alive, wheresoever I walk or stand, whatsoever I think or do, gives rise to reflections!8

It was to the resumption of such work – the heartfelt, spontaneous work of men and women in all walks of life – that Carlyle summoned the nation and the culture. His was a clarion call for change through a renewed sense of the Promethean character of human nature. In place of the worship of mammon, power, and wealth he called for a spiritual renewal through the accomplishment of work well done. Through such work the cant, sham, and fads of the day would be vanquished and a culture of worth would emerge. And the place where he found such work was in a monastery of the Middle Ages. What that monastery displayed was not Schlegel’s mysterious faith and mysticism, but the ethic of work and work well done. By this intellectual sleight of hand Carlyle associated the Middle Ages with strong Protestant values. It is worth noting that the reason Carlyle knew about Abbot Samson was because the Camden Society – a group who were printing what they regarded as important historical manuscripts – had just published the chronicle relating the story of Abbot Samson. The printing of the manuscript itself was another manifestation of interest – in this case scholarly historical interest in the Middle Ages. During the 1840s in England, France, and Germany there occurred a debate over the relative value of Christian art and non-Christian art. Christian art was for the purposes of this debate the art associated with



the Middle Ages. The art of the Renaissance which had appealed to classical and pagan themes was regarded as non-Christian. It was in large measure out of this debate that the idea of the Renaissance developed. But it developed in large measure in a symbiotic relationship to medievalism. The key figure in this transition was the English art and social critic John Ruskin, and the subject which brought this matter to the head was Ruskin’s discussion of the city of Venice. As you will see, Carlyle’s thought played a considerable role in this story. John Ruskin was born in 1819, the only son of a wealthy uppermiddle-class sherry merchant. His family were deeply interested in Romantic literature and art. The poetry of Lord Byron, including the ribald sections, was read aloud among the entire family. Ruskin’s father purchased paintings of J.M.W. Turner as well as other works of art. The family was also intensely religious. They read scripture regularly as a family, they attended church and listened to many of the most eloquent and influential preachers of the day, they observed the sabbath – on which day the Turner paintings were covered lest thoughts stray away from God and toward the beauty of art. Ruskin attended Christ Church at the University of Oxford and his mother lived in a house across the street. This heritage of art combined with strict Protestantism would guide Ruskin well into his middle age. In 1851 Ruskin published the first volume of The Stones of Venice. It was a vast work of cultural criticism in which an exploration of the Venetian past became an excuse to comment on the vast transformations that had touched English life during the early decades of the industrial revolution. Ruskin looked at the stones, bricks, walls, roofs, doors, and windows of Venice and, like the character of Shakespeare from ‘Sermons in Stones’, Ruskin had two broad purposes in his sermon. The first was to defend Gothic Revival architecture derived from the Catholic Middle Ages so that it would be acceptable to the overwhelmingly Protestant population of Great Britain. Because Gothic revival architecture imitated the architecture of the Middle Ages, many people in England associated it with Roman Catholicism. Ruskin would attempt to dissociate Gothic architecture from the Roman Catholic faith.



Ruskin’s second purpose was to defend Gothic revival architecture so that it would be regarded as fit and proper for modern building purposes. Again, because Gothic architecture was associated with the Middle Ages, which some people still regarded as the dark ages, it was regarded as unfit for modern buildings. The style that was most used for modern buildings in the first half of the century was a classical style such as seen in the British Museum. The only exception was the New Houses of Parliament. Ruskin deeply believed, and because of his widespread influence many other people in the nineteenth century and beyond came to believe, that the quality of architecture and the work that went into that architecture affected the quality of life. Ruskin, like others of his day, believed the early industrial revolution had destroyed an earlier English Eden. He wanted to restore that Eden by restoring social values that he thought were embodied in Gothic architecture and could be spread through England by the revival of Gothic architecture. To my knowledge Thomas Carlyle never visited Venice. Yet the thought of Thomas Carlyle filled the mind and spirit of John Ruskin when he visited Venice and when he wrote about Venice. Ruskin believed that work could be transformed so that it would ennoble workers, but that demanded a change in the architectural style that had dominated England and Europe for over three centuries. It required a return to the Gothic style of the Middle Ages and to the world of Abbot Samson. Ruskin first directly approached the subject of the quality of culture in the single most famous chapter of all his works, ‘The Nature of Gothic’. His subject was Gothic architecture and design in general rather than Venetian Gothic in particular. What Ruskin did in this chapter was to root architecture in the state of society which produced it and, more particularly, to the kind of workers who had actually constructed and decorated the buildings. Ruskin believed that the character of the buildings constructed and the demands put on workers determined the character of the workers themselves: that is, the choice of design itself determined whether the lives of workers would be lives of fulfilment or drudgery. Ruskin declared:



You must either make a tool of the creature, or a man of him. You cannot make both. Men were not intended to work with the accuracy of tools, to be precise and perfect in all their actions. If you will have that precision out of them, and make their fingers measure degrees like cog-wheels, and their arms strike curves like compasses, you must unhumanize them . . . On the other hand, if you will make a man of the working creature, you cannot make a tool. Let him but begin to imagine, to think to try to do anything worth doing; and the engineturned precision is lost at once. Out come all his roughness, all his dullness, all his incapability; shame upon shame, failure upon failure, pause after pause: but out comes the whole majesty of him also . . .9

The bedevilling factor in modern life and modern consumption was the demand for goods that were uniformly and precisely made. What Ruskin deplored was the inability of most nineteenth-century labourers to experience work as Carlyle had described it in Past and Present. He continued: It is verily this degradation of the operative into a machine, which, more than any other evil of the times, is leading the mass of the nations everywhere into vain, incoherent, destructive struggling for a freedom of which they cannot explain the nature to themselves . . . It is not that men are ill read, but that they have no pleasure in the work by which they make their bread, and therefore look to wealth as the only means of pleasure.10

What made such precise manufacture of everyday goods possible was the remarkable division of labour that had arisen in the past century. Economists such as Adam Smith had praised the productive power of the division of labour, but Ruskin rejected it outright. He argued: It is not, truly speaking, the labour that is divided; but the men: – Divided into mere segments of men – broken into small fragments and crumbs of life; so that all the little piece of intelligence that is left



in a man is not enough to make a pin, or a nail, but exhausts itself in making the point of a pin or the head of a nail . . . And all the evil to which that cry is urging our myriads can be met only in one way: not by teaching nor preaching, for to teach them is but to show them their misery, and to preach to them, if we do nothing more than preach, is to mock at it. It can be met only by a right understanding, on the part of all classes, of what kinds of labour are good for men, raising them, and making them happy; by a determined sacrifice of such convenience, or beauty, or cheapness as is to be got only by the degradation of the workman; and by equally determined demand for the products and results of healthy and ennobling labour.11

In this passage, Ruskin rejected economic growth for its own sake and the ever-expanding economy that Smith and others associated with the division of labour. He rejected a culture and set of values and tastes that demand ever-growing numbers of identical consumer items in the manufacture of which the soul of the labourer is damned. What, one may ask, did all of this social and political jeremiad have to do with the Gothic or Venice? It was at least initially deceptively simple. The kind of workmanship that Gothic architecture required allowed the individual worker to labour more freely than all architecture that had followed. The virtues of the Middle Ages are those that Ruskin associated (largely thanks to Carlyle) with the Gothic. Ruskin wrote about the Gothic of the Middle Ages, but he was concerned about defending the Gothic of the nineteenth century and with using the idea of the Gothic to set forth social ideals for the mid-Victorian age. Ruskin was convinced that uniform, precise workmanship of manufacturing which he also associated with all post-medieval architecture could be achieved only by degraded workers. The glory of Gothic was its infinite variety. The Gothic sculptor who created the cathedrals and their ornamentation was among the freest of all workmen. This world of such free medieval labour, working on Gothic structures, gave way to that of the Renaissance. In that regard, for Ruskin the history of Europe since the Middle Ages is



one of decline, decay, and degradation. The Renaissance had opened the way to a long decline in architecture that Ruskin saw culminating in the regularity of square or rectangular brick buildings in London. Most previous visitors to Venice and all of the guidebooks had gloried in the city’s Renaissance monuments. Ruskin presented by contrast a highly critical image of the Renaissance. He saw it and the buildings of that era as examples of the degradation of workers and of the seeking of a precision that reminded him of the precision of the new English factories. Ruskin wished to demonstrate that architecturally and morally the Renaissance, which for him commences in the fifteenth century, was inferior to the Middle Ages. He argued that the art and architecture of the Renaissance were inherently inferior because it was a time of general cultural decay. There was an absence of organic unity to the culture. But still writing in an evangelical frame of mind Ruskin had another reason for his critique of the Renaissance. He needed to persuade his overwhelmingly Protestant English readers that the Gothic of the Middle Ages was not Roman Catholic. That is to say, Ruskin implicitly contends that the religious faith of the high Middle Ages was still theologically pure, and that it only later declined into the corruption that, from his standpoint, required the Reformation. Consequently, he portrayed a history of Venetian and general European cultural decline from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance which allowed the art and religion of the Middle Ages to appear pure and the religion and art of the Renaissance to appear corrupt. The pure Christianity of the Middle Ages had given way to the decayed Christianity of the Renaissance that called forth the Reformation and later the Counter-Reformation. The mistake of Renaissance taste was ‘a demand for universal perfection’.12 This taste, along with the revival of classical learning, led to a demand for the revival of classical architecture which, with its regular lines and extreme sense of proportion, in every way contrasted with Gothic. The classical with its sharply delineated lines seemed capable of repeated perfection. It was this demand for perfection for endless repetition and uniformity in the production of buildings, paintings, and



consumer goods that led to the degradation of workmen, beginning with the Renaissance and ending in the endless repetitious actions of machines in English factories. Few workers were capable of original perfection so they had to become copyists of other better artists. There was none of the range for spontaneity and originality that marked the sculptor in the Gothic cathedral. Nonetheless, the evangelical in Ruskin demanded that this decline be portrayed in strictly moral categories. The fundamental evil of the Renaissance was that of pride. Ruskin declared: The moral, or immoral, elements which unite to form the spirit of Central Renaissance architecture, as I believe, in the main, two, – Pride and Infidelity; but the pride resolves itself into three main branches, – Pride of Science, Pride of State, and Pride of System.13

By portraying the Renaissance as arising from, and rooted in, pride, Ruskin associated that culture with the fall in the Garden of Eden. The passage was from where human beings in the Middle Ages had been at peace with themselves and God into an age of pride against God and social conflict among human beings. The Renaissance had exalted in a pride of system. In this attack on Renaissance system Ruskin resembled the Romantic writers who had attacked systems in Enlightenment thought. These systems included logic, grammar, codification of law, and other modes of what Ruskin regarded as constraints on the mind. The world of art, architecture, poetry, and philosophy were ‘reduced by them merely to so many different forms of fetter-dance’.14 All of these systems had rejected the true law which God had established in the heart. Pride of system established a world of restraint and laws which destroyed innate creativity. The pride of the Renaissance was accompanied by the infidelity that exalted paganism over Christianity. The literature of the day believed the classics more important and better written than the Bible. The stories and gods of the pagans replaced those of the Bible. Ruskin explained:



The imagination of the age was actively set to realise these objects of Pagan belief; and all the most exalted faculties of man, which, up to that period, had been employed in the service of Faith, were now transferred to the service of [pagan] Fiction.15

It was this Venice that had given itself over to the pride of state and to infidelity, which had eventually fallen during the eighteenth century ‘into the unscrupulous pursuit of pleasure’ after which it had forfeited its independent existence. Venice had committed the sins of vainglory and fallen as a consequence. Ruskin saw the history of Venice, as seen from his examination of its buildings, paintings, and monuments, as a great evangelical morality play. The Venetians had repeated in their artistic and architectural experience the fall of humankind in the garden of Eden. They had forfeited spontaneity and freedom by succumbing to pride and then to degradation. And in doing so they lost their liberty. His argument was also similar to Burke’s. Those who followed rational systems rather than organic styles and institutions derived from the Middle Ages would also lose their liberty. Ruskin saw a similar fate potentially awaiting Victorian England. Ruskin proposed that everything associated with Greek, Roman, and Renaissance art be cast out of English art. In its place the English should turn to the Gothic. In point of fact throughout England, on much of the continent, and throughout America, Victorian builders followed Ruskin’s injunction. Scores of English churches built from the 1840s onward held to the Gothic style. Ruskin gave that architecture a muchneeded new lease on life through the Stones of Venice. It also found its way in to numerous Victorian civil buildings from St Pancras railway station in London, to the great Museum of Natural History at the University of Oxford. Victorian Gothic existed before Ruskin, but his sermons from the Stones of Venice saw it permeate the nation. In America there was a similar emphasis on the Gothic arising from the American disciples of Ruskin. They admired the Gothic because of Ruskin. They sought to emulate both the buildings of the Middle Ages and the



buildings of the Gothic Revival. It was no accident that American colleges and universities, often founded by religious groups, embraced the Gothic; the architecture was to protect them from the moral degradation that Ruskin found illustrated in the glory of the stones of Venice. The invention of the Renaissance as a fall from grace provided a new defence of medievalism through the close of the nineteenth century.




f a person of intellectual maturity in 1800 had reawakened in 1900, in all likelihood no single new idea would have seemed so different and so all pervasive as that of evolution. There were other scientific, religious, and philosophic concepts no less revolutionary in their own special fields, but no single idea had permeated so deeply into virtually all areas of intellectual endeavour. In one area of thought after another, the belief in flux and change manifested itself and refocused both the manner in which questions were posed and the character of the answers given. More than any other scientific or intellectual development, evolution led to a thoroughgoing naturalisation of the world and of humankind’s place therein, and to conceiving the world and human nature in terms of a process which implied that nature itself, like humankind, had a history. With the emergence of evolutionary thinking, Western thought decisively left the realm of contemplating being and began to contemplate and think about the implications of becoming. The conviction that nature – most particularly organic nature – had a history brought to the fore a new force that could imply relativism on the one hand and that could suggest, like historicism in human nature, that might makes right. 84



Despite the fundamental importance of the idea of evolution, there exists an immense amount of confusion in regard to it. For example, although strictly speaking a concept associated with the biological sciences, the rhetoric of evolution, development, and transformation was easily adapted to other areas of intellectual endeavour. There were different versions of evolution within the biological sciences: that is to say, Darwinian and non-Darwinian theories of evolution, as well as divisions between evolutionists and non-evolutionists. Some of the most eloquent voices in favour of evolution were not biologists and were not Darwinians. Another source of confusion has been that people either accepted or rejected evolution for reasons that had little or nothing to do with biology. There were people who objected to it on religious grounds, and people who accepted it because they liked its implications for social policy. There were writers of fiction and journalists who became strong evolutionists because it made for good press. There were also people who became evolutionists because it fit with their existing historicist mode of thinking. I personally believe it impossible for evolution, as a concept, to have made so much cultural headway had the path not been prepared for it by historicism. Two other reasons for confusion over evolution require somewhat more specific consideration. First there was, and continues to be, a necessity of differentiating between a concept of evolution or transformation of species and the mechanism or mode of explaining that change. Charles Darwin believed evolution had occurred, and also believed that he had provided a mechanism that explained how evolution could and did occur in a wholly naturalistic manner. The belief that evolution of species took place became widely accepted, but there was much less agreement, even among committed evolutionists, about the adequacy of Darwin’s mechanism. For example, Herbert Spencer, the leading philosopher of evolution, was not a Darwinian. Thomas Henry Huxley, Darwin’s chief public defender, repeatedly indicated his commitment was to defend the fact of evolution rather than Darwinian natural selection. Darwin published The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life in 1859. At



the time it immediately received both much praise and blame. The critics whom Darwin took seriously, and to whom he replied by revising the book, were all scientific critics. Some of them were clearly motivated by religious concerns, but the points they scored against the theory were based on problems in the theory itself. Certainly, from the mid-1870s, Darwinian natural selection constituted one of the major points of departure for consideration of the issue of the transformation of species, but it did not constitute a consensus. By 1900 there existed within the scientific community a wide variety of evolutionary theories. And in that regard, Vernon Kellogg’s Darwinism Today: A Discussion of Present Day Scientific Criticism of the Darwinian Selection Theories (1907) is one of the key documents. What that textbook illustrates is the exceedingly pluralistic state of turn-of-the-century evolutionary thought. It is this situation that Peter Bowler has termed ‘the eclipse of Darwinism’.1 Following that eclipse, there occurred a resurgence of Darwinian evolutionary thinking among biologists in the 1930s, when it became closely associated with genetics. It was from these events in the 1930s that the contemporary evolutionary synthesis has emerged and, of course, now faces new challenges from within and without the scientific community. This rather roller-coaster career of Darwinian evolutionary thinking among biologists has frequently been obscured by the more linear development of the acceptance and diffusion of evolutionary thinking among non-biologists. Consequently, both in 1909 and in 1959, the fiftieth and hundredth anniversaries of the publication of the Origin, there was always a very large number of non-scientists who came to the fore as praisers of Darwin and his achievement. This latter development is, I think, indicative of not only the widespread lay acceptance of evolution, but also of the manner in which evolution proved no less welcome to laymen than to a relatively small group of scientists. During the nineteenth century there was a conspicuously large number of people engaged in various intellectual pursuits who wished to advocate change. They confronted the terrifying image of change associated with the French Revolution, especially as propagated by political conservatives. Second, they confronted a perennial



argument against change based on the idea that physical and organic nature are unchanging so that therefore change in the social order or the religious order is unnatural, bad, or undesirable. To such people, an evolutionary image of nature broke an intellectual roadblock. It permitted an open-ended approach to philosophical, moral, and intellectual issues. Evolution and development could be used for surprising ends. For example in 1845, well before Darwin, John Henry Newman had argued in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, that doctrine which was regarded by most English Christians as unchanging since the time of the early Church had developed, and did and must develop. And Newman used that argument to justify a radical cultural change on his part – his conversion from the Church of England to the Church of Rome. The question of science addressed by Charles Darwin was known in the nineteenth century as the species question. It was really composed of two distinct questions: (1) Do species change in the course of time? and (2) If they do change, how does the transformation take place? A negative response to the first question obviously eradicated the relevance of the second. The species question arose in the early nineteenth century because of the character and direction of certain elements of biological thought in the eighteenth century. Georges, Comte de Buffon raised a number of questions related to evolution while rejecting the concept itself. He was interested in the problem of the age of the earth. He was fascinated by the evidence for extinct species of animals. He speculated over the possibility of animals who closely resembled each other having a common ancestor. Even though he himself did not believe in transmutation of species, he made several notable contributions to later evolutionary speculation. First, he brought the discussion of evolution into the scientific forum and, by his prestige, in effect legitimised its consideration. He made major contributions to comparative anatomy and fostered later development of the idea of archetypes of animals – an idealistic version of species – whose proponents often considered evolution as a possibility. He also



helped to begin the expansion of the time scale in regard to the age of the earth. That expansion of time scale was essential to the historicisation of nature. The second eighteenth-century figure of major importance was Carolus Linnaeus. It was Linnaeus who developed a very detailed system of classification of species. His classifications tended to be very logical and symmetrical. He was responsible for charts of species trees. He presented some of the exquisite relationships within nature, but saw species as rigidly immutable. The tendency of both Buffon and Linnaeus, who disagreed about more things than they agreed, was to urge what may be regarded as an essentialist concept of species. That is to say, they believed that each and every species constituted an essence in the pattern of nature. These species had independent existence which was usually accounted for in terms of divine creation. Species did not change over the course of time. Buffon’s emphasis on the impossibility of cross-fertility between two distinct species erected one conceptual barrier to transmutation. Linnaeus’s systematic hierarchy in nature erected another conceptual barrier. Nature was an hierarchical arrangement of species which were arranged in hierarchies. It is not insignificant that this hardening of the concept of species occurred not from time immemorial but rather from the late eighteenth century. The naturalist who first challenged this concept of nature and species was J.B.P.A., Chevalier de Lamarck. He was important for what he did and did not accomplish, for what people believed he had said, and as a figure to whom some late nineteenth-century scientists sought to return after the publication of Darwin’s work. By the turn of the eighteenth into the nineteenth century, Lamarck had begun to believe in the transformation of species. In the late 1790s he was put in charge of molluscs in the Paris Museum, and he began to notice gaps and discontinuities among species where existing theory would have prescribed connection. Second, he became troubled by extinct species. Extinction had always posed a problem to natural theologians and persons who thought in an essentialist manner. If God had created perfect species that lived in



harmony with their environment, and these species did not change, why should there have been extinct species in a perfectly created world? From these two observations he allowed himself to speculate that species might well have changed over time. Lamarck’s real question then was: by what mechanism had this change taken place? He believed there had been two key mechanisms. The first of these was what he regarded as a tendency in nature to move from simple to complex structures: Nature, in successively producing all species of animals, beginning with the most imperfect or the simplest, and ending her work with the most perfect, has caused their organisation gradually to become more complex.2

Lamarck’s second mechanism was a belief that living things possessed a capacity to react to changes in their environment. He believed that animals must live in harmony with their environment, and that meant they must be able to respond to changes. That response to environment accounted for change in species. It should be noted that there was a fundamental difference between this Lamarckian version of evolution and Darwin’s later thought. For Lamarck, change in the environment produced new needs to which the organism responded. For Darwin, there first occurred random variations, and those variations that meshed with the environment were preserved. But for Darwin the environment was not directly or indirectly involved. Lamarck also believed that organisms were strengthened or weakened by use or disuse. Most important, for later thought, he believed in the inheritance of acquired characteristics. He did not, however, provide any adequate explanation for the process whereby acquired characteristics could be inherited. Lamarck’s speculations were quite remarkable. He was a genuine evolutionist, and he did reject the static world of essences. But his impact on the development of evolution was quite negative. His mechanisms were wrong and, from the standpoint of many men of science,



implausible. That factor helped to discourage people from adopting the evolutionary stance and then looking for a new mechanism. An idea defended by such implausible devices seemed to many people defeated to begin with. Furthermore, religious prejudice also discouraged evolutionary thinking. However, the most important reason for the rejection of Lamarck was that scientists thought his reasoning speculative. As Charles Lyell wrote, in his Principles of Geology, after a careful summary of Lamarck’s thought: Henceforth his speculations know no definite bounds; he gives the rein to conjecture, and fancies that the outward form, internal structure, instinctive faculties, nay, that reason itself, may have been gradually developed from some of the simplest states of existence – that all animals, that man himself, and the irrational beings, may have had one common origin; that all may be parts of one continuous and progressive scheme of development from the most imperfect to the more complex; in fine, he renounces his belief in the high genealogy of his species, and looks forward, as if in compensation, to the future perfectibility of man in his physical, intellectual, and moral attributes.3

Lyell then loosed a barrage of scientific criticism against Lamarck and concluded by declaring: We must suppose that when the Author of Nature creates an animal or plant, all the possible circumstances in which its descendants are destined to live are foreseen, and that an organisation is conferred upon it which will enable the species to perpetuate itself and survive under all the varying circumstances to which it must be inevitably exposed.4

This harsh rejection of Lamarck was all the more effective because in England Charles Lyell was regarded as one of the most advanced and daring geologists of the day. And it is to geology that we must now turn our attention.



During the first half of the nineteenth century geology was the premier science in Britain. It attained both intellectual prestige and popularity. The British geologists made two major contributions to the advancement of evolutionary thinking. First, and perhaps most important, they vastly expanded the scope of time during which the development of species might occur. The study of geology, the discovery of fossil remains, the discovery of dry land where ancient oceans had once washed, demanded an expansion of the age of the earth from the few thousand years that it had long been presumed to exist. The second contribution of geology was a thoroughly naturalistic explanation of events and developments in nature – most particularly a primeval flood – that had once been explained religiously or biblically. There are two major British geologists in this period. The first was James Hutton, who published his Theory of the Earth in 1795. He was engaged in a sharp debate with another school of geologists who believed that the recession of water explained the development of geological formations. This theory informed John Martin’s painting of The Deluge. Hutton by contrast emphasised a theory that accounted for changes in the earth largely through the movement of molten rocks beneath the surface of the earth, and from the action of visible causes on the earth’s surface. In other words, he believed natural events such as storms and erosion had, over the course of time – a vast expanse of time – formed the earth as we know it today. Hutton’s work never lost all influence, but it was not the most influential theory when, in the late 1820s, Charles Lyell began his researches and writing. In 1830 he published the first volume of his Principles of Geology; Being an Attempt to Explain the Former Changes of the Earth’s Surface, by Reference to Causes now in Operation. The second volume appeared in 1833. Lyell’s approach to geology came to be called, at the suggestion of William Whewell, ‘uniformitarianism’, because of the emphasis on uniform action in nature. He was opposed by other geologists, the most noted of whom were William Buckland of Oxford and Adam Sedgwick of Cambridge. These scientists, who were also quite distinguished and who did very important technical work, believed



geological changes occurred rapidly and suddenly. They came to be dubbed by Whewell, the ‘catastrophists’. They quarrelled and argued for a generation, and in doing so generated important work in all areas of geology, and made Britain the leader in that science. Their debates also introduced as never before the concept of history into geological development. Once Darwin published, many of his supporters, including Huxley, gave credit to uniformitarian thinking and to Lyell in particular for aiding the development of evolutionary thinking. These claims have come to cause historians of science considerable difficulty in recent years. Darwin’s version of evolution was at odds with uniformitarian thinking in that it involved real changes in nature and not simply rearrangements. Furthermore, Lyell himself was, early in his career, a serious critic of the concept of transformation of species. And even late in life he was not a strong supporter of Darwin. Yet can the longstanding claim of both Darwin and Huxley, as to the impact of Lyell, be dismissed as thoroughly as is becoming the case in the literature of history of science? Can a narrow and exceedingly technical reading of Lyell’s work be used to dismiss these contemporary claims? I think not. Without in any manner disputing the direct impact of uniformitarian thinking on the theory of evolution by natural selection, I think Lyell’s work and example did serve and influence Darwin in other ways. First, Darwin took Lyell’s first volume with him on the Beagle voyage, and received the second volume while in South America. He read them assiduously. What those volumes and their contents seem to me to have done for Darwin was to provide a thoroughly naturalistic explanation of the great geological sites he encountered in South America, and in particular in the Andes. Though Lyell was a devout man, his explanation of geological change involved neither the Bible nor miracles. Lyell’s work, second, stressed very slow development over time. It expanded the amount of time that was available for organic nature to become what Darwin was examining. Finally, Lyell and Darwin became friends. The younger man always looked to the older man for guidance. Lyell stood



as the example in that regard of a figure of intellectual honesty, and a figure who had successfully set forth a controversial theory that had encountered and survived intense religious criticism. And Darwin knew that anyone who addressed the species question naturalistically would come into conflict with the scientific establishment and with the forces of Victorian religion. Charles Darwin was born on 12 February 1809. His father was a physician. The family had good connections with the industrialist Josiah Wedgewood. Darwin’s grandfather, Erasmus, had been friends with Enlightenment thinker Joseph Priestley. Erasmus had also composed some curious verse in the eighteenth-century about change in species. Charles Darwin’s family first sent him to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh. Those two years at Edinburgh were more important for Darwin than are usually recognised. He there encountered the Scottish school of social thought, including the works of Adam Smith and other Scottish economists. All of this social thought emphasised development over time and development by stages. Throughout Scottish thought there was also much emphasis on a generally naturalistic approach to the world. It is not known, to my knowledge, what contact Darwin had with Scottish Calvinism. But it is perhaps interesting to note that Scottish Calvinists had less trouble accepting his later theory than any other major religious group. Both Scottish secular thought and Scottish religion reemphasised determinism, which also later appears in his thought. Finally, it should be noted that the medical education he would have received in Scotland would have tended to be materialistic in character. It would have emphasised human beings as objects of science and investigation, rather than as illustrations of the glory of God. When Darwin proved to be bored with medicine, the family gave up on the medical project. Darwin was sent to Cambridge with the idea of his becoming a clergyman. At Cambridge he studied with clergymenscientists who found little or no tension between their roles as scientists and their roles as clergy. From these teachers he absorbed a deep appreciation for natural history and careful observation. From them also he learned, in no less detail, the natural theology associated with the works



of William Paley, about whom more will be said in the next chapter. He also learned from them to believe that the mind of science could be daring because true science was always compatible with the Christian faith. Though some of these men later became his bitter antagonists, it seems certain that he acquired from their acquaintance a very real intellectual open-mindedness. In 1831 Darwin set out on the voyage of the Beagle. He had been helped to achieve that position as naturalist and companion to Captain Fitzroy by his Cambridge clergymen-scientist teachers. The voyage of the Beagle lasted from 27 December 1831 to 2 October 1836. It was the single most crucial period in Darwin’s life. He was required to be independent and to make his own judgments. He saw some of the most remote portions of the globe and combined research in geology, botany, and zoology and, in a very amateur way, in anthropology. The key weeks on this voyage occurred in the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. There he became interested in finches and collected a large number of them from different islands. At the time they made little impression on him, but when he returned to London he began to notice that the dispersion of finches on those islands was not in accord with the theory of special creation. There were too many distinct species on separate islands. And the environment and conditions of those islands did not require such dispersion. It has now become clear that the Galapagos finches alone did not convince Darwin of transmutation but they, in combination with his study of other collections of birds in London museums, ultimately convinced him that existing theories of species were inadequate and that transformation did indeed occur. Darwin returned to England in the autumn of 1836. Early the next year he settled in London where he remained until 1839. In London he made use of the various collections in the capital and established a network of scientific friends. At this time he was close to his brother Erasmus, who was both religiously and politically radical. Darwin, in this manner, became acquainted with radical London circles of the kind described by J.S. Mill in his Autobiography. These London years, about



which rather little is now known, would appear to be the fourth major determining influence on Darwin – Edinburgh, Cambridge, the Beagle being the other three. Although Darwin was not politically active, those radical acquaintances, especially the Unitarians, would have made him somewhat more comfortable with challenges to the status quo and with thinking that was more mechanistic and potentially materialistic than that of his Cambridge teachers. It was in the spring of 1837 that Darwin first started his notebook on the Transmutation of Species. What had allowed his thinking to shift to the possibility of transmutation was a conclusion he had drawn from those Galapagos finches. He came to understand that species were not the hard, arbitrary, fixed essences that he had previously believed in line with current theory. Rather, he began to see species as population groups. The lines between species and varieties were much more fluid than he had previously thought. Once he saw species in terms of such population groups, a whole realm of speculation previously closed became open to him. He had become an evolutionist. His next problem would be to explain how evolution took place. There is much debate as to the exact path that Darwin trod from his conversion to evolution to the formulation of the concept of natural selection. But one key influence – if not the only influence – was his reading of Malthus’ Essay on the Principle of Population. That essay led him to see more fully than ever before both the competitiveness and waste of nature. That is to say, he was deeply impressed by Malthus’ image of the vast number of seeds and eggs that never came to fruition. He was also deeply impressed by Malthus’ emphasis on competition for scarce resources. For five years Darwin kept notebooks on the species question. Then, in 1842, he wrote out a 35-page sketch about his concept of a mechanism of species change. In 1844 he wrote a much longer sketch which he told his wife to have published should he die. In those sketches, Darwin set forth his concept of natural selection – that is to say, the idea that chance variations within a species gave certain plants and animals a marginal advantage in the struggle for survival. And that in this manner,



certain species were selected in a natural manner. Those so selected could live to maturity and reproduce themselves. The concept of natural selection was in place, but Darwin did not publish. Why he did not publish immediately has been one of the most perplexing of problems for historians of science. Several reasons have been set forth. First, he was by no means certain that the evidence would support his thesis. He spent the years between 1844 and 1859 carefully and systematically collecting materials to test his hypothesis. Second, as I will discuss somewhat more fully in the next chapter, Darwin’s mind remained deeply imbued with certain categories derived from natural religion. One of those was the perfection of nature and of the perfection of adaptations in nature. He believed his concept of natural selection would not achieve a perfectly adapted nature, but rather an adequately adapted nature. Third, Darwin was a very careful and politic man who did not enjoy public quarrels. He knew how intellectually radical was his belief in the transmutability of species and how even more radical was his thoroughly naturalistic account of that change. He knew that he would encounter very harsh criticism from religiously minded scientists, and possibly from the clergy themselves. However, I think there is another quite decisive reason why Darwin did not publish in the 1840s. In 1844 there appeared a book written by Robert Chambers, but published anonymously, entitled The Vestiges of Creation. This was a bold work of popular science that became an instant best seller. In Vestiges, Chambers set forth an argument for development. He pointed out all manner of similarities among different animals and suggested a common ancestor. He had no mechanism to explain his view of transmutation. The book was also full of errors and much of his psychology was based on phrenology. The book could have been dismissed or ignored, but it was not. It became an instant cause célèbre. More to the point, this anonymous book elicited scores of reviews from some of the most eminent clergy and scientists of the day. To a man they condemned it and presented it as a work endangering religion, morality, and the true path of science. There seems to me to be little doubt that Darwin wisely feared to publish his theory because, given the fragile



state of his evidence and the mechanistic implications, he expected his own thinking to encounter the same kind of response. How long Darwin would have waited we shall never know because in the early summer of 1858 he received a letter from Alfred Russel Wallace, a little known, hardworking naturalist of near working-class origins. That letter accompanied an article in which Wallace presented the core of Darwin’s idea of natural selection. Darwin immediately consulted his friends, Charles Lyell and Joseph Dalton Hooker. Without consultation with Wallace, who was in southeast Asia, they arranged for the presentation of Wallace’s paper and certain early letters and sketches by Darwin at the Linnaean Society. Darwin’s priority was thus preserved and his hand forced. The next year he completed the big book he had been working on for several years. Thus, 1859 became the year of the Origin of Species. However, the Origin of Species was not just the book of 1859. In Darwin’s lifetime it went through six editions, each of which contained numerous revisions, clarifications, and well-concealed retreats. It was a book or a text always in process, just as Darwin’s mind was always in process. Darwin always had difficulty explaining just exactly what he meant by natural selection. One of the most interesting of those problems was to describe this mechanism without anthropomorphising it. He kept adding words to explain his meaning. In the sixth edition, he made these statements: This preservation of favourable individual differences and variations, and the destruction of those which are injurious, I have called Natural Selection, or the Survival of the Fittest.5

The latter phrase he had taken from Lyell and served only to confuse matters. Darwin then continued: Several writers have misapprehended or objected to the term Natural Selection. Some have even imagined that natural selection induces



variability, whereas it implies only the preservation of such variations as arise and are beneficial to the being under its conditions of life . . . In the literal sense of the word, no doubt, natural selection is a false term; but who ever objected to chemists speaking of the elective affinities of the various elements? – and yet acid cannot strictly be said to elect the base with which it in preference combines. It has been said that I speak of natural selection as an active power or Deity; but who objects to an author speaking of the attraction of gravity as ruling the movement of the planets? Everyone knows what is meant and is implied by such metaphorical expressions; and they are almost necessary for brevity. So again it is difficult to avoid personifying the word Nature; but I mean by Nature, only the aggregate action and product of many natural laws, and by laws the sequence of events as ascertained by us.6

Yet, as Darwin wrote on, he continued to personify natural selection. In the next lecture I shall have more to say about some of the problems this passage suggests about the processes of Darwin’s mind, but I would here point out that the muddle of this paragraph (and it is not a unique example), is in part the muddle of a mind in transition. Darwin, in the Origin, was attempting to describe a world in flux and process, but he almost lacked the vocabulary with which to put many of his ideas into words. The intellectual difficulty of Darwin’s task, and the vocabulary he used, seem to me to have led to certain unexpected long-term results. One of those results was the emergence of social Darwinism among critics and commentators on society. There are few more confused terms in Anglo-American intellectual history than social Darwinism. There was no single variety of it. Many of the people closest to Darwin repudiated any association with it. In its simplest, most common form, social Darwinism may be said to refer to a competitive version of society in which the imperative to intense competition is based on the idea that society should copy or emulate nature. If nature is characterised, as Darwin said, by a struggle for survival, then society is similarly structured. And the survival of



the fittest in society must be fostered by sorting out weaklings or letting the competitive process eliminate the weak. How did social Darwinism arise, or how did this view of society come to be associated with Darwinist thought? First, throughout Origin of Species, when Darwin described the competitiveness of organisms, he tended to use the vocabulary of classical economics. This was natural for him, since he had read these writers. But there was a more intimate connection. They were the group of writers who had most explicitly written about the benefits of competition as a formative social and economic force. Malthus’ Essay, which Darwin knew quite well, moved back and forth between society and nature when discussing competition. Moreover, Darwin was also writing about changes in species over time. The Scottish school of economics and social thought, through its application of the law of four stages, had provided an intellectual model, and again a vocabulary to discuss the change of an entity over time. Moreover, in Scottish social thought, the four stages each represented very different entities. Society was transforming itself as a result of its economic life, and these changes occurred for naturalistic reasons, but they were genuine changes – discontinuous changes – and not simple rearrangements. For all those reasons, the vocabulary of classical economics was useful to Darwin. The use of this vocabulary has led some historians to say that Darwin did nothing more than to project on nature the social categories of classical economics. That is simply, in my opinion, to watch a dog chase its tail. It is to assume that Charles Darwin’s thought is social Darwinism, and then to interpret the biology through the social thinking that is only vaguely derived from Darwin’s actual work. Social Darwinists, in effect, often simply lifted the economic vocabulary in Darwin and then restated it in a more extreme version. The second reason for the emergence of social Darwinism as a mode of thought associated with Darwin really had nothing to do with Darwin at all. During the 1850s Herbert Spencer began to write social commentary based on an evolutionary model derived from Laplace’s nebular hypothesis. His first important work, which appeared in 1851, was



Social Statics. Then, during the 1860s, having become good friends with Huxley and other leading London scientists, he undertook to complete a multi-volume philosophical work which he called the ‘synthetic philosophy’. Spencer was a thoroughgoing evolutionist, but he never accepted natural selection. He was much more nearly a neo-Lamarckian because of the emphasis he placed on the inheritance of acquired characteristics and the importance of use and disuse of organisms. But Spencer was not only a philosopher of science. He had begun life as an engineer, and had served as an editor of the Economist. Having grown up in the provinces in the 1840s, he had absorbed much popular economic thought in which all the subtlety of classical economics was lost, and the most extreme version of competitiveness was stressed. Finally, as a religious, non-conformist-reared provincial radical, Spencer had great faith in the power of individualism, and hated the role of government interfering with religion and economic expansion. All of these ideas, outlooks, and prejudices informed Spencer’s philosophy. Since his philosophy was heavily evolutionary, and since he was friends with the Darwin circle, many readers simply assumed that what he wrote was a philosophical version of Darwin’s thought. The last factor that led to Spencer’s influence was the confused state of evolutionary thinking from the 1870s onwards. Suffice it to say that there was no single version of evolution that held the support of the entire scientific community. Consequently, the words ‘evolution’ and ‘Darwinism’ lacked any form of precise meaning. The confusion of the scientists, the muddle of vocabulary, and Spencer’s own opportunism allowed his thought to be equated with social Darwinism, and in popularised versions to be used to defend a social vision in which the strong should dominate and the social virtues be ignored. What is most interesting in these events surrounding the emergence of social Darwinism, is that its chief critic was none other than Thomas Huxley, who had done more than any other single person to foster the acceptance of evolution by the English public. In 1893 Huxley delivered the Romanes Lecture at Oxford. He decided that he must confront the ideas of his old friend Spencer head on. Huxley basically argued that



nature itself was neither good nor bad, and that consequently it could provide no pattern for human action. Huxley, only a year before his death, told the Oxford audience, ‘Cosmic evolution may teach us how the good and the evil tendencies of man may have come about; but, in itself, it is incompetent to furnish any better reason why what we call good is preferable to what we call evil than we had before’. He then went on to point out that the term ‘survival of the fittest’ had nothing to do with the problem of the survival of the best. He argued: Men in society are undoubtedly subject to the cosmic process. As among other animals, multiplication goes on without cessation, and involves severe competition for the means of support. The struggle for existence tends to eliminate those less fitted to adapt themselves to the circumstances of their existence. The strongest, the most assertive, tend to tread down the weaker. But the influence of the cosmic process on the evolution of society is the greater the more rudimentary its civilisation. Social progress means a checking of the cosmic process at every step and the substitution for it of another, which may be called the ethical process; the end of which is not the survival of those who may happen to be the fittest, in respect of the whole of the conditions which obtain, but of those who are ethically the best . . . Laws and moral precepts are directed to the end of curbing the cosmic process and reminding the individual of his duty to the community, to the protection and influence of which he owes, if not existence itself, at least the life of something better than a brutal savage.7

In this lecture, Huxley was seeking to return the genie to the lantern. Evolution had done far more to English and Western thought than present a new image of nature. It had also led to the incorporation of humankind into that natural order. Nature was not ethical, and the great question that Huxley confronted was how to allow for ethical human behavior when man’s most fundamental place in the universe was no longer just a little lower than the angels, but rather just a bit higher than the great primates.




eligious thought, religious preconceptions, and religious institutions permeated the scientific world in which Charles Darwin worked and dwelled from his student days at Cambridge until his burial in Westminster Abbey in 1882. Darwin, to be sure, spent much of his personal intellectual life trying to disentangle certain modes of scientific investigation from their apparently inextricable connection with theological categories – a connection that he generally deplored. Yet to a very considerable extent, largely unrecognised religious questions and expectations also guided his scientific thought and speculation. Even when Darwin consciously sought to escape religion or religious conclusions, religious motives or moral concerns rooted in religious issues motivated his thinking. Religion was never far from Darwin’s professional life. Cambridge University clergymen-scientists had trained him in science and had been instrumental in securing for him his appointment on the Beagle. Darwin read widely in the books and articles of other English clergymenscientists. His most famous book, On the Origin of Species (1859), stirred a storm of controversy in what the Victorians called the religious world. Late in his life two of the critics whose writings for very different reasons 102



most bothered and disturbed him – Asa Gray, his American friend, and St George Jackson Mivart, his implacable English Roman Catholic enemy – compelled Darwin to deal with the religious implications of his theory of evolution by natural selection. Visitors to the elderly Darwin almost invariably asked him about his religious opinions. And when Darwin died, his scientific friends – many of them fervent agnostics so far as religious faith was concerned – eagerly and successfully sought a grave for him in the Abbey. On a more personal level, there is some reason to believe that Darwin’s wife, Emma, was profoundly disappointed that she had to spend her life as the wife of the squire-scientist of Downe rather than as the wife of the Anglican parson the young Charles Darwin thought he would become before he stepped up the gangway of the Beagle and commenced his voyage of personal as well as scientific discovery. However, to say that Darwin’s scientific and professional life lay embedded in a religious culture does not really go beyond enunciating a truism applicable to most Victorian scientists. The real question is: what was the character of that British religious climate as it impacted on Darwin and later he on it? First, it is important to note that the relevant religious climate affecting Charles Darwin was not that of a rabid evangelical revival or bibliolatry. Such forces existed in England, but Darwin paid little or no attention to them. Yet the image of Charles Darwin and his theory of natural selection doing battle with forces of dark, ignorant, arrogant, obscurantist religion persists. That image has two sources: one British, the other American. After the publication of the Origin in 1859, religious criticism of the work did appear from the pens of some very prominent clergymen, such as Bishop Samuel Wilberforce. When these religious critiques were published, certain of Darwin’s supporters, most notably Huxley, Darwin’s Bulldog, seized on his religious criticism for their own polemical advantages. There were good contemporary scientific grounds upon which to launch a critique of Darwin’s theory, but Huxley adopted the polemical strategy of asserting that virtually any criticism stemmed



from religious sources, and consequently he played up any and all religious criticism. At one point he declared: Extinguished theologians lie about the cradle of every science as the strangled snakes beside that of Hercules.1

By linking any opposition to evolution by natural selection including serious scientific opposition with the religious criticism, Huxley simply practised the tactic of guilt or, in this case, incompetent obscurantism by association. Any opponent of Darwin had to be opposing the great man for religious reasons. In this regard, the image and metaphor of a necessary conflict between science and religion was of immense polemical advantage to scientists. Since Huxley wrote one of the earliest accounts of the reception of the Origin of Species, on which, until the 1960s, most other later accounts were based, the image of scientific light against religious darkness prevailed in our understanding of the reception of Darwin’s theory. The second source of the usual picture of Darwin and his theory combating religious obscurantism is rooted in North American cultural folklore. The memory of the fundamentalist drive against evolution in the 1920s remains alive. The scene of Darrow and Bryan doing battle over an obscure Tennessee school teacher is part of our cultural heritage, and we have witnessed it in plays and movies.2 The recent attempts to legislate the teaching of non-evolutionary biology also serve to recall that earlier, if really quite different, drive. Less familiar to us and not part of our widely shared cultural heritage is the awareness that not until very late in the nineteenth century and really only in the early twentieth century did even conservative American Protestantism become closely associated with a fervent crusade against evolution. The parameters of the late nineteenth-century debate were much more fluid than Huxley wanted them to be seen or than they later emerged in the United States. To understand the issues of Darwin and creation, we must set aside both Huxley’s interpretation of the relationship of Darwin and religion and the later American religious setting. And we must transport



ourselves back in time to the socially sedate and theologically sophisticated world of Anglican natural religion. Natural theology had come to the centre of British intellectual life in the seventeenth century. Francis Bacon had contended that there were two books of divine revelation: the Bible and Nature. From the careful, reverent observation of nature one could conclude that God existed, had created the natural order, and presided over that natural order in a wise and benevolent manner. The founders of the Royal Society had announced as one of their goals the use of science to confirm religion. Newton and his popularisers portrayed science as confirming the fundamental truths of revelation. Natural religion performed an important ideological function from the late seventeenth to the early nineteenth century. It served as one of the vehicles whereby the governing elites of Britain confirmed the social status quo. They argued that the existing society reflected the rational harmonies of nature and therefore reflected the laws of nature. Religiously, natural theology was used to fend off religious enthusiasm on the one hand and atheistic materialism on the other. The objective rationality of the natural order argued against the possible irrationality of subjective, emotional religion. God was rational and he should be worshiped in a moderate, rational manner as provided for in the liturgy of the Church of England. Furthermore, because the scientific investigation of the natural order pointed to the existence of God, to the divine plan or design in nature, and to the presence of harmony in nature, science and most especially Newtonian science stood as a strong intellectual roadblock to Hobbesian materialism and the potential for atheism. Thus, natural religion was a force for moderation, rationality, and acquiescence in the social order. In all these respects, natural religion provided the intellectual link – the intellectual glue, so to speak – between the order of nature and the order of English society. Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century and even beyond, natural theology had also served important social functions for the emerging British scientific community. For the early British Association



for the Advancement of Science, founded in 1831, the appeal to natural theology provided a broad ideological tent which covered the denominational and political differences of its members. People who could agree on little else could agree that nature gave evidence of the presence of God and that one of the roles of science was to discover that presence. Second, natural religion was a device whereby men of science (remembering that the word scientist was only invented in 1834 and was not in wide use) could assert that their investigations would not disturb the social and political order but rather would confirm that order. Finally, and by no means unimportant, natural theology seems to have allowed many scientists to believe that their work and labours directly served God and encouraged reverence for Him. A very significant number of early Victorian instructors of science in the universities were Anglican clergymen. Non-clerical teachers of science, such as the geologist Charles Lyell, were subject to boards of bishops or other clergy. Even scientists free of those clerical pressures still wanted to intermix in upper middle-class or aristocratic society whose members would have shunned scientists had science been seen as a possible avenue to scepticism, atheism, or one of the other sets of ideas regarded in the early decades of the nineteenth century as dangerous to the social order. Consequently, natural theology was as much a part of the social and personal self-justification of science as it was a matter of ideas about nature. However, natural theology also lay very near the heart of the scientific understanding of nature. The influence of natural theology meant that men of science, acting as scientists, sought and expected to find harmony, functional perfection, and purpose in nature. Nineteenthcentury natural theology received its classic statement in William Paley’s Natural Theology published in 1802 and later through the several Bridgewater Treatises of the late 1820s and 1830s. Paley was much read throughout the nineteenth century in both British and American universities, but is little read today. This situation may be our loss and may also have led to a most imperfect understanding of Charles Darwin, who studied and admired Paley.



Archdeacon Paley was both a very clever and a very reasonable writer. Indeed those who first come to his work expecting to hear echoes of an American fundamentalist or to read some anti-intellectual interpretation of nature find the study of Paley an almost embarrassing experience and certainly one leading to intellectual humility. Paley quite simply sought to demonstrate from observing nature that God existed, had created the world with forethought, and ruled it through nature in a benevolent manner. For example, he put great emphasis on the evidence of contrivance in nature and declared: Contrivance, if established, appears to me to prove every thing which we wish to prove. Among other things it proves the personality of the Deity, as distinguished from what is sometimes called nature, sometimes called a principle: which terms, in the mouths of those who use them philosophically, seem to be intended, to admit and to express an efficacy, but to exclude and to deny a personal agent. Now that which can contrive, which can design, must be a person. These capacities constitute personality, for they imply consciousness, and thought. They require that which can perceive an end or purpose; as well as the power of providing means, and of directing them to their end.3

Thus, the presence of contrivance suggested the presence of a God that possessed personality. For as he wrote: Whenever we see marks of contrivance, we are led for its cause to an intelligent author. And this transition of the understanding is founded upon uniform experience.4

Paley recognised that it might be difficult to discover God directly in nature, but this did not trouble him. He wrote: There may be many second causes, and many courses of second causes, one behind another, between what we observe of nature, and



the Deity; but there must be intelligence somewhere; there must be more in nature than what we see; and among the things unseen, there must be an intelligent, designing, author.5

A certain earthiness and sense of humour also was present in Paley’s work and, I think, in part accounts for its attractiveness. For example, he wrote a virtual paean to the powers of the epiglottis. After explaining the complexities involved in human breathing and swallowing, Paley concluded: Reflect, how frequently we swallow, how constantly we breathe. In a city feast, for example, what deglutition, what anhelation! yet does this little cartilage, the epiglottis, so effectually interpose its office, so securely guard the entrance of the windpipe, that, whilst morsel after morsel, draught after draught, are coursing one after another over it, an accident of a crumb or a drop slipping into this passage, (which nevertheless must be opened for the breath every second of time), excites, in the whole company, not only alarm by its danger, but surprise by its novelty. Not two guests are choked in a century.6

Surely that ‘little cartilage’ demonstrated the presence, wisdom, and forethought of a creator. But Paley thought nature did more than give evidence for the existence of a deity. The study of nature also proved that the deity had designed nature with beneficial contrivances: . . . we cannot help acknowledging, what an exertion of benevolence creation was; of benevolence, how minute in its care, how vast in its comprehension.7

He contended there really was nothing in nature left to genuine random chance. Paley explained that what seemed to be chance occurrences in nature represented only the appearance of chance because we as observers were ignorant of their real causes. He acknowledged the



presence of pain and suffering in nature, but thought he could find good utilitarian and functional explanations for this pain. He argued that, ‘We never discover a train of contrivance to bring about an evil purpose’.8 Should someone nonetheless conclude that nature was evil, he urged that person to reconsider the conclusion. He confessed: We cannot . . . avoid the difficulty [of perceiving evil in nature] by saying that the effect was not intended. The only question open to us is, whether it be ultimately evil.9

In other words, evil appearances are just that – appearances, which would receive a different interpretation had we fuller knowledge. And after citing repeated examples of wise, functional suffering, Paley declared with remarkable complacency, ‘It is a happy world after all’.10 Now, Darwin’s On the Origin of Species contains more than a few echoes of Paley. And this was no accident. Darwin had been assigned or had read on his own virtually all of Paley’s works while he was a student at Cambridge. In 1859, the very year of the Origin, Darwin wrote to his friend John Lubbock, ‘I do not think I hardly ever admired a book more than Paley’s Natural Theology. I could almost formerly have said it by heart’.11 Furthermore, Darwin’s rhetoric in the Origin also resembled Paley’s, as did his longstanding concern with the eye as a possible natural organ that could give evidence of a designing creator. Both Paley and Darwin were interested in and wrote on the instinct of birds and insects. Both Paley and Darwin suggested that the differences in human and animal instincts tend to be differences in degree rather than differences in kind. For many years Darwin resisted within his own thinking any challenge to Paley’s concept of nature as a perfectly contrived and adapting mechanism. And like Paley, Charles Darwin used the term ‘chance’ to indicate an occurrence in nature for which the natural cause remained simply unknown. Before pursuing Darwin any further at this point, it is important to observe that natural religion could change for one of two reasons. First,



it might change because of a new scientific understanding of the natural order. Second, it could change because of a new theological understanding of God. Paley’s God was a perfect creator and designer and all adaptations in nature were perfectly functional in a utilitarian fashion. Those which seemed to be poor or awkward adaptations were regarded simply as imperfectly understood. Now the most severe doubt to be cast upon this vision of a perfectly adapting Nature and the wholly benevolent God who was its author were raised not by a scientist but rather by another Anglican clergyman. This was Thomas Malthus. The reading of Malthus’ Essay on the Principle of Population (1798) provided the key turning point for both Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace in their independent formulations of the concept of natural selection. Virtually everyone is familiar with Malthus’ argument that human beings reproduce themselves geometrically while the food supply increases arithmetically. This argument presents a very dark image of nature at war with itself. Malthus’ vision casts a potentially dark shadow over Paley’s smiling face of nature. But the impact was not immediate, and Paley actually ignored Malthus’s arguments, though there is reason to believe they troubled him. The reason that Malthus’ dark, dreary argument did not produce an immediate impact on natural theology was the role of his little-known two closing chapters in the Essay. In these Malthus set forth a brief theodicy in which he attempted to find some kind of rational and even religious meaning in the horrendous image of nature he had previously set forth. First, he argued that we simply should not ask in a sceptical fashion the question why God had created the world in this apparently terrible and badly planned manner. But then, assuming the question was asked, Malthus responded by claiming that the evil and difficulties of a fiercely competitive nature were designed to call forth human industry and eventual social good. The wants of the body to be supplied from the too scarce resources provided by the deity served to awaken the mind to action and to exertions that ultimately improved the human situation on earth. Indeed, he declared, ‘Evil exists in the world not to create despair but activity’.12



Without this rather frail theodicy, Malthus’ image of nature is one that lacks meaning, purpose, or benevolence. In it, nature appears to be wasteful and anything but perfectly self-adjusting. To discern any meaning or purpose in nature, Malthus had looked beyond nature to life after death and to a view of this life on earth as an instructive or didactive preparation for the life to come in eternity. Malthus’ theodicy was thus a very small intellectual band aid stretched over the bloody violence of his vision of the natural order. That this more sceptical conclusion did not immediately flow from Malthus’ work has two explanations. First, the debate over his theory focused for over a quarter century on the implications of his views for the poor laws and social welfare generally rather than for theology. Second, between 1798 and the 1830s virtually any mode of religious scepticism, no matter how mild, was regarded as socially subversive. Consequently, the implications of Malthus’ view of nature were not vigorously pursued and his ideas lay as a moral time bomb ready to explode the harmonious concept of nature associated with Anglican natural theology. Where did the idea of creation fit into this picture, and how did natural religion, as well as naturalistic science, make Charles Darwin discontented with the concept of special creation? First, it is fundamental to recognise that the problem he faced was how species were created, not the creation of life or the creation of the physical universe. The theory of special creation was an attempt, or more properly a series of separate and often unrelated attempts, to explain how different species had come to exist. Special creation was particularly problematical to Darwin because it was one of the very few distinctly religious concepts or concepts derived directly from religious doctrines to be used actively as an explanatory hypothesis in contemporary Victorian science. Astronomers, physicists, chemists, and geologists might frequently make pious statements about science supporting religion and leading to reverence for God, but no distinctly religious doctrine actually entered into the theories of physics, astronomy, chemistry, or even much geology. By contrast, both scientists and theologians



(who were often one and the same person) appealed to the word and concept of creation to explain something that had occurred in nature or to account for something that existed in the natural order. Early in his meditations on the problem, Darwin had seen the implication of his theory as when he wrote a correspondent in 1845: . . . I never expect more than to be able to show that there are two sides to the questions of the immutability of species, i.e., whether species are directly created or by intermediate laws (as with the life and death of individuals).13

In his Charles Darwin and the Problem of Creation, Neal Gillespie is the scholar who has most recently attempted to explain what special creation meant in the middle of the nineteenth century. To say the least, there was considerable confusion. First, there were some scientific men who continued to believe in a mode of direct, miraculous, creative intervention by God in the natural order. The most famous and prestigious of these was Louis Agassiz of Harvard. In 1862 he told a Boston audience that animal structure: is not a kind of work which is delegated to secondary agencies; it is not like that which is delegated to a law working its way uniformly; but is that kind of work which the engineer retains when he superintends and controls his machine while it is working. It is evidence of a creator constantly and thoughtfully working among the complicated structures that He has made.14

A second position was to regard the creation of species as an event that had occurred through God’s manipulation of his own secondary laws of physical nature. The event or process of creation had been mysterious but also lawful. This outlook would seem to be a step beyond the direct appeal to the miraculous, but it often amounted to a pious hope that some kind of scientific understanding of creation might be attained. Upholders of this position such as William Whewell and Adam Sedgwick



of Cambridge University or Richard Owen of the Natural History Museum, repeatedly argued that a precise understanding of creation by law lay beyond human scientific knowledge, but was true nonetheless. For example, in 1858 Richard Owen (who entertained his own private doubts about creation) made the following statement to the British Association for the Advancement of Science: It may be well to bear in mind that by the word ‘creation’, the zoologist means ‘a process he knows not what’. Science has not yet ascertained the secondary causes that operated when ‘the earth brought forth grass and herb yielding seed after its kind’ . . . And supposing both the fact and the whole process of the so-called ‘spontaneous generation’ of a fruit-bearing tree, or of a fish were scientifically demonstrated, we should still retain as strongly the idea . . . that the process was ordained by and had originated from an all-wise and powerful First Cause of all things.15

A third position toward special creation held by future supporters of Darwin, such as Huxley and Joseph Dalton Hooker in the years before the publication of the Origin was essentially nescience. They rejected any concept of special creation but could put nothing in its place. They believed the concept of special creation in either its miraculous or lawful form was not a satisfactory scientific explanation and that it led nowhere. As Huxley explained the situation many years after the fact: What we were looking for, and could not find, was a hypothesis respecting the origin of known organic forms, which assumed the operation of no causes but such as could be proved to be actually at work.16

Consequently, during the 1850s there was no single theory of special creation. There was much questioning of it among younger scientists, and even many of its older supporters had to admit that it was a rather vague concept. The situation was intellectually ripe for a new theory such as Darwin would produce.



However, at the same time there had arisen new discontent with traditional natural theology – a discontent that had little or nothing to do with its scientific adequacy or inadequacy. For reasons that have not yet been fully delineated by historians, there had occurred a change in moral sensibilities that made the theodicy of Malthus and the other natural theologians no longer persuasive by the 1840s. Both natural religion and classical economics had exposed the disharmony of nature and society while at the same time proclaiming that, despite appearances to the contrary, society and nature were harmonious. In the 1840s a change occurs. There commences an attack on Christianity on ethical grounds. The moral character of major Christian doctrines came under fire. In particular, some writers began to express doubt about the morality of the Christian God who had sacrificed his perfect, sinless son for the atonement of the world. Such a God, it was claimed, was immoral. At the same time geology had begun to expose a virtual museum of extinct species found in the rocks. The Malthusian specter of a disharmonious nature at war with itself came to the fore in much literature. The most famous example was Alfred Tennyson’s In Memoriam of 1850 with its famous line about ‘nature red in tooth and claw’. All of these developments seemed to suggest a need to provide a new way of looking at nature – a way of interpreting the natural order so as to give it a higher purpose or to redeem it from the increasingly evident mayhem and suffering being revealed in it. With the perceived need to redeem nature there was also a newly perceived necessity to redeem the God who had allegedly created this monstrous nature and guided it in its demonic wildness. Consequently, as Charles Darwin laboured to find the facts to support his theory of natural selection which he had initially formulated in 1842, he confronted both a scientific and a moral problem. Natural theology inhibited science from setting forth a thoroughly naturalistic scientific theory of the Origin, but natural theology had also come to a moral impasse as nature seemed to give evidence of an evil rather than a benevolent God. Natural theology seemed to mesh no longer with either science or morality. Both the scientific and the moral impasses focused in Darwin’s mind on the problem of special creation.



Darwin published the Origin in 1859 after having been induced to publication by Wallace’s independent co-formulation of the concept of natural selection. In the Origin and in his later works on orchids of 1862, on The Variation of Plants and Animals Under Domestication (1868), and The Descent of Man (1871), there appears a strong and unremitting attack on special creation, natural theology of a crude sort, and biological idealism. His scientific attack on special creation was really rather straightforward. The concept, according to Darwin, did not explain the origin of species, nor their transmutation in any fashion that could be regarded as scientific. As he wrote in The Variation: On the ordinary view of each species having been independently created, we gain no scientific explanation of any one of these facts. We can only say that it has so pleased the Creator to command that the past and present inhabitants of the world should appear in a certain order and in certain areas; that He has impressed on them the most extraordinary resemblances, and has classed them in groups subordinate to groups. But by such statements we gain no new knowledge; we do not connect together facts and laws; we explain nothing.17

First, Darwin was claiming that the problem of the origin of species previously explained in terms of divine intervention or left to vague descriptions, such as Owen’s curious definition of 1858, could actually be explained. Darwin refused to leave the issue of transmutation bracketed. Second, Darwin contended that transmutation could be explained naturalistically. Darwin’s complaints about special creation are relatively well known and have been used traditionally to set Darwin into the camp of positivist science and to represent him as a critic of religion and religious faith. But the story is more complicated, and Darwin’s mind is much more complex than any simple convenient label can indicate. In all of Darwin’s major evolutionary works there are passages in which his description of nature and natural laws come very close to



those of the earlier natural theologians. There are passages, especially in the Origin, Chapter IV, where Darwin virtually personifies natural selection and where the word ‘God’ or ‘Deity’ might easily be substituted for it. Darwin repeatedly protested that he had no intention of personifying the concept, but he did not appreciably change his prose. Furthermore, in Wallace’s writing on natural selection, the concept is not only applied but also discussed in much more mechanistic terms. I am not saying that Darwin meant natural selection to be any more than a descriptive term, but he repeatedly implied more by his prose. The studies of John Greene of the University of Connecticut, Neal Gillespie, and the late Dov Ospovat (a Yale College graduate) have shown that in Darwin’s unpublished notes and diaries, he made references to a creator, personified natural selection, and occasionally anthropomorphised nature. These could be regarded as slips of the pen, but I think they suggest a mind struggling against great odds to liberate itself from a previous mode of thought. I also think that it may suggest a mind that was hesitant to associate itself with the longstanding social stigma attached to atheism or materialism. In the closing paragraph of the second edition of the Origin, Darwin even added the word ‘Creator’ to this sentence: There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so small a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.18

It could be argued that this change simply amounted to truckling to religious critics, but the pre-Origin private notes suggest otherwise. Darwin was genuinely ambiguous. He could also simply have omitted much of the last chapter of the Origin, but he did not. John Greene is, I think, correct to regard Darwin at least in the late 1850s and the early 1860s as an ‘evolutionary theist’.



No matter what his exact theological stance, Darwin found the concept of a creator derived from natural theology frequently appearing in his thought. Scientifically, he wished to remove that creator from the origin of species and from the pursuit of biology. Morally, however, Darwin wished to use his theory, in the words of Neal Gillespie, ‘to find a divine exoneration as well as a support for a naturalistic theory of common descent’. Natural religion, geological investigations, and Malthus had presented a very harsh view of nature that bothered Darwin as much as it had Tennyson. In 1856 Darwin wrote to J.D. Hooker: What a book a devil’s chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low, and horribly cruel works of nature.19

That cruelty presented a moral dilemma that made Darwin discontented with traditionally complacent natural theology and with special creation. In his notebooks, his published works, and private letters Darwin argued that his view of nature and of the evolution of species through natural selection ennobled the human view of the natural order and, more importantly, presented a higher concept of God than did natural religion or special creation. In a very real sense Darwin was trying to provide an effective and convincing theodicy for a world of Malthusian conflict – a theodicy that Malthus had attempted but failed to provide satisfactorily and one which had disintegrated under the impact of naturalistic science. Malthus had justified suffering by an appeal to life in the hereafter and by contending that problems in this life induced naturally sluggish human beings to work. Darwin attempted in response to Malthus’s failure to present a theodicy that required time, but which was accomplished through history in this world on this earth. He wrote in the Origin: I see no good reason why the views given in this volume should shock the religious feelings of any one . . . To my mind it accords better with what we know of the laws impressed on matter by the Creator, that the



production and extinction of the past and present inhabitants of the world should have been due to secondary causes, like those determining the life and death of the individual. When I view all beings not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the Silurian system was deposited, they seem to me to become ennobled . . . And as natural selection works solely by and for the good of each being, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to progress towards perfection.20

In Darwin’s mind, natural selection, a thoroughly naturalistic process involving secondary laws, in a very real sense relieved God of direct responsibility or guilt for the evil and suffering visible in nature. That suffering did in the long run of time involve a process that perfected nature. Furthermore, if God were set rather far off from nature, the absence of complete perfection in the natural order was also more acceptable. Darwin seems to have thought, around 1860, that God had designed the laws or processes of nature but was not responsible for the exact intricacies of their workings. Nature thus became ennobled for Darwin through what amounted to a scientific version of Thomas Carlyle’s natural supernaturalism. Although nature displayed suffering and imperfect adaptation, the process of evolution by natural selection in Darwin’s account could only work for the good of the species and ultimately for ‘progress toward perfection’.21 The religious alternative to Darwin’s theory, at least so far as it embraced special creation, became increasingly unacceptable to Darwin during the 1860s. He became increasingly hostile to clergymen and theologians. I believe two things happened to his thinking and made it more rigid, more materialistic, and ultimately agnostic. First, on a very human level he was irked and angered by the rejection of his theory on religious grounds or by scientists arguing against his theory from a religious standpoint. He had expected religious opposition, but I suspect it was stronger and more vitriolic than he had anticipated. Second, the religious and scientific opposition of scientists whom he respected, such as Asa Gray, compelled him to think harder, more systematically, and



more directly about questions of design, providence, and creation than he had previously. He had wanted to avoid most of these issues and concentrate solely on the origin of species. This was not to be. Writers such as Gray pushed him further. Those meditations led Darwin to a largely unanticipated and rather vaguely formulated agnosticism. Those thoughts made him deal further with the idea of a creator. And what comes through repeatedly is his discomfort with having to think about the question and also an ongoing concern with reconciling the visible evil of nature with the presence of an invisible God. In May of 1860, Darwin wrote to Asa Gray: With respect to the theological view of the question. This is always painful to me. I am bewildered. I had no intention to write atheistically. But I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. Not believing this, I see no necessity in the belief that the eye was expressly designed. On the other hand, I cannot any how be contented to view this wonderful universe, and especially the nature of man, and to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion AT ALL satisfies me. I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton.22

In this letter as well as other public statements, such as the closing paragraph of Variations, which seems to be a reworking of this letter, Darwin always reverted to the same argument. Do you really wish to go on believing in a directly creating and designing deity, if he could design



and create with no more elegance, purpose, and benevolence than raw nature presents to us? Darwin’s argument against the presence of an omnipotent, concerned creator was as often as not a moral rather than a scientific argument. The natural order in his mind gave evidence either of no god or of a God unworthy of human worship. The creator or deity Darwin wished to preserve was the rational, benevolent God of Paley, but Darwin could preserve that God as a spiritual force or object only by banishing him from any direct contact with nature. Consequently, in order to justify the ways of God to man, Darwin in effect removed God from what he often found to be a morally repulsive nature. Only a God that had nothing to do with the struggle and pain of the natural order was a God worthy of humankind’s faith. By the end of his life Darwin was not certain that such a God existed; others have come to different conclusions.




t is virtually impossible to consider the meaning of Karl Marx’s thought and its place in the nineteenth century without some sense of the career of Marx’s thought in the twentieth century. I shall eventually discuss the early nineteenth-century Marx, but first I want to outline the reputation of Marx’s thought from the late nineteenth century onward. By considering the reception history of Marx, we can remove unnecessary sources of confusion. What remains is then to simply overcome the difficulties in Marx’s writings. During the 1840s and 1850s Karl Marx was one of a relatively large number of German radical writers criticising the condition of the working class in Europe. There were critics of the social order from across the intellectual and social spectrum. Many of these writers had little or no influence. Carlyle and Ruskin, whom we have discussed elsewhere, would influence both middle-class and working-class social critics and political activists across the English-speaking world. The case of Karl Marx was different. Karl Marx became a major figure in modern thought because his ideas became adopted by a particular political party. The German Social Democratic Party was founded in 1875. Several of its founders, most particularly Wilhelm Liebknecht 121



and August Bebel, had read the writings of Karl Marx and were convinced by them. These two figures rose to high position in the SPD, and for all intents and purposes during the last quarter of the century made Marxist thought the official ideology of the SPD. The Marxist writings that were most important for the SPD were The Communist Manifesto (1848) and the three volumes of Capital, the first of which appeared in 1867. The members and leadership of the party sharply debated the meaning of Marxism over the years, but there was no question all concerned believed Marxist thought should furnish the foundation for the life and policies of the party. The reason that the SPD commitment to the thought of Marx is so significant is that, during the same quarter-century, the German SPD became the largest, most powerful, most effective, and most influential socialist party in Europe. Once it could function legally, it became a mass political party with a very large membership. It became the model after which, to one degree or another, other continental socialist parties patterned themselves. This patterning took place through an organisation known as the Second International, which functioned as a kind of international conference or international organisation of socialist parties. Part of that process of patterning on the part of other socialist parties involved the appropriation of the writings of Karl Marx as the basis for the ideologies of the parties. There was among all of these parties across Europe much debate over exactly what policies and course of action Marx’s writings commanded. At the core of these debates was the question of whether Marx’s writings and philosophy meant that these parties which were claiming to seek revolution should actively work for revolution as revolutionaries or whether, since Marx had indicated revolution was inevitable, they would simply wait for the revolution to occur and in the meantime work within the existing political systems. Sincere Marxists differed on that question. What the debates of the turn of the century demonstrate is that Marxist thinking could direct political parties and political leaders in a variety of directions about 1900. This was the situation in Western Europe. The situation differed in Russia where there was no really open political life and no parliamen-



tary institution until after the 1905 revolution. In every respect the political situation in Russia was more extreme. Furthermore, there was compared to Western Europe relatively little industrialisation in Russia. Consequently, Russian socialists who were regarded as radicals by the Tsarist government generally had to function in exile. There they debated what was the best way to bring socialism to Russia. It was among these Russian socialist exiles that Marxist thought took an important and decisive turn that led it in directions quite dissimilar to what was occurring in the open public debates of Western European socialist parties. A Russian Social Democratic Party had been founded in 1895, but it functioned in exile. Among its exiled members and leaders was Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, who became rather more famous as Lenin. Lenin rejected two ideas held by many of his fellow Russian Social Democrats. He rejected the idea that a sizeable working class must develop in Russia before there could be a revolution, and he rejected the idea that the Russian Social Democrats should become a mass political party like the socialist parties of Western Europe. He urged that what was necessary was a small elite party of professional revolutionaries. In 1903 the Russian Social Democratic Party met in exile in London and a split occurred. It was during these debates that Lenin named his faction of the party ‘Bolshevik’ meaning ‘majority’ and his opponents ‘Mensheviks’ meaning ‘minority’. Only in 1912 did the Bolsheviks organise separately. All of these disputes among Russian exiles would have meant little or nothing to the history of the twentieth century or to the history of European socialism had not the First World War occurred. That war brought down the Tsarist government in Russia, which was replaced for a time in 1917 by a provisional government. This government intended to stay in the war against Germany. After the February Revolution of 1917 the German government sent Lenin to St Petersburg in a sealed railway car. Lenin was committed to removing Russia from the war if the Bolsheviks came to power. In November 1917 the Bolsheviks carried out a political coup and thereby constituted themselves the government of Russia, which soon became the Soviet Union. It was because of the success of the Bolshevik coup that Marxism in its Leninist form became



a fundamental fact of political life in the twentieth century. One aspect of that Leninist policy was to demand that Western socialist parties imitate the Bolshevik party. This demand split Western European socialist groups into democratic socialist parties and communist parties. There were intense, internecine disputes between these groups. Thereafter the debates over Marxist thought almost invariably related to the participants’ attitudes toward the domestic and foreign policy of the Soviet Union and the split between democratic socialists and communists. Among democratic socialists and non-socialists who were sympathetic to socialism the policies of the Soviet Union, especially under Stalin, besmirched the reputation of Karl Marx and of Marxist thought. Consequently, democratic socialists and their sympathisers first in Western Europe and then in academic circles in the United States attempted to find in the writings of Karl Marx a socialist and even revolutionary vision that differed from the policies of Stalinism. The key moment in this search for an alternative Marx occurred in the 1930s, and turned on the publication of previously unpublished or little-known writings by Marx in the early 1840s. These writings included The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 and The German Ideology. Furthermore, the early draft of Capital, known as the Grundrisse, also received considerable attention. These writings revealed what became known as ‘the Young Marx’ or ‘the humanist Marx’. These philosophical writings have come to exercise an enormous impact on twentieth-century Marxist thought, but had virtually no impact on nineteenth-century Marxism. The concentration on those writings allowed twentieth-century intellectuals to concentrate on a young Marx who wrote very little about revolution and very little about economics as such. Rather it was a Marx who was working his way through Hegelianism and then through various other radical thinkers of the 1840s to his own particular version of a revolutionary vision that emerged in the Manifesto. These early writings tended to present a philosophical condemnation of capitalism that had for many readers and teachers a moral quality that seemed to have disappeared from the later Marx. Furthermore, the early writings had very little claim to be scientific;



they were humanistic. Consequently, twentieth-century scholars and teachers in the humanities who were themselves often leery of science were drawn to the early Marx. They were also drawn to the early Marx because those generally unpublished writings contained very few of the predictions about the collapse of capitalism that quite simply had not happened. Nonetheless, as we shall see, it was just exactly Marx’s claim to have produced a scientific socialism that set his thought apart from that of other radical and socialist critics of the new industrial order. Finally, it should be noted that the humanist Marx continued to be attractive to Western intellectuals after the German–Soviet Pact of 1940, the Communist takeover of Eastern Europe after 1945, the Soviet invasion of Hungary, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Repeatedly Western intellectuals in the post-World War II era would turn to the early Marx in hopes that there they might find a Marxism with a human face. Just as there were those who have always claimed Christianity has never really been tried, the explication of the early Marx allowed Western intellectuals in the face of the repression and faceless society of the Soviet Union to claim that a humanistic Marxism had never been tried. Even those defences seemed to come crashing down with the events of 1989. When in 1991 the Soviet Union disbanded, the new Russian state, and other emerging republics, renounced their previous commitments to Marxism. Such has been the career of Marxist thought in the years after the publication of Capital in 1867. But what was the nineteenth-century story of Karl Marx and the emergence of his thought as one among many versions of social criticism and social utopianism in the 1840s? Karl Marx was born in the Rhineland in 1818, the child of a Jewish father who had converted to the Lutheran Church a year before. This course of action was not rare among German Jews in what is known as the ‘Age of Emancipation’. Furthermore, his father was deeply read in the writers of both the French and German Enlightenments. The father also believed deeply in both the power of rational argument and in the perfectibility of human nature. In 1835 Marx studied briefly at the



University of Bonn, and the next year moved to the University of Berlin. There he became deeply enmeshed in the philosophy of German idealism and particularly that of Hegel. Historicism deeply influenced him. How did historicism impact on Marx? It convinced him as it did many of his generation that his own age must be seen as the culmination of past historical development, but also that his own age contained within itself the seeds of future historical change and development. He also imbibed from Hegel that world historical change does not normally take place peacefully; historical change takes place through violence, usually the violence of international war, civil war, or revolution. Furthermore, world historical change requires world historical individuals or heroes to bring it about and to burst the chains of the existing social order. Marx absorbed all of these ideas. Marx also absorbed other key Hegelian ideas. The most important of these was the conception that ideas or abstractions determine the character and course of societies. Hegel had suggested that to some extent the shape of a society and political order is a reflection of the idea of the world spirit. Hegel had contended that it was possible for a government, or more precisely the bureaucracy of a government, to function as a kind of universal class which would govern for the general good. He contended that a universal or bureaucratic governing class, because it was informed by universal reason, would rule above the interests of any particular or special class in the population. In that regard, it functioned similarly to Rousseau’s General Will. For Hegel, the state – defined as this universal class of bureaucrats – was fundamentally separate from all the various individuals, social groups, and economic interests which were governed. Another way of putting this Hegelian view is the following: for Hegel civil society and the state are separate entities. When people are part of civil society, they are pursuing their individual selfish interests. When they act in regard to the state or as citizens, they are in some way rising above those selfish particular interests. We shall return to this point. While in Berlin Marx also became familiar with a number of radical Hegelian thinkers who are known as the left Hegelians. Whereas Hegel



and a number of his philosophic followers had attempted to use philosophy to defend the social and political status quo, the left Hegelians sought to use philosophy to attack and to reform it. Philosophically Marx begins his career as a left Hegelian. Part of the story of his intellectual progress is his working his way through this kind of left-Hegelian social criticism to a new and radically different critical position. One of the key turning points in this development was when Marx became acquainted with the materialist philosophy of Ludwig Feuerbach. This philosopher had become famous for his theological criticism. He had contended that all religion is a human activity that actually had nothing to do with the divine. This was summarised in his statement in The Essence of Christianity (1841) that ‘the secret of theology is nothing else than anthropology’.1 That is to say, Feuerbach contended that human concepts of god constituted nothing more and nothing less than psychological projections of human qualities. He furthermore contended that the more loving and humane, and powerful and righteous, human beings made God out to be, the more they degraded their own character. That is, human beings emptied themselves of their best human qualities and infused these into their psychological projection of the divine. Feuerbach was also a materialist. Just as Hegel believed all existence was in some manner spirit, Feuerbach believed that it was in some manner all matter. What Feuerbach was also suggesting by his view of religion and his naturalistic metaphysics was that Hegelianism was fundamentally wrong. He was implying that the alienation of human qualities into the divine degraded human nature. He also was suggesting that the role that Hegel ascribed to Spirit really pertained to human beings and not to the impersonal spirit. By the early 1840s Marx had returned to the Rhineland where he had become a radical democratic journalist attacking both conservatives and liberals in Germany. He attacked conservative press censorship and liberal legislation that would have deprived peasants of customary rights. During the same period he began to use the insights and methods provided by Feuerbach to criticise both the original Hegelian philosophy and the radical philosophy of the left Hegelians.



The most important example of this criticism of the Hegelian heritage and its radical interpretation came in Marx’s essay of 1843, ‘On the Jewish Question’. In this essay Marx criticises a proposal for the religious emancipation of the Jews in Germany. Various German liberals and radicals believed that the Jews should be emancipated from any religious disabilities based on their Jewish faith. These same liberals and radicals would have argued for a more general freedom of religion. That is, they wanted to free the state from any religious affiliation. This was a standard outlook of European liberals and radicals across the continent. It was seen as establishing a fundamental area of human freedom. Marx for his part vehemently attacks the inadequacy of such religious emancipation. He draws the distinction between political emancipation – that is, the emancipation of citizens from certain prohibitions or disabilities imposed by government – and what he calls ‘human emancipation’.2 In this case human emancipation would mean freeing individual human beings from the socially imposed mandates of religiosity. In the context of the essay, political emancipation would mean that German Jews might worship without disabilities and might have no other disabilities imposed on them by the government because they are Jews. However, such political liberation would not free them from the self or socially imposed imperatives of their Jewish faith. Only human emancipation would liberate them from their Jewishness. Now let us try to see what Marx is saying by using the more familiar terms of ‘state’ (meaning government) and ‘civil society’. In contrast to virtually all of his predecessors, with the possible exception of Rousseau, Marx is saying there are two areas in which human beings may experience the absence of liberty. The first is in terms of their relationship to the state. The state or government may impose laws or other burdensome regulations which mean people are not free. This was the kind of state interference that Adam Smith deplored in terms of the economy and that political liberals deplored in terms of various areas of human life. But Marx then says something which did not apparently cross the mind of Adam Smith and other liberals. He is saying that within the confines of civil society itself there are kinds of bondage which pertain



to society alone and which have little or nothing to do with state interference. In this essay, the area of bondage on which he focuses is religion. Liberalism or Jewish emancipation would allow people to be free to be religious, but Marx, already an atheist in part due to the influence of Feuerbach, contends that the freedom to be religious is simply the freedom to be in social and psychological bondage to religion. To undergo full human emancipation one would free oneself from religion itself. As the 1840s progressed, Marx found one area after another within civil society which he would come to regard as a form of bondage, so that eventually his vision of freedom is the freedom from the confines of civil society. That would mean eventually, as we shall see, that civil society must be overthrown by revolution. Thus, by the completion of ‘On the Jewish Question’, Marx has set forth what he regards as the inadequacy of liberal freedom. But he confronts a new problem on the way to the realisation of human emancipation. Is there any group in civil society which, if it were to become the vehicle of a revolution, was sufficiently wide and all-inclusive to ensure that its victory would be a victory for human emancipation rather than for the emancipation of only some human beings, who would then in turn become a new group oppressing in their own selfinterest? In time Marx would reach the conclusion that the proletariat constituted such a class. But the steps in his thinking are protracted and complicated. They would lead him further into Hegelian philosophy and then through French socialism and English political economy. In 1844 Marx wrote a series of manuscripts which did not see the light of published day until 1932. These are the Philosophical and Economic Manuscripts of 1844. Few documents were so analysed in the twentieth century. In these manuscripts Marx thought through the problem that became known as ‘the alienation of labour’.3 Marx contends that the fundamental core of human nature is labour or work. It is through human interaction with nature in terms of work that human nature creates itself. Human consciousness comes into



existence collectively through human beings shaping nature with their labour. Now Marx believes that within the capitalistic economy something terribly wrong has occurred. Marx is not here complaining about the suffering of workers from inadequate food or overwork or from the conditions of urban slums. No, for Marx the young philosopher the situation of workers under capitalism – that is, the situation of workers in civil society characterised by the division of labour – is that the process of production robs them of their humanity by alienating them from their labour. Both labour and the products of labour have become commodities. Workers project into the objects they produce and into the commodities they would like to purchase all of their most basic human qualities. In the same fashion that Feuerbach saw human beings projecting their best qualities into the illusions of Gods, Marx sees the workers projecting their best qualities as human beings – their creative labour – into the objects of production. It is through this process that workers are drained of their humanity which flows into the commodities of the capitalistic marketplace. Under some kind of ideal work situation, labour and work should be creative and life affirming, but under capitalistic production work drains the life and creativity and basic human essence from workers. Moreover, by doing this labour, human workers in the capitalist system are also robbed of their capacity for meaningful social interaction. They are reduced simply to atomistic egos. All of this alienated labour comes to reside in private property. It is also worth noting that Marx believes the same process is harmful to the capitalist property owner who becomes reduced to an abstract money power. This situation of the alienated worker, which Marx has reached philosophically rather than from empirical examination or investigation, is the situation which Marx believes the transition to communism must overcome. The incapacity of other radical, socialist programmes to overcome this condition of alienation of labour is the basic reason that Marx found all of the other contemporary socialist paths to communism inadequate and even in some cases reprehensible. This newly



achieved viewpoint also led Marx to criticise Feuerbach and other contemplative philosophers. They had been willing to view the situation of workers and of human beings from the standpoint of contemplation. Marx believed that his insight regarding alienation pointed to the need for a philosophy of action. The world cannot be changed by piecemeal reforms brought to the workers from outside, but change must originate from their collectively grasping their situation as one in which their essential human character or human nature has been drained from them. It is important to remember that Marx did not publish these ideas, but they formed his own internal point of philosophical departure. In 1844 Karl Marx met Friedrich Engels, the son of a German manufacturer, who also owned a factory in England. In 1845 Engels published The Condition of the English Working Class, which was a devastating survey of the lives of workers, based on information taken from parliamentary reports, newspapers, and journals. By this time Marx had adopted the idea of historical determinism or the historical inevitability of the achievement of communism or the abolition of private property. In 1846 Marx and Engels wrote another work not published until the twentieth century. It was entitled The German Ideology. It was in this work that they developed a thoroughly materialist interpretation of human history. The fundamental argument of this work is that human ideas about the world and society are the product of the material organisation of society: that is to say, ideas flow from the economic and social arrangements of a society, and the reverse. Ideas are the product of material conditions. This viewpoint returns to Marx’s contention that it is human labour that defines human nature. It is the conditions under which human beings labour and the conditions created by their labour that determine the way human beings think. In other words, mind is a by-product of the conditions of production. For Marx, the social villain in this piece is the division of labour. Through this division human beings are turned against themselves. The division of labour leads to inequality of property and to the social conflict this inequality entails. The division of labour also leads to the alienation of labour into commodities of production and into wage



labour itself. It is also the division of labour that leads to class conflict, and this class conflict is the major engine of historical change. For Marx, one of the changes to be achieved by the coming of communism would be the eradication of the division of labour and, with it, class conflict. Marx believes that until communism comes into being, all that social ideas and ideals can do is to rationalise the dominance of one class by another. Within this world of the division of labour, civil society is the arena of the division of labour; but the state or government represents an illusion of a real community where there is equality. It is for Marx an illusion because, so long as the division of labour exists, the state is quite simply the machine of the dominant class. Any idea of equality associated with the state is an illusion perpetrated by the ruling class on the ruled. There can be no true equality or liberation through such a state. Now, Marx believed that class conflict was inevitable, and that in the long run it would inevitably bring about communism. This communism would, in Marx’s view, bring about the liberation of workers or the proletariat and also the liberation of all mankind. Under communism the state and society would be united and not at odds. Under communism the alienation of labour would be overcome. Under communism private property would be abolished and therefore the state which existed to protect the economic interests of the governing class, which was the dominant economic class, would disappear. This was the basis of Marx’s and Engel’s thinking when they set out to write The Communist Manifesto of 1848. What occurs in the Manifesto is the explanation of how the proletariat will become the transcendent force in the liberation of humanity. Marx differed from previous socialist writers whom he so sharply attacks in the Manifesto. They were concerned with better conditions for workers, more just distribution of goods, the alleviation of hardship, and other concerns of economic and social welfare. Marxism concerned itself with achieving the overcoming of alienation and the achievement for the proletariat of human liberation. At the same time he believes that the proletariat must be the instrument of its own liberation, but only after it has reached the consciousness of this historical role through its



own most profound degradation. It is his profound difference from other political radicals and social revolutionaries that distinguishes him from his contemporaries. It is his own sense of this difference that leads him to spend so much time attacking other radicals whom he believes have simply got both the problem and the answer wrong. The Manifesto, in a remarkably short space, drew together a vast number of the conclusions that Marx and Engels had reached in long, complex, technical works of philosophy and political polemic. It includes the argument that all history is the product of class conflict, the vision of economic and material determinism, the criticism of alternative modes of socialism, and the critique of liberal freedoms. But the most memorable elements of the Manifesto are those that relate to the description of the bourgeoisie. No classical economist or spokesman for liberalism ever presented a more powerful image of the middle class. It is the bourgeoisie who has forged the modern world. They have created a new world and in doing so have also created the very forces that will bring about their demise. The values of the middle class itself – especially its conviction of the power of competition – will in the long run mean that it will devour itself. The bourgeoisie has also created a vast, all-inclusive culture in which the power of capital and private property leaves not the most intimate relationships of family and gender untouched. Yet, the bourgeoisie has also brought into existence the very social force that will cause its demise – the proletariat. What is the very special quality of the proletariat in Marx’s thought? The forces of capitalism and the competition among the bourgeoisie first lead to the expansion of the size of the proletariat. More and more sections of society will become victimised and join the proletariat. Then the proletariat itself becomes over the course of history increasingly degraded. At some point it comes to have a consciousness of itself and a consciousness that it must be the engine of its own liberation. As a result of the economic forces that led to its expansion and degradation there will emerge a revolutionary consciousness. It will carry out a revolution, thrust off the bondage of the now ever-smaller bourgeoisie, and usher in the communist revolution.



However, the communist revolution of the bourgeoisie will be different from that of every other revolution that the class conflicts of the past have achieved. The revolution of the proletariat will be by definition the revolution of a group which by its size and condition is co-extensive with humanity itself. The revolution of the bourgeoisie is by definition not the revolution of one class over another. It is the revolution of what amounts to humanity. That revolution will bring about the end of private property, the end of the division of labour, and the end of the alienation of labour. The state will wither away because for Marx, drawing upon liberal writers, the state exists for the protection of property. With the abolition of property the state will no longer be needed. The revolution of the proletariat will eradicate all of those dualisms that had haunted social thought since Rousseau. That frightening image of the bourgeois divided against himself that Rousseau drew in Emile will be abolished along with the frightening image of alienated labour that Marx had privately drawn in his manuscripts of 1844. The proletariat emerges as the force which, by liberating itself, will liberate all of humanity. One sees in the Communist Manifesto what may be regarded as the culmination of the various utopian visions of human transformation and human redemption within history that commenced with Rousseau. Yet, what gave this particular utopian vision greater power in the late nineteenth century than other visions of the 1840s? It was Marx’s materialism and his effort in Capital to link his transforming vision to the empirical categories of British economics. Marx claimed that his economic analysis was empirical and scientific. He filled his later works with the ideas of classical economics and with statistics drawn from the condition of the various European working classes. It was this marriage of utopianism with science that allowed the German SPD and other political parties in the second half of the century to find in Marx a guide for their political activities. There have been numerous interpretations of what Marx’s thought of the 1840s was seeking to achieve. Some scholars have seen in Marx one more voice calling for a vast social transformation. Beginning with



Rousseau, various European intellectuals had seen something in human society preventing the development of an authentic way of living. And various writers pointed to different obstacles and liberators. For Marx, that ‘something’ was capitalism itself. Only if it were destroyed would human liberation and fulfilment be achieved. The role of the proletariat was to carry out that destruction and achieve the kind of universal freedom that Rousseau had envisioned in the Social Contract. Another widely influential interpretation of Marx’s intentions is that he used the categories of earlier religious thought (which he rejected) to create a secular messianic vision. According to this view, the proletariat functions in his thought very much as a suffering messiah. It must go through history, take upon itself the burden of all humanity and then emerge in an apocalyptic revolution and redeem humankind in time and in history. Certainly, there is much in Marx to suggest that he has imposed a secular framework on Judeo-Christian messianic hope and expectation. A final interpretation which I find quite convincing, within certain limits, is that for Marx the proletariat functions as a kind of collective Hegelian hero. You will recall that for Hegel one epoch of history is transformed into another through violence and through a hero or world historical figure who, through his special consciousness, understands that the time for world historical change has arrived. In many respects the picture that Marx draws of the proletariat resembles that of an Hegelian hero. The proletariat must achieve a consciousness of its situation. It must understand that a new kind of society is possible. It must act through revolutionary violence. Each and every one of these features is the image of the Hegelian hero. I find this interpretation appealing because it reminds us that Marx’s thought was first and foremost rooted in that of Hegel. It also has what is to me the added attraction of a materialist Marx seeking for transcendent utopian change in history through the vehicle of the avenging hero of the proletariat. Just as in 1846 J.M.W. Turner portrayed an angel in the sun ready to avenge the fratricide, betrayal, and evils of human history, two years later Marx called forth the proletariat from the degradation of their state to liberate humanity and to redeem human nature to enter into a non-alienated relationship with itself.




uring the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century the concept of the artist underwent a remarkable change. This occurred in virtually all of the arts of the day – poetry, painting, sculpture, music, and architecture. The transformation of the concept and social role of the artist that developed during those years has continued to affect our thinking to the present. It may be seen in the title of a late-nineteenth-century biography of Richard Wagner which was entitled Richard Wagner: Man and Artist. Wagner was portrayed as an artist set apart from other men. The artist, whether poet or practioner of the plastic arts or musician, came to be portrayed unlike other human beings in both paintings and literature and even in early photography. Furthermore, during the nineteenth century there were erected various structures to celebrate the artist. These included monuments to the arts, such as the frieze around the Albert Memorial in London; busts of artists placed in niches on various public buildings usually associated with education; and museums and vast concert halls and opera houses. Indeed, the museum and opera house are cultural monuments of the nineteenth-century glorification of the artist. Museums were 136



understood as homes of the Muses and they encased the works of those who had been in contact with them. The artist came to be thought of and discussed as someone who was larger than life and certainly larger, truer, better, and more inspired than the rest of the human beings in whose society he dwelled and whose society and values he challenged. The artist in that regard assumed the function of a social critic very much in the manner that Rousseau had seen himself. However, in the eyes of some such as Percy Shelley, the artist assumed the role not of critic but as the Legislator who was to lay down laws and mores for societies. Shelley in one famous moment declared, ‘Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world’. Such was the not infrequent self-image of the artist, whether he emerged as one alienated from society or, like Lord Leighton in Britain, a social lion, who could present his self-portrait as an ancient Greek deity. One can glean a sense of the power that was projected onto the artist in a passage from the second volume of John Ruskin’s Modern Painters of 1846. There Ruskin declared of the artist – having in mind J.M.W. Turner: He owns no laws. He defies all restraint, and cuts down all hedges. There is nothing within the limits of natural possibility that he dares not do, or that he allows the necessity of doing. The laws of nature he knows; these are to him no restraint. They are his own nature. All other laws or limits he sets at utter defiance; his journey is over an untrodden and pathless plain. But he sees his end over the waste from the first, and goes straight at it; never losing sight of it, nor throwing away a step. Nothing can stop him, nothing turn him aside; falcons and lynxes are of slow and uncertain sight compared with his.1

By the 1840s similar statements could be found about the character of the artist in virtually every major European language. The artist stood at one with a larger nature, and that unity with a larger nature allowed the artist to challenge the laws and mores of society. It is important to remember that such had not always been the situation with poets and artists. The debate over the place of art and artists in



Western culture has been a long one. It is well to recall that Plato cast the poets out of his republic, and that he regarded artists as those who made imitations of imitations far removed from the higher reality of his realm of the forms. For Plato, poets and the arts in general were corrupting forces that enticed human beings away from an experience with all that was truly real and with all the higher forms of knowledge. Such debates over art would continue over the centuries. In the middle of the eighteenth century it was still common when discussing art to distinguish between useful arts and fine arts. The writers of the French Encyclopedia, who were concerned with economic progress, often praised and frequently portrayed in prints the arts of everyday life including metal working, winemaking, agriculture, tailoring, and printing. In the article ‘Art’ in the Encyclopedia Diderot closely linked the mechanical and the liberal arts. He saw both being carried out according to rules. He regarded the setting of mechanical arts below liberal arts as a matter of historical prejudice. He declared, ‘What odd judgments we make! We demand that people be usefully employed, and we scorn useful men.’ He continued, ‘The goal of any art in general or of any system of instruments and rule working together for the same purpose is to impress certain well defined forms on a base given by nature; and this base is either matter or mind, either some function of the heart or some product of nature.’ Similar attitudes toward the useful and manufacturing arts could be found among the Scottish writers who celebrated civil society. In the minds of most of the writers associated with the Enlightenment across Europe the useful arts would draw the continent out of its poverty and lead to prosperity and moral improvement. These arts were associated with the application of science and scientific method to the problems of everyday life. It was just exactly this attitude which the new attitude toward the fine arts would reject and continues in large measure to reject even into our own day. The fine arts and those whose work embodied them were to carry human beings to a higher level of refinement and knowledge and even experience of the divine. What was occurring during these decades was an effort on the part of people participating in the arts to give to the



arts a raison d’être whereby they could compete in a world where aristocratic patronage brought less and less support to the arts, or to give aristocrats and other wealthy patrons a new and even higher reason for supporting the arts. From the standpoint of poetry, the new cultural claims of poets were a device whereby they could persuade the evergrowing number of middle-class readers living in the world of print culture of the value of poetry. I do not mean that these new theories of art were enunciated simply so artists might increase their income – some did become wealthy, many did not – but rather they were set forth to establish a new cultural identity and worth for the artist. From at least the Renaissance both great painters and great poets had been associated with the possession of very considerable gifts and various kinds of inspiration. However, it had virtually always been assumed that the role of artists was that of making copies of some kind of reality, whether it be ideal nature or the work of previous great artists who had even greater talents than those who copied them. If the artist was to copy nature, it was to be an idealised nature. For example, Sir Joshua Reynolds in his Discourses Delivered to the Students of the Royal Academy between 1769 and 1790 once explained: The Art which we profess has beauty for its object; this it is our business to discover and to express; the beauty of which we are in quest is general and intellectual; it is an idea that subsists only in the mind; the sight never beheld it, nor has the hand expressed it: It is an idea residing in the breast of the artist, which he is always labouring to impart, and which he dies at last without imparting but which he is yet so far able to communicate, as to raise the thoughts and extend the views of the spectator; and which, by a succession of art, may be so far diffused, that its effects may extend themselves imperceptibly into public benefits, and be among the means of bestowing on whole nations refinement of taste; which, if it does not lead directly to purity of manners, obviates at least their greatest deprivation, by disentangling the mind from appetite, and conducting the thoughts through successive stages of excellence, till that contemplation of universal



rectitude and harmony which began by Taste, may, as it is exalted and refined, conclude in Virtue.2

Johann J. Winckelmann had set forth similar views in his History of Ancient Art published in 1755. There Winckelmann portrayed the sculptors of ancient Greece as having achieved their work through first observing the beauty of the ancient Greek people and then, having chosen the most beautiful features of individual Greek men and women, combining those features in statues that achieved idealised beauty. Such theories did suggest that artists aspired toward some kind of reality higher than everyday life, but there was little or no emphasis on originality. Indeed, it was generally emphasised that the best art lay in the past and that artists were great to the extent that they copied the best artists of the past. In other words, the view of art and of poetry might be called traditional, in the sense that the artist and poet was to reproduce and continue earlier traditions. The great artists, poets, and musicians were regarded as possessing a quality that was frequently termed ‘genius’. The Encyclopedia included a remarkable article on ‘Genius’ by Jean-François, Marquis de SaintLambert. It is important for both what it said and what it did not say. For Saint-Lambert, the genius is indeed a figure above other people. He wrote: The man of genius has a soul with greater range, can, therefore, be struck by the feelings of all beings, is concerned with everything in nature, and never receives an idea that does not evoke a feeling: everything stirs him and everything is retained within him. The genius possesses and exercises an expansive, sympathetic, and recognisant imagination. For example, if he is in a dark room, he can still bring to mind the countryside, a blazing sun, a storm, or rapid winds. He can paint a painting which includes only the themes and symbols which he wishes. His imagination can carry him into the past for the portrayal of historical scenes.3



Saint-Lambert associated genius with inspiration and contrasts it with a person who can function only according to the rules of taste. He explained: The rules and laws of taste would place shackles on genius: he breaks them to soar to what is sublime, pathetic, or noble. The taste of a man of genius is defined by his love of this eternal beauty that characterises nature and by a passion to make his tableaux conform to some kind of model that he has created and according to which he has an idea and a sense of the beautiful. The need to express the passions that move him is continually obstructed by grammar and usage: often the idiom in which he writes hinders the expression of an image that would be sublime in another idiom . . . Finally strength and abundance, a certain kind of roughness, irregularity, the sublime, and the pathetic – this is the character of genius in the arts; he does not touch lightly, he does not please without astonishment, he even astonishes by his imperfections.4

Saint-Lambert also associated genius with philosophy and science and affairs of state and of warfare. For Saint-Lambert, the genius is indeed a very special kind of human being. But he is special because he absorbs more sensations than other human beings, can make further connections than other human beings, and can allow his imagination and feelings to be more expansive than other human beings. Among the people he accounted as geniuses were Newton, Locke, Milton, and Homer. Other eighteenth-century writers distinguished between the natural genius and genius that was nurtured. Their great problems were always Homer and Shakespeare, who had created works of genius without works that they imitated. Homer and Shakespeare simply never quite fit into these theories, and the eighteenth-century commentators as much as said so. Pope wrote: The poetry of Shakespeare was inspiration indeed: he is not so much an Imitator, as an Instrument of Nature; and ’tis not so just to say he speaks from her, as that she speaks through him.5



Mid-eighteenth-century discussions of art and poetry, despite this expansiveness, emphasised for our purposes two factors. First, the role of the arts was on the whole the application of rules and the imitation of a reality. For this purpose, such a view of art is regarded as mimetic. One of the most important commentators on this tradition has compared it to understanding the role of art and the artist to be that of a mirror.6 Second, no matter how gifted the person of genius, he was still a human being whose mind worked within the same framework of reality as other less gifted human beings. The genius could have deeper feelings, more expansive observations, and even absorb materials that were not easily set into established rules, but still the genius was simply a more gifted human being. As Alexander Pope declared: True Wit is Nature to advantage dressed, What oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed.7

During the last quarter of the eighteenth century and the first quarter of the nineteenth, the idea of the imagination and of genius assumed a qualitative change. The basis for this new aesthetic had deep roots in earlier writers but it was during this half-century that a profound transformation occurred. As with so many other developments at the time this change arose in large measure from the philosophy of Kant. Chapter 4, ‘The Turn to Subjectivity’, has already considered how Kant had divided the human mind into the Understanding and the Reason. The Understanding addressed itself to sensuous human experience or a phenomenal realm, while the Reason addressed itself to a noumenal or transcendental realm. Furthermore, Kant had also posited the existence of a noumenal world, impenetrable by the senses, which he had called the ding an sich or the thing in itself. For two generations after Kant, German philosophers attempted to find ways out of the prison house into which they believed Kantian philosophy had thrust them. They believed he had left them in a situation in which human nature and physical nature were hopelessly separate and separated. In the noumenal world human beings were free, but



in the phenomenal world they were subject to the deterministic laws of nature. Kant had also left them in a situation where the human mind could never penetrate beyond appearances into reality itself. It was in part as an effort to escape this Kantian dilemma that various writers turned to new philosophies of art and of the imagination. Within Germany there were three aesthetic paths out of the Kantian prison house. The first was that worked through by J.G. Fichte and F.W.J. von Schelling. The second was that associated with Friedrich Schiller. The third was that opened by the brothers Schlegel. Each is complicated and represents a major topic in the history of aesthetics. What I am interested in for our purposes is only to see how these theories, whatever their particular complexities, shared a broad tendency of raising the cultural value and function of the artist. All of these writers began by rejecting the adequacy of the empiricist psychology associated with Locke and Hume, and popularised by lesser writers. The empiricist philosophers had portrayed the human mind as essentially a passive instrument which processed through association and rearrangement the sensations that impacted on the human mind. Kant had, as you will recall, similarly rejected this passive view of the human mind and had established a philosophy and psychology of the human mind as an active instrument which determined its external experience. Kant provided the basis for conceiving of the human mind as an active, creative entity. The post-Kantian philosophers in effect attempted to explore more fully and much more speculatively than Kant ever attempted or approved, the manner in which the mind forged that experience. They commenced where Kant had left off. In particular, they wanted to find ways whereby the human mind and spirit might in some manner penetrate or participate more directly with the mysterious ding an sich and not stand divided between a phenomenal world of determinism and a noumenal world of freedom, neither of which seemed to touch the other. The problem, in much simplified terms, to which they addressed themselves was the character of the relationship between the subject and the object. Post-Kantian philosophers delved much more deeply



into subjectivity than had Kant. Kant had convinced them that the exploration of the world of the Understanding or of sense knowledge was essentially a dead end. That exploration would not lead beyond the realm of determinism and a knowledge of appearances. Consequently, they looked within themselves and to their inner experience as a path to a deeper understanding of and link with reality. All of this thinking was deeply narcissistic. By this inner exploration they hoped to find a way to unite subject and object, the phenomenal world and the noumenal world, the reality of their outer lives and the reality of their inner lives. Johann Gottlieb Fichte was both politically and philosophically the most radical of these post-Kantians. It was he who brought the concept of the imagination front and centre in late eighteenth-century thought and was the philosopher upon whom most later writers drew. In his later writings, and particularly in the Critique of Judgement, Kant had given a significant role to the imagination as an intellectual power that established unity in human thinking and experience. The imagination to some not very clear extent mediated between the sensuous realm of the Understanding and the transcendental realm of the Reason. Kant more or less hinted at this proposition; Fichte carried this idea much further. Fichte posited an active ego or Ich which created its own world. The ego was consciousness of consciousness. To know the world the ego came to search its own subjectivity. There was eventually for Fichte no reality outside the self. And at the core of the self lay the imagination. The imagination in effect created consciousness. It was the imagination that united the self and the not-self. Fichte went so far as essentially to regard the human spirit as equivalent to the imagination. Fichte then went even further and contrasted the imagination which arranges and rearranges with the imagination that searches and creates. For Fichte the imagination actually goes beyond sensuous experience and is positively creative. Fichte wrote: This power of imagination . . . insofar as it raises into consciousness higher images, ones not forthcoming in the course of usual experience, is called spirit. Without spirit the elements of philosophy are not even possible.8



In this manner Fichte made philosophy itself depend upon the imagination. He declared: This, then, is the work of the creative imagination . . . On this faculty depends whether we philosophise with or without spirit . . . because the fundamental ideas [ed: of any approach to or system of knowledge] in one who studies them must be presented by the creative imagination itself . . . The whole operation of the human spirit proceeds from the imagination, but an imagination that can be grasped no other way than through imagination.9

In this manner Fichte placed the concept of the imagination front and centre in the human experience. The imagination unites the subjective and the objective. It was Friedrich Schelling who carried the concept a step further. Schelling was determined in his philosophy to unite human experience and nature. He believed that, since Descartes and the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century, human beings and nature had been separated into distinct realms of mind and matter. Schelling first united these by positing the universe including human beings as the creations of the imagination of God. The universe is in effect part of the mind or imagination of God. In turn, the human imagination, like the divine, is itself creative. He argued: The divine creation is represented objectively through art, for that creation is based on the same informing of infinite ideality into the real upon which art is also based.10

In acts of artistic creation the human imagination imitates the divine imagination. As James Engell has written: Imagination potentizes reason, releases its potential, and makes ideas productive; they appear in material form. Only imagination, then, can direct us to the highest calling of philosophy – the Absolute, or god.



And since art is that activity of man which most closely resembles the creative imagination of God, the highest philosophy is the philosophy of art.11

For Schelling, art by definition relates to the infinite. He wrote, ‘That which does not present an infinite immediately or at least in reflection is not a work of art’. In the same passage he continued, ‘What we call nature is a poem that lies hidden in a mysterious and marvellous book’. Schelling unites the human imagination with the divine. God is a mind that creates; the human mind through the imagination imitates the divine imagination. The work of the artists imitates the mind of God. The writer through whom these ideas broke upon the Englishspeaking world was Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his Biographia Literaria of 1817. Coleridge not only drew upon Schelling but actually plagiarised long passages which he translated into English and incorporated into his own book without acknowledgement. Like the Germans whom he so admired, Coleridge was determined that his writing would produce a synthesis whereby human beings and nature would be one and not separated. Fundamental to this view was his delineation of his concept of the imagination. For Coleridge the imagination is a power of the mind that unites and synthesises the external world and internal reflection. For Coleridge, ‘The rules of the IMAGINATION are themselves the very powers of growth and production.’ In his most famous statement about the imagination Coleridge declared: The IMAGINATION then I consider either as primary, or secondary, The primary IMAGINATION I hold to be the living Power and prime Agent of all human Perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM. The secondary I consider as an echo of the former, co-existing with the conscious will, yet still as identical with the primary in the kind of its agency, and differing only in degree, and in the mode of its operation. It dissolves, diffuses,



dissipates, in order to re-create; or where this process is rendered impossible, yet still at all events it struggles to idealise and to unify. It is essentially vital, even as all objects (as objects) are essentially fixed and dead.12

This imagination was the highest function of poetry and by extension of art. There was a lower faculty which was the Fancy, but the fancy only arranged and rearranged sense data. Coleridge contended that the primary imagination functioned in an involuntary fashion. It was the secondary imagination that was an exercise of free will and from its operation flowed poetry. But in either case the imagination was directly connected to the divine. It represents an overflowing of divine power in human beings who are artists. A second approach to the legacy of Kant which posited a crucial role for art and the artist was set forth by Friedrich Schiller in his Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man. Schiller was a major German dramatist, poet, and critic. His dramas portrayed human beings attempting to break out of the bounds of social convention and political tyranny. His Letters constitutes a relatively brief book but one that is extremely difficult. Schiller believed that Kant had left human beings in a situation where they could not easily achieve freedom. The world of nature appeared to be deterministic. The moral world which Kant had so profoundly internalised seemed to have little to do with human beings’ relationship to either nature or to each other. Schiller, in the tradition of Rousseau, sought to formulate the path whereby human beings could live in a genuinely free community. Like Rousseau, Schiller believed modern human beings were divided against themselves. What is required to bring about freedom is culture, but contemporary civilisation will not do this. Echoing Rousseau, Schiller wrote: Civilisation, far from setting us free, in fact creates some new need with every power it develops in us. The fetters of the physical tighten ever more alarmingly so that fear of losing what we have stifles even



the most burning impulses towards improvement, and the maxim of passive obedience passes for the supreme wisdom of life.13

In Schiller’s view there is required a third state between that of nature and that of civilisation. This is the aesthetic state which is achieved through aesthetic education. Such education will both lead to a moral state and will help that state to survive. Schiller’s model for such a unified and free civilisation is ancient Greece. He explained, ‘It must be open to us to restore by means of a higher art the totality of our nature which the arts themselves have destroyed.’ You will recall that in the case of Rousseau the implement to bring about a new state in which true freedom would exist was the Legislator. Schiller takes a different direction. For him the instrument could not come from the state, which was already corrupt, but must come from the fine arts. Art appeared to Schiller to be a mode of human activity that even within modern society might escape the divisiveness and false appearances of modern society in general. The artist’s aesthetic yearnings will draw him back to a love of Greece and human wholeness. Schiller declared: The artist is indeed the child of his age; but woe to him if he is at the same time its ward or, worse still, its minion! Let some beneficent deity snatch the suckling from his mother’s breast, nourish him with the milk of a better age, and suffer him to come to maturity under a distant Grecian sky. Then, when he has become a man, let him return, a stranger, to his own century; not, however, to gladden it by his appearance, but rather, terrible like Agamemnon’s son, to cleanse and purify it.14

If the artist is the implement of establishing freedom, something must briefly be said about Schiller’s concept of freedom. It is very complicated and remains much disputed among scholars. For our purposes it is sufficient to say that Schiller’s vision of freedom was one in which human beings would no longer be divided against



each other or within each other. He was attempting to find some way in which human beings could function both as individuals and as members of the species – he was attempting to reconcile individualism and community. He wrote: The pleasures of the sense we enjoy merely as individuals, without the genus which is immanent within us having any share in them at all; hence we cannot make the pleasures of sense universal, because we are unable to universalise our own individuality. The pleasures of knowledge we enjoy merely as genus, and by carefully removing from our judgment all trace of individuality; hence we cannot eliminate traces of individuality from the judgments of others as we can from our own. Beauty alone do we enjoy at once as individual and as genus, i.e., as representatives of the human genus.15

What I would emphasise is that here again we confront a utopian vision of what human freedom should be. It is a mode of freedom that exists in the mind of free individuals and takes little account of institutional arrangements. It is genuinely an aesthetic vision of freedom. I would also emphasise that to achieve such freedom human beings must look to the artist and to the experience of beauty. This vision of Schiller’s transforms the artist into a liberator of humanity. Schiller also looks to the ancient world as did many of his contemporaries as exemplifying a culture in which beauty and freedom were co-joined. Others of his contemporaries would, as we shall see in another lecture, look to the Middle Ages, but in any account the function of the past age is the same. Certain German critics, the most important of whom were the Schlegel brothers and Novalis, made other contributions to the theory of poetry which similarly brought to the concept of the artist a kind of divine or superhuman or transcendental aura. It was the Schlegels more than any other writers who introduced the term ‘Romantic’ into the discussion of literature and art. The Schlegels associated the term ‘Romantic’ with two important outlooks. The first was historical; the second was progressive. They pointed



to particular poets as having historically embodied Romantic as opposed to classical tendencies. The most important of these were Cervantes and Shakespeare, both of whom A.W. Schlegel translated into German. The second feature the Schlegels introduced into the discussion was the idea of a progressive or indeterminable character in Romantic art. These ideas were most extensively presented by A.W. Schlegel in his Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature (1809–11). In contrast to the classic, the romantic was progressive, indeterminable, unfinished, and thus in some timeless future capable of perfection. Schlegel drew up a series of contrasts between classic and romantic poetry and art. Classic – ancient, perfect, finite, pagan, mechanical, associated with rules and France – examples were ancient and French literature. Romantic – medieval, infinite striving, organic, Christian, few rules, – examples were Shakespeare, medieval romances, German myth.16

This distinction became exceedingly important in later intellectual and cultural life. It took on a life of its own. Quite rapidly the idea of classic and classical took on a pejorative hue. It became associated with a view of art attached to imitation and rules despite the fact that many of the practitioners and theoreticians of classical art had emphasised the role of inspiration and genius and the necessity of breaking rules. The idea of the classics also became associated with the art of the Old Regime and with a general conservative attitude toward aesthetics. On the other hand, virtually all of the aesthetic theories we have been discussing came to be associated with the term ‘Romantic’, which is one of the reasons why there are still so many disagreements about the definition of that term and its cognates. The Romantic sense of art as something that goes beyond everyday reality, goes beyond the world of the senses, and strives towards the infinite became a prescription for art in the nineteenth century. Originality – art as a lamp – to explore both the inner and outer world became the order of the day. Art as the expression of a subjective self that somehow or other expresses a deeper reality or



the divine became the view of artistic activity through much of the Western world. Whereas for centuries the purpose of art had been mimetic, now it was to be original time after time after time. And the people who could demonstrate such originality stood higher than other men and women. Percy Shelley always demonstrated a gift for overstatement, but his Defence of Poetry of 1821 manifests all of these claims and assertions on the part of the artist, in this case the poet. In particular he used this essay to attack science and the useful arts in the name of the creative imagination in exactly the way Diderot had deplored three-quarters of a century earlier: The cultivation of those sciences which have enlarged the limits of the empire of man over the external world, has, for want of the poetical faculty, proportionally circumscribed those of the internal world; and man, having enslaved the elements, remains himself a slave . . .17 Poetry is indeed something divine. It is at once the centre and circumference of knowledge; it is that which comprehends all science, and that to which all science must be referred . . .18 Poetry is the record of the best and happiest moments of the happiest and best minds . . . It is as it were the interpenetration of a diviner nature through our own; . . . Poetry redeems from decay the visitations of the divinity in man.19

Throughout the nineteenth century, artists would portray themselves and be portrayed as in some manner similarly connected to the divine. Artists came to see themselves as having nothing less than a religious vocation. Painters came to portray God in landscape. Poets came to be read as spiritual guides. Musicians attempted to create new religious mythologies. Museums and opera houses became places for religious experiences, and the reading of poetry by individual readers became the opportunity for personal religious or spiritual epiphanies.



Coleridge used the distinction between Classic and Romantic in lectures of 1811, but the term ‘romantic’ had very little usage in England until later in the century. The most famous English Romantic poets did not see themselves as Romantics in the continental sense. The person who was responsible for spreading this idea of ‘Romantic’ across Europe was Madame de Staël in her two-volume work De l’Allemagne, first published in 1813. It was really only after the publication of this work and other works critical of it that the term ‘Romantic’ spread throughout European literary circles. Stendhal may have been the first French writer to adapt the term. In a letter of 1818 he wrote, ‘I am a furious romantic, that is to say, I am for Shakespeare over Racine and for Lord Byron over Boileau.’ There has long been debate among scholars whether there really was such a thing as Romanticism, or more correctly whether there was a single group of phenomena in the literary and artistic worlds which had sufficient similarity to be grouped under a single term. It does seem possible, however, as René Wellek long ago argued, to suggest there was a certain unifying element to the diverse cultural manifestations often termed ‘Romantic’. He pointed to three features: 1. ‘imagination for the view of poetry’; 2. ‘nature for the view of the world’; 3. ‘symbol and myth for poetic style’.20 Each of these elements leads the poet and later other artists to press beyond the world of discursive reason to something that is intuitive or subjective. Nature itself becomes the canvas for the poet. The words of the poet or the plastic art of the painter and sculptor or the music of the composer become symbols for a world that is more truly real than every day life. No writer of the day expressed these thoughts and the tendency to mystery and to a deeper reality than did Friedrich von Hardenberg who used the pen-name of Novalis.



He wrote as a young man. He was by training and vocation a mining engineer. He emphasised the mystical nature of poetry: The sense for poetry has much in common with that for mysticism. It is the sense for the peculiar, personal, unknown, mysterious, for what is to be revealed, the necessary-accidental. It represents the unpresentable. It sees the invisible, feels the unfeelable, etc. Criticism of poetry is an absurdity. Although difficult to decide, the only possible distinction is whether something is poetry or not. The poet is truly deprived in his senses – instead, everything happens within him. He represents in the most genuine manner subject-object – mind and world. Hence the infinity is a good poem, the eternity. The sense for poetry has a close relationship with the sense for augury and the religious sense, with the sense for prophecy in general. The poet organises, unites, chooses, invents – why precisely so and not otherwise, is incomprehensible even to himself.21

On another occasion he explained: The imagination is that wondrous sense that can substitute for us all other senses – and is already to a large extent subject to our choice. While the outer senses are totally subservient to mechanical laws – the imagination is obviously not bound to the presence of and contact with our stimulations.22

Like other Germans, Novalis held Shakespeare to represent a separate order of artist and human being: The art of a well-developed nature is of course miles apart from the artificiality of reason and a merely reasoning spirit. Shakespeare was no calculating mind, no scholar, he was a powerful and motley soul whose inventions and works, like products of nature, bear the impression of a thinking spirit and in which even the most penetrating observer will discover new agreements with the infinite structure of



the universe, correspondences to ideas not yet discovered and relationships with the higher powers and senses of humanity.23

Such views of poetry, wherever they were found in Europe, held broad social, cultural, and intellectual ramifications for the idea of the role of the artist. What the artist did was to create rather than to imitate. The artist was seen as a person who must go beyond established rules. The artist, in his activity as artist, touched upon a deeper reality than ordinary human beings might achieve in normal sensuous life. The artist became a kind of prophet who was through his imagination and intuition in touch with a deeper, truer reality than ordinary men and women. In this manner the artist became a kind of model for all other modern intellectuals. Late in the century, when Oscar Wilde wrote of the ‘the critic as artist’ he was laying claim to a vast cultural apparatus for the critic and a vast cultural prestige. It is worth noting that there may well be a close relationship between the emergence of this view of the artist and the emergence of print culture. In an oral–scribal culture there exists a high value to imitation. It is through imitation that both the practical and speculative wisdom of the past continues. In a print culture, especially once books become cheaper and more accessible, past knowledge and practice may be stored in libraries public and private. In print culture, the poet and then other artists whose work could be readily copied could fall simply to the status of a hack. The Romantic theory of the artist gave the work of artists a very special standing in the world of print. The true artist, as opposed to the imitator or the hack, had touched reality and the reader could, through the printed book, re-experience that reality and perhaps experience on a lower level a personal epiphany. In a work such as Wordsworth’s The Prelude (1850) the reader was invited actually to witness and experience the growth of the poet’s mind. Poetry and other arts produced by the genius allowed certain intellectuals to set themselves apart from the common horde of writers. It also allowed them to stand in opposition to the commercialism of print culture – though many benefited handsomely from that commercialism.




ationalism proved to be the single most powerful European political ideology of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It has reasserted itself in present-day Europe following the collapse of Communist governments in eastern Europe and in the former Soviet Union. As a political outlook, nationalism was and is based on the relatively modern concept that a nation is composed of people who are joined together by the bonds of common language, customs, culture, and history and who, because of those bonds, should be administered by the same government. That is to say, nationalists contended that the territory of political administration should coincide with the boundaries of ethnic groups. Political units had not been so defined or governed earlier in European history. The idea came into its own during the late eighteenth and the early nineteenth centuries. Early nineteenth-century nationalism directly opposed the principle upheld at the Congress of Vienna that legitimate monarchies or dynasties, rather than ethnicity, provide the basis for political unity. Nationalists naturally protested against multinational states such as the Austrian or Russian empires. They also objected to peoples of the same ethnic groups such as Germans and Italians dwelling in units smaller than that of the 155



ethnic nation. Consequently, nationalists challenged both the domestic and the international order of the Vienna settlement. During the nineteenth century nationalists challenged the political status quo in six major areas of Europe. In 1800 England had brought Ireland under its direct government with the Irish sending members to the Parliament in Westminster. The ‘Irish problem’ as it was called would haunt British politics for the next two centuries. In Germany nationalists, as already noted, wished to seek the unification of Germanspeaking peoples, thus challenging the multinational structure of the Austrian empire and requiring Prussia and Austria to contend for dominance over the Germanies. Italian nationalists sought to unify Italianspeaking peoples on the Italian peninsula and to drive out the Austrians. Polish nationalists wished to see an independent Poland restored to the map of Europe. Polish nationalists tended to see Russia as their major target. In eastern Europe a whole host of national groups including Hungarians, Czechs, Slovenes, and others sought either independence or formal recognition within the Austrian empire. Finally, in southeastern Europe on the Balkan peninsula and eastward national groups including Serbs, Greeks, Albanians, Romanians, and Bulgarians were prepared to seek independence from the control of the Ottoman Empire or Russia. Although there were never disturbances in all six areas at one time, any one of them could erupt. In each area there was an ebb and tide of nationalist activity. The dominant governments often thought they simply needed either to repress the activity or ride it out until stability returned, but in the course of the century nationalists changed the political map and political culture of Europe. Nationalists used a whole variety of arguments and metaphors to express what they meant by the character and usefulness of nationhood. They might present unification of large national groups such as the Italians or Germans as aiding economic and administrative efficiency by replacing petty dynastic states. Nations working out their own destiny bore some resemblance to the liberal idea of the individual career open to talent. Some nationalists presented nations as distinct creations of God that resembled distinct species in organic nature. Still other nationalists



attempted to find a vocation for their nation in the divine order of things. Polish nationalists, for example, throughout the century potrayed Poland as the suffering Christ among nations thus implicitly suggesting that Poland, like Christ, would experience a resurrection and new life. It was always difficult to determine exactly which ethnic groups could be considered as nations with claims to separate territorial and political existence. In theory any of them could, but in reality nationhood came to be associated with those ethnic groups that were large enough to support a viable economy, that had a history of significant cultural association, that possessed a cultural elite which allowed the language to spread and flourish, and that had the capacity either to conquer other peoples or to establish and protect their own independence. Throughout the century there were smaller ethnic groups who claimed to fulfil those criteria, but which could not effectively achieve either independence or recognition. They could and did, however, create domestic unrest. In point of fact it was nationalists who actually created nations in the nineteenth century. During the first half of the century relatively small groups of people in any particular region fostered the ideals of nationalism and taught about the history and language of the newly conscious nation. These early nationalists in a sense created the beliefs and expectations upon which the later, mass-supported nationalism of the second half of the century would grow. Nationalism emerges in Europe during the same decades that among the intellectual classes there occurs a demise in religious belief, practice, and commitment. Despite its potential for denominational and confessional strife Christianity had by the middle of the eighteenth century achieved universalistic visions among both Roman Catholics and Protestants. They might differ from each other, but each group believed its version of the Christian vision was universalistic. Nationalism, whatever else it may or may not do, challenges all universalistic visions of humankind. The first of these it would challenge was Christianity and Christian Europe, but nationalism would also later challenge the universalistic visions of both liberalism and socialism. Whereas in the



predominantly Christian centuries, the faith, the Church, and the truths of God were regarded as timeless and eternal, for nationalists the various nations somehow had existed for all time and constituted in their view eternally existing entities that might have been concealed or repressed for centuries, but which must ultimately prevail. One of the factors that led intellectual groups to think in terms of the nation rather than Christian universalism was the demise of learned Latin as the language of general intellectual communication. It seems clear that no element related to nationalism has been so important as that of language, and the demise of learned Latin led to the cultivation of vernacular languages. For a very long time, French replaced Latin as the language of intellectual communication, but repeatedly French would be challenged by local vernaculars. From a material standpoint the world of print culture became in the early nineteenth century the chief venue of nationalism. Print culture had made several contributions to the possibility of national vernaculars which would then in turn become among the chief building blocks of nationalistic ideologies. First, print culture created a world of communication that stood below that of learned Latin, but above the common, often unprinted, local vernaculars. The world of printed non-Latin languages established a world of communication and self-reference for secular intellectuals who did not use Latin but whose intellectual and cultural life was both higher and wider than that of illiterate persons who employed local vernaculars. Second, as I noted in a previous lecture, print culture provided a sense of fixity to language. The existence of thousands of printed books, pamphlets, journals, and newspapers allowed the language which was actually coming into being and achieving fixity through print to seem to have always existed. The accumulation of such materials allowed later readers to establish a sense of imagined community with people who had lived several centuries before, but in most cases not easily before the sixteenth century. Third, print culture, because of its power of establishing fixity and increasing uniformity, meant that some printed languages which



commenced as local vernaculars or as administrative vernaculars became in the long run more powerful than other local vernaculars which did not enter an extensive print culture. The power of language entering into the world of print culture and later of broadcast radio culture can be seen in the manner in which, from the nineteenth century onwards, minorities within emerging nation states have often demanded the preservation of their language, and also the manner in which national governments have often resisted that demand. What were the intellectual instruments of nationalism if nationalism was, as I am contending, very much a cultural construct of European writers and intellectuals?

The Press To the extent that a nation is the creation of an imagined community through print culture, the expansion of the world of newspapers, first in England in the eighteenth century and then across Europe in the nineteenth, established a world of common experience, common knowledge (even if incorrect and slanted), and common language. Virtually all of the most famous nationalists published voluminously in newspapers and weekly, monthly, or quarterly journals. These publications, both when they were initially published and then as they became bound into volumes that constituted an ongoing narrative of these times, formed a world of reference and orientation for nationalists. In most cases a group of writers or an intellectual elite using the printed word spread the nationalistic concept of the nation. They were frequently historians and literary persons who wrote about the past of a people and established a literature by collecting and publishing earlier writings in the language. Later in the century schoolteachers who taught the official national language and history became important figures in spreading the belief in nationalism. The language to be used in the schools and in government offices was always a point of contention for nationalists. This process might mean the spread of official versions of French or Italian which would replace local dialects in schools. In parts



of Scandinavia and eastern Europe nationalists attempted to resurrect from earlier times what they regarded as purer versions of the national language. Often these resurrected languages were virtually invented by modern scholars or linguists. This process of establishing national languages led to far more linguistic uniformity in Europe than had existed prior to the nineteenth century. Yet, even in 1850 perhaps fewer than half of the inhabitants of France spoke official French. In that regard, nationalists were able to use language as the foundation of nationality because of the emergence of print culture. The emergence of large numbers of printed books, journals, magazines, and newspapers ‘fixed’ language in a more permanent fashion than did spoken language. Uniform printed language could overcome the various regional dialects of the spoken word and establish a single dominant version of that language. In all these respects people of various regions who had not thought of themselves as constituting a nation came to be persuaded that they did so. In one discussion of nationalism, Benedict Anderson has used the metaphor of ‘Imagined Communities’ to describe what nationalistic writers and other intellectuals created. Over the course of the nineteenth century vast numbers of people, many of whom in point of fact had relatively little in common, became convinced that they constituted a national community or a nation. This project was the result of publicity, education, the actual creation of literatures, languages, and dictionaries and mass communication. Nationalists tended to be intellectuals and quite often intellectuals who lived in exile. Through their writings, which they succeeded in circulating widely among social and political elites, they created the sense of nationhood. Nations and nationhood stand among the chief cultural artefacts and creations of the nineteenth century.

Dictionaries, lexicons, grammars, and textbooks of language A new element in European intellectual life enters this picture in the eighteenth century and blossoms more fully in the nineteenth. It is closely related to the emergence of historicism and to the ideas of Herder



in regard to the distinctiveness of individual cultures. This is philology, the formal study of language. For the emerging world of philology all languages are interesting and worthy of study. This enormous interest in linguistic diversity removed much of the privileged status that had previously been attached to Hebrew, Greek, and Latin as languages that allegedly were capable of universalistic expression. Philology demonstrated that languages grew, changed, and had histories. During the nineteenth century philologists across Europe began to produce dictionaries, grammars, and histories of vernacular languages. In a very real sense the first national histories were the histories of language. The importance of language for the emergence of nationalistic ideologies especially through the creation of books about language meant that in Europe, and especially in nineteenth-century Europe, the university setting with its libraries became an important venue for nationalists and nationalistic intellectuals. Thereafter, national educational systems in which local teachers would instruct the young in the national language became the single most important engine of nationalism. During the eighteenth century there was a flowering of English grammars as a result of the union with Scotland, because many Scots who wanted to do business in England or who wanted to participate in the Parliament at Westminster needed to be able to use English. In the early 1790s the first extensive Russian dictionary was produced by the Russian Academy. A Russian grammar appeared in 1802. Joseph Dobrovsky in 1792 published The History of the Bohemian Language and Old Literature, the first such history to address the Czech language. Not long after, scholars in the northern Balkans produced works which in effect formally established Slovene, Serbo-Croatian, and Bulgarian as languages. The year 1817 saw the appearance of the first Ukrainian grammar. By the middle of the century Finnish and Norwegian had emerged as distinct languages. The important point for our consideration is that these languages did not grow spontaneously. They were constructed on the basis of spoken local vernaculars by intellectuals, writers, and teachers who were determined to bring certain of those spoken languages into the fixed world of print culture. Thereafter the language became a powerful



vehicle in the creation of national consciousness. This process has been termed ‘the philological-lexicographic revolution’.1 It is important to realise, however, that, because literacy was so limited in the first half of the nineteenth century, the people who initially felt the most impact from this linguistic revolution were the educated aristocracies, corps of military officers, bureaucrats, and the middle class: that is to say, those people who first and most extensively imagined national communities were also those most closely associated with economic, social, and political authority. At the same time literacy followed expanding electoral franchises. As the franchise was expanded, governments created educational systems, which in turn taught the language of national print culture. Through these complicated processes various groups came to believe that they possessed certain languages and that those languages had existed from time immemorial. Furthermore, the rulers of dynastic states with multinational populations normally chose one vernacular as the political and administrative language of the empire. For example, the Habsburgs used German throughout their empire and the Romanovs used Russian. This tended to make the dynasts identify linguistically and hence culturally with one national group. In order to shore up their dynastic rule, they would urge the use of that national language throughout the empire and most particularly among the political classes of the empire. Such official choices of one vernacular or language over another allowed other peoples to use language to resist that dynastic authority. Hence, one sees throughout the nineteenth century efforts to retain local languages in local schools. The most famous example of the use of an official language on the part of a government to impose its will was the imposition of English on India in 1832.

National political histories The nineteenth century is the great age of the multi-volume national history. These works were more often than not self-consciously written to establish for ethnic groups a story of their past and quite often a story of their past stressing certain desirable national characteristics and a story



that made clear who the longstanding historical enemies of that group had been. These national histories created a secular, regional history that was a substitute for sacred histories although in certain cases, most notably that of Poland, the nation was assigned a special role in sacred history. These national histories were designed to produce national citizens. Again, one’s ethnic or national allegiance or one’s citizenship in the nation state was to be one’s chief association and in many respects this replaced one’s religious allegiance or was conflated with one’s religious allegiance. Historians pointed to incidents both ancient and modern which would illustrate forging moments in the creation of a national experience and national consciousness. One of the most important modern experiences was that of the defeat of Napoleon by the armies of the separated German states during the retreat from Moscow. That German resistance to Napoleon as his army retreated from Moscow was the first time in modern German history that people from virtually all German-speaking lands cooperated together. The memory of that action became one of the defining moments in the emergence of a sense of German nationhood. Ernest Moritz Arndt described the excitement and enthusiasm of that moment in a passage that was frequently reprinted in German history textbooks for more than a century. Fired with enthusiasm, the people rose, ‘with God for King and Fatherland’. Among the Prussians there was only one voice, one feeling, one anger and one love, to save the Fatherland and to free Germany. The Prussians wanted war; war and death they wanted; peace they feared because they could hope for no honorable peace from Napoleon. War, war, sounded the cry from the Carpathians to the Baltic, from the Niemen to the Elbe. War! cried the nobleman and landed proprietor who had become impoverished. War! that peasant who was driving his last horse to death . . . War! the citizen who was growing exhausted from quartering soldiers and paying taxes. War! the widow who was sending her only son to the front. War! the young girl who, with tears of pride and pain, was leaving her betrothed. Youths who were hardly able to bear arms, men with gray hair, officers



who on account of wounds and mutilations had long ago been honorably discharged, rich landed proprietors and officials, fathers of large families and managers of extensive businesses – all were unwilling to remain behind. Even young women, under all sorts of disguises, rushed to arms; all wanted to drill, arm themselves and fight and die for the Fatherland . . . The most beautiful thing about all this holy zeal and happy confusion was that all differences of position, class, and age were forgotten . . . that the one great feeling for the Fatherland, its freedom and honour, swallowed all other feelings, caused all other considerations and relationships to be forgotten.2

Repeatedly in these histories the particular national group involved was defined in opposition to other national or potentially national groups who had been either recent or historical enemies. In the case of some nations the national group defined itself in opposition to some allegedly potential ‘other’, or threatening group that lay in its midst. Such was one of the functions of anti-Semitism throughout central and eastern Europe. It is also important to recognise that in these national political histories there might be a fine line between history and mythology. Indeed, there could be quite remarkable collapsing of time so that battles fought in the middle ages were given a relevance and life as if they had occurred only yesterday.

Histories of literature and art These constitute the establishment of a cultural heritage coterminous with the political history and allegiance. It was in large measure through the writing of such histories that national literatures came into existence as distinct canons and points of cultural reference.

Museums – both national and regional In many respects the modern museum is itself an invention of the nineteenth century. Museums were constructed so as to display artefacts of



the national past and of the national culture. The visiting of the museum was itself an experience of both old and young that was intended to cement cultural, ethnic, and national identity. One such example of a museum that functioned for the purpose of both the political and cultural history of the French nation was the Musée des Monuments Français, founded in 1795. Originally it was established to protect monuments and works of art that were being desecrated during the French Revolution. Thereafter, however, the curators began to introduce reproductions of major monuments mostly from medieval France into the museum. These included parts of cathedrals and other medieval structures, and the tombs of monarchs. The museum served as a record in a single spot of both the artistic and the historical development of France. Jules Michelet, who later became one of the great nineteenth-century historians of the French Revolution, once described his experience as a young boy in the museum, Even now I can recall the feeling, still just the same and still stirring, that made my heart beat when, as a small child, I would enter beneath those dark vaults and gaze at the pale faces; and would then, keen, curious and timid, walk and look, room after room, epoch after epoch. What was I looking for? I hardly know – the life of the time, no doubt, and the spirit of the ages. I was not altogether certain that they were not alive, all those marble sleepers, stretched out on their tombs. And when I moved from the sumptuous monuments of the sixteenth century, glowing with alabaster, to the low room of the Merovingians, in which was to be found the sword of Dagobert, I felt it possible that I would suddenly see Chilpéric and Fredégonde raise themselves and sit up.3

School systems and universities The single most powerful intellectual force and institution in creating nationalistic outlooks and citizens was no doubt made up of the various systems of national elementary education that were established



throughout Europe in the second half of the nineteenth century. These schools systems became vast engines of national acculturation, and the local schoolteacher consciously and unconsciously became the secular equivalent of the priest. It was the schools even more than the armies that produced nationalistic citizens who then in turn went into the army. The role of students and universities as a force leading to the construction of nationalistic mentalities and challenging dynastic rulers was recognised very early in the century. In the immediate post-Napoleonic era, nationalism flourished among German university students. They joined various student clubs known generically as Burschenschaften. These somewhat resembled fraternities. They were often anti-Semitic. In 1817 students at Jena organised a large student celebration that drew German students from the various states to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the battle of Leipzig and the three hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses. It was not insignificant that the festival commemorated military victory against France, the German reformation against papal domination, and the person who, by translating the Bible into German, had in effect established in a fixed form the German language. The students gathered near the Wartburg Castle and the event became known as the Wartburg Festival. Such a public expression of nationalist feeling worried the Austrians, whose empire was multinational and for whom the principal of nationalism looked like a political death warrant. In 1819 Metternich seized the opportunity of the assassination of the playwright August von Kotzebue by the student Karl Sand to impose rigid political control of the German universities and censorship of the German press through what became known as the Carlsbad Decrees. The movement against both universities and the press very clearly demonstrated the manner in which the enemies of nationalism understood the power the nationalistic ideas within the print culture of the day and within educational institutions.



Racial theories I will discuss their relationship to nationalism in Chapter 13. Suffice it to say here that race theories were still one more element in the broad collection of ideas used to contend that national or ethnic groups had a distinct existence in nature. Nationalism became a protean political force in the course of the nineteenth century. I would like to look at several varieties of nationalism to indicate the different forms that the realisation of nationalistic ideas could take. Throughout the century nationalists often attempted to make their cause appear to be part of the liberal political landscape. The armies of the French Revolution carrying the ideals of popular sovereignty and the rights of man across Europe had after all been the most powerful manifestation of nationalism in the early nineteenth century. In turn, French imperialism had unleashed various wars of national liberation such as those in Spain and Germany. The nationalistic movement most frequently associated with liberalism and republicanism was that which appeared in Italy. The Italian situation seemed to symbolise nationalism fighting against the forces of conservatism. The opponents of nationalism in Italy were the Habsburg Empire, the Papacy, and the corrupt Kingdom of Naples. On the other side, the most eloquent spokesman for the cause of nationalism was Giuseppe Mazzini. He was a republican and anticlerical. He was also by profession a man of letters. He led and spoke for the cause of Italian nationalism from exile in London. Again, this situation epitomises the intellectual in exile defining the imagined community of the nation. For all liberals in Europe, Mazzini defined the meaning of nationhood in a fashion that combined obeisance to popular sovereignty and to a religious concept of the divine destiny of nations. According to Mazzini, the essential characteristics of a nationality are common ideas, common principles, and a common purpose. A nation is an association of those who are brought together by language, by given geographical conditions or by the role assigned them by history, who acknowledge the same



principles and who march together to the conquest of a single definite goal under the rule of a uniform body of law: The life of a nation consists in harmonious activity (that is, the employment of all individual abilities and energies comprised within the association) towards this single goal . . . But nationality means even more than this. Nationality also consists in the share of mankind’s labours which God assigns to a people. This mission is the task which a people must perform to the end that the Divine Idea shall be realised in this world; it is the work which gives a people its rights as a member of Mankind; it is the baptismal rite which endows a people with its own character and its rank in the brotherhood of nations . . . Nationality depends for its very existence upon its sacredness within and beyond its borders. If nationality is to be inviolable for all, friends and foes alike, it must be regarded inside a country as holy, like a religion, and outside a country as a grave mission. It is necessary too that the ideas arising within a country grow steadily, as part of the general law of Humanity which is the source of all nationality. It is necessary that these ideas be shown to other lands in their beauty and purity, free from any alien mixture, from any slavish fears, from any sceptical hesitancy, strong and active, embracing in their evolution every aspect and manifestation of the life of the nation. These ideas, a necessary component in the order of universal destiny, must retain their originality even as they enter harmoniously into mankind’s general progress. The people must be the basis of nationality; its logically derived and vigorously applied principles its means; the strength of all its strength; the improvement of the life of all and the happiness of the great possible number its results; and the accomplishment of the task assigned to it by God its goal. This is what we mean by nationality.4



This view of nationalism was widely accepted in Western Europe. It was extremely benign. It discussed nationalism and nationhood in a way that downplayed the potential violence involved in realising the ideals. It associated the principle of nationality with other elements of the liberal agenda. English liberals were deeply attracted to this articulation of the national principle. There were virtual cults of both Mazzini and Garibaldi in Victorian Britain and English liberals would continue to associate themselves with this cause until the close of the century. Another liberal interpretation of the principle of nationality emerged during the various revolutions of 1848 in the Habsburg domains. Here the principle of nationalism was somewhat less clear cut even for other European liberals. Italy was not a major factor in European power politics. The Habsburg Empire governed only parts of northern Italy. However, when the principle of nationality exerted itself among the students, intellectuals, and liberal bureaucrats of the German states, the entire political order of central Europe came into play. This difficulty manifested itself in 1848 when revolutionaries in the Austrian Empire called a Pan-Slav Congress in Prague. The first Pan-Slav Congress met in Prague in June, 1848. In its Manifesto the Congress called for nothing less than the reorganisation of the Austrian Empire and the political reorganisation of most of the rest of eastern Europe. Its call for changes in the national standing of the various Slavic peoples would have cut across the Russian, Austrian, and Ottoman empires as well as a number of the, then, uninvited states of Germany. The national aspirations voiced in this document would affect Europe from that time to the present. It is also important to note that the authors recognised that the principle of nationality as adapted to the political life of Slavic peoples is relatively new in 1848. The Slavic Congress in Prague is something unheard-of, in Europe as well as among the Slavs themselves. For the first time since our appearance in history, we, the scattered members of a great race, have gathered in great numbers from distant lands in order to become reacquainted as brothers and to deliberate our affairs peacefully. We



have understood one another not only through our beautiful language, spoken by eighty millions, but also through the consonance of our hearts and the similarity of our spiritual qualities . . . It is not only on behalf of the individual within the state that we raise our voices and make known our demands. The nation, with all its intellectual merit, is as sacred to us as are the rights of an individual under natural law . . . In the belief that the powerful spiritual stream of today demands new political forms and that the state must be re-established upon altered principles, if not within new boundaries, we have suggested to the Austrian Emperor, under whose constitutional government we, the majority [of Slavic peoples] live, that he transform his imperial state into a union of equal nations . . . . . . We raise our voices vigorously on behalf of our unfortunate brothers, the Poles, who were robbed of their national identity by insidious force. We call upon the governments to rectify this curse and these old onerous and hereditary sins in their administrative policy, and we trust in the compassion of all Europe. . . . We demand that the Hungarian Ministry abolish without delay the use of inhuman and coercive means toward the Slavic races in Hungary, namely the Serbs, Croats, Slovaks, and Ruthenians, and that they promptly be completely assured of their national rights. Finally, we hope that the inconsiderate policies of the Porte will no longer hinder our Slavic brothers in Turkey from strongly claiming their nationality and developing it in a natural way. If, therefore, we formally express our opposition to such despicable deeds, we do so in the confidence that we are working for the good of freedom. Freedom makes the peoples who hitherto have ruled more just and makes them understand that injustice and arrogance bring disgrace not to those who must endure it but to those who act in such a manner.5

In 1848 the nationalists lost, but their ideals were carried forth across Europe by exiles from the repression of both the Prussian and Austrian empires. One place those ideas were carried was to the United States



among the groups of politically liberal and radical central European immigrants who came to this nation from the 1840s onward. The ideals of both Mazzinian and Pan-Slav nationalism would affect American foreign policy and most especially the foreign policy of Woodrow Wilson, who was himself an historian and intellectual. Lest all nationalism be seen as liberal, it is essential to recall that conservative political power came to use nationalism for its own ends. It was after all the conservative Prussian monarchy and its conservative army that united Germany in the 1870s, thus capturing German nationalism for political conservatism. But the first conservative European power to attempt to make nationalism its own was the Russia of Tsar Nicholas I. The government of Nicholas I from the late 1820s through the 1840s embraced a programme called ‘Official Nationality’. Its slogan, published repeatedly in government documents, newspapers, journals, and schoolbooks, was ‘Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationalism’. The Russian Orthodox faith was to provide the basis for morality, education, and intellectual life. The Church, which since the days of Peter the Great had been an arm of the secular government, controlled the schools and universities. Young Russians were taught to accept their place in life and to spurn rising in the social structure. The programme of autocracy championed the unrestrained power of the Tsar as the only authority that could hold the vast expanse of Russia and its peoples together in an orderly fashion. Political writers stressed that only under the autocracy of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, and Alexander I had Russia prospered and exerted a major influence on world affairs. Through the glorification of Russian nationality, the country was urged to see its religion, language, and customs as a source of perennial wisdom that separated the nation from the moral corruption and political turmoil of the West. The person who presided over the programme of Official Nationality was Count S.S. Uvarov, minister of education from 1833 to 1849. The result of his efforts and those of the Tsar was the profound alienation of serious Russian intellectual life from the Tsarist government. Uvarov defined ‘Official Nationality’ as a stand of



Russian nationalism under the Tsar against the potential collapse of civilisation. Accordingly, in 1843 Uvarov explained the situation to the Tsar: In the midst of rapid collapse in Europe of religious and civil institutions, at the time of a general spread of destructive ideas, at the sight of grievous phenomena surrounding us on all sides, it was necessary to establish our fatherland on firm foundations upon which is based the well-being, strength, and life of a people; it was necessary to find the principles which form the distinctive character of Russia, and which belong only to Russia; it was necessary to gather into one whole the sacred remnants of Russian nationality and to fasten to them the anchor of our salvation. Fortunately, Russia had retained a warm faith in the sacred principles without which she cannot prosper, gain in strength, live. Sincerely and deeply attached to the church of his fathers, the Russian has of old considered it the guarantee of social and family happiness. Without a love for the faith of its ancestors a people, as well as an individual must perish. A Russian devoted to his fatherland, will agree as little to the loss of a single dogma of our ORTHODOXY as to the theft of a single pearl from the tsar’s crown. AUTOCRACY constitutes the main condition of the political existence of Russia. The Russian giant stands on it as on the cornerstone of his greatness. An innumerable majority of the subjects of YOUR MAJESTY feel this truth; they feel it in full measure although they are placed on different rungs of civil life and although they vary in education and in their relations to the government. The saving conviction that Russia lives and is protected by the spirit of a strong, humane, and enlightened autocracy must permeate popular education and must develop with it. Together with these two national principles there is a third, no less important, no less powerful: NATIONALITY.6

After the Polish revolt of 1830, Russia would seek to impose similar principles on Poland as it Russified that nation which had disappeared from the map of Europe in the late eighteenth century.



However, it did not require autocratic official nationalism to illustrate the potentially illiberal side of the nationalistic principle. The core of the problem wherever nationalists sought to have their way was the situation of minorities. Behind the concept of nationalism usually, though not always, lay the idea of popular sovereignty, since the qualities of a people rather than of rulers determined national characters. But this aspect of nationalism frequently led to confusion or conflict both in the past and the present. Within many territories where one national group predominated there also existed significant minority ethnic enclaves whom the majority had every intention of governing with or without their consent. In some cases nationalists would dominate in one section of a country, but persons of the same ethnicity would not have nationalistic aspirations in another region of the country. The former might attempt to impose their aspirations on the latter. Within every major area claimed by a nationalist group in the Habsburg Empire, there existed significant minority enclaves. The same was true of Poles within Germany and of Protestants within Catholic Ireland. The cause of the minorities received only scant attention in the nineteenth century. One English writer, however, was keenly aware of the problem. Lord Acton was a major nineteenth-century English historian and commentator on contemporary religious and political events. In all of his writings he was deeply concerned with the character and preservation of liberty. His was one of the earliest voices to point to the political dangers of nationalism. In 1862 he wrote: The greatest adversary of the rights of nationality is the modern theory of nationality. By making the State and the nation commensurate with each other in theory, it reduces practically to a subject condition all other nationalities that may be within the boundary. It cannot admit them to an equality with the ruling nation which constitutes the State, because the State would then cease to be national, which would be a contradiction of the principle of its existence. According, therefore, to the degree of humanity and civilisation in that dominant body which claims all the rights of the community, the inferior races are



exterminated, or reduced to servitude, or outlawed, or put in a condition of dependence. If we take the establishment of liberty for the realisation of moral duties to be the end of civil society, we must conclude that those states are substantially the most perfect which, like the British and Austrian Empires, include various distinct nationalities without oppressing them. Those in which no mixture of races has occurred are imperfect; and those in which its effects have disappeared are decrepit. A State which is incompetent to satisfy different races condemns itself; a State which labours to neutralise, to absorb, or to expel them, destroys its own vitality; a State which does not include them is destitute of the chief basis of self-government. The theory of nationality, therefore, is a retrograde step in history . . . nationality does not aim either at liberty or prosperity, both of which it sacrifices to the imperative necessity of making the nation the mould and measure of the State. Its course will be marked with material as well as moral ruin, in order that a new invention may prevail over the works of God and the interests of mankind. There is no principle of change, no phrase of political speculation conceivable, more comprehensive, more subversive, or more arbitrary than this. It is a confutation of democracy, because it sets limits to the exercise of the popular will, and substitutes for it a higher principle.7

Acton more clearly than any writer of the day understood the vast confusion of goals and values that informed nineteenth-century nationalism and that would lead its advocates, once they had actually gained the power afforded by economies, bureaucracies, and armies of nation states, to carry out the same kind of destruction that Europe had first known in its religious wars and then again in the secular religious wars of the French Revolution.




he nineteenth century was an age of grand theories often dependent upon a single master causal factor. The social and political thought of the nineteenth century was filled with attempts to discover and to assert deterministic methods of explaining human nature and human society. Marx and his later followers looked to economic forces and class. The Positivists inspired by Comte looked to the Law of the Three Stages and to the rise of science and the organisation of society according to scientific principles. Nationalists looked to the establishment of the nation state. Still other thinkers would embrace various modes of evolutionary and development thinking associated with Darwinism. Each of these had their advocates and each exerted considerable influence. Yet one theory of human nature and human relationships, exerted both in its own day and since perhaps more practical influence than any other. That deterministic model of human nature and society was racial or racialist thinking. In the nineteenth century the term ‘race’ assumed a new meaning and came to play a new role not only in the thought of the West but throughout Western society and throughout other societies in the world where Westerners ventured to assert influence and 175



authority. Obviously the fact of differences in racial appearance of different human beings had been noted and observed since ancient times. There had also existed prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination on the basis of race prior to the late eighteenth century. That is to say, human beings in different parts of the globe had thought racially and had carried prejudices that are now included under the loose terminology of ‘racism’. These attitudes were not and are not confined to the West. However, beginning in the late eighteenth century new intellectual factors came into play. From that time to the early twentieth century racial or racialist thinking emerged as an articulated set of ideas which served as a means of interpreting history, defining social problems, explaining cultural difference, and accounting for different levels of economic development. It was only really in the nineteenth century that race became an ideological factor in the articulated defence of the institutions of slavery, imperialism, anti-Semitism, and nationhood. For the purposes of this lecture, racialist thinking or theory will be considered to require five formal or informal propositions. 1. Racial thinkers believed that races had distinct existence in nature. Such thinkers argued in one manner or another that races of human beings were distinct and had the same kind of distinct existence as animal species. For racial thinkers, races thus constitute natural types which are transmitted through blood. It is important to note that during the nineteenth century the issue of racial colour was not necessarily an inherent part of European racism. Blood was the key factor. Practically all racial codes referred to blood rather than to colour. The boundaries were not regarded as absolute, because it is possible for persons of different races to produce offspring, but racial thinkers nonetheless regarded the racial boundaries as real. They also generally opposed racial mixing. It should be noted there is nothing inherently scientific in this proposition; it simply formally asserts a particular interpretation of what are visible differences among the appearances of human beings.



2. Racial thinkers contend that there is some kind of continuity between physical type and moral characteristics. That is to say, there is the assertion of a link between physical and non-physical social characteristics. Behind this assertion is the assumption that in some usually undefined manner physical characteristics determine social, intellectual, and cultural characteristics. Despite much of the rhetoric sometimes associated with it, racial thought constitutes essentially a materialist interpretation of history and humankind. 3. Racial thinkers contend that the racial characteristics of the particular cultural group in turn determine the character of individuals within that group. As one commentator has observed, ‘Racialism is thus a doctrine of collective psychology, and it is inherently hostile to the individualist ideology’.1 4. Racial thinkers do not draw conclusions of cultural or racial relativism from their reasoning. Rather, racial thinkers in all cases assert a hierarchy of races and attach differing values to races or associate characteristics with different races which themselves suggest a hierarchy of values. These values usually relate to judgments regarded the aesthetic, intellectual, and moral qualities of races. Normally this hierarchy placed the race of the thinker himself in the superior position. 5. Racial thinkers finally related their ideas to some course of political or social policy and action. The alleged knowledge base of racial thinking is intended to produce a practical result which confirms judgments previously held on the basis of prejudice. The alleged knowledge base is thus intended to produce social action or political policy that asserts or undergirds the status of the revealed racial hierarchy. Throughout its history racial thinking has been notoriously associated with scientism or with the cult of science. That is to say, the cultural authority of racial thinking has been in very large measure based on the larger cultural authority achieved by science since the eighteenth



century. It was the relationship to science and the cultural authority of science that gave nineteenth- and twentieth-century racial thinking so much of its own cultural authority. It is to be observed that, especially in the nineteenth century, there was a similar relationship between science and the ideology of separate gender spheres. Nineteenth-century racial thought represented a reaction against three other contemporary major intellectual and cultural forces: the universalistic principles of the French revolution, the institutions and legal framework of liberalism, and the new urban industrial order where so many traditional social hierarchies and boundaries appeared to be confused. It was in fact a reaction against the homogenisation of European culture at home and a force to preserve European hegemony elsewhere in the world. Racial thinking functioned in a similar fashion in the United States where it worked to sustain the illiberal institution of slavery, then to justify the movement of a white culture across the continent, later to resist the assimilation of immigrants from both Europe and Asia, and finally to undergird a system of legalised segregation. During the nineteenth century in Europe racial thinking enjoyed a good academic press. It drew respectable supporters from groups of scholars whose work at the time was associated with the wider ideal of science. These were anthropologists and philologists. The French biologist Buffon first used the word ‘race’ in a scientific treatise in 1749. He employed it primarily in a descriptive sense. The most important and influential eighteenth century author to discuss race was Johann Friedrich Blumenbach. In 1775 he published On the Natural Variety of Mankind. Blumenbach considered all attempts to establish particular or exact varieties of mankind as an arbitrary exercise which had little or no basis on fact. However, he also suggested that for purposes of convenience one might separate humankind into five major divisions or races. It was he who introduced the term Caucasian to describe Europeans, because he believed the Caucasus mountains had been the original home of the earliest Europeans. He became the major source for all anthropologists during the first half of the nineteenth century. His position was that



human beings had originated from a single original pair of human beings and that there was thus no innate differences or factors of superiority or inferiority among the races. This position was termed Monogenesis. It was advocated by two very different groups of people: 1. Liberals who advocated the equality of all human beings and nations. 2. Religious conservatives and religious humanitarian groups who believed in the biblical account of creation or who saw all human beings as the children of God. Throughout the century liberals and evangelical Christians opposed both slavery and the slave trade with the result that, largely through their combined efforts, the nineteenth century witnessed widespread emancipation of slaves not only in the United States but in the English colonies in 1833, in the French colonies in 1848, and in the Dutch colonies in 1863. The most prominent doctrine espoused in defence of slavery on racial grounds was polygenesis. This position held that each race had been separately created or had separate origins. Polygenesis was the outlook of most of the philosophes of the Enlightenment. Some of the philosophes, such as Voltaire, were attracted to it because polygenesis undermined the authority of the Bible. Apparently the most important articulated position for this argument was stated in 1774 by Edward Long in his History of Jamaica. Long wrote the book as a future guide to British policy on the island. He claimed that Europeans and blacks who were slaves on Jamaica belonged to separate species. Against all empirical evidence he asserted that mulattoes were infertile hybrids. Long asserted the separate origins of these races. This book remained for 75 years a source of information and authority for believers in polygenesis. That such a book could do so illustrates an important feature of nineteenth-century anthropology. It was overwhelmingly based on second-hand observations of people who wrote travel books which then had very considerable influence. One need only look at the footnotes of Darwin’s Origin of Species and Descent of Man to realise how even the



most advanced scientific thinkers relied on such literature. This continued to be the case until the very close of the century. Later in the nineteenth century scientists revived the doctrine of polygenesis by appealing to the evidence of different cranial measurements as signs of different mental capacities. Polygenesis was then used as the explanation for the discerned differences. During the late 1850s and early 1860s Robert Knox, a professor in Edinburgh, and Paul Broca in France appealed to polygenesis to assert that in the struggle for survival mixed races would always lose to pure races. In 1850 Knox published an enormously influential book entitled Races of Man. Polygenesis and the ideas supporting it represented three strains of thought. 1. Pro-slavery arguments based on supposedly empirical evidence. 2. An explanation which Europeans gave to themselves when they were confronted by human beings so unlike themselves in colour, customs, and morals that the Europeans could not share with these people their common humanity. 3. The justification of colonial exploitation on both a global and a local basis. Once the colonial officer accepted the idea that races were innately different and the coloured races different from the white, he did not have to treat the non-Europeans as fully human. It provided an excuse for setting colonial peoples outside humanity. Polygenesis aided Europeans who were placed in the morally problematical situation of being either slave-owners or colonial masters. It provided an excuse for not extending to slaves or colonial peoples the rights and even courtesies associated with European civilisation. Philology was the second area of scholarly and scientific endeavour that contributed directly to racial thinking. Philologists provided the ideas for what became known as the ‘Aryan myth’. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries two British philologists Sir William Jones and Thomas Young observed similarities between the Greek Sanskrit, Persian, Celtic, and German languages. Young termed this group the ‘Indo-European’ language group. From this observation emerged the



myth that the language group stemmed from a single Indo-European race which had first conquered India and imposed its language and then spread north and west ultimately into Europe, always proving its superiority by conquest. This myth became very popular in Germany, particularly with the German Romantics. In 1859 and 1860 F. Max Mueller, a German philologist transplanted to Oxford, delivered a set of lectures in which he contended that the term ‘Indo-European’ should be replaced by the word ‘Aryan’. Then there commenced throughout Europe a search for the Aryan homeland, and scores of books were written on this topic. The Indo-European or Aryan myth thus set into the European thought cluster the idea of a master race of conquerors, some of whose descendants were still living in modern Europe and must carry the seeds of their superiority. Some writers indicated the descendants of the Aryans were a nationality; others thought them to be a particular class. The Aryan was usually associated with Nordic or Teutonic peoples. Two figures are primarily associated with the formulation of racial doctrine using the Aryan myth as the basis for a racial interpretation of history. They are Arthur de Gobineau and Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Count Arthur de Gobineau was born in 1816. During his childhood he was exposed to the ideas of Romanticism and political reaction. He had the grave misfortune to be born an aristocrat exactly one century too late – thus finding himself an aristocrat in a century of declining aristocracy. Under the July Monarchy of Louis Phillipe, Gobineau wrote as a journalist. With many other intellectuals of the day he detested the dull, mediocre bourgeois life of that ever-so-bourgeois monarchy. He sought to explain to himself and to the world at large two large facts: 1. Why had the French nobility declined? 2. Why was bourgeois life so dull, so ignoble, so poor, and why it was getting worse? In other words, he set out to write a critique of French liberalism. In that regard, he was writing a counter-narrative to Tocqueville’s discussion of



the providential inevitability of political equality. Furthermore, whereas many writers, such as Comte, had progressive theories of historical development, Gobineau’s was a regressionist theory. Between 1853 and 1855 Gobineau published the four-volume Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races. The book was a political tract to oppose the principles of the French Revolution and the idea of democracy. However, the format of the book was historical and philosophical. The key to the understanding of all history is race. Until that factor is fully appreciated, Gobineau contended, the development of history and the future of the present will remain dark and senseless. Now, by the very nature of the task which Gobineau set before himself, his history or philosophy of history had to be pessimistic. He had to show that the nobility were destined through no fault of their own to fall. He had to show that bourgeois life was less satisfactory than life under the former aristocratic regime and since, for all his Romanticism, he was also something of a realist, he recognised that the nobility would never regain its position. He had to demonstrate that life would never be as good as it had been when his ancestors ruled. There are three primary factors in Gobineau’s theory of history: 1. race characteristics; 2. race mixture; 3. degeneration. Gobineau, in large measure following earlier and contemporary anthropologists, classified all human beings into three races each of which he associated with particular cultural and moral characteristics. 1. Black – lowest, limited intellect, sensuality; possessing great energy, drive, will; 2. Yellow – above the Black; apathetic, favour mediocrity in all matters, love utility, respect law, appreciate moderate liberty; 3. White – the Aryans – reflective and energetic in intellect, broad sense of utility, perseverance, liberty loving, strong sense of honour, less sensual than other races.2



Gobineau considered all of these moral and cultural characteristics to be carried in the blood. According to Gobineau genuine civilisation is possible only through racial mixture. He is thus not a racial purist. Each race has something to contribute to the others. For example, the drive and the will of the blacks would be useful to the white ruling class. On the other hand, civilisation for Gobineau is always the product of the white race – that is, the blood of the white race must predominate wherever civilisation is found. Moreover, all the European nobility had a predominance of white or Aryan blood as opposed to Latin blood. He thus contended that France really consisted of two different races: a Nordic nobility and a Frankish class of non-nobility. While the Nordic nobility had ruled France, life had been good and civilisation rich. But all of that had passed. The reason for its passing was degeneration, which was inevitable because of continuing racial mixture. Eventually, because the white race was less sensual, the predominance of Aryan blood would exhaust itself and there would be increasingly less Aryan blood in each succeeding generation. For Gobineau, the idea of degeneration meant that a people had lost its former intrinsic worth through the adulteration of the blood in its veins. To Gobineau, races are inherently unstable. Races may have the same name, but they are no longer what they were in the past. Neither environment nor institutions could restore a degenerate race. Consequently, none of the nineteenth-century liberal solutions to political or social problems were applicable to racial degeneration. The fall of the nobility through racial degeneration explained the mediocrity of bourgeois life and also foretold an even more mediocre future. Gobineau’s theory of race was an effort to destroy practically all contemporary European values by denying the validity of the two major strains of nineteenth-century European thought: Christianity and liberal humanitarianism. As a good Catholic, Gobineau could not say that Christianity was of no importance. Rather he argued that it pertained only to the life to come and was of no influence in this life. Christianity might make a civilisation somewhat less brutish, but it could not stop degeneration



nor could it make a race superior beyond the racial characteristics present in its blood. The doctrine of race flew directly in the face of liberalism by denying environmentalism and, more important, denying the moral basis of liberalism which was the morally free individual. In racial thought no such individual exists; instead, all individuals are the products of race mixture and thus victims of their racial composition. If one wishes to become a bit impressionistic, Gobineau made all human beings the helpless victims of their birth with no future for which to hope. In this regard he wrote large upon humankind his own position of a petty aristocrat in an age of dying aristocracy. Gobineau did not become a popular writer during his own lifetime, but he was read and widely read among intellectual groups throughout Europe. His work was also reviewed in the anthropological journals. His ideas fit into the, by now, familiar nineteenth-century pattern of vast theories of historical explanation. Furthermore, his ideas came to have an important influence in French intellectual circles after 1870, when French conservatives attempted to explain to themselves the loss of the Franco-Prussian War, the violence of the Paris Commune, and the humdrum nature of the Third Republic. Indeed, in the last half of the nineteenth century racial thinking played probably a more important role in French intellectual life than in that of Germany. Gobineau probably achieved his most extensive influence in the first quarter of the twentieth century when he was widely discussed again in French intellectual circles. The idea which Gobineau brought to the fore more than any other was that of degeneration. In 1857 Bénédict Augustin Morel defined the term in the following manner: ‘Degenerations are departures from the normal human type, they are transmitted through inheritance and lead progressively to destruction’. The idea spread rapidly throughout the European medical community and among social scientists. It received its most famous discussion in Max Nordau’s Degeneration of 1892–93. By this time degeneration had come to be associated not with the loss of aristocratic values and qualities, but with threats to middle-class values and middle-class respectability. This was an important shift, because



from the third quarter of the century onward it would be middle-class authors and middle-class professional people who seem most to have worried about degeneration. Degenerates were always defined as those whose lives and appearance most sharply contrasted with those of white, educated, clean, healthy, respectable Europeans. After Gobineau, European racial thinking received a marked boost near the end of the century from Houston Stewart Chamberlain, the son-in-law of Richard Wagner. Chamberlain was an Englishman living in Germany. He absorbed many of his racial views from his association with Wagner, who had read Gobineau and who had much earlier absorbed various strains of German anti-Semitic thought. In 1899 Chamberlain published Foundations of the Nineteenth Century. This two-volume work, which had enormous influence throughout Europe, was considerably more racist than Gobineau and differed from Gobineau in several respects. 1. Chamberlain was not writing out of a regret for the lost aristocratic past. He is concerned with a pure racial future rather than with racial degeneration. He saw the nation state as a means to preserving pure races. 2. Chamberlain was openly and unashamedly anti-Semitic. He portrayed history as a polarised struggle between God in the Germanic-Aryan races and the Devil in the Jewish race. Chamberlain, like certain German writers of his generation, went so far as to deny that Jesus could have possibly been a Jew. 3. Chamberlain envisioned a genetic solution for racial improvement. Existing ruling, superior races were to be sure the result of racial mixture. That mixture should be preserved from possible degeneration and contamination. 4. Race for Chamberlain had a somewhat more ambiguous meaning than it did for Gobineau. It was more metaphysical than materialist. It suggested a particular relationship to the cosmos. Mental and moral characteristic are more important than physical traits. All of this side of Chamberlain’s thought related to Romantic ideas of



innate potentiality. It may also have been related to Schopenhauer’s idea of will. At one point Chamberlain declared: Nothing is so convincing as the consciousness of the possession of Race. The man who belongs to a distinct, pure race, never loses the sense of it. The guardian angel of his lineage is ever at this side, supporting him where he loses his foothold, warning him like the Socratic Daemon where he is in danger of going astray, compelling obedience, and forcing him to undertakings which, deeming them impossible, he would never have dared to attempt. Weak and erring like all that is human, a man of this stamp recognises himself, as others recognise him, by the sureness of his character, and by the fact that his actions are marked by a certain simple and peculiar greatness, which finds its explanation in his distinctly typical and super-personal qualities. Race lifts a man above himself; it endows him with extraordinary – I might almost say supernatural – powers, so entirely does it distinguish him from the individual who springs from the chaotic jumble of peoples drawn from all parts of the world: and should this man of pure origin be perchance gifted above his fellows, then the fact of race strengthens and elevates him on every hand, and he becomes a genius towering over the rest of mankind, not because he has been thrown upon the earth like a flaming meteor by a freak of nature, but because he soars heavenward like some strong and stately tree, nourished by thousands and thousands of roots – no solitary individual, but the living sum of untold souls striving for the same goal.3

Between 1899 and 1914 The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century went through eight editions and numerous translations with sales of over 100,000 copies. The Kaiser distributed the book to his officer corps and saw that the work was placed in German libraries. It is important to stress that racial thinking invaded areas of European thought almost always on those occasions and in those situations where



one group – usually a governing group – sought to distinguish itself from a subject people or to explain some failing in the dominant culture because of the presence of a group allegedly different from that of the dominant culture. One can see this in the discussion of the Irish by English writers. As pointed out in the last lecture, Irish nationalism proved a difficult problem to the English throughout the nineteenth century. During that period one English writer after another attempted to argue that the Irish were an alien and inferior race in relation to the Anglo-Saxons of England. The Irish were Celts. The English were Anglo-Saxons and thus descended from the all-conquering Aryans. The English contended that the Irish, by virtue of being Celts, were unfit for independence and selfgovernment. English historians such as John R. Green, Edward A. Freeman, and Bishop Stubbs all made such arguments. In doing so they were following anthropologists such as Robert Knox, who, in The Races of Man, argued that the Celt could not understand what the Saxon meant by ‘independence’. Indeed, he said that the Celt could not grasp military discipline, hated order, and exhibited a tendency to religious fanaticism. The habits of the Celts simply meant they could not govern themselves. Matthew Arnold in 1866 delivered a set of lectures On the Study of Celtic Literature in which he claimed Saxon literature was marked by energy and honesty while that of the Celt was marked by sentiment and sentimentality. Again, the values associated with the term worked to the disadvantage of the Irish. All of these arguments were used by the English political elite to deny home rule to Ireland and to keep Ireland under English authority. The area of racial thinking that would come to have the most disastrous consequence for any group in Europe was anti-Semitism. Conceptually, it is essential to state that in 1800 anti-Semitism was not really a racial theory but a mode of cultural and religious prejudice. What occurs during the nineteenth century is that anti-Semitism steadily becomes associated with, and undergirded by, racial theory growing out of anthropology, philology, and medicine. In that regard, by the close of the century anti-Semitism is riding the crest of the wave of science.



The ideas associated with science, race, and anti-Semitism were to be found across Europe and also in America. They were normally associated with three areas of science: evolution, eugenics, and public health. These combined to scientise racial thinking, and within Europe by the turn of the century to scientise anti-Semitism. What did each of these scientific outlooks contribute?

Social Darwinism As we shall see more fully in a later lecture, the Darwinian theory of evolution emphasised competition for survival among various species in the natural order. Across Europe and America some scientists and lay publicists were attracted to the idea of evolution by natural selection just because of this competitive aspect. Darwin argued that species developed and evolved over time as those groups which had some kind of marginal advantage won out in the struggle for survival. Writers in science and in the social sciences then attempted to take this idea still one step further. They contended that various social groups including nations, classes, and races were also in a struggle for survival. They contended that the weak should not survive and that public policy and private morality should protect the strong. Social Darwinism within the popular press thus stressed the idea that human populations should be shaped according to the social ideals of dominant groups. In 1900, for example, the famous German industrialist and arms maker Alfried Krupp sponsored an essay contest on the topic: ‘What can we learn from the principles of Darwinism for application to domestic political development and the laws of the state?’

Eugenics Eugenics as a science was developed in England by Francis Galton and Karl Pearson. Put most starkly, eugenicists contended that human beings should marry and produce children on the basis of what physical, social,



and moral qualities best served the larger society. Eugenicists were in effect calling for the selective breeding of human beings. Various eugenicist societies were established in the major European nations. Eugenics was, in many respects, in contrast to early-nineteenth-century groups associated with racial thinking, quite optimistic. Eugenicists believed that human beings could through selective breeding increase the quantity of socially desirable characteristics in their larger society. They were inherently anti-democratic. They feared the emergence of mass political culture and they feared that intellectual elites would be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of less intelligent peoples. In this regard, the eugenics movement was virtually always dominated by people drawn from the professional middle class. Galton founded the Eugenics Education Society to foster his ideas. However, eugenicist ideas spread rapidly beyond those middle-class groups. Eugenics had a simple mechanistic notion that, if people who had socially undesirable qualities were not allowed to marry and produce children either with each other or with more socially desirable people, then the larger society could be protected from degeneration and would make moral, spiritual, and social progress. As evidenced by Paul Rose’s book Wagner, Race and Revolution, throughout the nineteenth century German anti-Semitic writers had associated a whole host of modern problems and negative social characteristics with Jews. Once these qualities came to be seen as carried genetically in the blood and passed on to later generations simply through the production of children, it was a very simple step to contend that Jews and non-Jews should not marry and to contend that, to the extent that Jews could be eliminated from the population, the danger of the presence of those characteristics could be alleviated. It is no less important to note that many eugenicists held similar ideas about non-white races outside Europe. In addition to pinpointing European Jews, they also pointed to other groups in Europe whom they believed carried undesirable social qualities. These included gypsies and most Slavic peoples as well as homosexuals. But the cultural heritage of Europe concentrated this quest for eugenic purity on the Jews.



The achievements of public health science were among the most impressive of the nineteenth century. Purification of water and the campaigns against smallpox, cholera, malaria, and other epidemic diseases had demonstrated across Europe the power of science to improve longevity and to improve the quality of everyday life. All of the prestige of the public health movement and the ideals of hygiene became transferred to thinking about racial purity. For example, in 1904 there appeared in Germany a new publication entitled the Journal for Racial and Social Biology. The same year saw the founding of the German Society for Racial Hygiene. Those calling for racial hygiene on the basis of eugenics had no problem advocating compulsory sterilisation. It was in the 1870s that anti-Semitism became associated with science. During this decade in Germany, writers began to claim that the issue of Jewishness had little or nothing to do with religion or with a distinct Jewish culture, but rather with race. Wilhelm Marr, a journalist from Hamburg, intended the word ‘anti-Semitism’ to indicate that what was at stake were racial rather than religious or cultural differences. During the 1870s and 1880 such anti-Semitism was associated with a general anxiety over modern economic life and the cycles of commerce and capitalism which became associated with Jewish finance. However, by the close of the century anti-Semitism had become another cause along with imperialism whereby non-Jewish Germans sought to define themselves to advantage against the rest of the world. It was in this atmosphere that within German universities and German professional circles ideals of racial hygiene emerged in association with the ideals of public health. Local societies were founded to foster racial hygiene. It was out of this mix of ideas that most of the Nazi ideas of race emerged. It was out of similar sets of ideas that movements of racial hygiene directed toward African-Americans and Asian-Americans emerged in the United States at about the same time. These are separate stories, but they should be noted. For many of us today the hesitation of the United States and of other nations in Western Europe to condemn in the 1930s the policies of Nazism seems surprising. Yet, it must be observed that across the Western world in 1935 racial



science and attitudes based on racial thinking were commonplace among the most highly educated groups in each nation. That observation leads me to a closing observation about racial thinking in general and anti-Semitism in particular in nineteenthcentury European thought. The roots of these ideas and their power of attraction may, as Ernst Cassirer once observed, lie in some metaphysical yearning of humankind. Certainly there seems to be a destructive need to define ourselves against some ‘other’ who embodies a host of qualities which we fear to find in ourselves. Yet, as an historian, I must note, and note in a cautionary manner, that racial thinking in the nineteenth century became associated with a whole host of what were at the time regarded as modern and advanced ideas. Racial thinking became associated with opposition to the unbridled advance of capitalism, with the idea that Europe and America must assume what the English poet Kipling called ‘the White Man’s Burden’, with the idea of civilisation and economic progress, with nationalism, with the new sciences of anthropology, philology, evolution, eugenics, and public health. Racial thinking rose to the crest of this apparently and so-called progressionist wave. The forms of mass murder and mass degradation in Europe and within the various colonial empires brought about by such thinking – murder and degradation carried out for allegedly high principle and with sincere, educated conviction – should encourage all of us to show more scepticism toward embracing any set of ideas simply because they are called new, advanced, scientific, or progressive. Alexis de Tocqueville clearly understood this problem in 1853 when he wrote criticisms of his friend’s Gobineau’s work. In a letter of 17 November 1853, Tocqueville wrote to Gobineau: Your doctrine is rather a sort of fatalism, of predestination, if you wish, but at any rate, very different from that of St. Augustine, from the Jansenists, and from the Calvinists . . . You continually speak about races regenerating or degenerating, losing, or acquiring through an infusion of new blood social capacities which they have not previously



had . . . I must frankly say that, to me, this sort of predestination is a close relative of the purest materialism. And be assured that should the masses, whose reasoning always follows the most beaten tracks, accept your doctrines, it would lead them straight from races to individuals and from social capacities to all sorts of potentialities. Whether the element of fatality should be introduced into the material order of things, or whether God willed to make different kinds of men so that He imposed special burdens of race on some, withholding from them a capacity for certain feelings, for certain thoughts, for certain habits, for certain qualities – all this has nothing to do with my own concern with the practical consequences of these philosophical doctrines. The consequence of both theories is that of a vast limitation, if not a complete abolition, of human liberty. Thus I confess that after having read your book I remain, as before, opposed in the extreme to your doctrines. I believe that they are probably quite false; I know that they are certainly very pernicious. Surely among the different families which compose the human race there exist certain tendencies, certain proper aptitudes resulting from thousands of different causes. But that these tendencies, that these capacities should be insuperable has not only never been proved but no one will ever be able to prove it since to do so one would need to know not only the past but also the future.4




he utopian currents of thought which characterised so much of the early nineteenth century and which have continued in different formats to touch the life of the twentieth century reached an artistic culmination in both the life and the work of Richard Wagner. More than any major artist of the century Wagner drew together the currents of social discontent, animosity toward bourgeois life, and aesthetics. At the same time he transformed himself into a contemporary cultural phenomenon whose musical legacy year in and year out both transports audiences to new heights of aesthetic experience and whose political thought and activity continues to trouble and anger later generations. The thought of Karl Marx descends with many curious turns primarily from the Enlightenment with its emphasis on rationalism and metaphysical naturalism. The thought and aesthetic of Richard Wagner descends primarily from Romanticism with its emphasis on the transcendent artist, medievalism, and the irrational. Yet, no less than Marx, Wagner made a career of attacking middle-class and philistine values. However, he saw the power that would revolutionise and transform society as lodged in art and music as he conceived them. 193



Wagner and those who surrounded him and who after his death carried on his work in Germany and elsewhere, saw themselves as preparing for a new kind of culture that would overcome what they regarded as the decadence of the middle-class liberal state and bourgeois society. In that respect, Wagner stands as one of the great condemners of bourgeois culture and of the modern world. Richard Wagner was born in May 1813, in Leipzig. There has long existed interest in the question of who was his father. His mother was married to a man named Wagner, but he died late in 1813. The next year she married Ludwig Geyer with whom it was rumoured she had already been having an affair. The issue would be of little interest except that Geyer was Jewish, and most of Wagner’s adult career was marked by an extraordinarily hostile anti-Semitism. His formal musical education lasted only a few months during 1831 and 1832. Nevertheless, he had enormous talent and even more confidence. By 1834 he was a conductor at Magdeburg. In 1836 he married Minna Planer, an actress who was older than he. This marriage became an issue later in his life as he passed from one love affair to another. Minna died in 1866 after having been essentially abandoned by Wagner. By that time he was living with Cosima von Bülow, the daughter of Franz Liszt. Cosima was then married, but she and Wagner had children before she eventually was divorced in 1870 after which the couple married. During all these years Wagner wrote operas and music dramas that dealt with the problem of love, purity, and redemption from excessive sensual pleasure. By 1841 Wagner had written his first opera Rienzi, performed in Dresden in 1842. On the whole, this work was an example of what was known as ‘Grand Opera’. Its form and character were derivative of the mode of opera then very popular in Paris and associated with the composer Giacomo Meyerbeer. It was a thoroughly conventional opera. There were recitatives, arias, and large choruses. The orchestra was big and noisy. Such opera had become very popular in Paris, attracted large audiences, and made money. Grand Opera was commercial opera intended for the wealthy bourgeoisie of Paris and other European cities.



In 1843 Wagner became the music director of the Dresden Opera, a position he continued to hold until 1849. In those years he composed Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, and The Flying Dutchman. These were major works that are still in the opera repertoire around the world. One feature that set them apart from other operas of the day was that Wagner composed his own librettos as well as the music. During these same Dresden years Wagner became involved in the radical politics of Dresden and criticism of the society and politics of Saxony. Initially he looked to the monarchy as an engine of reform. He also hoped that Germany would soon develop its own distinctive art which would inspire the nation’s highest moral and political aspirations. By 1848 Wagner had become disillusioned with the Saxon monarchy. He was also deeply in debt. That year Mikhail Bakunin, an anarchist, fled the revolution in Prague and settled in Dresden where Wagner became acquainted with him. When revolutionary troubles hit Dresden in 1849, Wagner became involved. When it became clear that the monarchy would succeed in restoring order, Wagner and his family fled to Weimar and eventually to Switzerland. Wagner, like so many of the radicals of the 1830s and 1840s, thus became a peripatetic exile. For about fifteen years Wagner moved about Europe eventually setting in Switzerland. Those were the most creative years of his life. During that decade and a half he wrote the libretto of The Ring of the Nibelung and most of the music, the libretto and music of Die Meistersinger and of Tristan and Isolde. These were the years when he transformed European music, in a very real sense completing a transformation that had commenced with Beethoven. His prose became read and his music enjoyed by Ludwig II of Bavaria, who ascended the throne in 1864. Almost immediately he summoned the debt-ridden and creditor-fleeing Wagner to his court and lavished patronage on him. Ludwig was a monarch of vast dreams and selfdelusion, who wanted to sponsor an artist who would bring about a rebirth of German art. Wagner had during the fifteen years prior to Ludwig’s accession established just that image of himself. Wagner was only too happy to serve Ludwig. It did not, however, take long for



Wagner to turn the political circles in Munich against him. He was seen as a man of bad morals who was manipulating the young king for his own purposes. He left Munich. Yet Wagner did not abandon his dreams, his ambitions, nor his attachment to Ludwig. He realised that he could use his ideas and his capacity for self-advertisement to benefit from the unification of Germany then being carried out by the wars and diplomacy of Bismarck. In 1872 Wagner moved to Bayreuth where, with financing from Wagner societies all over Germany, he built what may be the most famous theatre in the world. It was a theatre designed to accommodate not ‘Grand Opera’ but rather ‘Music Dramas’. It was to be a setting where the audience would experience true art rather than Grand Opera. They would attend a performance that was to be a form of religious experience. In August 1876 the first entire performance of the four-night cycle of The Ring of the Nibelung took place. From that time to the present those performances at Bayreuth have attracted both large crowds and much controversy. In 1882 Wagner finished Parsifal which, as we will see, seemed to many contemporaries a rejection of his earlier work. The next year Wagner died in Venice in a building that now houses the municipal casino. Wagner’s life may have been his most remarkable work of creation. He turned himself into a remarkably successful, self-advertised image of ‘the artist’ as it had come to be understood in Romantic aesthetics and through two or three generations of composers and musicians. But Wagner had from the aftermath of the Dresden revolution onward encased his music in a vast body of aesthetic and expository prose (eight volumes in English) which gave his music a cultural and intellectual import far wider than that achieved by other contemporary composers. During the two years after the failure of the Dresden Revolution, Wagner published four major theoretical statements of his aesthetic programme. It was these works and the music that he composed after their publication that distinguished his early from his later career. These works were Art and Revolution (1849), The Art-Work of the Future



(1849), Jewry in Music (1850), and Opera and Drama (1851). These books accomplished in the aesthetic sphere the kind of condemnation of bourgeois, capitalistic, commercial culture that the Dresden uprising of 1849 and the wider European revolutions of 1848 had failed to accomplish. They set forth a condemnation of contemporary art as decadent and bourgeois, blamed that decadence on the influence of Jews, and asserted that a new kind of art must overcome all of those deficiencies. It is important to note in passing that in none of these ideas was Wagner original. What would give his ideas so much influence was both his artistic and his cultural-political victories from the mid-1860s onwards. These ideas would ride the crest of the nationalistic success of German unification after 1870 and the desire on the part of many educated Germans to create what they regarded as a distinctive German culture. Wagner’s ideas succeeded through their relationship to high post-unification German culture in the same manner that Marx’s ideas succeeded because of their association with the German Social Democratic Party. Wagner wrote about music and in particular about opera as a vehicle for launching a much broader social and cultural criticism. He contended that contemporary opera – by which he meant ‘Grand Opera’ – fawned on philistine taste. It was intended only to make money and to entertain. It was artificial, shallow, and corrupt. In these opinions he echoed many earlier writers who had attacked middle-class culture and German subservience to French taste. For Wagner, ‘Grand Opera’ was also a code word for French opera. He characterised theatrical institutions as catering to shallow entertainment, ‘lazily swallowed by the social ennui of the dwellers in our larger cities’. Bourgeois art was in Wagner’s view thoroughly materialistic. It pertained only to this world. It could not and did not speak to the depths of the soul or the human experience. It did not transform that experience. In other words, Wagner accused ‘Grand Opera’ of many of the shortcomings that Romantic poets saw in Neoclassical poetry. Wagner, however, had a different explanation for the shallowness and commercial character of opera. The impetus behind the moral and



cultural failure of opera was the Jews. At this point in his career, Wagner was anti-Semitic from the standpoint of cultural theory rather than from that of race theory. He, like many German radicals including the early Marx, associated commerce with Jews and philistine society with the commercial values that he saw arising from Jews. Furthermore, he also believed that the art which he detested stemmed from the Jewish impact on the arts that had occurred since the emancipation of European Jews during the era of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. In particular, he hated Meyerbeer, who had once helped him, and Felix Mendelssohn. He outlined his critique of the Jew in art and in modern culture generally in 1850 in Jewry in Music. Wagner accused the Jew of being an alien in Germany and, more important, in European culture. He declared, ‘The Jew speaks the language of the nation in whose midst he dwells from generation to generation, but he speaks it always as an alien’. Wagner argued that this cultural position meant that, no matter how thoroughly assimilated, the Jew could not truly speak the language of the nation in which he lived, because he was not part of the historical community that had developed that language. This meant that the Jew could not express himself artistically through European languages. It seemed to Wagner that Jews were even less likely to be able to express themselves in music, which aroused the highest moral passions. His reasoning for this argument becomes even more contorted. Jews were by definition alienated from their surrounding culture. Moreover, assimilated Jews had also turned their backs on their own Jewish culture and so they were doubly separated from the wellsprings of art. Wagner never abandoned this intense anti-Semitism and it became worse as he grew older. Yet he continued to meet with Jews, and he insisted that Herman Levi, a Jewish conductor, lead the Bayreuth orchestra. Yet more than any other single artistic figure, Wagner brought immense cultural legitimacy and artistic prestige to anti-Semitism in Germany and Europe generally. What Wagner argued should replace ‘Grand Opera’ which was infected with the influence of commercial life, Judaism, and France was



what he called the Gesamtkunstwerk or Total-Art-Work that would combine all of the arts. This was the message that he proclaimed in The Art-Work of the Future and in Opera and Drama. Wagner’s own answer to the decadence of mid-century philistine art was a return to the Greeks and to a form of art that he thought would resemble that of Greek tragedy. Again he was anything but original, for such views had informed German literature from the time of Winckelmann and Goethe. In these works Wagner argued that art must be intimately related to the people and that it must combine all the major arts in a thorough synthesis. For Wagner, the Gesamtkunstwerk that would replace opera was what he called ‘Music Drama’. Already in his operas of the late 1840s he had begun to introduce dialogue into the opera and had begun to abandon the recitatives, arias, and the ensemble singing of grand opera. Wagner contended that the text of the Music Drama and its music must be intimately related. Motifs in the music should remind the listener of earlier events and relationships. Each part of the drama should reinforce the other, and the stage presentation should contribute as well. All of this presupposes that the main forms of communication come through the senses and are intended to inform the emotions. He wrote in Opera and Drama: The combining intellect must have nothing to do with the dramatic work of art. In the drama we must become knowers through feelings . . . This feeling, however, becomes intelligible to itself only through itself; it understands no other language but its own. Things which can be explained only by the infinite accommodations of the intellect are incomprehensible and disturbing to feeling.1

Wagner thought such a total work of artistic synthesis had been achieved by the Greeks and that modern art must seek to imitate that ancient achievement. Greek tragedy had drawn upon religion, emotion, belief, the history of the community, its moral expectations, and the arts of music, poetry and dance. This synthesis of the arts into a mode of tragedy that embodied both religion and humanity had made the Greeks into a single community and had reinforced that sense of community.



Part of the genius of Greek art, and especially drama, had been its appeal to myths. Myth for Wagner and many of his contemporaries held a very special power: The incomparable thing about the mythos is that it is true for all time, and its content, how close soever its compression, is inexhaustible throughout the ages.

Wagner went on to declare that the mythos was the ideal raw material of the poet, ‘. . . that native, nameless poem of the folk, which throughout the ages we ever meet new-handled by the great poets of periods of consummate culture.’ The art of the future should seek to use and to present those myths as part of an integrated Total-Art-Work. It is well to recall that Wagner is making this appeal to the power of myth and to the example of Greek myth in the wake of the contemporary attacks on Christianity and in the wake of David Friedrich Strauss’s attempt to reduce Christianity to the status of myth. Furthermore, Wagner is also writing after Carlyle, who was read widely in Europe and had called for the establishment of a new mythos for modern human beings who could no longer wear their old church clothes. Throughout his career Wagner mixed together in both his prose and musical compositions themes and concerns drawn from traditional religion, ancient Greek myth, medieval myth and, most importantly, German myths. His entire intellectual, political, and artistic career would have been impossible without the atmosphere of Christianity falling into an intellectually and culturally problematic state. The work that most fully embodied these early aesthetic theories was The Ring of the Nibelung. This vast musical drama is composed of four separate dramas: The Rhinegold, The Valkyrie, Siegfried, and The Twilight of the Gods. The drama is performed on four separate nights and was intended to be a single musical experience. Wagner composed the poems for the dramas in the early 1850s drawing upon the resources of German myths. Then he composed the music, which was more or less complete by the mid-1860s. Both the poems and the music were



published and known in music circles. Later, in constructing Bayreuth, Wagner created the theatrical and artistic setting for this vast Total-ArtWork, and he sold it to the elite of the newly united Germany as a basis for establishing a new national culture based on a revival of works of art not known or witnessed in Europe since the Greeks. Bayreuth and its dramas would remain a vexed location in German politics and culture from the first performance of the Ring in 1876 through the 1920s when National Socialists flocked to Bayreuth and then through the rebuilding of Germany after World War II as the Wagner family continued to produce the Ring in its original location. The narrative and meaning of the Ring are subjects too large and complicated for this lecture. Suffice it to say that throughout the four evenings the audience is carried through a powerfully moving story of the manner in which greed and infidelity cause the world of the gods to be destroyed. It is the story of the realm of the gods cursed through greed for gold. Wagner was concerned with establishing the tensions that exist between love and money and the frightful price that men will pay to possess money even at the cost of renouncing love. In that regard, as George Bernard Shaw later argued, the Ring is strongly related to Wagner’s early radicalism. It is also worth noting that almost none of the characters in the Ring are really human. There are gods, dwarfs, Rhinemaidens, giants, and other non-human beings. Wagner more than any other artist of the day reached into a mythical past to make his point. Wagner had completed the poems for the Ring in 1853, and they reflected his radical thought of the 1840s and his aesthetic theories of the 1850s as well. By the time the Ring received its first complete performance in 1876, Europe had changed and so had Wagner. The revolutions of 1848 had truly failed, but many of their goals, including the unification of Germany, had been carried out by conservative rather than radical political forces. Wagner himself was no longer an impecunious exile. He had the King of Bavaria for his patron and received honour and financial support from the plutocratic, nationalistic middle classes of the new Germany. Moreover, Wagner’s own



thinking had begun to change in the 1850s through his reading of Arthur Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer was a philosopher who was the contemporary of Hegel. He had published his most important work The World as Will and Idea in 1818. However, during the 1850s there took place a Schopenhauer revival in Europe and his philosophy enjoyed a very considerable vogue that lasted until at least the 1920s. Both Schopenhauer’s metaphysics and his aesthetics touched Wagner, and through Wagner much of the rest of Europe. Schopenhauer, unlike many of the writers who had influenced Wagner in the 1840s, was deeply pessimistic. He also revelled in the irrational. Like so many of the post-Kantian German philosophers, Schopenhauer was fascinated by the problem of the ding an sich and sought to find a way that human beings might come to have some kind of knowledge of that thing-in-itself about which Kant had argued we can have no knowledge. Schopenhauer approached the problem by contrasting reason to the will, and, as usual with many of the post-Kantians, reason was found to be limited and wanting. According to Schopenhauer, ‘Reason is feminine in nature; it can only give after it has received’.2 Reason could provide forms for knowing but reason could not provide in-depth knowledge. Reason allowed the achieving of general laws drawn from sense experience. There was genuine worth to such knowledge: ‘The greatest value of rational or abstract knowledge is that it can be communicated and permanently retained’. However, for Schopenhauer reason could never go to the heart of things or provide truly deep knowledge or experience. Kant had argued that human philosophy in general could not penetrate to the core of reality. Schopenhauer claimed otherwise. He thought he could ascertain what the world really is like. But that knowledge could never come from the realm of ideas formed and arranged by the Reason. As he explained: . . . we can never arrive at the real nature of things from without. However much we investigate, we can never reach anything but images



and names. We are like a man who goes round a castle seeking in vain for an entrance, and sometimes sketching the facades.3

To penetrate that facade Schopenhauer argued that we must examine our own inner nature. Such an examination would reveal that our inner self is not reason but rather will. Moreover, our very bodies are nothing more than an objectification of Will: The concept of will . . . is of all possible concepts the only one which has its source, not in the phenomenal, not in the mere idea of perception, but comes from within, and proceeds from the most immediate consciousness of each of us, in which each of us knows his own individuality, according to its nature, immediately, apart from all form even that of subject and object, and which at the same time is this individuality, for here the subject and the object of knowledge are one.4

Schopenhauer argued that the entire phenomenal world was nothing more than an objectification of this all-striving, restless, never satisfied will. The will is lawless, it lies beyond the world of cause and effect and beyond the world of everyday life and experience. Schopenhauer was interested in emphasising this restless, striving character of will because he thought it was possible for human beings, or at least some human beings, to overcome the will and to eventually penetrate the realm of ideas which was nothing more than knowledge of objectified will. The artistic genius could make that transition – in this sense Schopenhauer’s philosophy is another example of the cult of the artist. For Schopenhauer, in moments of artistic or aesthetic creation and contemplation, the genius could overcome will temporarily. This overcoming of the will required a negation of the will and amounted to an act of renunciation. For Schopenhauer – and here one sees why Wagner was so drawn to him – the art that most fully allowed human beings to become united with the will to be liberated from the realm of everyday



rational ideas was music. The other arts, such as painting, had to use the form of ideas; but music could escape that constraint: Music is as immediate an objectification and copy of the whole Will as the world itself is, indeed as the Ideas are, multiplied manifestation of which constitutes the world of individual things. Therefore music is by no means like other arts . . . but a copy of the Will itself, the objectivity of which are the Ideas. For this reason the effect of music is so very much more powerful and penetrating than is that of the other arts, for these others speak only of the shadow, but music of the essence.5

Furthermore, he contended: The composition of melody, the disclosure in it of all the deepest secrets of human willing and feeling, is the work of genius, whose actions, which are more apparent here than anywhere else, lies far from all reflection and conscious intention, and may be called an inspiration . . . The composer reveals the inner nature of the world, and expresses the deepest wisdom in a language which his reason does not understand; as a person under the influence of mesmerism tells things of which he has no conception when he awakes.6

Such views are obviously closely aligned with other Romantic concepts of the function of artistic genius. However, Schopenhauer’s views attained vast influence in the second half of the century when many of the other major Romantic theorists were forgotten. To people in the second half of the century, living when the cult of science was flourishing and bourgeois materialism was at its height, Schopenhauer’s philosophy offered an escape from materialism. The heart of the world was not mechanical but a striving impulse – virtually a vast libido. Beneath the appearance of lawful regular natural activity lay a seething cauldron – and such was the case whether one looked at physical nature or human nature. Schopenhauer’s thought suggested that action was always more important than thought because action was closer to the heart of things



which is will. Yet this philosophy was also profoundly pessimistic. It suggested quite explicitly that reason, planning, foresight and the like could not and did not determine the world. The intellect could only understand the will and its motives after the will had acted or determined things. Moreover, the will was itself not rational. The will cared nothing for the individual, but only for the goals of its own striving. The individual was only a temporary objectification of the will. She or he possessed consciousness only so long as it remained objectified and then passed again into the eternal will and that was the meaning of immortality. Schopenhauer claimed: For it is not the individual, but only the species that nature cares for, and for the preservation of which she so earnestly strives, providing for it with the utmost prodigality through the vast surplus of the seed and the great strength of the fructifying impulses.7

Schopenhauer’s world in a sense resembled that which Darwin would later project, and Schopenhauer became popular in the years when the Darwinian world picture came to the fore, because Schopenhauer suggested a voluntaristic mode of striving and change while Darwin presented a mechanical one. The pessimism went even deeper, however. It meant that no one could ever be happy once he or she had accomplished some goal set before themselves. Once achieved, the impulses of the will set to work again. The only way for the individual person to defeat the will, at least temporarily, was to renounce the world and to renounce striving. Schopenhauer affected Wagner in two distinct ways. First, this new philosophy caused Wagner to revise in a fairly radical manner the aesthetic philosophy of the early 1850s and also to revise his mode of composing music. Schopenhauer directly contradicted the concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk by holding up music alone as the very highest and most profound of the arts. This new view first appeared in 1859 in Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde. This was a love story in which the two participants were overcome in various ways by passion and eventually



both die. In this opera Wagner returned to having characters sing together rather than sing only dialogues. Moreover, throughout the work, the music predominates over everything else. There are long passages with only the orchestra playing and in these passages there is little or no melody. Wagner summarised his new views in 1860 in The Music of the Future, in which he openly confessed his dependence on Schopenhauer. In that treatise Wagner put the work of the orchestra over that of the singers or the writer of the libretto. The orchestra (and presumably the composer), by attaining pure music, was to achieve something near to a revelation of the depths of reality. Second, Schopenhauer’s ethics led Wagner to a mode of social and political quiescence which opportunistically matched his newly achieved fame and prosperity. The redemption or redirection of the world through heroes came to be impossible when the world was understood only as will. It is unclear whether from the late 1850s onward Wagner had any significant interest in changing the world as he had during the late 1840s. Wagner’s work continued to evolve as did his political conservatism and his strong attachment to anti-Semitism. His last opera was Parsifal. This work came as a surprise to most of his admirers, but soon attained considerable popularity. It was a surprise because Parsifal is a distinctly religious and quasi-Christian opera. It was also clearly intended as a moral work. To Wagner’s admirers it seemed that he had turned his back on all of his early work when it was performed in 1882. It marked the renunciation of reason and reform which had marked so many of his earlier writings. The story surrounds the story of a kind of blood brotherhood and has always been regarded as actually or potentially anti-Semitic. The community is a community of the grail which must preserve its Aryan purity. The blood of Christ came to be portrayed as the vehicle for reviving the Aryan world fallen into decadence. It was an opera of racial regeneration. What has long disturbed students of Wagner is the manner in which this work both reflects and rejects his earlier stances. It is at one with his view that art and presumably human society has undergone a long period of decadence since the Greeks. However, rather than seeing radical political reform or new aesthetic



ventures as the key to overcoming that decadence, there are strong hints of saving the world through some kind of racial regeneration. It is easy to be glib and ironic about Wagner. He carried selfadvertisement and moral hypocrisy to new levels of achievement. As Thomas Mann once observed, Wagner was in many respects a dilettante. As such, he absorbed much of the intellectual and cultural atmosphere around him. He moved from stances of reform and revolution to those of nationalism, authoritarianism, and faith in the irrational. He glorified illicit and incestuous love while the middle class applauded him for it. He became enormously popular and probably not until the rock stars of the twentieth century did any musical figure become so much a self-consciously created feature of his own culture. His aesthetics influence both poetry and music across the Western world. As might be expected, it was in Germany that the cult of Wagner reached its apogee. There the mixture of his thought attracted large numbers of admirers. Many young Germans believed his world could lead to a national artistic rejuvenation. The late Wagner appealed more to the ardent nationalists and racial thinkers of the united Germany such as his son-in-law Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Much of the most distasteful and pernicious parts of the Wagner vogue arose after his death in 1883. His widow Cosima was determined to see his work and his ideas flourish and Bayreuth succeed. She carefully cultivated political contacts and did everything possible to portray Wagner’s art as the art that would serve the greater glory of the Reich. Wagner’s glorification of the past, of heroism, of military values, and of the irrational appealed to a generation of Germans who had seen blood and iron triumph under Bismarck and who were at the same time weary of materialism. They sought a kind of artistic regeneration from middle-class decadence that one might find in Parsifal or even in the image of the heroic Siegfried. What is perhaps most remarkable and ultimately most thought-provoking about the phenomenon of Wagner is the capacity to join into one ball of aesthetic and cultural wax some of the most beautiful music ever composed in the Western world with political, social, and racial ideas that led to the most reprehensible events in in modern Western history.




n this lecture, I want to consider the intellectual forces that came to place women in the situation of remaining in the home looking out on the world of male activity – such as the woman in Caspar David Friedrich’s Woman at a Window, from 1822. I wish to emphasise that what I am discussing this morning is the ideology or set of ideas that contributed to the widespread social outlook among the middle and upper classes across the Western world during the nineteenth century – that the lives of men and women by nature pertained to distinct social spheres. In examining this set of ideas, I would wish to emphasise that there was considerable discrepancy between the ideals and realities of the lives of women and the ideology of the separate spheres. Furthermore, much – though by no means all – of this outlook informed the lives of middle-class women and what were regarded as respectable working-class women. There were millions of very poor women and women living in rural areas upon whom these ideas had only a minimal impact. The position of women in nineteenth-century society and the ideas held about women present us with a significant paradox. The nineteenth century witnessed a considerable extension of liberty in many areas of life. There was a much expanded realm of political liberty during the 208



century. There was a much expanded realm of economic liberty. Furthermore, religious liberty flourished as never before. The general liberty to discuss ideas also expanded as never before, though often with difficulty. Furthermore, in Europe numerous groups found ways to exercise more autonomous activity than previously. For example, ethnic groups and nationalities forged a new world of action and selfdetermination. By the close of the century, working-class unions and political parties had made themselves major forces in most European countries. In the course of the century slavery ended in the New World and serfdom was abolished even in Russia. Nonetheless, until the close of the century the condition of women remained one of very considerable social, political, economic, religious, and intellectual subjection. To be sure, as we shall see, in the last quarter of the century educational opportunities become available for a small number of women, but the numbers were very small indeed, and in 1900 the franchise had been extended to women nowhere in Europe. There had also been improvements in the conditions of women holding property, but the law still overwhelmingly favoured men in all areas of domestic law. As John Stuart Mill wrote in The Subjection of Women (1869): For what is the peculiar character of the modern world – the difference which chiefly distinguishes modern institutions, modern social ideas, modern life itself, from those of times long past? It is, that human beings are no longer born to their place in life and chained down by an inexorable bond to the place they are born to, but are free to employ their faculties, and such favourable chance as offer, to achieve the lot which may appear to them most desirable . . . At present, in the more improved countries, the disabilities of women are the only case . . . in which laws and institutions take persons at their birth, and ordain that they shall never in all their lives be allowed to compete for certain things.1

It was an article of faith among all but the smallest, one may even say the tiniest, minority of writers and thinkers that the place of women was



in the home as wives and mothers. Furthermore, as we shall also see, many of the sets of ideas which brought liberty and freer spheres of action to other social groups actually worked against women achieving liberty in their personal and their public lives. At the close of the eighteenth century there had developed a curious and paradoxical parallel between the attitudes held toward women in the Old Regime and those that pertained at the end of the French Revolution. Take for instance Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s The Swing, and The Good Mother. Both are aristocratic images of women. The scenes suggest that women are frivolous and without minds, that they are no more than the object of male lust and pursuit, and that their final end in life is motherhood. Now we have established on more than one occasion in this course that Rousseau in one way after another challenged the intellectual and moral presuppositions of Old Regime culture. He was in the mind of many the enfant terrible of his day and of the next two generations. Yet on the matter of gender spheres and gender activity perhaps no writer of the eighteenth century did so much to restrict the social position of women. And because he was rightly regarded as a cultural and political radical, his restrictive stand on women allowed male political radicals to believe they could transform the world without in any fundamental fashion transforming the social and political situation of women. And in very large measure that attitude would continue among later radical socialist groups. Rousseau set forth his ideas on women in Emile (1762). That long volume traces Rousseau’s effort to educate the young Emile. Once Emile has reached adolescence, Rousseau must find a young woman for him. This young woman is Sophie. Rousseau contends that she must be the same kind of woman as Emile is a man. But Rousseau immediately sets forth a series of qualifications. He quietly announces: The only thing we know with certainty is that everything man and woman have in common belongs to the species, and that everything



which distinguishes them belongs to the sex . . . In what they have in common, they are equal. Where they differ, they are not comparable. A perfect woman and a perfect man ought not to resemble each other in mind any more than in looks . . . In the union of the sexes each contributes equally to the common aim, but not in the same way. From this diversity arises the first assignable difference in the moral relations of the two sexes. One ought to be active and strong, the other passive and weak. One must necessarily will and be able; it suffices that the other put up little resistance. Once this principle is established, it follows that woman is made specially to please man.2

Rousseau takes this principle and drives it to one logical conclusion after another that work to the detriment of women. Because women are by nature to be subjugated, they must make themselves pleasing to men. It is for women to use their modesty to control both their own sexual passions and those of men. In that manner, Rousseau believes women actually achieve a certain dominance over men by exercising their weakness. However, Rousseau then moves on directly to argue that women by their physical nature can never be equal to men. He urges that menstruation, childbearing, nursing, and childrearing prevent women from ever really separating their intellectual and social being from their sexuality. He recognises that not all women may agree with this estimation but he replies: When woman complains . . . about unjust man-made inequality, she is wrong. The inequality is not a human institution – or, at least, it is the work not of prejudice but of reason. It is up to the sex that nature has charged with the bearing of children to be responsible for them to the other sex. Doubtless it is not permitted to anyone to violate his faith, and every unfaithful husband who deprives his wife of the only reward of the austere duties of her sex is an unjust and barbarous man. But the unfaithful woman does more; she dissolves the family and breaks all the bonds of nature. In giving the man children which are not his, she betrays both. She joins perfidy to infidelity.3



To top off this part of his argument, Rousseau writes, ‘Women, you say, do not always produce children? No, but their proper purpose is to produce them.’ Rousseau continues in his relentless pursuit of limitations on the lives of women, arguing: Once it is demonstrated that man and woman are not and ought not to be constituted in the same way in either character or temperament, it follows that they ought not to have the same education.

And what kind of education does Rousseau envision for women? For that he again has a very direct, uncompromising answer: . . . the whole education of women ought to relate to men. To please men, to be useful to them, to make herself loved and honoured by them, to raise them when young, to care for them when grown, to counsel them, to console them, to make their lives agreeable and sweet – these are the duties of women at all times and they ought to be taught from childhood.4

Later in his discussion he contends that women by nature and nurture lack the same kind of reason as men. They are not capable of sturdy thinking and abstract truth. They should be carefully instructed in religion. In all ways Sophie is to serve Emile, please him personally and sexually, bear his children, rear them, and remain chaste. And she is to remain in the home, which he describes as ‘woman’s empire’. Lest anyone still have doubts as to his views, Rousseau declares, ‘A brilliant wife is a plague to her husband, her children, her friends, her valet, everyone’. This mode of thinking became very widespread. Rousseau had brilliantly articulated existing prejudices on gender in exactly the same way that Burke would later articulate political prejudices. Paradoxically, such thinking was further sustained by republican political thought which saw the world of republican citizenship as that of men and the world of hearth and home as pertaining to women.



Paintings by J.L. David, such as The Death of Socrates, and Lictors Bring Back to Brutus the Bodies of his Sons, were intended as political statements criticising the aristocratic society of the Old Regime. David was active on the side of a French Revolution as a Jacobin. The implication of his work is that modern society, where the aristocracy governs, is incapable of ancient republican virtue. Yet, very much like Rousseau, David, while willing to criticise the current political structures, is unwilling to question to existing structure of gender relations. The universalistic political ideas of the French Revolution could by every logical argument have been extended to women. Yet they were not. Indeed, in 1794 the rights of women to political organisation were formally annulled. Furthermore, the Code Napoléon, which came to have wide influence throughout Europe, established the supremacy of men in virtually all areas of domestic and family law. During the era of the French Revolution, however, one voice set forth the contrary case on behalf of women and in direct contradiction of the ideology of separate gender spheres. This was the voice of Mary Wollstonecraft in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). She represents one of the most important feminist writers of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. She was familiar with English nonconformity and a member of those Unitarian intellectual circles which Burke had attacked in his Reflections. Indeed, she had written a critical reply to Burke. What was the case that Wollstonecraft made in her book of 1792? She contended that the relegation of women to a domestic sphere of their own and the refusal to extend to women the existing rights enjoyed by man was a matter of prescription. The situation existed quite simply because it had long been the practice, not because it was a reasoned practice. She asked the fundamental question, ‘Who made man the exclusive judge, if woman partake with him the gift of reason?’ Her fundamental argument throughout the book was to raise the position of women by associating them with the reason common to the human race. In other words, she was determined that women would be regarded as human beings rather than as females.



She asked how the idea of women not enjoying the gift of reason had come to have such wide currency and she replied: One cause of this barren blooming I attribute to a false system of education, gathered from the books written on this subject by men who, considering females rather as women than human creatures, have been more anxious to make them alluring mistresses than affectionate wives and rational mothers; and the understanding of the sex has been so bubbled by this specious homage, that the civilised women of the present century, with a few exceptions, are only anxious to inspire love, when they ought to cherish a nobler ambition, and by their abilities and virtues exact respect.5

Throughout much of her book she felt that she must address women as well as men to convince women that they would be better off when viewed as rational creatures rather than as creatures of fashion, delicacy, and feeling. She contended that virtually all writers on the subject of women, the family, and children had contrived to make women into socially useless creatures. Wollstonecraft then undertakes a point-by-point critique of Rousseau’s image of women as outlined in Emile. She first explained: . . . the most perfect education . . . is such an exercise of the understanding as is best calculated to strengthen the body and form the heart. Or, in other words, to enable the individual to attain such habits of virtue as will render it independent. In fact, it is a farce to call any being virtuous whose virtues do not result from the exercise of its own reason. This was Rousseau’s opinion respecting men: I extend it to women . . .6

She further explained: . . . Rousseau declares that a woman should never, for a moment, feel herself independent, that she should be governed by fear to exercise



her natural cunning, and made a coquettish slave in order to render her a more alluring object of desire, a sweeter companion to man, whenever he chooses to relax himself. He carries the arguments, which he pretends to draw from the inductions of nature, still further, and insinuates that truth and fortitude, the corner stones of all human virtue, should be cultivated with certain restrictions, because, with respect to the female character, obedience is the grand lesson which ought to be impressed with unrelenting rigour. What nonsense! when will a great man arise with sufficient strength of mind to put away the fumes which pride and sensuality have thus spread over the subject!7

Since no such great man had yet emerged, Wollstonecraft herself declared how the matter needed to be clarified: The mother who wishes to give true dignity of character to her daughter must, regardless of the sneers of ignorance, proceed on a plan diametrically opposite to that which Rousseau has recommended with all the deluding charms of eloquence and philosophical sophistry: for his eloquence renders absurdities plausible, and his dogmatic conclusions puzzle, without convincing, those who have not ability to refute them.8

For Wollstonecraft: It is time to effect a revolution in female manners – time to restore to them their lost dignity – and make them, as a part of the human species, labour by reforming themselves to reform the world. It is time to separate unchangeable morals from local manners.9

The only way to change the situation for her was through a major shift in the education of women. Otherwise, they would by the training of society be turned into people who were socially useless, personally vain, and economically and psychologically dependent. Wollstonecraft’s was a highly rationalistic volume. She made a rational case for the



viewing of women as rational creatures. But the forces that her ideas confronted were, as she understood, ideas held in place by prescription and prejudice. They were social dogmas and, as Cardinal Newman would note later in the century, ‘Many a man will live and die upon a dogma: no man will be a martyr for a conclusion.’ In the world in which she was writing, Wollstonecraft’s book had virtually no immediate influence. It was one of many radical statements of the 1790s, but one of the very few that actually addressed the condition of women. This book and its fate of being largely ignored during the nineteenth century illustrates the problem for women within nineteenth-century liberal society. The ideas of liberalism – the ideas of a set of universal rights and procedures guaranteed by law achieved through representative institutions – could logically have been extended to women. But such rights were on the whole not extended to women during most of the nineteenth century. It is also important to see that Wollstonecraft had quite correctly understood that what prevented women from being recognised as fully rational and fully human was the manner in which they were educated and the manner in which they were socialised, every bit as much as legislation that made them legally inferior. Nineteenth-century liberal society was full of such paradoxes. Its defenders and articulators repeatedly wrote and spoke about freedom, but there were very real constraints to that freedom in every liberal society of Europe and that emerging in the United States. There were always distinct groups to whom liberal society refrained from extending liberty – the working class on the grounds of property, persons of colour on the grounds of race, and women on the grounds of gender. All of these domestic groups in the eyes of liberals lacked something which was associated with the liberal concept of full humanity. Yet, to add to the paradox of this situation, it was in the long run still the values of liberal society that eventually led to the extension of liberties to those groups. Liberal society was self-critical. It did insist on civil liberties that allowed differing degrees of free discussion. It did continue to discuss the question of rights. But the process was a very long one,



and in the case of women it repeatedly came back to the very issues debated between Rousseau and Wollstonecraft – the assertion that in some manner women lacked the reason to be included fully within the circle of humanity. There were in Europe during the first three-quarters of the nineteenth century very few people who were willing to challenge the liberal incarceration of women – especially middle-class women and those who aspired to a middle-class lifestyle – in the home and in the world of separate gender spheres. One of these was the French novelist George Sand. George Sand (1804–76) had entered the world as Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin. As a young woman of 18 she married Casimir Dudevant in 1822. During the next few years she bore two children whose father may or may not have been Casimir. In 1831 she left her husband and went to Paris with her children where she became an author and eventually one of the most prolific and widely read novelists of the century. The movement from the provinces to Paris, from the vocation of a provincial wife to a metropolitan author constituted an enormous personal and cultural transformation. Mme Dudevant established herself independently from her husband and eventually achieved a legal separation. She had every intention of establishing herself as an artist and not simply as another female author. She was determined to enter the world of Parisian publication. To do so, she had to enter the world of men. She also adopted a wholly bohemian way of life. She became famous for her wearing of men’s clothing to conceal her gender. By this device she could enter public places normally reserved for men. She took on what to contemporaries seemed an endless string of male lovers including Alfred de Musset and Chopin. She also took on a man’s name – George Sand. In a letter of 1832 she wrote, ‘In Paris, Mme Dudevant is dead. But George Sand is known to be a vigorous fellow.’ George Sand transformed herself into a persona who could enjoy and achieve a life beyond the separate gender spheres. Usually what historians and biographers point to is the bohemian lifestyle, the male



clothing, the lovers, the cigars, and the dagger she often carried. But those are not what Sand herself pointed to in her autobiography. There she portrayed herself as breaking out of the separate spheres in two ways. First, rather than following Rousseau’s advice for women as articulated in Emile, she took Rousseau’s own personality and life experience as a model. Rousseau as a man had flouted the conventions of his day, she would do likewise. She criticised many of Rousseau’s ideas, but like Rousseau she achieved a particular stance of artistic criticism against the society. She used Rousseau’s ideas to liberate her one female life. She struck down the barrier between the spheres that he had raised. Second, she crafted herself into the persona of the artist. In her autobiography she observed: To be an artist! Yes, I had wanted to be one, not only to escape from the material prison where property, large or small, closes one in a circle of odious, trivial occupation, but also to escape the control of public opinion insofar as it was narrow, stupid, egotistical, weak, provincial; to live outside the world’s prejudices insofar as they were false, outdated, arrogant, cruel, impious or dull, but moreover and above all, to reconcile myself with myself.10

Through both her life and her novels Sand rejected the ideology and the reality of the separate spheres. She published Indiana in 1832. The story illustrates the various constraints on the lives of women in marriage during the nineteenth century. Sand surrounds her heroine with male figures who represent different aspects of male outlook and contemporary political outlook. Indiana is a very young woman married without love to an elderly man. Her husband is a Bonapartist who holds every conventional opinion about women, including the view that he may beat his wife and command her in every way. Raymon, a royalist and a womaniser, is intended to represent general upper-class French mores of the day, no better and really no worse than other men of his class. Ralph is a reserved Englishman who functions both as a father-figure and



eventual lover. In addition, there is the Creole servant Noun whom Raymon seduces and who eventually commits suicide. But Noun is more than simply a character. She represents forces, especially sexuality, within women that lie outside the separate spheres. Throughout the novel, which was regarded at the time of its publication as an attack on marriage, Sand interjects through her characters questions and protests against the present situation of women. At the same time she demonstrates not only the social and physical but also the psychological destructiveness of the ‘separate spheres’ mentality. What is clear throughout the novel is the difficulty that Sand believes any woman and all women will confront, if and when they are to break out of the separate spheres. There is first the ongoing dark attraction of Indiana and other women in the novel for men who will sexually exploit them, physically abuse them, psychologically enslave them, and are willing to see them die. Repeatedly Indiana is drawn towards such figures. It is unclear how liberated Indiana actually has become in her relationship with Ralph. Second, there is the absence of legal or social recourse for abuse. Third, there is a whole series of unattractive recourses – suicide for Noun and exile for Indiana and Ralph. Sand in this novel really does not suggest that women in either French or European society can escape the separate spheres. She certainly does not think that all women can become artists. The persona of the artist simply gives her the platform to make her comments. At a key moment in the novel, Indiana writes to Raymon, her would-be seducer, and declares: Don’t tell me to think of God; leave that to the priests, whose duty it is to soften the hard hearts of the guilty. As for me, I am more religious than you. I don’t serve the same God, but I serve mine better and with a purer heart. Your God is the god of men – the king, the founder and upholder of your kind; mine is the God of the universe, the creator, the support and hope of all His creatures. Yours made everything only for men; mine made every species to work for the good of every other. You think you are the masters of the world; I think you are only its



tyrants. You think that God protects you and authorises you to rule the earth: I think that He may allow it for a little while but that the day will come when He will scatter you to the winds with a breath . . . As for me, I have only one belief and it’s probably the only one that you don’t have. I believe in God. I reject the religion you have invented, and I think that for all you pretend otherwise, your morality and your principles are nothing but the interests of your social group, which you have erected into laws and pretend to have received from God himself, just as your priests have instituted religious rituals and ceremonies in order to build up their power and wealth and make themselves felt by every nation. But all that is a lie, and impious as well. I who pray to Him, who understand Him, I know very well that there is nothing in common between Him and you, and that by clinging to Him with all my might I also separate myself from you, whose every act overthrows His work and defiles His gifts. It ill becomes you to invoke His name to crush the resistance of a weak woman and stifle the wailing of a broken heart . . . No, don’t speak to me about God – not you, Raymon! Don’t send me into exile and reduce me to silence in His name, because it’s not His will but men’s power to which I submit. If I listened to my inner voice, which God has given men, and to the noble instinct of a strong and bold nature, which is probably the only true kind of conscience, I would flee to the desert and learn how to live without help, protection, or love; I would live by and for myself in the heart of our beautiful mountains and forget the tyrants, the unjust, the ungrateful.11

Sand thus points to the radical separation between her position and that of men. Even the gods of men and women have become different. There can be no sharing under those circumstances even of the gods of hearth and home. What were the forces that so prevented the examples and ideas of Wollstonecraft and Sand from redirecting European society? The most obvious was, and remains, the entrenched interests of men and of those women economically and psychologically dependent upon men. The



second was the general fear of radical solutions throughout European society. For the first three-quarters of the century virtually all the advocates of extending political and social rights to women were associated with politically or socially radical groups. The third was the powerful ideology of the family itself. The fear that change in the social roles of women would overturn the family was, as it remains, a very powerful idea. The fourth was the vast set of what Mary Wollstonecraft would have termed ‘prejudices’ about women and which Sand would have regarded as manifestations of public opinion. These were sustained in everyday practice, in the rearing of women, in novels about women, in medical ideas about women, and in art. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to look only to subtle social structures to indicate the manner in which the ideology of the separate gender spheres was enforced. It was also enforced by law which denied women all manner of economic liberty and property ownership until late in the century, law which allowed poor women who turned to prostitution to be made subject to physically intrusive bodily inspection and virtual incarceration in hospitals, and one educational institution and profession after another that remained closed to women. The manner in which the absence of institutions of higher education functioned is the clearest example. There were very few women who entered into intellectual life, because there were no universities in Europe or America open to women in the first half of the nineteenth century. The limited opening of universities on the continent – Zurich being the first in the 1860s, London in 1878, but the Sorbonne not until 1880 and Prussia not till 1900 – began to allow women to acquire the knowledge that permitted access to the professions. But the numbers were very small. The profession normally opened to women was that of elementary school teaching, which seemed closest to their supposed mothering instincts. The domain of the separate sphere remained. The manner in which this situation might influence women can be illustrated through the unlikely subject of classical Greek. Throughout Europe the chief subjects studied in the universities were mathematics,



Greek and Latin. During the middle of the century Greek held a predominance over Latin. There is a passage in George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871– 72) that illustrates the manner in which the exclusion from instruction in the ancient languages could intellectually isolate a woman. The heroine of this novel is a young woman named Dorothea who marries an elderly scholar named Casaubon who is writing The Key to All Mythologies. The young Dorothea, still not yet married, seeks to please her fiancé by aiding him in this apparently important work. There then occurs this passage in the novel: ‘Could I not be preparing myself now to be more useful?’ said Dorothea to him, one morning, early in the time of courtship; ‘could I not learn to read Latin and Greek aloud to you, as Milton’s daughters did to their father, without understanding what they read?’ ‘I fear that would be wearisome to you,’ said Mr Casaubon, smiling, ‘and, indeed, if I remember rightly, the young women you have mentioned regarded that exercise in unknown tongues as a ground for rebellion against the poet.’ ‘Yes; but in the first place they were very naughty girls, else they would have been proud to minister to such a father; and in the second place they might have studied privately and taught themselves to understand what they read, and then it would have been interesting. I hope you don’t expect me to be naughty and stupid.’ ‘I expect you to be all an exquisite young lady can be in every possible relation of life. Certainly it might be a great advantage if you were able to copy the Greek character, and to that end it were well to begin with a little reading.’ Dorothea seized this as a precious permission. She would not have asked Mr Casaubon at once to teach her the languages, dreading of all things to be tiresome instead of helpful; but it was not entirely out of devotion to her future husband that she wished to know Latin and Greek. Those provinces of masculine knowledge seemed to her a standing-ground from which all truth could be seen more truly. As it was, she constantly doubted her own conclusions, because she felt her



own ignorance: how could she be confident that one-roomed cottages were not for the glory of God, when men who knew the classics appeared to conciliate indifference to the cottages with zeal for the glory. Perhaps even Hebrew might be necessary – at least the alphabet and a few roots – in order to arrive at the core of things, and judge soundly on the social duties of the Christian. And she had not reached that point of renunciation at which she would have been satisfied with having a wise husband: she wished, poor child, to be wise herself. Miss Brooke was certainly very naive with all her alleged cleverness. Celia. whose mind had never been thought too powerful, saw the emptiness of other people’s pretensions much more readily. To have in general but little feeling, seems to be the only security against feeling too much on any particular occasion. However, Mr Casaubon consented to listen and teach for an hour together, like a schoolmaster of little boys, or rather like a lover, to whom a mistress’s elementary ignorance and difficulties have a touching fitness. Few scholars would have disliked teaching the alphabet under such circumstances. But Dorothea herself was a little shocked and discouraged at her own stupidity, and the answers she got to some timid questions about the value of the Greek accents gave her a painful suspicion that here indeed there might be secrets not capable of explanation to a woman’s reason. Mr Brooke [Dorothea’s father] had no doubt on that point, and expressed himself with his usual strength upon it one day that he came into the library while the reading was going forward. ‘Well, by now, Casaubon, such deep studies, classics, mathematics, that kind of thing, are too taxing for a woman – too taxing, you know.’ ‘Dorothea is learning to read the characters simply,’ said Mr Casaubon, evading the question. ‘She had the very considerate thought of saving my eyes.’ ‘Ah, well, without understanding, you know – that may not be so bad. But there is a lightness about the feminine mind – a touch and go – music, the fine arts, that kind of thing – they should study those up to a certain point, women should; but in a light way, you know.’12



This passage was written by no doubt the greatest woman novelist of the nineteenth century. It captures the world in which no matter what a woman’s intelligence both the structures of education and the prejudices of the day prevented access to the wider world of learning. Greek and Latin seem to many of us a kind of luxurious learning that is wrought by sheer discipline and no little determination. But in the middle of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, without a knowledge of Greek no student could be admitted to Oxford or Cambridge. Even after women’s colleges were founded there, and even after women passed the very same examinations, they were not awarded university degrees until the twentieth century. There is a final paradox to the story of the ideas about women in the nineteenth century. In the last half of the century the study of science, medicine, sociology, critical ethics, and psychoanalysis were associated with the most progressive strains of European thought. They were the subjects that appeared at the time to be liberating Europeans from the trammels of the religious past and the prejudices of the past. Yet, each and every one of these areas of thought and scholarship either sustained the existing ideals of the separate spheres or introduced new points of view that were misogynist in their tendency: 1. Biological and medical thought sustained a view of women as inferior to men. Women were excluded from the meetings of societies involved with anthropology and ethnology because issues relating to sexuality might be discussed. In The Descent of Man (1871) Darwin sustained traditional views of women, and his famous defender Thomas Henry Huxley contended women were inferior to men. The same was true of other evolutionary writers on the Continent. 2. August Comte, Herbert Spencer, and Emile Durkheim, the founding fathers of sociology, regarded women as essentially creatures of feeling and most properly in their sphere when acting as wives and mothers.



3. Among socialists during the later part of the century there were some discussions of the woman’s question, but it rarely stood high on the agenda and often ended in the leadership of the socialist parties asserting traditional roles for women. 4. Many of the first generation of psychoanalysts were trained in medical schools, assumed the traditional medical view of the physical and psychological inferiority of women, and embraced numerous Freudian theories that saw the natural and perhaps inevitable destiny of women as that of wives and mothers. Consequently, from the time of Rousseau to that of Freud virtually all of the thinkers who are associated with the progressive intellectual forces of the century refused to extend their liberal progressive ideas to the situation of women and the iron cage of the separate spheres.




n this lecture I wish to deal with ‘secularisation’, broadly construed. By this I mean that movement of ideas and values which brought about the demise of Christianity and of religion generally as guiding principles in the life of many individuals, and European society generally. This movement, if indeed it was a movement, represents one of the most profound turning points in the history of European civilisation. It represented the emergence of a new attempt to formulate a system or systems of personal and social values. The nineteenth century is not only the century in which the Death of God was announced, but perhaps, more importantly, it was the century in which God and transcendental values seem to have disappeared from the lives of most European men and women, but most especially from the lives of intellectuals. In 1835 the Scottish writer Thomas Carlyle published a book entitled Sartor Resartus (The Tailor Retailored). This volume discussed many of the religious and political issues of the day in terms of an extended metaphor of clothing. At one point Carlyle wrote: Church-Clothes are, in our vocabulary, the Forms, the Vestures, under which men have at various periods embodied and represented for 226



themselves the Religious Principle; that is to say, invested the Divine Idea of the World with a sensible and practically active Body, so that it might dwell among them as a living and life-divine Word . . . [I]n our era of the World, those same Church-Clothes have gone sorrowfully out-at-the elbows: nay, far worse, many of them have become mere hollow Shapes, or Masks, under which no living Figure or Spirit any longer dwells; but only spiders and unclean beetles, in horrid accumulation, drive their trade; and the mask still glares on you with its glass eyes, in ghastly affection of Life, – some generation-and-half after Religion has quite withdrawn from it, and in unnoticed nooks is weaving for herself new Vestures, wherewith to reappear, and bless us, or our sons or grandsons.1

What Carlyle so memorably described as the threadbare clothing of religion had numerous tailors in the early nineteenth century (including Carlyle himself), who were attempting to patch the holes or even reweave the cloth for a new garment. As with so many other aspects of early-nineteenth-century thought, the fountainhead for one major thrust of the new direction Christianity would take was the thought of Rousseau. The fundamental text is the ‘Confession of the Savoyard Vicar’ in Emile of 1762. You will recall that in the first lecture I related that Confession to part of the turn to subjectivity. The Vicar believed that the contemplation of the external world led to either mechanistic determinism or general moral and religious confusion. Consequently, he had turned inward and had emphasised the validity of his personal subjective feelings as a path to a knowledge of the divine. At one point, the Vicar exclaims, ‘Let us not confuse the ceremony of religion with religion itself. The worship God asks for is that of the heart. And that worship, when it is sincere, is always uniform’. On another occasion, he says, ‘The essential worship is that of the heart. God does not reject its homage, if it is sincere, in whatever form it is offered to Him’. The Vicar specifically warns Emile against regarding religion based on books – i.e., the Bible and Protestantism – or nature, i.e. deism – or elaborate ceremony – i.e., Roman Catholicism – as true or sincere.



Rousseau had turned religion inward and based it on sentiment. What gave this general interpretation of religion new power was the impact of Kant’s philosophy on theology as developed by the German Lutheran theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher. Rousseau’s religious insight was, like so much of his work, more critical than constructive. It was the enunciation of an attitude, but it was not deeply argued from a philosophical or metaphysical basis. Schleiermacher was a young theologian living in Berlin when he made his most famous pronouncement on religion in a volume entitled On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers (1799). He would within a few years become the most influential Protestant theologian of the nineteenth century. Like so many young Germans of his generation, Schleiermacher was discontented with the situation in which Kant had left both philosophy and theology. In both his epistemology and his volume on Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone, Kant had left human beings in a sharply divided world. There was the phenomenal realm of the senses in which the Understanding operated and in which the deterministic laws of nature operated. Then, there was the noumenal realm about which Kant believed we could have certain intuitions in regard to God, immortality, and freedom for ethical life. But Kant thought human beings could have no real knowledge or experience of a transcendental realm where God was present. Schleiermacher picked up where both Rousseau and Kant had left off. He contended that through our feelings we could indeed have some kind of relationship to the divine. This became known as a theology of feeling. It is safe to say that no theological insight exercised more influence over Christian thought in the nineteenth century. It tied together the subjectivity growing out of the Protestant evangelical awakening with German idealist philosophy. It moved the entire defence of Protestant Christianity away from questions of the validity of natural religion, the Bible, and church organisation, and placed feeling and sentiment at the core of modern religious faith. Schleiermacher provided a serious theological apology for the experience of subjective Protestant religious behaviour. In his volume of 1799, he wrote:



Religion’s essence is neither thinking nor acting, but intuition and feeling. It wishes to intuit the universe, wishes devoutly to overhear the universe’s own manifestations and actions, longs to be grasped and filled by the universe’s immediate influences in childlike passivity.2

Schleiermacher, by so defining religion, excludes a wide number of issues that the critics of Christianity – those whom he calls its ‘cultured despisers’ – had attacked. Religion does not depend upon written books or ecclesiastical organisation. From a theological standpoint Schleiermacher’s claim is even more radical. He roots religion not in nature or in revelation or in religious myths or in the nature of God. Schleiermacher roots religion in human nature. The divine is to be discovered by the exploration of subjective human feelings. He argued: What is revelation? Every original and new intuition of the universe is one, and yet all individuals must know best what is original and new for them. And if something of what was original in them is still new for you, then their revelation is also one for you, and I advise you to ponder it well. What is inspiration? It is merely the religious name for freedom. Every free action that becomes a religious act, every restoration of a religious intuition, every expression of a religious feeling that really communicates itself so that the intuition of the universe is transferred to others, took place upon inspiration; for it was an action of the universe by the one on the others.3

At another point, Schleiermacher declared: You will not consider it blasphemy, I hope, that belief in God depends on the direction of the imagination. You will know that imagination is the highest and most original element in us, and that everything besides it is merely reflection upon it; you will know that it is your imagination that creates the world for you, and that you can have no God without the world.4



In this manner Schleiermacher takes the term ‘imagination’, which in contemporary aesthetic writing was associated with the very special powers of the poet or the artist, and makes it the fundamental general human capacity for experiencing subjectively the infinity of the divine. Schleiermacher did not believe that all human beings could be inspired artists, but he used the same vocabulary to contend that all who were sincere and who explored their subjective feelings could thus experience God and know real religion without reference to Church or the Bible or Clergy. He would attempt in his other writings to provide a place for the Bible, the Clergy, and the Church, but his fundamental theological position opened the way for both religious and cultural antinomianism. It furthermore marked a major step toward the general narcissism of nineteenth-century theology. To know God was to know human nature. The turn of the century also witnessed a new apologetic for Roman Catholicism. As the French Revolution moved away from its excesses and toward a more conservative policy, first under the Directory and then under Napoleon, there occurred a very considerable Roman Catholic revival in France. To be loyal to the Roman Catholic Church was one path to make a statement critical of the revolution. One of the most important voices in the new apology for the Roman Catholic Church was François René, Vicomte de Chateaubriand. His most important work was The Genius of Christianity published in 1802. In this work Chateaubriand attempted to root the power of the Roman Catholic faith in mystery and in humankind’s intuitive sense of mystery. Like Schleiermacher, he appealed to the heart. He contended of Roman Catholic Christianity, ‘Our mysteries . . . speak directly to the heart; they comprehend the secrets of our existence’. He recounted the story of himself and a friend watching a sunset on a ship. He then observed: He would have been well deserving of pity who would not have recognised in this prospect the beauty of God. When my companions, doffing their tarpaulin hats, intoned with hoarse voice their simple hymn to Our Lady of Good Help, the patroness of the seas, the tears



flowed from my eyes in spite of myself. How affecting was the prayer of those men, who from a frail plank in the midst of the ocean, contemplated the sun setting behind the waves! How the appeal of the poor sailor to the Mother of Sorrows went to the heart! The consciousness of our insignificance in the presence of the Infinite, – our hymns, resounding to a distance over the silent waves, – the night approaching with its dangers – our vessel, itself a wonder among so many wonders, – a religious crew, penetrated with admiration and with awe, – a venerable priest in prayer, – the Almighty bending over the abyss, with one hand staying the sun in the west, with the other raising the moon in the east, and lending, through all immensity, an attentive ear to the feeble voice of his creatures, – all this constituted a scene which no power of art can represent, and which it is scarcely possible for the heart of man to feel.5

For Chateaubriand, ‘. . . the Christian religion is itself a species of passion, which has its transports, its ardors, its sights, its joys, its tears, it love of society and solitude’. He presented that passion as being aroused by a sense of place and of the mystery surrounding ancient ruins, gothic churches, and abandoned monasteries. These places and the memories and feelings that they evoked stirred the passion and subjective feelings of Christian sentiment. In both the Protestant Schleiermacher and the Roman Catholic Chateaubriand we find another example of the influence of the concept of divine immanence on nineteenth-century thought. In both, the experience of the divine is reduced to some kind of subjective human feeling. If we return to Thomas Carlyle, we may begin to see how such a view of religion could work itself out in a writer who was a layman, who did not hold traditional religious faith, but still wanted to see the world and humankind’s place therein as spiritual. Carlyle was a Scot, born in 1795, the same year as the birth of John Keats. He was reared in a strict Calvinist home in Scotland, and his parents hoped he would be a clergyman. He attended the University of Edinburgh where he lost faith, largely as a result of reading some of the sceptical Enlightenment writers.



Without the clerical vocation, he entered the then-burgeoning publication world of Edinburgh where he found he could make money and support himself by translating German authors and writing very long journal essays on German literature. Through his essays Carlyle became the major conduit for German literature into Britain. During 1833 and 1834, he published serially in Fraser’s Magazine the work we have already referred to, Sartor Resartus. It was a work of English prose written in German style. He could find no one to publish it as a book in Britain, and it first appeared in book form in 1836 in Boston, through the efforts of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Sartor Resartus is quite frankly a very strange, but also very seductive book. The book purports to be the account of a narrator who is editing the literary remains of a German writer, Professor Diogenes Teufelsdröckh (devil’s dung). The lifework of Teufelsdröckh is concerned with a philosophy of clothes. Throughout the book, clothes become a protean metaphor through which Carlyle explores the nature of the universe and of humankind’s place in the universe and response to it. Throughout the work, Carlyle’s target is any form of mechanistic or mechanical philosophy or any philosophy or intellectual stance that would reduce nature to a realm of cause and effect. What Carlyle purports especially to admire in Teufelsdröckh is his rejection of Lockean psychology and his emphasis on intuition. As Carlyle develops this theme, clothes come to represent all superficial views of nature, or of human beings who do not probe to a deeper reality. Clothing prevents us from knowing the true inner selves of the people with whom we live, love, and interact. Mechanism as a mode of interpreting nature prevents us from seeing its spiritual character. Thought reduced to logic prevents us from experiencing the insights of intuition. Carlyle used this approach to transform the concept of human nature and the concept of matter. Of human nature, he wrote: To the eye of vulgar Logic . . . what is man? An omnivorous biped that wears Breeches. To the eye of Pure Reason what is he? A soul, a Spirit,



and divine Apparition. Round his mysterious Me, there lies, under all those wool rags, a Garment of Flesh (or of Sense), contextured in the Looms of Heaven; he is revealed to his like, and dwells with them in Union and Division, and sees and fashions for himself a Universe, with azure Starry Spaces, and Long Thousands of Years. Deep-hidden is he under that strange Garment; amid Sounds and Colours and Forms, as it were, swathed-in, and inextricably over-shrouded; yet it is sky-woven, and worthy of a God. Stands he not thereby in the centre of Immensities, in the conflux of Eternities? He feels; power has been given him to know, to believe; nay does not the spirit of Love, free in its celestial primeval brightness, even, here, though but for moments, look through?6

What we see and sense is only part of humankind. We stand amidst the immensities and eternities as creatures who feel, and by feeling and intuition can touch a deeper reality. Moreover, the material universe is itself but a cloak for a deeper, more spiritual reality. Carlyle claimed: For Matter, were it never so despicable, is Spirit, the manifestation of Spirit: were it never so honorable, can it be more? The thing Visible, what is it but a Garment, a Clothing of the higher, celestial Invisible, unimaginable, formless, dark with excess of bright.7

The concept that allowed Carlyle and Teufelsdröckh to find peace and purpose in what appeared to be a mechanical universe was natural supernaturalism. This concept held that behind the mechanical appearances of nature lay a deeper reality that transcended mechanism. Natural Supernaturalism was an emotional stance toward nature, whereby the viewer stands in awe of its grandeur and its very order becomes a great mystery and miracle. In this fashion, Carlyle sought to overcome the deadness of mechanism and to place life and soul back into nature. He and other Romantics were seeking to re-base, in some cases reverse, the Scientific Revolution, and reanimate the natural order that had been rendered mechanical. German philosophy opened the path away from a mechanical universe.



What were the factors that had caused the kind of religious crisis to which Carlyle responded and, even more, caused large numbers of people to respond to the kind of spiritualisation of nature and the universe that he proposed? The first was the general fall-out of the Enlightenment critique of institutional religion. For some Europeans institutionalised religion was corrupt or a compromised form of religion. Furthermore, in a culture where the turn to subjectivity had touched so many different corners of life, institutional religion seemed shallow and even old-fashioned. But the first half of the nineteenth century witnessed a new kind of attack on Christianity. This attack raised questions about the historical validity of the Bible. It is known as the Higher Criticism of the Bible or the Higher Criticism of the scripture. Ever since the Reformation in Protestant countries, the Bible had been the basis of the Christian faith. Various sects or denominations had argued over the interpretation of the Bible, but rarely over its authority. The nature, truth, and validity of the Bible became one of the major questions facing European and American intellectuals during the nineteenth century. The philosophes of the Enlightenment had argued that the Bible contained many incidents, particularly the miracles, which could not possibly be true. They accused the authors of the Bible of attempting to delude their readers. Also, the writers of the eighteenth century attempted to rationalise the miracles – that is, to give a rational explanation of what the Bible presented miraculously. For example, one German author explained Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand by saying that he stood near the entrance to a cave where the disciples had stored food. During the nineteenth century the critics of the Bible, many of them very religious men, took a different tack. What they questioned was whether the Bible was history at all, and whether it could be trusted as a record of anything which had really occurred. These authors were influenced by historicism. If all things are a product of a particular time and place and a particular culture or a particular stage of Absolute Spirit coming to understand itself, then the Bible as a document must also be



similarly time bound. Religious truth along with other kinds of truth must also be relative. What was valid for one time and place and culture might or might not be valid for people living in a different culture at a different time and place. German theologians imbued with this outlook, especially as derived from Hegel, began to examine the Bible. They were not especially concerned with its internal consistency, but rather with its general nature as an historical document. They concluded that it could not be trusted as a reliable document. The most famous, or in his own day infamous, practitioner of the higher criticism was David Friedrich Strauss. In 1835 he published The Life of Jesus Critically Examined (1835). The publication of this book cost Strauss his professorship in Germany. Strauss argued that the four Gospels of the New Testament recording the life of Jesus were not really history. They were not even, in his view, personal accounts of anyone’s experience with Jesus. Rather, the Gospels presented not history but a myth. The Jesus of the Gospels represented an idealised presentation of the life of someone who had no doubt lived, but not really an account of his life. About this person Jesus, the writers of the Gospel had gathered all of the hopes and aspirations of the Hebrew people of Palestine in the first century. This myth represented the collective messianic hopes and aspirations of this people at a time of great crisis. What the Gospels present in their narratives is this myth or idealisation and not an historical account – not even a mistaken historical account. Rather they present an image of the ancient Hebrew messianic mentality at a particular historical moment. Strauss and his later followers thus struck at the historical foundation of the Christian faith. It is also important to note that along with the historical critique of Christianity, there emerged during the second quarter of the nineteenth century a strong moral critique of the central doctrines of Christianity. The ideas of the Enlightenment and of progress led many intellectuals to believe that modern times required a new morality that was more sensitive and humane. Enlightened and decent relations among human beings became the new norm against which to measure the morality of



God. According to this norm, the central Christian doctrine of the atonement – the teaching that God the Father had sacrificed his only son, who was perfectly sinless, in order to save humanity and to pay the debts which humanity owed God the Father for its sin – became viewed as fundamentally immoral. People came to feel that no really righteous God could have performed such a terribly immoral action. This theme appears in one writer after another in the middle of the nineteenth century and beyond. It is one of the outlooks that again led some people to abandon Christianity and others to take a very sentimentalised attitude toward both God the father and Jesus. If Strauss’s argument or that of his disciples were true, what was to be made of Christian history, doctrines, and religious teachings? Some people simply rejected Strauss, and indeed he himself later changed his views somewhat. Others, because of Strauss, gave up the Christian faith. Still others, in the vein of Carlyle, sought to find some way in which they could remove their old church clothes and find new ones. The new religious clothes often amounted to a not highly articulated faith or belief or intuition that the universe was somehow spiritual, that there was a spiritual presence, backdrop, or core to natural and human experience that was not materialistic but rather spiritualistic. This viewpoint could take a myriad of forms, some of which allowed people to continue to use the Bible as a spiritual guide and some forms of which simply led people to a rather open-ended attitude toward life and the universe and to undertake various kinds of religious experiments. Often it led simply to very sentimental attitudes toward either religion in general or Christianity in particular. Still another path was to hold onto the Bible but to argue that it must be interpreted according to the values and needs of modern times. This outlook, associated with liberal theology in both Christianity and Judaism, amounted to a belief that the sacred scriptures were capable of adjusting to the needs of ages different from those in which they had been written. In the English-speaking world there were two important examples of this outlook, one a series of scholarly essays, another a best-selling novel.



The higher criticism of the Bible entered the mainstream of British intellectual life in 1860 with the publication of a book entitled Essays and Reviews. It was a series of seven essays written by six Anglican clergymen and one layman. All of these writers were devout Christians, but they believed that the Christian faith, and in particular the Christian reading of the Bible, must adapt itself to the discoveries of modern science and to the new understanding of ancient languages and ancient texts made possible by philology. In this regard the most telling essay was Benjamin Jowett’s ‘On the Interpretation of Scripture’. He was Regius Professor of Greek and had already established himself as a major biblical commentator. He argued that the Bible must be interpreted as any other book: that is to say, it is to be reverenced but it is not to be read differently than one might read, study, and interpret an ancient text such as Plato. As he wrote, ‘the time has come when it is no longer possible to ignore the results of criticism’. Essays and Reviews provoked an exceedingly hostile reaction. Two of its authors were taken to court over their contributions. Criticism flowed from all the religious journals. But the higher criticism had been placed front and centre in British religious and intellectual life. Throughout the 1860s more and more works based on a critical historical understanding of the scriptures were published. It became increasingly difficult for young men and women to continue in the religious faith in which they had been reared. In 1873 Matthew Arnold attempted to address the problem in Literature and Dogma. There he argued that the authors of the Bible had written poetically rather than scientifically, and that the Bible must be read in that fashion. Read as a document of ancient poetry containing great wisdom, the miraculous or supernatural elements of the Bible could be set aside, and the reader could search the Bible instead for rules of good conduct. The Bible was not to teach science or history, but to urge men and women to develop their higher moral selves. Matthew Arnold had a niece who is always known by her husband’s name. She was Mrs Humphrey Ward. In 1888 she published a bestselling novel on loss of faith. It was entitled Robert Elsmere and sold over



a quarter of a million copies in England and the United States. Robert Elsmere is a young man from a moderately pious religious home who attends the University of Oxford. There, he confronts a teacher named Mr Grey, who introduces him to a philosophy of service to his fellow man. Mr Grey has severe doubts about the Christian faith, but does not attempt to lure his students away from the faith of their childhoods. After graduation, Elsmere takes holy orders and becomes an Anglican parson. He teaches at the university for three years and then takes a rural parish. There he marries a very pious young woman named Catherine, who attracts his attention by her devotion and service to the poor of the parish. In the course of his duties in the parish, he makes the acquaintance of Mr Wendover, the local squire. Wendover is a morose man, deeply read in the German higher criticism. He makes it his goal to convert Robert to unbelief. Robert becomes determined to refute the squire through his own historical study. Elsmere finds himself defeated and decides he cannot believe any of the biblical miracles. Ultimately he confesses he can no longer believe in the divinity of Jesus, the atonement, or the Resurrection. This means he must, in his view, leave the ministry. It also brings strain to his previously happy marriage. He still believes in God and that he must serve God and his fellow man. He seeks a new faith and reformation. He goes to the London slums where he attempts to organise a New Brotherhood that will serve the poor. He maintains a humanised version of Christ as his model. Not long after setting out on his new course, he contracts fever and dies in his beloved and long-suffering wife’s arms. The story of Elsmere illustrates one direction in which loss of faith in Christianity could lead people – this was a sense of service to their fellow human beings – a kind of Christian ethic without theology. During the course of the century, however, other European philosophical and religious thinkers attempted to establish formal new, secular religions which they intended as substitutes for Christianity. The most famous and influential of these was Positivism, a secular cult founded by the French writer Auguste Comte.



Comte was born in 1798, so he missed the experience of the revolution and was only a child during most of the Napoleonic era. While a student at the Ecole Polytechnique, he engaged in a student protest against the manner in which geometry was taught. The government closed the school and sent the students home. Comte never received an academic degree. Shortly after this experience, at the age of 20 Comte became the secretary to a French utopian social thinker, Saint-Simon. The latter is generally regarded as one of the founding fathers of European socialism. He envisioned a world in which rational technocrats would direct society. SaintSimon also set forth an important theory of history which you will confront again when you real Mill’s Autobiography. Saint-Simon taught that history oscillated between Critical Periods and Organic Periods. During the critical eras, all institutions, customs, ideas, and social practices were subject to criticism and tearing-apart. As a result, critical eras were confused and filled with turmoil. They were followed by constructive organic periods. During organic periods there existed a wide spectrum of shared values and ideas. Society worked peacefully and constructively through institutions that held the society in place. Saint-Simon and his followers believed that, as a result of the Enlightenment, French Revolution, and the new industrial economic order, Europe stood in the midst of a confused and confusing critical age. They intended to set forth ideas and to establish institutions that would allow Europe to move toward a new organic age. The young Comte became a disciple of Saint-Simon, though never an unquestioning disciple, and they eventually came to a parting of the ways. During the 1820s Comte entered into an unhappy marriage and suffered from acute depression. There followed for him an extremely productive period. Between 1830 and 1842 he published a six-volume work entitled Cours de philosophie positive (Course of Positive Philosophy). In this work he commenced to lay the foundation for what he thought would be a new point of intellectual and social departure for humankind. In these volumes he set forth his three-stage theory of human intellectual development. He contended that the human race and individual parts of the human race went through three distinct intellectual stages.



1. Theological stage – during this era of human development people interpret nature and their own experience in terms of spirits and gods. It is the era that some anthropologists associate with the term animism whereby all of nature and human experience is seen as informed and infused by spirits. 2. Metaphysical stage – eventually human societies grow out of the theological manner of interpreting the world and move to a new stage. In this metaphysical state, they see the world in terms of metaphysical categories. There are not theological and are not gods or spirits. They are rather intellectual categories. This stage represents an advance on the theological, but is still full of mistakes and confusion. 3. Positive stage – human intellectual development culminates in a final positive or scientific stage. In this final stage human beings are willing to examine and interpret the world simply by paying attention to sense experience. They do not attempt to explain that experience through gods or through metaphysical entities. During the positive stage human beings would not attempt to explain what, if any, forces lay behind phenomena. Comte believed that such scientific or positivistic method should be applied to all aspects of physical nature and human society. For that reason he is usually known as the Father of Sociology. Had Comte stopped at this point, he would have become known as perhaps the last of the philosophes. Much of his theory of knowledge lay rooted in Enlightenment theology, though he did carry it somewhat further. However, between 1851 and 1854 Comte published a fourvolume Système de politique positive or The System of the Positivist Polity. This work astonished and confounded some of his admirers; but it also created a whole new set of disciples. In the Positivist Polity Comte attempted nothing less than to outline a new mode of religious life which he believed would be necessary to hold society together in the coming positivistic age. Comte had always distinguished between theology, which he believed to be bad science, and religion, which he



thought capable, if reformed and purged of supernatural elements, of providing new glue for the society. In the Positivist Polity Comte argued that love should become the strong uniting force of humankind. He set forth a whole system of religion which would allow love to flourish in society without the danger of old-fashioned Christian superstition. Quite possibly drawing upon the festivals of the French Revolution, he proposed a new positivist calendar in which saints’ days would be replaced by days commemorating the achievements of famous men from ancient times to the present. The centre of devotion was to be love of woman. Comte himself had been deeply and perhaps neurotically in love with a woman after his wife left him. When Clothilde de Vaux died, Comte literally worshipped her memory, falling down to pray before the chair which she had usually occupied. Surprisingly, perhaps, Comte as the advocate of this new religion which he termed the Religion of Humanity gathered quite a few followers. Comtist churches were founded in Paris and in London. They resembled Protestant churches except that they had busts of famous human beings along the walls in place of paintings of saints. For reasons best known to Comte, these Churches were always painted pale green. Comte dubbed himself the High Priest of Humanity. As time passed, Comte himself became quite conservative and supported the empire of Louis Napoleon. The motto of his new religion was ‘Order and Progress’. The Religion of Humanity was condemned by many as amounting to nothing more than ‘Roman Catholicism minus Christianity’. It is all too easy and even more tempting to make fun of Comte and his new religion. Many in his own time did. Nonetheless, he attracted a significant following among both secular intellectuals and religious writers after his death in 1857. His epistemology had attracted a number of admirers, because the three-stage theory was to intellectual life the same kind of prescription for progress that the Scottish four-stage theory was to economic progress. Such was the attraction that people such as John Stuart Mill found in Comte’s early works. But the religious writings also proved influential. First, they were deeply anti-clerical and



anti-Christian. The place where these anti-clerical ideas had their greatest impact was in Latin America where Positivism proved a powerful social and intellectual force during the second half of the century. Comte’s motto ‘Order and Progress’ appears on the flag of Brazil. The cult aspects of the Religion of Humanity generally dropped by the wayside, but the ethical ideals and the concept that a love of humanity should become a bond for human society and for religious groups proved exceedingly attractive. Comte’s ideas worked their way into European and American life primarily through liberal Christian clergy and other lay writers who were attempting to find a new morality with which to associate Christianity after they had become disenchanted with the morality associated with the Christian atonement. In this respect, humanity itself became the alleged object of worship of significant numbers of religious people in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. There was a certain irrepressible logic to the development of nineteenth-century religious thought from Schleiermacher onward. He had focused religious thought upon subjective human feelings. The way in which we came to know God was through the exploration of our own feelings. Chateaubriand had emphasised the monuments of human religious history as capable of evoking religious feelings. Carlyle tended to see the whole universe as the garment of God. With Comte, humanity, having explored its own feelings and history and its own progressive intellectual development, liked what it saw, called it good, and decided that it could do no better than to worship itself. It is no wonder that, in 1841, the radical German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach, in a book entitled The Essence of Christianity, had declared, ‘All theology is anthropology’.




he bourgeoisie dominated the intellectual, literary, and artistic culture of mid- and late-nineteenth-century Europe. By the time of the unification of Germany they had constructed a world that they thought would last. Railroads spanned the continent; cables allowed people to communicate between the continents; newly designed cities dotted the landscape; great steamships carried goods manufactured in Europe all over the world. The nation state dominated political life. Science seemed to have unlocked the major secrets of nature and to have brought nature to the aid of humankind’s estate. Indeed, Europeans lived in what T.H. Huxley called ‘a new nature created by science upon fact’. Yet the surface comfort of this style of life was illusory. The bourgeoisie across Europe were anxious and even fearful. As Peter Gay once pointed out, this is the period in which ‘nervousness’ began to appear as a general disease and symptom of behaviour. The middle class feared the socialists. They also retained a healthy respect for the aristocracy. The middle class looked for racial enemies within and without their various nation states. The same industrial revolution that had created the world of middle-class comfort had also created new destructive 243



capacity for military forces. Christianity, an important preoccupation of the middle class, was under siege from science and historical studies. Liberal politics was not working quite the way it was supposed to do. The expansion of the electorate not only helped the socialists, but also seemed to benefit the conservative elements of the political nation. The church, the aristocracy, and later the anti-Semites were able to use the institutions of democracy to their own ends. But perhaps most disturbing and most impressive, at least in hindsight, was the intellectual criticism of the bourgeois world that marked the second half of the century. What is particularly significant, as Joseph Schumpeter pointed out over half a century ago, is that much of this criticism stemmed from bourgeois culture itself. Western civilisation has always displayed a penchant for self-criticism, and within that culture no group has displayed so much of that penchant as the middle class. For example, the realist novel, whose authors often claimed to apply the methods of science to literature, used the bourgeois faith in science to critique middle-class culture. Moreover, the vehicle of that criticism – the novel as a literary genre – was perhaps the most bourgeois of all literary forms. The liberal bourgeois proclivity to reject the authority of traditional institutions would also be mimicked by artists who rejected the traditional authority of the salons and would set up their own alternative art shows and galleries – often to the applause and patronage of wealthy middle-class patrons. The most significant example of the culture of the bourgeoisie turning against itself was the use of reason in the second half of the century either to discredit the rational or to explore the irrational. These were two very distinct tendencies. The first amounted to the glorification of the irrational and can perhaps be seen in racial thinking. The latter tendency was much more complicated. To explore the irrational by rational means might or might not lead to the glorification of the irrational. It could lead simply to a recognition of the importance of the non-rational and to an attempt to keep the non-rational within rational bounds. Or it could lead to a discovery of the irrational and an attempt



to allow it to flourish alongside the rational. Or in some cases it might lead to a belief that rationality itself was almost futile, any one of these alternatives challenged bourgeois culture and, more especially, the heritage of the Enlightenment. The person who came to be regarded as the most important voice in this revolt against Positivism and the radical critique of bourgeois culture was Friedrich Nietzsche. Few philosophers today enjoy so widespread a reputation as Nietzsche. In that sense, as with other voices of modernism and of those who criticised middle-class culture, he has been captured and assimilated by that culture. Nietzsche’s present-day reputation has been very hard won. During his own lifetime his books were not popular or well received. He often had difficulty finding publishers, and they in turn had difficulty selling his books. His reputation only began to grow significantly in the late 1880s when the Danish critic George Brandes began to discuss his work. Nietzsche then began to be admired by other modern writers in various countries. But this early reputation and admiration was based on faulty, misedited, and quasi-forged editions of his work which encase much of his thought in a mould that was diametrically opposed to his actual thought. Brandes had lectured on Nietzsche in Copenhagen in 1888. Early the next year Nietzsche entered a period of insanity that lasted till his death in 1900. During the 1890s Nietzsche’s literary agent and executor was his sister Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche. She was the wife of Bernard Förster who was one of the most extreme racists and anti-Semites in Germany. By the 1890s her husband was dead, her brother mad, and she began to edit her brother’s works to support and further her husband’s ideas and politics. Frau Förster-Nietzsche retained the exclusive rights to her brother’s literary remains and she published only what she wished to see published. (She lived until the 1930s.) She published several editions of Nietzsche’s collected works which were anything but complete. In particular, she delayed publishing Ecce Homo until 1908. This is one of Nietzsche’s last works in which he voiced criticism of antiSemitism, nationalism, racism, vegetarianism, militarism, and power politics. Then she published the book only in a very expensive edition.



The works she published earlier were key to the establishment of a very sinister reputation for her brother. Among his papers were several hundred pages of fragments and aphorisms. She published part of these in 1901 and more of them in later editions under the provocative title of The Will to Power. These had been notes for earlier works. She combined these in a very haphazard way and suggested that they constituted her brother’s last systematic work. All of this manipulative editing led to the widespread belief that Nietzsche was hopelessly complicated, obscure, unsystematic, anti-Semitic, violently nationalistic, and pro-Nazi. These views were confirmed by the story, Thus Spake Zarathustra, that many German soldiers had carried in their knapsacks in 1914. Only after the First World War did a somewhat less distorted view of Nietzsche emerge in German academic circles, and it was really only after the Second World War that American scholars began to examine and teach Nietzsche systematically. Nietzsche’s thought went through at least two stages of development. During the first, despite many protestations to the contrary, he stood closely aligned with the tradition of Romanticism and frequently seemed to praise the irrational. At this time he was closely associated with Wagner. The second stage of his thought brought him nearer to the Enlightenment as he championed criticism, cosmopolitanism, the concept of the good European, and criticised nationalism. Throughout both periods he was generally critical of liberalism and what he regarded as the philistinism of middle-class culture. Like so many German philosophers he used reason to challenge or to delimit the realm of reason. For about seven years in the 1860s Richard Wagner and Friedrich Nietzsche were friends. The story of that friendship and its dissolution is interesting in itself and is symptomatic of the intellectual development of the latter part of the century. As a young man Nietzsche was intensely interested in music and may have hoped to be a composer. He was particularly attracted to the music of the German Romantic era. As a university student in the early 1860s he admired not only Wagner but also Schopenhauer. He saw Wagner as the kind of artistic genius that



Schopenhauer had described. In 1868 Nietzsche met Wagner for the first time. The next year he became a professor of philology at the University of Basel not far from the Wagner home in Tribschen, Switzerland. Further meetings followed as Nietzsche made known his great respect for the composer. Wagner was delighted to have a young academic at his beck and call. It was never a friendship among equals, but that should not be surprising. Yet it was clearly a friendship. Richard and Cosima would send Nietzsche to buy Christmas presents and to run other errands for them. Nietzsche for his part saw himself as a kind of young friend of the man whom he thought would rejuvenate both German, and indeed European, art and music. He visited Tribschen no less than 23 times, and his sister Elizabeth also became friends with the Wagner circle. Nietzsche was also initially a strong supporter of the Bayreuth idea. In 1872 Nietzsche published The Birth of Tragedy, the manuscript and early drafts of which he had shared with Wagner. He dedicated the book to Wagner. Indeed he made numerous changes in the book to please Wagner. The book was primarily a study of tragedy, or at least so it started, but it concluded with a paean to Wagner’s art as the new birth of art such as Europe had not known or experienced since the Greeks. The book glorified myth over reason and portrayed the decadence of Greek culture as having commenced with Socrates and Euripides. The Birth of Tragedy bears many of the marks of a first book. It is daring and sets forth a more extreme position than the author later accepted. But it is also symptomatic of the kind of critique that Nietzsche would later bring to bear against modern culture. By training, Nietzsche was a classical scholar and a philologist. Generally speaking, in the middle of the nineteenth century the side of Greek life that received most emphasis was the ideal of classical restraint and balance associated with fifth-century Athens. The irrational side of Greek life was known but largely ignored. The cultural achievement of Athens was seen as the rise of rational life and the achievement of what Matthew Arnold termed, using a phrase from Jonathan Swift, ‘sweetness and light’.



Nietzsche challenged this interpretation of Greece and also the longstanding admiration for Socrates as the father of Western rationality. Nietzsche also traced Greek tragedy to the rites of Dionysus. He saw Greek tragedy as emerging from a kind of combination of Dionysian frenzy with Apollonian forms. Nietzsche was by no means the first person to delineate the Dionysian–Apollonian dichotomy. It was actually fairly common within German literary and musical literature. However, his essay on tragedy imprinted that dichotomy indelibly on the mind of Western Europe. Nietzsche said, ‘we need to dismantle the artful edifice of Apolline culture stone by stone, as it were, until we catch sight of the foundations on which it rests’.1 The restraint of Apollonian forms was the equivalent to the Schopenhauerian world of ideas and phenomenal appearances. Beneath that world lay the frenzy of Dionysus. Nietzsche declared: Not only is the bond between human beings renewed by the magic of the Dionysiac, but nature, alienated, inimical, or subjugated, celebrates once more her festival of reconciliation with her lost son, humankind. . . . Now, hearing this gospel of universal harmony, each person feels himself to be not simply united, reconciled or merged with his neighbour, but quite literally one with him, as if the veil of maya had been torn apart, so that mere shreds of its flutter before the mysterious primordial unity (das Ur-Eine).2

So far as art and tragedy were concerned, Nietzsche believed that both the Dionysian and the Apollonian were necessary. His book is not an unqualified work praising the Dionysian. Rather, what he argued was that in the highest art of Greece the effectiveness of that work lay in its proving of the inner depths of the psyche that lay beneath the Apollonian world of appearances. Although Nietzsche used Schopenhauer, he went well beyond him. Whereas Schopenhauer had urged a pessimism and a renunciation of life, Nietzsche saw art as an affirmation of life. Through tragedy in the theatre, the Greek had found his life and his community affirmed. The



problem for art, and in particular for Greek tragedy, arose when the Apollonian took charge. When the Dionysian was abandoned, art took its content as well as its form from contemporary morality. In the case of Greece this meant that tragedy became wrecked upon the shoals of Socratic wisdom and analysis. To understand why Nietzsche so heaped criticism and contempt on Socrates, one must know a bit more about Socrates in the nineteenth century. In his commentary on Socrates, Nietzsche was encoding a number of nineteenth-century concerns into a discussion of fifth-century Athens. During the early and mid nineteenth century there were two major interpretations of Socrates, that of G.W.F. Hegel and that of George Grote. Hegel’s major interpretation of Socrates appeared in his Lectures on the History of Philosophy which appeared posthumously in 1832. In contrast to so much of his philosophy, Hegel’s treatment of Socrates is relatively clear and straightforward, but it would provoke a vast number of responses. For Hegel both Socrates and the Sophists represented a major turning point in the development of Greek thought. He believed that the Sophists were the first group to replace the poets and other voices of traditional knowledge as a force to organise culture and to provide Greeks with new ways to organise their thinking. He thought they resembled the philosophes of the eighteenth century and that their influence amounted to a kind of ancient Enlightenment. According to Hegel, the reward reaped by the Sophists was a generally undeserved reputation for evil. But he considered that the Sophists had really done nothing bad. They had taught the Greeks to think in a reasoning and reflective manner. This kind of thinking necessarily led to a questioning of traditional beliefs and morality. In other words, they fostered scepticism. This was not really their fault; it was just a result of where thinking or the development of mind stood in their day. The Sophists, according to Hegel, recognised no limits to scepticism. For Hegel Socrates constituted another step in the movement commenced by the Sophists. What Socrates did was to give birth to a



reflective morality that extended beyond traditional values and traditional religion. Hegel wrote: Morality, which rests on a reflexive movement of the spirit, a turning in of the spirit upon itself, did not yet exist; it dates only from the time of Socrates. But as soon as reflection supervened and individuals withdrew into themselves and dissociated themselves from established custom to live their own lives according to their own wishes, degeneration and contradiction arose. But the spirit cannot remain in a state of opposition. It seeks unification, and in this unification lies the higher principle.3

Through this process Socrates led the Greeks to attempt to find moral direction in their own subjectivity. Socrates and Plato, unlike the Sophists, believed that through this subjectivity they might discover an objective moral reality that would be as binding as traditional morality. But Hegel believed that Socrates had trouble making this transition and that his voice or daemon represented his subjectivity appearing to himself. In talking to his voice or daemon Socrates was really talking to himself and looking to himself for guidance and moral direction. It was this intense subjectivity that brought him into conflict with his fellow Athenians. His daemon was in point of fact a new god – the god of subjectivity, adherence to which led to the disintegration of the polis during the fourth century. Consequently, for Hegel, Socrates was actually guilty of the charges brought against him. Yet, that guilt had not been the reason for Socrates’s death. The decision of the Athenian jury had not necessarily required execution. The death sentence had been imposed only after Socrates refused to compromise and failed to offer a reasonable alternative. His refusal to compromise amounted to placing his own conscience – his own subjectivity – above that of the collective conscience and traditions of Athens. This was the logical outcome of his fundamental appeal to subjectivity.



For Hegel, therefore, the death of Socrates was essentially tragic because, as he wrote, ‘In what is truly tragic there must be valid moral powers on both the sides which come into collision; this was so with Socrates’. Both Socrates and the people of Athens had morality on their sides, but they were differing moralities. Hidden – perhaps not so hidden – in Hegel’s interpretation was an implicit accepting of moral relativity. Yet, Hegel backed away from such relativity by contending that Socrates’ ultimate purpose, and that of Plato and finally of Christianity, was to find a settled morality and to place limits on the scepticism of the human mind opened by the Sophists. George Grote was a banker, political radical, Member of Parliament and friend of J.S. Mill. He published his twelve-volume History of Greece between 1846 and 1856. His three-volume Plato, and the Other Companions of Socrates appeared in 1865. It was in these works that Grote developed what became probably the most influential Victorian interpretation of Socrates. Grote first set out to defend vigorously and rigorously the ancient Sophists. Grote argued that the Sophists had a bad reputation for two reasons. First, the modern pejorative meaning of the words ‘sophist’ and ‘sophistry’ had been projected backwards in time to describe the ancient Sophists. Second, and more important, Plato’s description of the Sophists had been taken at face value and had not been examined historically and critically. Grote contended there was actually very little new or fundamentally different about the Sophists in contrast to earlier teachers of poetry and rhapsody – with two exceptions. They taught better than their predecessors and received money for their instruction. What Plato had done was to associate everything he disliked in ancient philosophy with the Sophists. Furthermore, even in many of Plato’s dialogues the Sophists advocated nothing fundamentally immoral. What the Sophists had done, and this was for Grote their claim to fame and appreciation, was to prepare young Athenians for participa-



tion in democratic civic life. As he wrote, they professed to qualify young Athenians for an active and honourable life, private as well as public, in Athens. In this respect, the Sophists were fundamentally conservative and important to the wise functioning of the democracy. And Grote reminded his readers that it was Plato, in the voice of Socrates, who had advocated radical restructuring of property holding, marriage, and child rearing. Grote’s interpretation bore some resemblances to Hegel’s of which, I believe, he was unaware when he first wrote. Both saw the Sophists as fostering individualism, but for Hegel that individualism was dangerous. For Grote it was fundamental to the proper functioning of a democracy. It was when Grote turned to Socrates that he most surprised his readers. He compared Socrates to a Sophist by asserting that, in the middle of the Peloponnesian war, any Athenian, when asked to name the principal Sophists in their city, would have named Socrates without hesitation. Why was Socrates unpopular, and what according to Grote had been the mission of this Socrates the Sophist? It had been primarily to introduce the scientific method and critical rational intellect into Athens. And this inevitably led in Grote’s view to a conflict between science and religion. The negative criticism of Athenian culture, traditional values, and religion that were normally associated with the Sophists had actually been the chief function of Socrates in his teaching in the marketplace. Socrates stood as the great critic of general public opinion in Athens. In particular, Socrates’ championing of science had led him into direct conflict with Athenian religion. How then did Grote account for the death of Socrates? Did he see it as the inevitable outcome of an individual challenging public opinion? Grote could not, like his friend J.S. Mill in On Liberty, see Socrates as the victim of a hostile public opinion. How could Grote do so? After all he was the greatest Victorian champion of ancient Athenian democracy. What was amazing was not that the Athenians had executed Socrates, but rather that they had allowed him to perform his gadfly role for over half a century.



Grote found another villain in the piece. And that was religion. It was the forces and beliefs of Athenian religion that caused the death of Socrates. Grote believed that Socrates was wholly sincere about his belief derived from the Delphic oracle, that the gods had sent him on a mission to reform his fellow citizens. He wrote, Socrates ‘was not simply a philosopher, but a religious missionary doing the work of philosophy’. Grote saw Socrates as a virtual religious fanatic for the propagation of critical philosophy. For Grote, Socrates’ own personal, religiously rooted fanaticism had caused his death. Indeed, one might say that Grote sought to make the gods themselves responsible for the condemnation and execution of Socrates. Another commentator, Alexander Grant, wrote that Grote turned Socrates into a ‘judicial suicide’. Now we come on to Nietzsche’s Socrates. When Nietzsche wrote about Socrates in The Birth of Tragedy, he was fully cognisant of the opinions and writings of Hegel and Grote. It was, in effect, the Socrates of Hegel and the Socrates of Grote (who were not exactly alike but who shared many qualities) that Nietzsche attacked. In other words, in attacking Socrates, he was attacking a figure who in the previous half-century had become symbolic of the use of subjective, critical rationality and of a philosophical outlook that fostered science in the ancient world. Nietzsche more than any other nineteenth-century figure accepted and acknowledged much of Grote’s interpretation. He accepted the metaphor of Socrates as a missionary and he also accepted the view that Socrates actively cooperated in bringing about his own death. Nietzsche also believed that Socrates epitomised the critical scientific mentality in ancient Greece. Yet, for all of its debt to Grote, Nietzsche’s view of Socrates must stand by itself. It is Nietzsche more than any other writer who made Socrates a central figure for modern thought and a central point of reference for modern cultural criticism. In The Birth of Tragedy, as already noted, Nietzsche portrayed the great disaster for Greek culture as the attempt to drive out the Dionysian. The dramatic author who was to blame for this was Euripides, but Euripides, according to Nietzsche, was little more than the voice of



Socrates. It was the combination of the two that destroyed the tragedy of Aeschylus and Sophocles and set Greek culture on the road to rationalistic degeneration. Nietzsche declared: We have come to see that Euripedes had no success at all in putting drama on to purely Apolline foundations, and that his non-Dionysiac tendency got lost in a naturalistic and un-artistic one. We can therefore now get closer to the nature of aesthetic Socratism, whose supreme law runs roughly like this: ‘In order to be beautiful, everything must be reasonable’ – a sentence formed in parallel to Socrates’ dictum that ‘Only he who knows is virtuous’.4

Because of the Socratic infection the problem of Euripides and of Greek culture after him was what Nietzsche called ‘that penetrating critical process, that bold application of reason’.5 It was this rationality that made tragedy impossible. In this interpretation Socrates emerges as the great enemy and opponent of Dionysus in Greek culture. But for Nietzsche the Socratic project was much more radical. He wrote: Socratism condemns existing art and existing ethics in equal measure; wherever it directs its probing gaze, it sees a lack of insight and the power of delusion, and it concludes from this lack that what exists is inwardly wrong and objectionable. Socrates believed that he was obliged to correct existence, starting from this single point; he, the individual, the forerunner of a completely different culture, art, and morality, steps with a look of disrespect and superiority into a world where we would count ourselves supremely happy if we could even touch the hem of its cloak in awe.

He continued: Who is this individual who may dare to negate the nature of the Greeks which, whether as Homer, Pindar, or Aeschylus, as Phidias, as Pericles,



as Pythia and Dionysius, as the steepest abyss or the highest peak, is certain of our astonished worship?6

Nietzsche has a villain to explain this all-destructive intellectualism of Socrates. It is the Socratic voice or daemon. For most people instinct is the source of creativity and a force that drives them. The conscious self is rational and hindering. But with Socrates it is just the reverse. His inner self comes to the fore, always dissuading and hindering his instinctive self. Whereas in the case of all productive people instinct is precisely the creative-affirmative force and consciousness that makes critical and warning gestures, in the case of Socrates, by contrast, instinct becomes the critic and consciousness the creator – a true monstrosity per defectum!7

Whenever his instinct might overwhelm him, his inner rational, intellectual voice halts action. In that regard, Socrates stands as a vast creative machine which, when turned on to play, is turned off by his inner intellect. And his choice of death became a new model for Greek youth of the life of philosophy rather than of heroism. At the same time, in his inherent confidence in rationality and intellect, Socrates embodied the very kind of optimism that makes tragedy impossible. Whereas the artist delights in the covering over of any object or problem, the ‘theoretical man’, whose coming into existence Nietzsche attributes to Socrates, delights only in the unmasking and explaining. It is this theoretical outlook that established what Nietzsche called: a profound delusion which first appeared in the person of Socrates, namely the imperturbable belief that thought, as it follows the thread of causality, reaches down into the deepest abysses of being, and that it is capable, not simply of understanding existence, but even of correcting it.8

In this respect, Socrates stands as the father of all future science. He it is who in a secular world makes dying acceptable. Regarding this, Nietzsche



wrote, ‘We cannot fail to see in Socrates the one turning point and vortex of so-called world history’.9 For Socrates all evil is simply error, and the noblest of human vocations is to separate true knowledge from error. This all-seeking, correcting mind will ever seek new worlds to understand and correct, but ultimately it will find a boundary which it cannot cross. That is the boundary where tragedy again appears, and where the unanswerable and the illogical will again assert themselves. At that boundary will again appear the great god Dionysus. I would note that much that Nietzsche says about Socrates really comes directly out of the quite prosaic analysis of George Grote. What Nietzsche does, in effect, is to accept most of Grote’s view of Socrates as a voice of rationality and science, and then uses that characterisation to bring rationality and science to the bar of judgment. Grote admired rationality as leading to reform; Nietzsche detested rationality as smothering lifegiving instincts. He also detested English utilitarianism, and in attacking Grote’s Socrates he was attacking modern utilitarianism, modern science, and modern critical individualism as championed by John Stuart Mill. Whom did Nietzsche oppose to the rational Socrates, the ancient theoretical man who had destroyed ancient tragedy? The answer to the dissolvent force of Socrates, science, and critical rationalism was Richard Wagner and his music. Nietzsche discussed Schopenhauer’s aesthetics and stressed how music was a fundamental key to the ancient Dionysian world of tragedy and how it had allowed a new symbolism to emerge. Most significant, music could give birth to tragic myth, ‘. . . this spirit [of music] alone can give birth to tragedy’.10 Music could bring the joy of the annihilation of the individual. However, according to Nietzsche, in most contemporary music this goal was not achieved. In particular, grand opera failed in this regard. Nietzsche went so far as to declare, ‘We cannot indicate the innermost modern content of this Socratic culture more distinctly than by calling it the culture of the opera’.11 This was, of course, a direct reference to Wagner’s theory of opera and music drama. But Nietzsche saw hope that the depths of the Dionysian experience might again be regained in Germany and Europe. He declared:



From the Dionysiac ground of the German spirit a power has risen up which has nothing in common with the original conditions of Socratic culture and which can neither be explained nor excused by these conditions; rather, this culture feels it to be something terrifying and inexplicable, something overpowering and hostile, namely German music, as we see it in the mighty, brilliant course it has run from Bach to Beethoven, from Beethoven to Wagner.12

Through the music of Wagner the depths of Dionysian insight were again joined with Apollonian form, and a new aesthetic and moral era was about to commence: Yes, my friends, believe as I do in Dionysiac life and in the rebirth of tragedy. The time of Socratic man is past. Put on wreaths of ivy, take up the thyrsus and do not be surprised if tigers and panthers lie down, purring and curling round your legs. Now you must only dare to be tragic human beings, for you will be released and redeemed.13

Needless to say, Wagner was delighted by The Birth of Tragedy. In a sense it was a work that was a kind of lineal descent from his own theoretical writings of the 1850s. By the standards of the time, both Wagner and Nietzsche were unorthodox and flouted academic standards. Nietzsche included no footnotes. What Wagner failed to grasp was that anyone who could write so brilliantly would not be content to remain as a disciple or as a lackey to do the family Christmas shopping. Indeed, part of the break with Wagner was simply that of a young man who was coming into his own intellectual maturity. One could hardly expect him to like receiving criticism from Wagner for not devoting still another book to Wagner after The Birth of Tragedy. However, there were other more fundamental reasons for the break with Wagner. The first was that Nietzsche believed Wagner had betrayed his own artistic and cultural goals as he became lionised by the middleclass elite of the new Germany. Nietzsche was also deeply disturbed by the first performance of The Ring of the Nibelung at Bayreuth, because



what he had expected to be the moment of the rebirth of tragedy in Europe more nearly resembled a celebration of German nationalism. In 1876, the year of that performance, he had published Richard Wagner at Bayreuth. It was his last pro-Wagner work. The second and major reason for the split with Wagner was that Nietzsche came to repudiate much of Wagner’s art and artistic theory. The capstone to that repudiation was the appearance of Parsifal with its latent Christianity and its overt racism. By this time Nietzsche had moved from his earlier championing of Schopenhauer to a championship of Voltaire and the values of the Enlightenment. He had also begun to change his musical taste and was fascinated by Bizet’s Carmen, whose stirring melodic music he saw as a remedy for Wagner. He published his most devastating critique of Wagner in 1888 when Wagner himself was dead but when his widow was whipping up the Wagner cult. In The Case against Wagner, Nietzsche urged: Wagner’s art is sick. The problems he brings to the stage – purely hysterics’ problems – the convulsiveness of his affects, his over-charged sensibility, his taste that craves stronger and stronger spices, the instability that he disguises as a principle, and not least his choice of heroes and heroines, viewing these as physiological types (–a gallery of pathology!–): taken together, this presents a clinical picture which leaves no room for doubt. Wagner est une névrose [Wagner is a neurosis].14

By breaking with Wagner, Nietzsche was in one sense breaking with the heritage of Romanticism, although he would retain many of its elements in his thought. He had associated himself more fully with the Enlightenment. But Nietzsche remained determined to bring criticism to bear against reason and its uses, as he was by the mid-1870s bringing criticism to bear against the Wagnerian phenomena. By the mid-1870s Nietzsche had come to the conclusion that influenced all of his later work. For the first time in its history humankind would have to confront in the most radical manner the fact that it dwelt in a godless universe. Earlier writers had denied, doubted, or proclaimed



the existence or non-existence of God. But Nietzsche did not approach the question as one of philosophical speculation. For him the prospect of a godless universe meant a supreme turning point in the moral history of humankind. It meant that human beings would be compelled to posit values that could have no relationship to higher or transcendent things. The difference between his point of view and that of earlier scientific or rationalistic freethinkers can be seen in his criticism of a book by the elderly David Friedrich Strauss, who had contributed so much to the dissolving of Christian faith among intellectuals: He announces with admirable frankness that he is no longer a Christian, but he does not wish to disturb anyone’s peace of mind; it seems to him contradictory to found an association in order to overthrow an association – which is in fact not so very contradictory. With a certain rude contentment he covers himself in the hairy cloak of our ape-genealogists and praises Darwin as one of the greatest benefactors of mankind – but it confuses us to see that his ethics are constructed entirely independently of the question: ‘What is our conception of the world?’ . . . Strauss has not yet even learned that no idea can ever make men better or more moral, and that preaching morals is as easy as finding grounds for them is difficult; his task was much rather to take the phenomena of human goodness, compassion, love and self-abnegation, which do in fact exist, and derive and explain them from his Darwinist pre-suppositions: while he preferred by a leap into the imperative to flee from the task of explanation.15

The fault of Strauss was that of practically every other major contemporary thinker. Each facilely assumed that in the absence of Christianity something else such as science, humanity, the liberal state, race, or nationalism might supply an ethical foundation. Nietzsche by contrast embraced naturalism without facile optimism. Nietzsche did not ask which set of values should predominate, but what was the source of values as facts in human social existence.



Nietzsche’s radical moral scepticism was rooted in a similar radical metaphysical scepticism. He may properly be considered a nihilist if one applies a fairly narrow definition to that term. Nietzsche’s philosophical nihilism took the form of denying that the world possesses any form or any intrinsic value. Nature and humankind, as part of it, simply exist without being good or evil. The universe simply is. Nothing of any higher value exists beyond it or in it. There is nothing in the phenomena of existence to provide justification for one set of morals over another. As he once declared, ‘There are no moral phenomena at all, only a moral interpretation of phenomena’.16 This philosophical position led Nietzsche to a particular mode of epistemology, to his attack on Christianity, and to his critique of the liberal politics of his day. And all of this related to his problem with morality. What Nietzsche sought to confront was the possibility and the necessity of a totally naturalistic interpretation of the world. What this involved can in a sense be seen from three of his titles: 1. Beyond Good and Evil (1886) – suggesting that one’s approach to the world and to life must transcend what has formerly been considered moral or good or evil. 2. The Genealogy of Morals (1887) – a title that suggests that morals do not exist timelessly, but have a history and development. 3. Twilight of the Idols; or How One Philosophises with a Hammer (1888) – suggesting the necessity of destroying the existing idols or philosophy, morals, and religion so that new departures might be taken. In a sense Nietzsche demanded that human beings confront life from an essentially aesthetic stance. They must look upon the phenomena of life and then from their own inner being come to judgments without any authoritative outer guides. In his conviction that the world is basically formless, Nietzsche thought that human beings had to impose form onto it. The world was what we made it to be. There was not an objective world of which we eventually achieved knowledge as Comte or Mill or Darwin believed.



For Nietzsche, science was not genuine knowledge. Science was conventional or useful knowledge. It was true only so long as it allowed us to make our way in the world. Science was simply one way of attempting to understand the world. It did not and could not result in final knowledge. He admired science for its clarity and usefulness, but in and of itself science could not be final wisdom or a source of other values. As he wrote in The Gay Science: Life not an argument. – We have arranged for ourselves a world in which we are able to live – by positing bodies, lines, planes, causes and effects, motion and rest, form and content; without these articles of faith no one could endure living! But that does not prove them. Life is not an argument; the conditions of life might include error.17

In effect, Nietzsche came very close to saying that truth is instrumental. In that regard, he came very close to the philosophical camp of the early pragmatists. For him truth is never permanent or timeless. Truth is a way in and through the world. Nietzsche found this radical scepticism neither depressing nor pessimistic. He regarded it as a source of liberation, albeit a liberation that many people would find terrifying. In the first instance, his view of truth allowed him to liberate himself from Christianity. Like Ibsen and others of his generation, Nietzsche found contemporary morality stultifying and he regarded it as basically derivative of Christianity. Contemporary morality, whether Christian or utilitarian, was ascetic and life-denying. His critique of Christianity and of Christian morality went to the very heart of what had previously been regarded as morality and moral experience in Europe. He traced the origins of Christian morality to Plato and Judaism. Christianity had two thousand years earlier combined the worst of both, and directed humankind toward mediocrity. His fullest discussion of this topic came in The Genealogy of Morals. In that work Nietzsche asked what was the origin of the judgment of what is good. He argued that the judgment ‘good’ had certainly not originated with those to whom goodness was initially shown. Rather, the



earliest decision of what is good must have originated with the stronger nobility, who for their own utility had posited a judgment of what is good. He explained: It is because of this origin that the word ‘good’ is not necessarily attached to ‘unegoistic’ actions: as the superstition of these moral genealogists would have it. On the contrary, it is only with a decline of aristocratic value-judgements that this whole antithesis between ‘egoistic’ and ‘unegoistic’ forces itself more and more on man’s conscience, – it is, to use my language, the herd instinct which, with that, finally gets its word in . . .18

The decline of the aristocratic definition of good represented the triumph of a herd instinct over the instinct of strong ancient nobility whom Nietzsche located in archaic Greece. That aristocratic value judgment had presupposed healthy, powerful, people who were physically active and ever ready for war and tests of strength. It consisted of an affirmation of life and of power. In the course of time it had been replaced by the morality of the herd, of the priests, and of those who denied the world. It had in Nietzsche’s view been in the moral experience of ancient Israel that the revaluation of aristocratic values had commenced. This revaluation, which was markedly furthered by Christianity, constituted ‘the slave revolt of morality’. This revolt was centred in what Nietzsche called Ressentiment. Whereas the noble had looked out on the world and affirmed it, the slave must, because of its very situation, deny the outer world. The slave must justify his own incapacity to affirm and does so by justifying and glorifying denial. This Christian morality denies the will to power, and thus denies and restricts life. Through the triumph of Christianity this slave morality had overtaken Europe. It denied nobility and glorified the humble, the weak, the timid. In effect it denied human nature. What is so significant about Nietzsche’s critique is his determination to explain its significance. Most earlier philosophers had assumed the



existence of universal values. One might disagree as to exactly what those values were, but not that they existed. Nietzsche denied the independent existence of the values themselves. He contended that Christian values had originated from the need of essentially powerless peoples and classes to maximise their power, and they had done this by positing the value of their kind of slave existence as higher and worthier than that of nobles. Moreover, that revolt of the slaves had not ended. The tide of revolution and liberalism and socialism in the nineteenth century had given the revolt of the slaves a new lease on life. He declared: In an even more decisive and profound sense than then, Judea once again triumphed over the classical ideal with the French Revolution: the last political nobility in Europe, that of the French seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, collapsed under the ressentiment – instincts of the rabble – the world had never heard greater rejoicing and more uproarious enthusiasm!19

Elsewhere in the Genealogy of Morals, Nietzsche argued that modern liberalism had merely continued where Christianity had left off. Both stood accused of denying human nature. Nietzsche saw the ascetic ideal as having performed an immensely important function. It had offered human beings meaning and most particularly a meaning for suffering. It prevented humankind from confronting the stark reality of the fundamental meaninglessness of existence. Yet the ascetic ideal had also invoked a very high price: It is absolutely impossible for us to conceal what was actually expressed by that whole willing, which was given its direction by the ascetic ideal: this hatred of the human, and even more of the animalistic, even more of the material, this horror of the senses, of reason itself, this fear of happiness and beauty, this longing to get away from appearance, transience, growth, death, wishing, longing itself – all that means, let us dare to grasp it, a will to nothingness, an aversion to life, a rebellion against the most fundamental prerequisites of life, but it is and remains



a will! . . . And, to conclude by saying what I said at the beginning: man still prefers to will nothingness, than not will . . .20

What the ultimate examination of morality finally displayed was the voluntaristic basis of even a morality that denied life. Negative asceticism was in and of itself not ascetic. It was only another mode of the will to power that Nietzsche thought characterised all conscious existence. Henceforth, the problem for humanity was to find a way of willing or positing values that would permit the affirming of life rather than negating it. For Nietzsche, that involved essentially an elitist aristocratic morality. The nobility must overcome the herd. That involved not only the repudiation of Christianity, but also the repudiation of all contemporary bourgeois ideologies – all of these including liberalism, utilitarianism, nationalism, racism, vegetarianism, and the like. All of these were moral positions interested in calculating consequence and were by definition modes of the slave morality. The creature who could thus posit life-affirming morality was the Übermensch or the Overman. This was the term that came to be called the ‘Superman’ in the early years of this century. This term appears primarily in Thus Spake Zarathustra and is anything but a clear concept. The Übermensch is life-affirming. He is joyous, guiltless, instinctual, and in possession of his instinctual drives. He seems to exist in the future, for at one point Nietzsche portrays humankind as a bridge between the beast and the Übermensch. This creature would seem to be an ideal type in Nietzsche’s mind of what humankind could become if the ascetic ideal of Christianity and modern liberalism were thrust off. Recent commentators have gone to great length to neutralise this concept, but when all is said and done that is perhaps simply a wrongheaded approach. No doubt Nietzsche did not envision a figure such as Hitler as his Übermensch, and the Übermensch may in his mind have more nearly resembled Goethe. Nonetheless, the Übermensch seems clearly incompatible with liberal values, and the recent attempts to embrace this term as well as much of Nietzsche’s philosophy seem to me



to be little more than the attempt of bourgeois culture to assimilate still another of its major nineteenth-century critics. We commenced our consideration this period in European intellectual life with Rousseau. It is not an accident that we close it with Nietzsche. The latter stands as one of the most profound critics of the Rousseauistic vision. It was Rousseau who deplored both aristocratic and bourgeois society, but his solution was a radically egalitarian one. What he loved in the ancient world was its civic virtue, which resided in a radically inegalitarian society. What he projected for the future was an egalitarian vision. Rousseau had pictured society as resulting from a secular version of the biblical fall. He had then criticised those human beings who had by sheer force of will established themselves as both morally and economically superior to other human beings. From that situation had followed in Rousseau’s view the falseness of modern society. He wanted to repudiate that in the name of a radical egalitarianism. He also wanted to erect the General Will and Civil Religion as forces for which human beings should be willing to die. Nietzsche detested everything about this vision. He admired those ancient figures who had established themselves as superior. He sensed in all of Rousseau’s writings the whiff of both Plato and of secularised versions of the Judeo-Christian tradition. His thought implies that Rousseau for all of his radicalism lacked real intellectual courage. Rousseau had portrayed human beings coming out of the state of nature as indeterminable creatures who had to forge their own essential character, but Rousseau had backed away from the essential nihilism of his own vision. It was that nihilism that Nietzsche brought front and centre into the next century of the intellectual life of Europe. For Nietzsche human nature is truly indeterminable. Human beings must determine it, and Nietzsche found all of the ideologies to which his generation appealed inadequate to the task.


Chapter 1: Rousseau’s Challenge to Modernity 1. Sophie d’Houdetot quoted in Paul Johnson, Intellectuals (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), 2, as quoted in Lester Crocker, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (2 vols, New York: Macmillan, 1968–73), vol. I, 353. 2. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile or On Education, trans. A. Bloom (New York: Basic Books, 1979), 39–40. 3. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Sciences and Art in The Basic Political Writings, trans., ed., Donald A. Cress (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 1987), 4. 4. ibid., 4–5. 5. ibid., 6–7. 6. ibid., 5. 7. ibid., 7–8. 8. ibid., 12. 9. ibid., 12. 10. ibid., 13. 11. ibid., 17. 12. Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men, in Basic Political Writings, op. cit., 37–8. 13. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, ed. Richard Tuck (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 89. 14. Rousseau, Inequality, in Basic Political Writings, 38. 15. ibid., 38. 16. ibid., 57. 17. Following Jean Starobinski, Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Transparency and Obstruction, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 297ff. 18. Rousseau, Inequality, in Basic Political Writings, 65. 19. Starobinski, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 299. 20. Jean Jacques Rousseau, On the Social Contract, Book I, in Basic Political Writings, op. cit., 141.



21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27.



ibid., 141. ibid., 144. ibid., 148. ibid., 150. ibid., 163. ibid., 163. ibid., 226.

Chapter 2: Tocqueville and Liberty 1. T.H. Huxley, Collected Essays: Volume 1. Methods and Results (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 51. 2. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, ed. Isaac Kramnick (New York and London: Norton, 2007), vol. I, 13. 3. ibid., 19. 4. ibid., 12. 5. ibid., vol. I., chap. xiv, 196. 6. ibid., 197. 7. ibid., 198. 8. ibid., vol. I., chap. xv, 210. 9. James Madison, ‘Federalist No. 10’, in The Federalist, ed. J.E. Cooke (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1961); Niccolò Machiavelli, ‘Discourses on Livy’, ed. John M. Najemy, The Cambridge Companion to Machiavelli (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

Chapter 3: J.S. Mill and the Nineteenth Century 1. J.S. Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill: I. Autobiography and Literary Essays, ed. John M. Robson and Jack Stillinger (Abingdon: Routledge, 2013), 107. 2. Thomas Carlyle, ‘Sartor Resartus: The Life and Opinions of Herr Teufelsdröckh’, in The Works of Thomas Carlyle, ed. Henry Duff Traill (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 187. 3. David Ricardo, On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, in The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo: Volume 1, On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, ed. Pierro Sraffa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981). 4. Mill, Autobiography, op. cit., 113. 5. ibid., 114. 6. ibid., 137–8. 7. ibid., 193. 8. J.S. Mill, On Liberty and Other Writings, ed. Stefan Collini (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 65. 9. ibid., 132–3.

Chapter 4: The Turn to Subjectivity 1. John Wesley, Works, ed. F. Baker, 26 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975), vol. I, 23–4. 2. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, or, On Education: includes Emile and Sophie, or, The Solitaries, ed. Christopher Kelly and Allen Bloom (Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College Press, 2010), 425. 3. ibid., 428. 4. ibid., 438. 5. ibid., 449. 6. ibid., 451–2.




7. ibid., 454. 8. Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Norman Kemp (London: Macmillan, 1933; repr. 1964), B XVI, 22–3. 9. Arthur Schopenhauer, Two Essays: I. On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, II. On the Will in Nature. A Literal Translation, trans. Mme Karl Hillebrand (London: George Bell, 1889; repr. Cosimo: New York, 2007), 131–2.

Chapter 5: Medievalism and the Invention of the Renaissance 1. Richard Hurd, Letters on Chivalry and Romance (London: Millar, 1762). 2. Lectures on the History of Literature, Ancient and Modern, from the German of Frederick Schlegel, trans. J.G. Lockert (Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1861), lecture vii, 180. 3. ibid., lecture vii, 202–3. 4. ibid., lecture viii, 221. 5. ibid., lecture viii, 222–3. 6. Heinrich Heine, The Romantic School and Other Essays, ed. Jost Hermand and Robert C. Holub (New York: Continuum, 2002), 49. 7. Thomas Carlyle, ‘Past and Present’ [Chap. xvi, ‘St Edmund’], in The Works of Thomas Carlyle, ed. Henry Duff Traill (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 118. 8. ibid., 133. 9. John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice: Volume II. The Sea Stories (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1853), 161–2. 10. ibid., 163. 11. ibid., 165. 12. John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice: Vol. III. The Fall (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1853), 12. 13. ibid., 95. 14. ibid., 107. 15. ibid., 112.

Chapter 6: Nature Historicised 1. Peter J. Bowler, The Eclipse of Darwinism (Baltimore; London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983), 3–19. 2. Quoted in Ernst Mayr, The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard, 1982), 353. 3. Charles Lyell, Principles of Geology, 4 vols (London: John Murray, 1835), II, 429–30. 4. ibid., 433. 5. Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 6th edition (London: John Murray, 1872), 63. 6. ibid., 63–4. 7. T.H. Huxley, Collected Essays, 9 vols (London: Macmillan, 1893–4), IX: ‘Evolution and Ethics and Other Essays’, 81–2.

Chapter 7: Darwin and Creation 1. Thomas Huxley, ‘The Origin of Species’ (1860), in Collected Essays, 9 vols (London: Macmillan, 1893–94), vol. II: ‘Darwiniana’, 52. 2. The play (1955), loosely based on this trial, was made into a 1960 film starring Spencer Tracy and Fredric March. Peter Goodchild’s play was broadcast by the BBC in 2009, and a film starring Brian Dennehy as Clarence Darrow and Fred Thompson as William Jennings Bryan, was released in 2011. 3. William Paley, Natural Theology (Philadelphia: John Morgan, 1802), 306. 4. ibid., 309.


5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.

15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22.



ibid., 314. ibid., 127. ibid., 339. ibid., 348. ibid., 348. ibid., 340. Darwin to John Lubbock, 22 Nov. 1859, repr. in The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, including an Autobiographical Chapter, 3 vols, ed. Francis Darwin (London: John Murray, 1887), vol. II, 215. Thomas Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population (London: J. Johnson, 1798), XIX.15 (395). Life and Letters of Darwin, vol. I, 394. Louis Agassiz, The Structure of Animal Life. Six lectures Delivered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in January and February, 1862 (New York: Scribner, 1866), 122. Quoted in Neal Gillespie, Charles Darwin and the Problem of Creation (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), 27. Report of the Twenty-Eighth Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science Held at Leeds in September 1858 (London: John Murray, 1859), xc. Leonard Huxley, The Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley, 2 vols (New York: Appleton), vol. I, 182. Quoted in Gillespie, Charles Darwin and the Problem of Creation, 32. Quoted in Gillespie, Charles Darwin and the Problem of Creation, 76. Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, 1st edn (London: John Murray, 1859), 490. Darwin to J.D. Hooker, 13 July 1856. Repr. in Charles Darwin, More Letters of Charles Darwin: A Record of his Work in a Series of Hitherto Unpublished Letters, eds Francis Darwin and A.C. Seward, 2 vols (London: John Murray, 1903), vol. I, 94. These passages first appear in the second edition of On the Origin of Species (London: John Murray, 1860), 481, 489–90. ibid., 490. Darwin to Asa Gray, 22 May 1860. Repr. in Life and Letters, vol. II, 311–12.

Chapter 8: Marx and the Transcendent Working Class 1. Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity, trans. from the second German edition by Marian Evans (New York: Calvin Blanchard, 1855), 267. 2. Karl Marx, ‘On the Jewish Question’ (1843) in Early Writings, ed. Lucio Colletti (London: Penguin, 1992), 216. 3. Karl Marx, ‘Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts’ (1844) in ibid., 324–5ff.

Chapter 9: The Cult of the Artist 1. John Ruskin, The Works of John Ruskin, ed. E.T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, 39 vols (London: George Allen, 1903–1912), vol. IV, 239. 2. Sir Joshua Reynolds, ‘Discourse IX’, The Discourses of Sir Joshua Reynolds (London: James Carpenter, 1842), 166. 3. Jean François de Saint-Lambert, ‘Génie’, Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des metiers, ed. Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert (Paris: André le Breton et al. 1751–1772), vol. VII (1757), 582–4 (582). 4. ibid., 582–3. 5. Alexander Pope, The Works of Shakespear, ed. Alexander Pope, 6 vols (London, 1725), vol. I, 3. 6. M.H. Abrams, The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1953).




7. Alexander Pope, ‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1709), Part II, line 97. 8. Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Werke, ed. I.H. Fichte (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1971), vol. I, 284. 9. ibid. 10. Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, The Philosophy of Art, ed. and trans. Douglas W. Stott (1802–03; Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989), 31–2. 11. James Engells, The Creative Imagination: Enlightenment to Romanticism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981), 305. 12. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, 2 vols (London: West Fenner, 1817), vol. I, 295–6. 13. Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters, ed. and trans. Elizabeth M. Wilkinson and L. A. Willoughby (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), 27–9. 14. ibid., 55–7. 15. ibid., 215–7. 16. This distinction can be found in Friedrich von Schlegel, Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms (1800a), trans., intro., and ann. Ernst Behler and Roman Struc (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1968). 17. Percy Bysshe Shelley, ‘A Defence of Poetry’, in Essays, Letters from Abroad, Translations and Fragments, ed. Mary Wollstonecroft Shelley (London: Edward Moxon, 1840), 1–57 (45–6). 18. ibid., 47. 19. ibid., 49. 20. René Wellek, ‘The Concept of “Romanticism” in Literary History: II. The Unity of European Romanticism’, Comparative Literature, 1.2 (Spring, 1949), 147–72 (147). 21. Novalis, Novalis Schriften. Die Werke Friedrich von Hardenberg, ed. Richard Samuel, Hans-Joachim Mahl and Gerhard Schulz, 5 vols (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1960–88), 685–6; quoted in Ernst Behler, German Romantic Literary Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 183. 22. ibid. 23. ibid., vol. III, 569; quoted in Behler, 204.

Chapter 10: Nationalism 1. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983, 2006 edn), 85. 2. Ernst Moritz Arndt, The War of Liberation (1913), quoted in Marvin Perry, Sources of the Western Tradition. Volume II: From the Renaissance to the Present (Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning, 2012), 171. 3. Jules Michelet, ‘À M. Edgar Quinet’, Le Peuple, ed. Paul Viallaneix (Paris: Flammarion, 1974), 67–8. The English translation of this letter is given in F. Haskell, History and its Images (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1993), 252. 4. Giuseppe Mazzini, Essays: Selected from the Writings, Literary, Political, Religious of Joseph Mazzini, ed. William Clark (London: Walter Scott, 1880). Quoted in The Western Heritage since 1789, Combined Volume, ed. Donald Kagan, Steven E. Ozment and Frank Turner (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2010), 596. 5. Prague Slav Congress Manifesto (1848) quoted in The Western Heritage, ed. Kagan, Ozment and Turner, 651. 6. Sergei Uvarov, quoted in Nicholas Valentine Riasanovsky, Nicholas I and Official Nationality in Russia, 1815–1855 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1959), 73–4. 7. Lord Acton, ‘Nationality’, The Home and Foreign Review (July, 1862).




Chapter 11: Race and Anti-Semitism 1. Les Back and John Solomos, eds, Theories of Race and Racism: A Reader (New York: Taylor & Francis, 2002). 2. Arthur Gobineau (Comte de), The Inequality of Human Races, ed. Oscar Levy, trans. Adrian Collins (London: Heinemann, 1915). 3. Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, 2 vols, trans. John Lees (London: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1912). 4. Alexis de Tocqueville, The European Revolution and Correspondence with Gobineau, ed. John Lukacs (New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1959), 227.

Chapter 12: Wagner 1. Jack M. Stein, Richard Wagner and the Synthesis of the Arts (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1960), 78. 2. Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Idea, trans. R.B. Haldane (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., 1909), vol. I, Book 10. 3. ibid., vol. I, Book 2. 4. ibid. 5. ibid., vol. I, p. 257, cited in Ulrich Pothast, The Metaphysical Vision: Arthur Schopenhauer’s Philosophy of Art and Life and Samuel Beckett’s Own Way to Make Use of It (New York: Peter Lang, 2008), 64. 6. Schopenhauer, World as Will, vol. I. Book 3. 7. Arthur Schopenhauer, Philosophical Writings, ed. Wolfgang Schirmacher (New York: Continuum, 1994), 131.

Chapter 13: The Ideology of Separate Gender Spheres 1. John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women (New York: Cosimo, 2008), 16. 2. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, trans. Allan Bloom (New York: Basic Books, 1979), Book V, 357. 3. ibid., 361. 4. ibid., 363. 5. Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Man and a Vindication of the Rights of Woman and Hints, ed. Sylvana Tomaselli (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 74. 6. ibid., 89. 7. ibid., 94. 8. ibid., 113. 9. ibid., 117. 10. George Sand, The Autobiography of George Sand, ed. Thelma Jurgrau (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1991), 936. 11. George Sand, Indiana, trans. Sylvia Raphael (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 190. 12. George Eliot, Middlemarch, ed. David Carroll (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), Book 1, chapter 7, 58.

Chapter 14: Old Faiths and New 1. Thomas Carlyle, Sartor Resartus, ed. W.H. Hudson (London: J.M. Dent, 1908), Book III, chapter 2. 2. Friedrich Schleiermacher, On Religion, ed. and trans. Richard Crouter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 102. 3. ibid., 133. 4. ibid., 138.




5. Franklin Le Van Baumer, ed. Main Currents of Western Thought (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978), 483. 6. Carlyle, Sartor Resartus, Book I, chapter 10. 7. ibid.

Chapter 15: Nietzche 1. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy and Other Writings, ed. Raymond Geuss, Ronald Speirs, trans. Ronald Speirs (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), Section 3, 22. 2. ibid., Section 1, 18. 3. G.W.F. Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of World History: Introduction, intro. Duncan Forbes, trans. H.B. Nisbet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975), 62. 4. Nietzsche, Birth of Tragedy, Section 12, 62. 5. ibid. 6. ibid., Section 13, 66. 7. ibid. 8. ibid., Section 15, 73. 9. ibid., 74. 10. ibid., Section 16, 76. 11. ibid., Section 19, 89. 12. ibid., 94. 13. ibid., Section 20, 98. 14. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Anti-Christ, Ecce Homo, Twilight of the Idols, and Other Writings, ed. Aaron Ridley, Judith Norman, trans. Judith Norman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), Section 5, 242. 15. Friedrich Nietzsche, Untimely Meditations, ed. Daniel Breazeale, trans. R.J. Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 29. 16. Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, ed. Rolf-Peter Horstmann, Judith Norman, trans. Judith Norman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), Part 4, 108, 64. 17. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, ed. Barnard Williams, trans. Josefine Nauckhoff, Adrian del Caro (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), Section 121, 117. 18. Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality, ed. Keith Ansell-Pearson, trans. Carol Diethe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), Part 1, 2, 13. 19. ibid., 16, 35. 20. ibid., Part 3, 28, 128.


Abrams, Meyer Howard (1912–): American literary critic known for his work on Romanticism and in particular the book The Mirror and the Lamp. Acton, Lord John (1834–1902): English Catholic historian, politician and writer. Aeschylus (525/524–456/455 bc): the first of three major Greek tragedians, the other two being Sophocles and Euripides. Agassiz, Louis (1807–73): Swiss biologist, geologist, physician, later in life a professor at Harvard University. Arnold, Matthew (1822–88): British poet and cultural critic. Arndt, Ernst Moritz (1769–1860): German patriotic writer and poet. Augustine of Hippo (354–430): also known as Saint Augustine; early Christian theologian. Austin, Charles (1799–1874): English lawyer and Benthamite. Bakunin, Mikhail (1814–76): Russian revolutionary and libertarian socialist. Bentham, Jeremy (1748–1832): British philosopher and founder of utilitarianism. Bismarck, Otto von (1815–98): Conservative Prussian statesman who presided over the Unification of Germany in 1871. Bizet, Georges (1838–75): French Romantic composer. Blumenbach, Johann Friedrich (1752–1840): German physician, physiologist and anthropologist, one of the first scholars to consider the study of mankind as a branch of natural history. Brandes, Georg (1842–1927): Danish critic and scholar. Broca, Pierre Paul (1824–80): French physician, surgeon, anatomist and anthropologist. Buckland, William (1784–1856): English theologian, geologist and palaeontologist, Oxford fellow and later Dean of Westminster. Buffon, Georges-Louis (Comte de): (1707–88) French naturalist, mathematician and cosmologist. Burke, Edmund (1729–97): Irish statesman and philosopher. Calvin, John (1509–64): French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation, whose name is associated with a system of Christian theology, and also with Geneva, Switzerland, whose reform movement he led. Carlyle, Thomas (1795–1881): Scottish philosopher best known for Sartor Resartus.




Cassirer, Ernst (1874–1945): German philosopher. Chadwick, Sir Edwin (1800–90): English social reformer. Chamberlain, Houston Stewart (1855–1927): English author and son-in-law of Richard Wagner. Chambers, Robert (1802–71): Scottish publisher, geologist, evolutionary thinker, and anonymous author of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, which caused a storm of debate. Chateaubriand, François-René de (1768–1848): French writer, politician, diplomat and historian. Clausen, Sir George (1852–1944): English artist. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor (1772–1834): English poet and literary critic, friend of William Wordsworth and founding figure in English Romanticism. Comte, Auguste (1798–1857): French philosopher, founder of sociology and of the doctrine of Positivism. David, Jacques-Louis (1748–1825): French painter in the Neoclassical style, subsequently a supporter of the French Revolution. Darwin, Charles (1809–82): English naturalist best known for his contribution to evolutionary theory. Darwin, Erasmus (1731–1802): English physician, natural philosopher, key thinker in the Midlands Enlightenment in England, and grandfather of Charles Darwin. Descartes, René (1596–1650): French philosopher and mathematician, a key figure in the Scientific Revolution and Western philosophy. Diderot, Denis (1713–84): French philosopher, co-founder, chief editor and contributor to the Encyclopédie along with Jean le Rond d’Alembert. Dobrovsky, Josef (1753–1829): Bohemian philologist and historian, central figure in the Czech national revival. Durkheim, Émile (1858–1917): French sociologist. Edwards, Jonathan (1703–58): American preacher, theologian and president of Princeton University. Egg, Augustus (1816–63): Victorian artist famous for his triptych Past and Present (1858). Einstein, Albert (1879–1955): German-born theoretical physicist who developed the General Theory of Relativity. Eliot, George (pen name of Mary Anne Evans) (1819–80): English novelist, translator and leading writer of the Victorian period. Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1803–82): American essayist and poet who led the Transcendentalist movement of the nineteenth century. Engels, Friedrich (1820–95): German social scientist, political theorist, and co-author of The Communist Manifesto with Karl Marx in 1848. Euripides (c. 480–406 bc): one of three great tragedians of classical Athens, the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles. Feuerbach, Ludwig (1804–72): German philosopher and anthropologist, best known for his book The Essence of Christianity, subsequently foundational to the thought of Karl Marx. Fichte, Johann Gottlieb (1762–1814): German philosopher and founder of German idealism. Förster, Bernard (1843–89): extreme anti-Semitic agitator married to Elisabeth Nietzsche, the sister of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Förster-Nietzsche, Elisabeth (1846–1935): sister of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Fragonard, Jean-Honoré (1732–1806): French painter. Freeman, Edward A. (1823–92): English historian and liberal politician. Galton, Sir Francis (1822–1911): Victorian polymath and cousin of Charles Darwin. Garibaldi, Giuseppe (1807–82): Italian general and politician, considered one of the founding fathers of a united Italy. Geyer, Ludwig (1779–1821): German actor, playwright and painter. Gibbon, Edward (1737–94): English historian and politician, best known for his six-volume work, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.



Gobineau, Arthur (Comte de) (1816–82): French aristocrat, novelist and man of letters. Grant, Sir Alexander (1826–84): British educationalist, Aristotle scholar and principal of the University of Edinburgh. Gray, Asa (1810–88): considered the most important American botanist of the nineteenth century. Green, John Richard (1837–83): English historian. Grote, George (1794–1871): English political radical and classical historian. Hartley, David (1705–57): English philosopher and founder of the Associationist school of psychology. Hegel, Georg Wilhelm (1770–1831): German philosopher, major figure in German idealism. Heine, Heinrich (1797–1856): German poet, journalist, essayist and literary critic. Homer: greatest of the ancient Greek epic poets and author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton (1817–1911): one of the great explorers and botanists of the nineteenth century, and close friend of Charles Darwin. Hurd, Richard (1720–1808): English bishop and writer, whose 1762 Letters on Chivalry and Romance was an early stimulus to Romanticism. Hutchinson, Anne (1591–1643): Puritan spiritual adviser and participant in the Antinomian Controversy that shook the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1636 to 1638. Huxley, Thomas Henry (1825–95): English biologist. Hobbes, Thomas (1588–1679): English political philosopher famously associated with his treatise Leviathan, published in 1651. Hugo, Victor (1802–85): French poet, novelist, dramatist, central figure of Romanticism. Hume, David (1711–76): Scottish philosopher, historian and economist, famous for empiricism and scepticism. Hume, Joseph (1777–1855): Scottish doctor and radical politician. Hutton, James (1726–97): Scottish geologist and physician, the originator of Uniformitarianism, explaining the earth in geologic time rather than biblical time. Ibsen, Henrik (1828–1906): Norwegian playwright, theatre director and poet. Jansen, Cornelius (1585–1638): Catholic Bishop of Ypres and the father of the theological movement called Jansenism. Jones, Sir William (1746–94): Anglo-Welsh philologist and scholar of ancient India. Jowett, Benjamin (1817–93): English theologian, translator of Plato and Master of Balliol College, Oxford. Kant, Immanuel (1724–1804): German philosopher and central figure of modern philosophy. Keats, John (1795–1821): English Romantic poet. Kipling, Rudyard (1865–1936): English short-story writer, poet, novelist. Knox, Robert (1791–1862): Scottish surgeon, anatomist and zoologist. Kotzebue, August von (1761–1819): German dramatist and writer, murdered in 1819 by Karl Ludwig Sand. Krupp, Alfried (1907–67): German industrialist and arms manufacturer and supplier in World War II. Lamarck, Jean-Baptiste (1744–1829): French naturalist and early proponent of the idea of evolution. Leighton, Lord Frederic (1830–96): English painter and sculptor. Lenin, Vladimir Iyich (Ulyanov) (1870–1924): Russian communist revolutionary. Linnaeus, Carl (1707–78): Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist, father of modern taxonomy. Locke, John (1632–1704): English philosopher. Long, Edward (1734–1813): British colonial administrator and historian, author of The History of Jamaica (1774). Louis XVI of France (1754–93): French king from 1774, subsequently executed in the French Revolution.



Louis Philippe (1773–1850): French king from 1830 to 1848, in what became known as the July Monarchy. Forced to abdicate in 1848, he lived out his exile in England. Ludwig II of Bavaria (1845–86): King of Bavaria from 1864 until his death, and patron of Wagner. Luther, Martin (1483–1546): German monk, theologian and seminal figure of the Protestant Reformation. Lycurgus of Sparta (c. 820–730 bc): the lawgiver of Sparta, who established the militaryoriented reformation of Spartan society. His reforms were directed towards the three Spartan virtues: equality, military fitness, and austerity. Lyell, Sir Charles (1797–1875): British lawyer and foremost geologist of his day. McCulloch, John Ramsay (1789–1864): Scottish economist, author and editor, led the Ricardian school of economists after Ricardo’s death in 1823. Machiavelli, Niccolò (1469–1527): Italian historian, politician and philosopher, and central figure of the Italian Renaissance. Madison, James (1751–1836): American statesman, political theorist and fourth President of the United States (1809–17). Malthus, Thomas (1766–1834): British cleric and scholar famous for his An Essay on the Principle of Population. Mann, Thomas (1875–1955): German novelist. Marcet, Jane (1769–1858): successful and pioneering English writer of introductory science books, and a populariser of classical economic thought. Marr, Wilhelm (1819–1904): German agitator and publicist who popularised the term ‘anti-Semitism’. Martin, John (1789–1854): English Romantic painter. Marx, Karl (1818–83): German philosopher and revolutionary socialist. Mazzini, Giuseppi (1805–72): Italian politician, journalist and central figure in Italian Unification. Mendelssohn, Felix (1809–47): German composer. Metternich, Klemens von (1773–1859): foreign minister of the Austrian empire from 1809 until 1848. Meyerbeer, Giacomo (1791–1864): Prussian opera composer. Michelet, Jules (1798–1874): French historian. Mill, Harriet Taylor (1807–58): philosopher and women’s rights advocate, largely remembered for her influence on John Stuart Mill, her second husband. Mill, James (1773–1836): father of John Stuart Mill; a Scottish historian, economist, political theorist and philosopher, and a founder of classical economics together with David Ricardo. Mill, John Stuart (1806–73): English philosopher, political economist and civil servant, a proponent of utilitarianism. Mivart, St George Jackson (1827–1900): English biologist, initially a believer in natural selection, later fiercely against it. Molesworth, William Nassau (1816–90): English clergyman and historian, high churchman and political radical. Montesquieu, Charles-Louis (Baron de) (1689–1755): French social commentator and political thinker. Morel, Bénédict Augustin (1809–73): French psychiatrist, influential in the field of degeneration. Mueller, F. Max (1823–1900): German philologist and Oxford professor. Newman, John Henry (1801–90): Anglican minister, later cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, and leader of the Oxford Movement. Newton, Sir Isaac (1643–1727): English physicist and mathematician, and key figure in the Scientific Revolution. Nordau, Max (1849–1923): Zionist leader, author and social critic best known for Degeneration (1892) (German: Entartung).



Novalis (Georg von Hardenberg) (1772–1801): German poet, writer and philosopher of early German Romanticism. Owen, Sir Richard (1804–92): English biologist and palaeontologist, and outspoken opponent of Charles Darwin. Paley, William (1743–1805): English clergyman, Christian apologist, philosopher, best known for his celebrated natural theology argument in Natural Theology: or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, an argument for the existence of God from observed design in nature. Pascal, Blaise (1623–62): French mathematician, physicist, writer and Christian philosopher. Pearson, Karl (1857–1936): founder of mathematical statistics and eugenicist. Pericles (c. 495–429 bc): influential Greek statesman and orator. Peter the Great (Peter I; Pyotr Alexeyevich) (1672–1725): Tsar of Russia. Plato, (428/423–348/347 bc): classical Greek philosopher, mathematician and student of Socrates. Pope, Alexander (1688–1744): English poet who translated Homer. Priestley, Joseph (1733–1804): English theologian, dissenting clergyman, natural philosopher and political theorist, credited with discovering oxygen. Reynolds, Sir Joshua (1723–92): influential artist and first president of the Royal Academy. Ricardo, David (1772–1823): British political economist, and a founder of classical economics. Roebuck, John Arthur (1802–79): British politician associated with radical and utilitarian reformers. Rousseau, Jean-Jacques (1712–78): Genevan philosopher whose writings influenced the French Revolution and Western thought since the Enlightenment. Ruskin, John (1819–1900): leading English art critic of the Victorian era. Saint-Lambert, Jean François de (1716–1803): French poet, philosopher and military officer. Saint-Simon (Comte de) (1760–1825): French utopian socialist who inspired a movement named after him. Sand, Carl Ludwig (1795–1820): German student executed for his murder of conservative dramatist August von Kotzebue the previous year. Sand, George (1804–76): pen name of Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, French novelist. Schelling, Friedrich (later von Schelling) (1775–1854): German idealist philosopher, and contemporary of Hegel. Schiller, Friedrich (1759–1805): German poet, philosopher, historian and playwright. Schlegel, August Wilhelm (1767–1845): German poet, translator, critic and leading figure in German Romanticism along with his younger brother Karl. Schlegel, Karl Wilhelm Friedrich (1772–1829): German poet, literary critic, philosopher, central figure in Romanticism along with his older brother August. Schleiermacher, Friedrich (1768–1834): German theologian and philosopher who attempted a synthesis of Enlightenment criticism with Protestant Christianity. Schopenhauer, Arthur (1788–1860): German philosopher best known for his book The World as Will and Representation. Schumpeter, Joseph Alois (1883–1950): US economist best known for his 1911 work The Theory of Economic Development. Scott, Sir Walter (1771–1832): Scottish historical novelist, playwright and poet, hugely popular in the nineteenth century with titles such as Rob Roy and The Lady of the Lake. Sedgwick, Adam (1785–1873): one of the founders of modern geology, Cambridge fellow and later opponent of Darwin. Senior, Nassau William (1790–1864): English economist and government adviser in areas of economic and social policy. Shakespeare, William (1564–1616): English poet and playwright.



Shaw, George Bernard (1856–1950): Irish playwright, co-founder of the London School of Economics. Shelley, Percy Bysshe (1792–1822): one of the major English Romantic poets. Smith, Adam (1723–90): Scottish moral philosopher, central figure of the Scottish Enlightenment, and economist famous for writing An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations in 1776. Socrates (470/469–399 bc): Greek philosopher considered a founder of the Western philosophic tradition. Solon of Athens (c. 638–558 bc): Athenian statesman, lawgiver and poet. Sophocles (497/6–406/5 bc): one of three major Greek tragedians, the other two being Aeschylus and Euripides. Spencer, Herbert (1820–1903): English philosopher and biologist. Spinoza, Baruch (1632–77): later known as Benedict de Spinoza; a Dutch philosopher. Staël, Germaine de (Madame de Staël) (1766–1817): French woman of letters of Swiss origin, one of the principal opponents of Napoleon and a writer associated with European Romanticism. Strauss, David Friedrich (1808–74): German theologian and writer notorious in his own day for denying the divinity of Jesus Christ. Stubbs, William (1825–1901): English historian and Bishop of Oxford. Swift, Jonathan (1667–1745): Anglo-Irish satirist and essayist. Tennyson, Lord Alfred (1809–92): Poet Laureate of Great Britain during much of the Victorian period. Tocqueville, Alexis de (1805–59): French political thinker and historian. Torrens, Colonel Robert (1780–1864): military leader, political economist and MP, famous for discovering the principle of comparative advantage in international trade ahead of David Ricardo, writing about it in 1815. Turner, J.M.W. (1775–1851): British Romantic landscape painter. Twain, Mark (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) (1835–1910): American author, whose 1885 Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is often regarded as an example of the ‘Great American Novel’. Uvarov, Sergey (1786–1855): Russian classical scholar and influential statesman under Nicholas I of Russia. Vaux, Clotilde de (1815–46): French writer and poet who inspired Auguste Comte’s Religion of Humanity. Virgil (70–19 bc): Ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period, famous for the epic Aeneid; traditionally ranked as one of Rome’s greatest poets. Voltaire, nom de plume for François-Marie Arouet (1694–1778): French Enlightenment philosopher, writer and historian. Wagner, Richard (1813–83): German composer and conductor. Wagner, Cosima (1837–1930): daughter of Franz Liszt and second wife of Richard Wagner. Wallace, Alfred Russel (1823–1913): British naturalist, explorer, and independent scholar evincing the case of the theory of evolution through natural selection. Ward, Mrs Humphrey (1851–1920): pen name of Mary Augusta Ward, British novelist and niece of Matthew Arnold. Wedgwood, Josiah (1730–95): English potter, founder of the Wedgwood company, credited with industrialising the production of pottery, prominent anti-slavery campaigner. Wesley, John (1703–91): Anglican cleric, Christian theologian, credited, alongside his brother Charles Wesley, with founding the Methodist movement. Wilberforce, Samuel (1805–73): English bishop and famous opponent of Thomas Henry Huxley in a debate about natural selection in 1860. Wilde, Oscar (1854–1900): Irish writer and poet. William Whewell (1794–1866): English polymath, Anglican priest, philosopher, theologian and historian of science, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.



Wilson, Woodrow (1856–1924): 28th President of the United States, who served from 1913 to 1921. Winckelmann, Johann J. (1717–68): German art historian and archaeologist. Whitfield, George (1714–70): also known as George Whitefield, English Anglican preacher who helped spread the Great Awakening in Britain and in the American colonies; one of the founders of Methodism and of the Evangelical movement. Williams, Roger (c. 1603–83): English Protestant theologian and early proponent of the separation of church and state. Wollstonecraft, Mary (1759–97): English author of Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Wordsworth, William (1770–1850): English Romantic poet. Young, Thomas (1773–1829): English polymath, scientist and philologist. Zinzendorf, Nikolaus Ludwig von (1700–60): German religious and social reformer and bishop of the Moravian church.


Textbooks to accompany the lectures Donald Kagan, Steven Ozment and Frank M. Turner, The Western Heritage, 10th edn, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2010. Published both as two volumes and as a single, combined volume. The textbook originally set to accompany these lectures. A survey reader/text book, the chief merit of which is its scholarly standard and immense chronology, which starts in the ancient world. James C. Livingston, Modern Christian Thought, 2nd edn, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2006. A two-volume survey from the Enlightenment to the late twentieth century. Extremely useful for scoping theological concepts and debates no longer familiar.

Single-volume histories and conceptual approaches M.H. Abrams, The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and Critical Tradition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1953. Classic survey and taxonomy of different rhetorical formulations of a subjective (or romantic) aesthetic as it emerged and distinguished itself from ‘classical’ forebears. J.W. Burrow, The Crisis of Reason: European Thought 1848–1914, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000. Not an easy book, but a notable volume because of the vast terrain covered, the attention to science, and Burrow’s awareness of the world beyond the English-speaking world, in particular Germany. Ernst Mayr, The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution, and Inheritance, Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press, 1985. An excellent single-volume history providing necessary context for evolutionary thinking. Karen Offen, European Feminisms 1700–1950, a Political History, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000. Essential overview. Anthony Pagden, The Enlightenment and Why It Still Matters, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Restatement of the case for the Enlightenment. Daniel L. Pals, Seven Theories of Religion, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. Pals offers brief and cogent introductions to seven classic theories of religion. While these are mostly from the twentieth century, Chapter 4 addresses Marx, and the volume, taken as an entity,




is evidence itself for the self–consciousness of modernity where religion is concerned, and the breaking-down of dominant orthodoxies towards heterogeneity. A useful companion to Livingston, above. Peter Hanns Reill, Vitalizing Nature in the Enlightenment, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005. A major contribution that muddies one conventional view of the Enlightenment as being reducible to instrumental reason. Leslie Stevenson, David L. Haberman and Peter Matthews Wright, Twelve Theories of Human Nature, 6th edn, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Essential reading. Jonathan Wolff, An Introduction to Political Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. An accomplished introduction to political philosophy, with strong coverage of Rousseau and Mill.

Chapter 1: Rousseau’s Challenge to Modernity Richard Cobb, Reactions to the French Revolution, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972. Cautions against an overly literal discussion of Rousseau’s influence in practical terms. Nicholas Dent, Rousseau, Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2005. Deliberately aimed at students with no prior knowledge of Rousseau, as an introduction to the man and his thought. Karl Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies, Vol. 1, London: Routledge, 1945. Abrasive clash with Rousseau’s legacy, which is also traced to Plato. Patrick Riley, The Cambridge Companion to Rousseau, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Useful primer that includes Rousseau’s political thought but also considers his interest in education, religion, music, theatre and psychology. David Trimble, Rt. Hon. David Trimble’s Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, delivered in Oslo on December 10th 1998, see: A remarkable meditation by the future First Minister of Northern Ireland on Rousseau’s contemporary political resonance.

Chapter 2: Tocqueville and Liberty Hugh Brogan, Alexis de Tocqueville: A Life, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007. A modern, accessible and comprehensive biography of Tocqueville. Harvey C. Mansfield, Tocqueville: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. An accessible introductory overview of the man and his thought. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, ed. Isaac Kramnick, New York: Norton, 2007: 673–683. Imparts a flavour of the initial British reaction to Tocqueville’s thought, through this reprinted essay in the London Review by J.S. Mill, from 1835.

Chapter 3: J.S. Mill and the Nineteenth Century Nicholas Capaldi, John Stuart Mill: A Biography, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. An accessible and scholarly biography. Stefan Collini, Public Moralists, Political Thought and Intellectual Life in Great Britain 1850–1930, Oxford: Clarendon, 1991. Situates liberalism across a deliberately longer chronology. J.A. Froude, Thomas Carlyle: A History of the First Forty Years of his Life, 1795–1835, 2 vols, London, 1882. A contemporary critique of Mill’s belief that virtue led to happiness. Allen C. Guelzo, Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999. Chapter 3 involves a striking account of Mill’s influence on the young Lincoln, especially Mill’s religious scepticism and belief in a doctrine of ‘philosophical necessity’. Boyd Hilton, A Mad, Bad and Dangerous People? England 1783–1846, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008. Situates Mill’s thinking in the great social, political and financial debates of the early Victorian period.



John Stuart Mill, On Liberty and Other Writings, ed. Stefan Collini, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989. Scholarly edition, the introduction to which includes a valuable overview of the intellectual contexts that shaped Mill’s world. John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, David Bromwich and George Kateb, eds, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003. Another critical edition with six essays that bring Mill’s legacy to bear on early twenty-first-century issues. William Thomas, The Philosophical Radicals: Nine Studies in Theory and Practice, 1817– 1841, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979. A classic portrait of the politically engaged writing that shaped the young Mill’s thinking.

Chapter 4: The Turn to Subjectivity Bryan Magee, The Philosophy of Schopenhauer, rev. edn, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. An excellent single volume dealing with all aspects of Schopenhauer’s life and thought. Roger Scruton, Kant, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. A vigorous and clear introduction to an exceptionally complex philosophy. Robert Wokler, Rousseau, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Positions Rousseau’s philosophy within a visionary ideal of mankind’s self-realisation towards unconditional freedom as individuals.

Chapter 5: Medievalism and the Invention of the Renaissance William J. Bouwsma, The Waning of the Renaissance 1550–1640, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000. Brilliant revision of the understanding of the Renaissance that began with Jacob Burckhardt. Jacob Burckhardt, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, London: Phaidon Press, 1945. Originally published in 1860, this work was perhaps the most influential nineteenth-century account of the triumph of humanist Renaissance values over those of the Middle Ages. Walter Pater, Studies in the History of the Renaissance, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. Modern edition of a classic nineteenth-century account of the Renaissance. See the Preface in particular. Roy Porter and Mikulas Teich, Romanticism in National Context, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. An important set of essays charting the turning-away from the contemporary world across nineteenth-century Europe. W.K. Wimsatt and Cleanth Brooks, Literary Criticism: A Short History, New York: Knopf, 1957. See Chapter 24. A powerful meditation on the way different generations understood their relationship to their ancestors. The authors show how Renaissance thinkers looked back reverentially to an earlier Golden Age, much as some individuals in the nineteenth century considered the Renaissance.

Chapter 6: Nature Historicised Neal Gillespie, Charles Darwin and the Problem of Creation, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979. The theological and sociological grounds behind Darwin’s conversion from creationist to evolutionist. William Irvine, Apes, Angels, and Victorians: The Story of Darwin, Huxley, and Evolution, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1955. A classic account. Robert J. Richards, Darwin and the Emergence of Evolutionary Theories of Mind and Behavior, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987. An account of the impact of Darwin on psychology. Frank M. Turner, Between Science and Religion: The Reaction to Scientific Naturalism in Late Victorian England, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1974. Demonstrates how religiously minded ‘scientific naturalists’ found other avenues and forms of belief to satisfy their spiritual inclinations after Darwin.



Chapter 7: Darwin and Creation Peter J. Bowler, Evolution: The History of an Idea, 4th edn, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2009. Valuable single-volume account. Peter J. Bowler, The Eclipse of Darwinism, Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983. A reminder that around 1900 there was a great loss of momentum in the ‘Darwinian Revolution’, owing to Darwin’s inability to explain the mechanism of inheritance and speciation. Adrian Desmond and James Moore, Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist, London: Michael Joseph, 1991. Scholarly biography of Darwin. Dov Ospovat, The Development of Darwin’s theory: Natural history, Natural Theology and Natural Selection 1838–1859, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981. Shows how there was a theological basis for much of Darwin’s original 1838–44 theory.

Chapter 8: Marx and the Transcendent Working Class Rolf Hosfeld, trans. Bernard Heise, Karl Marx, an Intellectual Biography, New York: Berghahn, 2013. Slender volume offering a lively portrait that stands tall of legacy debates for a timely re-assessment. Jonathan Sperber, Karl Marx. A Nineteenth-Century Life, New York: W.W. Norton, 2013. Reliable and comprehensive biography. Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History, London: Penguin, 1991. Originally published in the USA in 1940, this classic study of the revolutionary tradition in European intellectual history discusses the way Marxist thought paradoxically drew on the religious traditions it sought to destroy.

Chapter 9: The Cult of the Artist Rosemary Ashton, The German Idea: Four English Writers and the Reception of German Thought, 1800–1860, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980. Clear study of the impact of German romantic ideas on key figures in the English Romantic tradition (Carlyle, Coleridge, Eliot and Lewes). Ernst Behler, German Romantic Literary Criticism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. Useful passages on Schelling, Fichte, and Novalis, among other German Romantic philosophers. Hugh Honour, Romanticism, New York: Harper & Row, 1979. Still highly regarded, one-volume consideration of the Romantic revolution. Richard A. Lofthouse, Vitalism in Modern Art, c. 1900–1950: Otto Dix, Stanley Spencer, Max Beckmann and Jacob Epstein, Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 2005. Considers the complex intermingling of theological and aesthetic categories in the late nineteenth century, and how this was expressed in the early twentieth century in Britain and Germany. Peter Paret, German Encounters with Modernism, 1840–1945, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. The reception of modern art in Germany, seen through the lens of social and political developments in Germany. William Vaughan, Romanticism and Art, rev. edn, London: Thames & Hudson, 1994. Wellestablished single volume guide to fine arts in the Romantic period.

Chapter 10: Nationalism Isaiah Berlin, ‘Kant as an unfamiliar source of nationalism’, in Henry Hardy, ed., The Sense of Reality: Studies in Ideas and their History, London: Farrar Straus Giroux,1998. Argues suggestively that some aspects of Enlightenment thought, such as its hostility to supranational imperial polities, helped clear a path for later nationalisms. James Joyce, Ulysses, London: Penguin, 2000. Consider the Cyclops chapter in James Joyce’s 1922 modernist novel, where he ridicules the chauvinism and self-regard of the new cultural nationalism sweeping Europe in the late nineteenth century.



Jürgen Habermas, trans. Thomas Burger, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989. An influential study of modern nationalism amongst other phenomena, that emphasises the powerful role of a monoglot media in creating the conditions that produced the modern nation state. Elie Kedourie, Nationalism, London: Hutchinson University Library, 1983. A classic presentation of the so-called ‘modernist’ interpretation of nationalism that saw it as ‘a doctrine invented in Europe at the beginning of the nineteenth century’. C.E. Schorske, Fin-de-siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Describes the appeal of mid-nineteenth-century nationalisms such as the Grossdeutsch ideal in Vienna with reference to their powerful critique of ‘non-national monarchical state systems’. Fritz Stern, The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1961. Still influential meditation on the escapist and paranoid aspects of the nationalist worldview.

Chapter 11: Race and Anti-Semitism Brigitte Hamann, Hitler’s Vienna, A Portrait of the Tyrant as a Young Man, London: Tauris Parke, 2010. Scholarly corrective to many inaccurate biographies of Hitler, as well as an excellent portrait of a particular intellectual and cultural milieu. Winthrop D. Jordan, The White Man’s Burden: Historical Origins of Racism in the United States, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1974. While ostensibly treating a non-European subject, the earlier chapters provide invaluable context for Britain and Europe as well, the earliest experience of Empire and the broader context of slavery. Robert Miles and Malcom Brown, Racism, 2nd edn, London: Routledge, 2003. This edition provides an excellent single-volume overview of key ideas, taking account of globalisation. Panikos Panayi, An Immigration History of Britain: Multiculural Racism Since 1800, Harlow: Pearson, 2010. Useful historical overview and consideration of the rise and meaning of multiculturalism. Kevin Repp, Reformers, Critics and the Paths of German Modernity: Anti-politics and the Search for Alternatives, 1890–1914, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000. An excellent reminder of the complexity of categories of thinking in fin-de-siècle Germany, particularly regarding anti-Semitism.

Chapter 12: Wagner Jonathan Carr, The Wagner Clan, London: Faber & Faber, 2007. An excellent and also entertaining account of the phenomenon beyond the man, resulting in a protait of German cultural history. Bryan Magee, Wagner and Philosophy, London: Penguin, 2000. An intellectual history of Wagner, still a benchmark for lucidity in a field scattered with too many sensational accounts, and an expansion of Magee’s earlier and still valuable Aspects of Wagner (1968, 1988). Chapter 13: The Ideology of Separate Gender Spheres Tim Dolin, George Eliot, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. Timely reassessment of one of the towering figures of nineteenth-century letters, placed in historical as well as literary context. Belinda Jack, George Sand: A Woman’s Life Writ Large, London: Vintage, 2001. Comprehensive and much-needed consideration of George Sand and her significance. Sarah Knott and Barbara Taylor, eds, Women, Gender and Enlightenment, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Far-reaching series of essays that consider the Enlightenment and gender.



Barbara Taylor, Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Re-reads Wollstonecraft’s feminism as the product of radical British utopian Enlightenment ideas.

Chapter 14: Old Faiths and New Peter J. Bowler, Reconciling Science and Religion: The Debate in Early-Twentieth-Century Britain, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001. Although principally addressing myriad debates in early-twentieth-century Britain, their context is Victorian. Anne Harrington, Reenchanted Science: Holism in German Culture from Wilhelm II to Hitler, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996. Well-established consideration of similar terrain to Bowler’s study, but in Germany; the point being the considerable complexity that defined this period in which ‘belief ’ and ‘non-belief ’ were rarely clear-cut. Richard J. Helmstadter and Bernard Lightman, eds, Victorian Faith in Crisis: Essays on Continuity and Change in Nineteenth-Century Religious Belief, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1990. An excellent and by now classic set of essays exploring the inherent subtleties and ambiguities of what had formerly been seen as a straightforward ‘loss of faith’ in the face of ‘advancing reason’.

Chapter 15: Nietzsche Keith Ansell-Pearson, Nietzsche contra Rousseau, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Nietzsche’s moral and political thought compared to Rousseau’s. Peter Berkowitz, Nietzsche, The Ethics of an Immoralist, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995. An accessible account of Nietzsche’s life-long preoccupation with ideas such as love, justice, fairness and human dignity. Rejects the later claim that Nietzsche’s philosophy was based purely on an amoral adulation of power. Lesley Chamberlain, Nietzsche in Turin: An Intimate Biography, London: Picador, 1997. A portrait of Nietzsche’s creative processes at work during the year he completed The Gay Science in 1888, his last year of sanity. Michael Allen Gillespie, Nihilism before Nietzsche, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. Reconstructs the neglected history of the origins and development of nihilism. Richard J. Hollingdale, Nietzsche: The Man and His Philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Accessible introduction to Nietzsche, being a biography as well as a critical introduction to his thought. Anthony K. Jensen, Nietzsche’s Philosophy of History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. The first serious attempt to write an account of Nietzsche’s philosophy of history, and its relevance to subsequent historiography. Adam Lecznar, ‘Aryan, German or Greek? Nietzsche’s Prometheus between antiquity and modernity’, Classical Receptions Journal, 5.1 (2013), 1–35. Charts Nietzsche’s reception of antiquity through his changing views of the ancient mythical Greek figure, Prometheus. Ben Macintyre, Forgotten Fatherland: The Search for Elisabeth Nietzsche, London: Bloomsbury, 1993. Entertaining and overdue consideration of Nietzsche’s sister, who misappropriated Nietzsche’s reputation for her own purposes. Mark S. Thatcher, Nietzsche in England, 1890–1914, Toronto: Toronto University Press, 1970. Still the main account of Nietzsche’s reception in late Victorian and Edwardian Britain. Julian Young, Nietzsche’s Philosophy of Art, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Well-received construction of Nietzsche’s aesthetic thought, in many respects the key to his whole philosophy.


1 Richard Parkes Bonington, A Sea Piece (1824). © By kind permission of the Trustees of the Wallace Collection, London. 2 John Constable, Hadleigh Castle, The Mouth of the Thames – Morning after a Stormy Night (1829). Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection. 3 William Holman Hunt, The Lady of Shalott (c. 1886–1905). Manchester Art Gallery / The Bridgeman Art Library. 4 John Martin, The Deluge (1834). Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection. 5 J.M.W. Turner, The Angel Standing in the Sun (1846). © Tate, London, 2014. 6 Joseph Wright of Derby, A Philosopher Giving a Lecture on the Orrery (1766). Derby Museum and Art Gallery / The Bridgeman Art Library. 7 Caspar David Friedrich, Woman at a Window (1822). © bpk / Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jörg P. Anders. 8 Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Good Mother (c. 1777). Bequest of Robert Treat Paine, 2nd, Museum of Fine Arts Boston. 9 Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Swing (c. 1767). © By kind permission of the Trustees of the Wallace Collection, London. 286



10 Jacques-Louis David, The Death of Socrates (1787). Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1931. Acc.n.: 31.45 © 2014. Image copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource / Scala, Florence. 11 Jacques-Louis David, Lictors Bring Back to Brutus the Bodies of his Sons (1789). Musée du Louvre, Paris. White Images / Scala, Florence. 12 Augustus Leopold Egg, Past and Present, nos. I, II and III (1858). © Tate, London, 2014. 13 George Clausen, Schoolgirls, Haverstock Hill (1880). Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection. Courtesy of the Clausen Estate. 14 Sir Frederic William Burton, portrait of George Eliot (Mary Ann Cross (née Evans)) (1865). © National Portrait Gallery, London.


Abrams, M.H. 53 Acton, Lord 173 adaptation 96, 110 Aeschylus 254 Afghanistan 125 African-Americans 190 Agamemnon 148 Agassiz, Louis 112 ‘Age of Emancipation’ 125 Albanians 156 Albert Memorial, London 136 Alexander I (Russia) 171 America see United States Anderson, Benedict 160 Andes 92 Anglo-Saxons 187 animism 240 Anti-Corn Law League 38, 40 antinomianism 54, 56 anti-Semitism 187–91 see also Jews Burschenschaften 166 functions of 164 Parsifal 206 power of attraction of 191 use of institutions of democracy by anti-Semites 244 Wagner 194, 198, 206 Apollo 248, 254, 257 appearances 62–3 Arndt, Ernest Moritz 163


Arnold, Matthew 187, 237, 247 Art and Revolution (Richard Wagner) 196 Arthur, King 71, 73 artists 136–54 classic art, perceptions of 150 critics and legislators 137 imagination 144–7 mechanical and liberal arts 138 nineteenth century 151 poetry 151, 153 print cultures and 154 Romanticism 149–52 Schopenhauer 203–6 sundry other views: Novalis 153–4; Plato 138; Reynolds 139; Ruskin 137; Saint-Lambert 140–1; Schiller 148–9; Winckelmann 140 The Art-Work of the Future (Richard Wagner) 196, 199 ‘Aryans’ 180–3, 185, 187, 206 Asian-Americans 190 Athens 26, 247, 249–53 Atlantic Ocean 22 atonement 55, 236 St Augustine 53, 191 Austin, Charles 36 Austria 155–6, 166, 169–70 Austrian Succession, War of the 4 Autobiography (John Stuart Mill) 36, 48, 94, 239


Bach, Johann Sebastian 257 Bacon, Francis 9, 105 Bakunin, Mikhail 195 Balkans 156, 161 Basel, University of 247 Baumer, Franklin le Van x Bavaria 201 Bayreuth Cosima carries forward 207 Herman Levi conducts 198 Nietzsche sees The Ring 257 Nietzsche supports 247 vexed location 201 Wagner moves to 196 Beagle 92, 94, 95, 102, 103 see also Darwin, Charles Bebel, August 122 Beethoven, Ludwig van 195, 257 Bentham, Jeremy 35–6, 39, 43, 46 Berlin, University of 126 Beyond Good and Evil (Friedrich Nietzsche) 260 Bible see also Christianity; God; Jesus of Nazareth; religion classics and 81 Francis Bacon on 105 God revealing himself 53 Gospels 235 historical validity questioned 234–7 in Emile 227 Jowett on 237 Lyell and 92 Matthew Arnold on 237 polygenesis and 179 Schleiermacher and 228, 230 translation into German 166 Biographia Literaria (Samuel Taylor Coleridge) 146 The Birth of Tragedy (Friedrich Nietzsche) 247, 253, 257 Bismarck, Otto von 196, 207 Bizet, Georges 258 Blumenbach, Johann Friedrich 178 Boileau, Nicolas 152 Bolsheviks 123–4 Bonn, University of 126 bourgeoisie see middle classes Bowler, Peter 86 Brandes, George 245 Brazil 242 Bridgewater Treatises (William Paley) 106 Britain see also England; Scotland constitutional reform 35 geology pre-eminence 92


‘Irish problem’ 156 Mazzini and Garibaldi 169 Montesquieu’s idea of 31 policy in Jamaica 179 Protestantism 73, 76 radicalism 36 British Association for the Advancement of Science 105–6, 113 British Museum 77 Broca, Paul 180 Bryan, William Jennings 104, 268 Buckland, William 91 Buffon, Georges Comte de 87, 88, 178 Bulgarian language 161 Bulgarians 156 Bülow, Cosima von 194, 207, 247 see also Wagner, Richard Burke, Edmund danger in democracy 32 French Revolution 26, 69 political obligation 29 Rousseau and 212 Ruskin and 82 Wollstonecraft replies to 213 Burschenschaften 166 Byron, Lord 76, 152 Calvinism see also Christianity; Protestantism acceptance of Darwin 93 Carlyle and 231 Gobineau and 191 James Mill 35 Rousseau and 18, 19, 56 Wesley rejects 66 Cambridge University creation studies 113 Darwin at 93–4, 95, 102 Greek required 224 J.S. Mill taught at 38 Paley at 109 Camden Society 75 Capital (Karl Marx) 122, 124, 125, 134 capitalism 124–5, 130, 135 Carlsbad Decrees 166 Carlyle, Thomas 73–9 Darwin adapts 118 God and the universe 242 influence of 121, 236 Sartor Resartus 226–7, 231–4 utilitarianism, an opinion 39 Wagner and 200 Carmen (Georges Bizet) 258



The Case against Wagner (Friedrich Nietzsche) 258 Cassirer, Ernst 191 cathedrals, medieval 72 see also Gothic architecture; Middle Ages Catherine the Great 171 Caucasians 178 Celtic languages 180 Celts 187 Cervantes, Miguel 150 Chadwick, Edwin 36 Chamberlain, Houston Stewart 181, 185–6, 207 Chambers, Robert 96 change 87 Charles Darwin and the Problem of Creation (Neal Gillespie) 112 see also Darwin, Charles Chartism 38 Chateaubriand, François René de 72, 230–1, 242 Chopin, Frédéric 217 Christ Church, Oxford 76 see also Oxford University Christendom or Europe (Novalis) 69 Christianity 53–6 see also Bible; Calvinism; God; Jesus of Nazareth; Protestantism; religion; Roman Catholicism architecture 71–2 art, value of 75–6 Comte and 241–2 Darwin and 94 David Friedrich Strauss dismantles 259 demise of 226 ethics without theology 238 French politics, early 19th century and 27 Gobineau on 183 Hegel on 251 historical validity of Bible and 234–7 Marxism and 125 Middle Ages 69, 73 moral basis questioned 114, 236 Newman on 87 Nietzsche attacks 260–5 Parsifal 206, 258 Renaissance 80–2 Rousseau and 5–6, 14–15, 19 Schleiermacher on 228–31 slavery opposed 179 under siege 244 universal vision 157–8 Wagner and 200, 206 Church of England 55, 56, 105

‘Civil Religion’ 18–19, 265 civil servants 37, 39 classical art 150 Code Napoléon 213 see also Napoleon Bonaparte Cold War xiii Coleridge, Samuel Taylor 38, 47, 146–7, 152 College of William and Mary, Virginia x Commune, Paris 184 communism 125, 130, 132, 155 The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels) 122, 124, 132–4 Comte, August 175, 182, 224, 238–42 ‘The Condition of England Question’ 73–4 The Condition of the English Working Class (Friedrich Engels) 131 ‘The Confession of the Savoyard Vicar’ (Jean-Jacques Rousseau) 56–9, 227 see also Emile (Jean-Jacques Rousseau) Confessions (St Augustine) 53 Confessions (Jean-Jacques Rousseau) 2, 3, 56 Congress of Vienna 155–6 Connecticut 25, 54 A Connecticut Yankee at the Court of King Arthur (Mark Twain) 73 conscience 58–9 contrivance 107–9 Copenhagen 245 Copernicus, Nicolaus 1, 61 Corn Laws 38, 40 Counter-Reformation 80 Cours de philosophie positive (August Comte) 239 Creator see God Critique of Judgment (Immanuel Kant) 63, 144 Critique of Practical Reason (Immanuel Kant) 63 Critique of Pure Reason (Immanuel Kant) 61 Croats 170 Crusades 70 Czechoslovakia 125 Czechs 156 Darrow, Clarence 104, 268 Darwin, Charles 85–9, 92–100, 109–120 bulwark of utmost civilisation xii careful nature 96 early years 93–4 evolution 85–7, 95 his ideas embraced 175 Lyell and 92–3


natural selection 85–6, 95–8, 103, 114, 116 Origin of Species 97–9 overall views 117 Paley and xi, 106, 109 religion and 102–4, 116–120 Schopenhauer and 205 Social Darwinism 98–100, 188 Special Creation 111–15, 118 Strauss praises 259 voyage of the Beagle 94 Darwin, Emma 103 Darwin, Erasmus (brother) 94 Darwin, Erasmus (grandfather) 93 Darwinism Today: A Discussion of Present Day Scientific Criticism of the Darwinian Selection Theories (Vernon Kellogg) 86 David, Jacques-Louis 213, Plates 10 and 11 De l’Allemagne (Madame de Staël) 152 The Death of Socrates (Jacques-Louis David) 213, Plate 10 The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Edward Gibbon) 44 Defence of Poetry (Percy Shelley) 151 degeneration 183–5, 189 Degeneration (Max Nordau) 184 Delphic oracle 253 The Deluge (John Martin) 91, Plate 4 democracy 26–9 anti-Semites using institutions of 244 Burke’s view of 32 Democracy in America 31 Mill, J.S. and Tocqueville 49 pluralism 34 Democracy in America (Alexis de Tocqueville) 25–6, 29, 31, 32 Descartes, René 52, 53, 145 The Descent of Man (Charles Darwin) 115, 179, 224 despotism 32–4 determinism 93, 131 Devil 185 Dickens, Charles 38 Diderot, Denis 3, 138, 151 Dijon, Academy of 3, 6 ding an sich 62–4, 142, 143, 202 Dionysus 248–9, 253–7 Directory (French Revolution) 230 Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men (Jean-Jacques Rousseau) 3, 9–10, 15, 19 Discourse … on this Question … Whether the Restoration of the Sciences and the


Arts Contributed to the Purification of Mores? (Jean-Jacques Rousseau) 3, 6–9 Discourses (Niccolò Machiavelli) 34 Discourses Delivered to the Students of the Royal Academy (Sir Joshua Reynolds) 139 Disney World 68 Disneyland 68 division of labour 78–9, 131–2 Dobrovsky, Joseph 161 Doctrine of Rent 42 Dresden 194, 195 Dresden Opera 195 Dresden revolution 196–7 Dudevant, Casimir 217 Durkheim, Emile 224 Dwight Chapel, Yale 68 East India Company 37 Ecce Homo (Friedrich Nietzsche) 245 Ecole Polytechnique 239 The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 (Karl Marx) 124, 129 economics 40–4 The Economist 100 Edinburgh 232 Edinburgh, University of 93, 95, 231 education 165–6 Emile 15 of women 209, 212, 215, 221–4 Edwards, Jonathan 5 ego 64, 144 Einstein, Albert 21 Eliot, George xii, 222 emancipation 128, 129 Emerson, Ralph Waldo 232 Emile (Jean-Jacques Rousseau) ‘Confession of the Savoyard Vicar’ 56–9, 227 divided bourgeoisie 134 educational utopianism 15 emphasising the personal 56 Kant impressed by 60 key to Rousseau’s thought 4–5 Rousseau and women 210–12, 214, 218 Wollstonecraft’s critique 214–15 empiricism 1, 59, 63, 143 Encyclopedia (ed. Denis Diderot) 3, 138, 140 Engell, James 145 Engels, Friedrich 131, 132, 133 England see also Britain art 82 colonies 179



Ireland and 156, 187 political economy in 129 Scotland and 161 English language 162 English people 187 the Enlightenment arts and poverty 138 Bible criticised 234 French 125 German 125 Heine on Schlegel 72 John Stuart Mill’s upbringing 43 liberalism and 24 Marx and 193 Middle Ages criticised 67 new morality required 235 Nietzsche and 246, 258 polygenesis 179 rejected 65 Rousseau and 4, 6, 60 Saint-Simon and 239 epiglottis 108 Essay on Government (James Mill) 38 Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (John Henry Newman) 87 Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races (Arthur de Gobineau) 182 Essay on the Principle of Population (Thomas Malthus) 95, 99, 110 Essays and Reviews (biblical criticism) 237 The Essence of Christianity (Ludwig Feuerbach) 127, 242 ethnic groups 155, 157, 173 see also nationalism eugenics 188–91 Eugenics Education Society 189 Euripides 247, 253–4 Evangelical Awakening 54–6 see also Protestantism ‘The Eve of St Agnes’ (John Keats) 73 evolution 84–7, 89–92 see also Darwin, Charles Darwin adopts 95 Darwin’s overall argument 117, 118 fundamentalist drive against 104 Huxley fosters acceptance of 100–1 external, the 53 extinction (of species) 88–9, 114 February Revolution (1917) 123 The Federalist Papers (James Madison) 34 Feuerbach, Ludwig 127, 130, 131, 242 Fichte, Johann Gottlieb 64, 143, 144–5

finches, Galapagos 94, 95 Finnish language 161 First Discourse (Jean-Jacques Rousseau) 3, 6–9 First World War 21, 123, 246 Fitzroy, Captain 94 The Flying Dutchman (Richard Wagner) 195 Förster, Bernard 245 Förster-Nietzsche, Elizabeth 245 Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals (Jean-Jacques Rousseau) 63 Foundations of the Nineteenth Century (Houston Stewart Chamberlain) 185–6 The Fragment on Government (Jeremy Bentham) 35 Fragonard, Jean-Honoré 210, Plates 8 and 9 France colonies 179 Enlightenment in 125 French language in 160 Gobineau’s theories 183 intellectual life 184 Leipzig, Battle of 166 museum for political and cultural history 165 socialism in 129 Franco-Prussian War 184 Franks 183 Fraser’s Magazine 232 freedom 66, 148–9, 216 Freeman, Edward A. 187 French (language) 158, 160 French Revolution armies of 167 changes wrought by 22, 24, 86 David supports 213 democracy and 27 era commencing with 21 excesses of 26, 174, 230 Gobineau’s tract 182 Musée des Monuments Français 165 Nietzsche on 263 positivist calendar and 241 racial thought reacts against 178 rationalism, scepticism and 72 Rousseau honoured 4 Saint-Simon and 239 Wagner, Jews and 198 women as seen by 210, 213 writers opposing 69 Freud, Sigmund 21, 225 Friedrich, Caspar David 208, Plate 7


Galapagos Islands 94, 95 Galton, Francis 188–9 Garden of Eden Rousseau’s version of 10, 14 Ruskin on 77, 81, 82 Garibaldi, Giuseppe 169 Gay, Peter 243 The Gay Science (Friedrich Nietszche) 261 The Genealogy of Morals (Friedrich Nietzsche) 260, 261, 263 General Will 17, 126, 265 genetics 86 Geneva 3, 6, 18, 56 ‘Genius’ (Jean-François, Marquis de Saint-Lambert) 140 The Genius of Christianity (François René de Chateaubriand) 72, 230 geology 90–2, 114 Georgia (US) 55 German (language) 162, 166, 180 The German Ideology (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels) 124, 131 German Society for Racial Hygiene 190 Germans French taste of 197 Habsburgs and 169 Leipzig (Battle of) celebrations 166 mysticism 72 nationalists’ view 155, 156 philosophers 64–5, 233 radicalism 121, 198 resistance to Napoleon 163 Germany ‘Aryan myth’ in 181 Bayreuth, a problem 201 Dionysus and 256–7 French imperialism towards 167 intellectual life 184 Jews in 125, 128, 189–90 Kant’s legacy 143, 228 Lenin’s agreement with 123 Marx’s influences 126 Nietzsche and 246 Poles in 173 religion in 54 Social Democratic Party 121–2, 134, 197 Soviet Pact of 1940 125 unification 156, 163, 171, 196–7, 201, 243 Wagner lionised 257 Wagner’s hopes for 195 Gesamtkunstwerk 199, 205 Geyer, Ludwig 194 Gibbon, Edward 44 Gillespie, Neal 112, 116, 117


Gobineau, Count Arthur de 181–5, 191 God see also Bible; Christianity; Jesus of Nazareth; religion Carlyle’s view 242 ‘Confession of the Savoyard Vicar’ 58 creation of species 112 Darwin’s views 118–20 death of announced 226 extinction of species and 88–9 Feuerbach on 127, 130 human sin and 5 Indiana references 219–20 Middle Ages and Renaissance 81 morality of doubted 114, 236 natural selection and 116 nature providing evidence for 105, 106 Nietzsche’s approach 259 Paley and 110 revealing himself 53 Schelling on 145–6 Schleiermacher on 229–30 Schopenhauer on 65 Spinoza’s viewpoint 64 Tocqueville on 28–9 Wesley’s message 56 Godhead 72 Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 199, 264 The Good Mother (Jean-Honoré Fragonard) 210, Plate 8 Gospels 235 see also Bible; Jesus of Nazareth Gothic architecture 68–9, 71–2, 76–7, 79–83 ‘Grand Opera’ 194, 196, 197, 198, 256 Grant, Alexander 253 Gray, Asa 103, 118–19 ‘Great Internalisation’ 52 Greece, classical 247–56 ancient nobility located in 262 Gothic and 68 nineteenth-century fascination for 67 Ruskin discards 82 Schiller’s model 148 study of 221–4 Wagner on 199–201, 206 Winckelmann on 140 Greek (classical language) 161, 180 Greeks (modern) 156 Green, John R. 187 Greene, John 116 Grote, George History of Greece 38 interpretations of Socrates 249, 251–3, 256 Philosophic Radicals 36



growth (economic) 23 Grundrisse 124 see also Capital Habsburgs 162, 167, 169, 173 Hard Times (Charles Dickens) 38 Hardenberg, Friedrich von see Novalis Harkness Tower, Yale 68 Hartley, David 36 Hebrew (language) 161 see also Jews Hebrew people 235 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich German theologians and 235 Marx works through 124, 126–9, 135 on Socrates 249–53 world history and world spirit 64 Heine, Heinrich 72 Herder, Johann Gottfried 160 historicism 126, 160, 234 history 67–8, 131, 162–5, 239 History of Ancient Art (Johann J. Winckelmann) 140 History of Greece (George Grote) 38, 251 History of India (James Mill) 44 History of Jamaica (Edward Long) 179 The History of the Bohemian Language and Old Literature (Joseph Dobrovsky) 161 Hitler, Adolf 264 Hobbes, Thomas 10–11, 14, 105 Homer 53, 141, 254 Hooker, Joseph Dalton 97, 113, 117 Houses of Parliament 77 Hugo, Victor 73 Hume, David Athenian democracy 26 doubts cast on empiricism 1, 59, 143 influences Kant 60 Newtonian physics and 62 passion and reason 11–12 Philosophic Radicalism 39 Hume, Joseph 36 Hungarians 156 Hungary 125, 170 Hurd, Richard 68 Hutchinson, Anne 54 Hutton, James 91 Huxley, Thomas Henry Darwin’s Bulldog 103–4 defending evolution 85 Europeans’ new world 243 Lyell and 92 rejects special creation 113 social Darwinism 100–1 ‘the New Nature’ 22 women, his view 224

Ibsen, Henrik 261 ‘Idylls of the King’ (Alfred Lord Tennyson) 73 imagination 144–7 ‘Imagined Communities’ 160 In Memoriam (Alfred Lord Tennyson) 114 India 162, 181 Indiana (George Sand) 218–20 Indo-European languages 180–1 intellectuals Academy of Dijon and 6 alienation of in Russia 172 artists and 154 Descartes and 52 embrace nationalism 157–8, 160 Gobineau and 184 Mazzini as 167 Rousseau’s ground-breaking role 1–2 Intellectuals in a Revolutionary Age xii Ireland 156, 173 Irish (people) 187 Iron Law of Wages 42–3 Israel 262 Italians 155, 156 Italy 167, 169 Jacobins 213 Jamaica 179 Jansenism 57, 191 Jena 166 Jesus of Nazareth see also Bible; Christianity; God; religion denial of Jewishness of 185 feeding of the five thousand 234 grail community of Parsifal 206 Protestant Evangelical Awakening 55 sentimentalised view of 236 Strauss on the Gospels 235 Jewry in Music (Richard Wagner) 197–8 Jews see also anti-Semitism emancipation 129 in Germany 125, 128, 189–90 Wagner’s son-in-law on 185 Jones, Sir William 180 Journal for Racial and Social Biology 190 Jowett, Benjamin 237 Judaism 236, 261 July Monarchy (France) 181 Kant, Immanuel 60–6 appearances 62–3 Copernican Revolution of 1 Critique of Pure Reason 61


knowledge 62 mind 61–4 post-Kantian philosophy 142–4, 202 reason 63 Rousseau and 62–6 Schiller and 147 Schleiermacher develops 228 Keats, John 73, 231 Kellogg, Vernon 86 Kentucky 25 Kipling, Rudyard 191 knowledge 62 Knox, Robert 180, 187 Königsberg 60 Kotzebue, August von 166 Krupp, Alfred 188 labour 129–30 labour, division of 78–9, 131–2 Labour Theory of Value 43 ‘The Lady of Shalott’ (Alfred Lord Tennyson) 73 Lamarck, J.B.P.A, Chevalier de 88–90, 100 language 158–62 Laplace, Pierre-Simon 99 Latin (language) attitudes to learning 224 demise of 158, 161 Greek and 222 in Middle Ages 67 Latin (people) 183 Latin America 242 Law of the Three Stages 175 Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature (A.W. Schlegel) 150 Lectures on the History of Literature Ancient and Modern (Friedrich Schlegel) 69 Lectures on the History of Philosophy (Georg Wilhelm Hegel) 249 ‘Legislators’ 18, 137, 148 Leighton, Lord 137 Leipzig, Battle of 166 Lenin 123–4 Letters on Chivalry and Romance (Richard Hurd) 68 Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man (Friedrich Schiller) 147 Levi, Herman 198 Leviathan (Thomas Hobbes) 10 liberalism 23–5 Mazzini and 167, 169 Montesquieu and 33 women and 216 liberty 31–2, 34, 49–50, 208–9


Lictors Bring Back to Brutus the Bodies of his Sons (Jacques-Louis David) 213, Plate 11 Liebknecht, Wilhelm 121 The Life of Jesus Critically Examined (David Friedrich Strauss) 235 Linnaean Society 97 Linnaeus, Carolus 21, 88 Liszt, Franz 194 literacy 162 Literature and Dogma (Matthew Arnold) 237 Locke, John associationist psychology 21 empiricism of attacked 59, 143 hailed a genius 141 human mind theories after 61 Kant and 62 Sartor Resartus and 232 states of nature 10–11, 14 Lohengrin (Richard Wagner) 195 London 94, 123, 167, 221 Long, Edward 179 Louis XVI, King 4 Louis Napoleon 241 Lubbock, John 109 Ludwig II (Bavaria) 195–6 Luther, Martin 55, 166 Lutherans 125 Lycurgus of Sparta 18 Lyell, Charles 90, 91–2, 97, 106 Macedonia 26 Machiavelli, Niccolò 19, 34 Madison, James 34 Magdeburg 194 Main Currents of Western Thought (ed. Franklin le Van Baumer) x Malthus, Thomas Darwin and 95, 99 Essay on the Principle of Population 110–11 harsh view of nature 117 Iron Law of Wages 42 James Mill and 36 no longer persuasive 114 Philosophic Radicalism 39 population and stagnation 40 Manchester 40 Manifesto see Communist Manifesto Mann, Thomas 207 Marr, Wilhelm 190 Martin, John 91, Plate 4 Marx, Karl 121–35



bourgeoisie 133 capitalism 124–5, 130, 135 communism 130, 132 early years 125–6 effect of writings 124–5 emancipation 128, 129 Enlightenment and 193 Feuerbach and 127 Hegel’s influence 126–7, 128, 135 historicism and 126 labour 129–30, 131–2 Philosophic Radicalism 39 Positivists and 175 posthumous burden of thinking about xi proletariat 133–4, 135 religion 129, 135 revolution 122, 134 role of the state 128–9 Tocqueville and 34 Wagner and 198 Massachusetts 54 Mazzini, Giuseppe 167, 169, 171 McCulloch, John 39 Die Meistersinger (Richard Wagner) 195 Mendelssohn, Felix 198 Mensheviks 123 Merovingians 165 Methodism 45, 55, 56, 66 Metternich, Klemens von 72, 166 Meyerbeer, Giacomo 194, 198 Michelet, Jules 165 Middle Ages 67–77, 79–82 Carlyle and 73 French Revolution and 69 Gothic architecture 71–2, 77, 79 Renaissance and 76 Saint-Simonianism 73 Schlegel 69–73 middle classes eugenics and 189 Marx’s bourgeoisie 133–4 perceived problems for 243–4 Philosophic Radicals and 38–9 poetry and 139 Ricardo’s analysis 42 threats to 184–5 Middlemarch (George Eliot) 222–4 Mill, James 35–9 importance of 36 John Stuart Mill and 43–4 middle classes 42 Philosophic Radicalism 36–9 Mill, John Stuart 35–51 childhood 44

Comte attracts 241 Darwin and 94 Grote and 251, 252 Harriet Taylor 46–8 mental crisis 45 Nietzsche attacks principles of 256 On Liberty 46, 252 Saint-Simon and 239 Tocqueville and 48–9 women 50–1, 209 Milton, John 141 mind 61–4, 143 Mivart, St George Jackson 103 Modern Painters (John Ruskin) 137 Molesworth, William 36 monogenesis 179 see also race Montesquieu, Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron 1, 31–3 morality 250–1 Moravia 55 Morel, Bénédict Augustin 184 Moscow 163 Moses 18 Mueller, F. Max 181 Munich 196 Musée des Monuments Français 165 museums 164–5 music 204 Music Drama 196, 199 The Music of the Future (Richard Wagner) 206 Musset, Alfred de 217 mysticism 53–4, 72 myth 200 Naples, Kingdom of 167 Napoleon (Bonaparte) democracy into tyranny 26 French Revolution and 230 German states defeat 163 nationalism in Germany after 166 rationalism and scepticism 72 Napoleon III 241 Napoleonic Wars 198 nation states 23 nationalism 155–74 challenging the status quo 156 decline of Latin and 158 defining 155, 167–8 education and 165–6 ethnic groups that qualified 157 history as a tool for 162–5 language and 158–62 liberalism and 167, 169


Lord Acton on 173 religion and 157–8 various forms of 171–3 Natural History Museum, London 113 natural selection 95–8 see also Darwin, Charles finding facts in support 114 God and 116 Huxley’s position 104 pluralistic thought on evolution 85–6 religious implications 103 Spencer rejects 100 natural theology 105–6, 109–11, 114–17 see also religion Natural Theology (William Paley) 106, 109 nature 106–11, 114 ‘The Nature of Gothic’ (John Ruskin) 77 Nazis 190, 201 Netherlands 179 New York 25 Newman, John Henry, Cardinal xi, 87, 216 newspapers 159 Newton, Isaac firm acceptance of 21 hailed as a genius 141 Kant protects legacy of 60, 62 portrayal of science 105 Rousseau and 1, 9 Nibelungen 71 Nicholas I (Russia) 171 Nietzsche, Elizabeth 247 Nietzsche, Friedrich 245–9 Christianity and 259–65 on Socrates 253–7 re-interpretation of classical Greece 247–9 sister’s editing and publishing of 245–6 Wagner and 246–7, 256–8 Nordau, Max 184 Nordic people 181, 183 Normans 70–1 Norwegian (language) 161 Notre Dame de Paris (Victor Hugo) 73 La Nouvelle Heloise (Jean-Jacques Rousseau) 56 Novalis 69, 149, 152–4 Official Nationality programme 171–2 Ohio 25 On Liberty (John Stuart Mill) 46, 48–50, 252 On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers (Friedrich Schleiermacher) 228


‘On the Interpretation of Scripture’ (Benjamin Jowett) 237 ‘On the Jewish Question’ (Karl Marx) 128, 129 On the Natural Variety of Mankind (Johann Friedrich Blumenbach) 178 On the Study of Celtic Literature (Matthew Arnold) 187 Opera and Drama (Richard Wagner) 197, 199 The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (Charles Darwin) 97–9, 102–4, 113–17 Darwin tries to avoid other issues 119 footnotes 179 Paley echoed in 109 publication 85 Ospovat, Dov 116 Ottoman Empire 156, 169 Owen, Richard 113, 115 Oxford University Greek required 224 Huxley’s Romanes Lecture 100–1 J.S. Mill on curriculum 38 John and Charles Wesley 55 Ruskin at 76 paganism 81–2 Palestine 235 Paley, William xi, 94, 106–10, 120 Pan-Slav Congresses 169 Pan-Slav nationalism 171 Pantheon, Paris 4 Papacy 167 Paris 6, 194 Paris Commune 184 Paris Museum 88 Parliament (Westminster) 156, 161 Parsival (Richard Wagner) 196, 206, 207, 258 Pascal, Blaise 53, 57 Past and Present (Thomas Carlyle) 73, 78 patriotism 29–31 Pearson, Karl 188 Peloponnesian war 252 Pericles 26 Persian language 180 Peter the Great 171 philology 161, 180 see also language Philosophic Radicalism 36–41 Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford 82 pity 12



Planer, Minna 194 Plato Bible to be treated the same as 237 bureaucratic vision 50 Christian morality and 261 Nietzsche, Rousseau and 265 poetry and the arts corrupt 138 Rousseau as intellectual heir 19 Sophists and 250, 251–2 Plato, and the Other Companions of Socrates (George Grote) 251 poetry 139, 151, 153 Poland 156, 157, 163, 172 Poles 170, 173 Polybius 31 polygenesis 179–80 see also race Poor Law Commission 37 Pope, Alexander 141, 142 positivism 175, 238–41, 245 Prague 169, 195 Preface to the Epistle of the Romans (Martin Luther) 55 The Prelude (William Wordsworth) 154 Priestley, Joseph 26, 93 Principles (David Ricardo) 41 Principles of Geology; Being an Attempt to Explain the Former Changes of the Earth’s Surface, by Reference to Causes now in Operation (Charles Lyell) 90, 91 print cultures 154, 158–60 proletariat 133–4, 135 Prometheus 75 Protestantism 53–6 see also Christianity; Roman Catholicism Bible and 234 Emile and 227 Evangelical Awakening 54–6 in America 104 in Ireland 173 Kant and others influenced by 63, 65 Religion of Humanity and 241 Ruskin guided by 76 Schleiermacher’s importance 228, 231 universal Christian vision and 157 Victorian Britain 73 Prussia 60, 156, 170–1, 221 Prussians 163 public health 190 Puritans 54 Quadrangle, Yale University 68 Quakers 54

race 175–92 anti-Semitism 187–91 Aryanism 180–1 Celts and Anglo-Saxons 187 Chamberlain’s theories 185–6 characteristics of racialist thinking 176–7 eugenics 188–91 Gobineau’s theories 181–5 racial hygiene 190 science and 177–8 slavery and 179–80 social Darwinism 188 The Races of Man (Robert Knox) 180, 187 Racine, Jean 152 reason bourgeoisie and 244–5 Kant 63 Rousseau and Hume 11–12 Schopenhauer 65, 202 Voltaire 1 Reflections (Edmund Burke) 213 Reform Bill, 1832 37 Reformation 80, 234 Reign of Terror 26 see also French Revolution religion 53–9, 102–6 see also Bible; Christianity; God Chateaubriand 230–1, 242 Comte’s new system for 241–2 Darwin and 102–4, 116–20 Feuerbach on 127 Marx on 129, 135 nationalism and 157–8 Sartor Resartus 226–7, 232–4 Schleiermacher 228–31, 242 science and 111–12 Socrates and 253 Tocqueville on 28, 29 Religion of Humanity 241–2 Religion Within the Boundaries of Reason Alone (Immanuel Kant) 63, 228 Renaissance 79–83 art of 76 assumptions dating from 139 classical tradition and 53 moral development and 6 nineteenth-century fascination for 67 Ruskin on its inferiority 80–3 suggested invention of 68 Ressentiment 262, 263 revolution 122, 134 Reynolds, Sir Joshua 139 ‘The Rhinegold’ (Richard Wagner) 200 Rhineland 125, 127


Ricardo, David 36, 39, 41, 42 Richard Wagner: Man and Artist 136 see also Wagner, Richard Richard Wagner at Bayreuth (Friedrich Nietzsche) 258 Rienzi (Richard Wagner) 194 The Ring of the Nibelung (Richard Wagner) 195, 196, 200–1, 257 Robert Elsmere (Mrs Humphrey Ward) 237–8 Roebuck, Arthur 36 Roland 71 Roman Catholicism see also Christianity; Protestantism Chateaubriand and 230–1 Darwin’s enemy and 103 divine revelation in 53 in Emile 227 German states 54 Gothic style and 76, 80 post-Napoleonic revival 230 Schlegel’s writings 72 universal Christian vision and 157 Romanes Lectures 100 Romanians 156 Romanovs 162 The Romantic School (Heinrich Heine) 72 Romanticism 149–52, 193, 196 Rome, classical 34 Romulus 18 Rose, Paul 189 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques 1–20 artist as social critic 137 background 3 Civil Religion 18–19 conscience 58–9 dualisms 5 Emile 4–5, 15, 56, 60, 227 General Will 17, 126 George Sand and 218 Hegel and 126 intellectuals, creation of 1–2 Kant and 60, 62–6 Legislators 18 Marx and 128, 134, 135 Nietzsche criticises 265 observes moral decline 7–8 paranoia of 4 personality cult around 4 Protestantism and 56–60 religion as sentiment 228 Schiller and 147–8 Schleiermacher picks up from 228 Second Discourse 9–10, 15


sincerity, father of 2 Social Contract 15–19 society 13 Sparta 8–9 St Augustine and 53 state of nature 10–14 supreme importance of 1 women, his view of 210–15, 217, 218, 225 Royal Society 105 Ruskin, John 76–83 Gothic revival and 82–3 influence of 121 Modern Painters quoted from 137 Renaissance 80–3 Russia empire 169 low level of industrialisation 123 nationalists protest 155, 156 post-Soviet Union 125 serfdom abolished 209 Tsars and 171–3 Russian Academy 161 Russian (language) 161, 162 Russian Orthodox church 171 Russians 172 Ruthenians 170 Saint-Lambert, Jean-François, Marquis de 140–1 Saint-Simon, Henri de 239 Saint-Simonianism 73 Samson of Tottington, Abbot 74–5, 77 Sand, George 217–21 Sand, Karl 166 Sanskrit 180 Sartor Resartus (Thomas Carlyle) 226–7, 232–3 Saxons 187 Saxony 195 Schelling, Friedrich von 143, 145–6 Schiller, Friedrich 143, 147–9 Schlegel, A.W. 150 Schlegel, Friedrich 69–73, 75 Schlegel brothers 143, 149 Schleiermacher, Friedrich 228–31, 242 Schopenhauer, Arthur 202–6 Chamberlain and 185–6 Nietzsche and 246–7, 248, 256, 258 on reason 65 Schumpeter, Joseph 244 science 102–6 Nietzsche on 261 race and 177–8, 187–8, 190



Shelley attacks 151 Socrates as father of 255 Special Creation and 111–13 Scientific Revolution 6 Scotland 138, 161 Scott, Sir Walter 73 Second Discourse (Jean-Jacques Rousseau) 3, 9–10, 15, 19 Second Treatise of Government (John Locke) 10 Second World War 125, 201, 246 secularisation 226 Sedgwick, Adam 91, 112 Senior, Nassau 39 Serbo-Croat (language) 161 Serbs 156, 170 Seven Years War 4 Shakespeare, William 141, 150, 152, 153 Shaw, George Bernard 73, 201 Shelley, Percy Bysshe 137, 151 ‘Siegfried’ (Richard Wagner) 200, 207 sin 5 sincerity 2 slavery 179, 180, 209 Slavic races 169, 170 Slovaks 170 Slovene language 161 Slovenes 156 Smith, Adam Darwin and 93 deplores state interference 128 Philosophic Radicals 39 recasting economic thought 1 Ruskin and 78, 79 Tocqueville and 31 Wealth of Nations 67 The Social Contract (Jean-Jacques Rousseau) 15–19, 63–4, 135 social Darwinism 98–100, 188 see also Darwin, Charles Social Democratic Party (Germany) 121–2, 134, 197 Social Democratic Party (Russia) 123 Social Statics (Herbert Spencer) 100 socialism 122–5, 129 society 13 Socrates 186, 247–57 Solon 18 Sophists 249–52 Sophocles 254 Sorbonne 221 South America 92 Soviet Union xiii, 123–5, 155 see also Russia Spain 167

Sparta 8–9, 18, 26 Special Creation 111–15, 118 species 88, 95–6 Spencer, Herbert 85, 99–100, 224 Spinoza, Baruch 64 Spirit of the Laws (Baron de Montesquieu) 1, 31 St Joan (George Bernard Shaw) 73 St Pancras Station, London 82 St Petersburg 123 Staël, Madame de 152 Starobinski, Jean 14 states of nature 10–14 Stendhal 152 The Stones of Venice (John Ruskin) 76 Strauss, David Friedrich 200, 235–6, 259 Stubbs, Bishop 187 The Subjection of Women (John Stuart Mill) 50, 209 ‘survival of the fittest’ 101 Swift, Jonathan 247 The Swing (Jean-Honoré Fragonard) 210, Plate 9 Switzerland 195 Système de politique positive (Auguste Comte) 240–1 Tannhäuser (Richard Wagner) x, 195 Taylor, Harriet 46–8, 50 Tennyson, Alfred, Lord 73, 114, 117 Teutonic people 181 theology see natural theology; religion Theory of the Earth (James Hutton) 91 Third Republic (France) 184 Three-Stage Theory (Auguste Comte) 239–40 Thus Spoke Zarathrustra (Friedrich Nietzsche) 246, 264 Tocqueville, Alexis de 25–34 democracy xiii, 26–9, 31, 32, 34 despotism 32–4 Gobineau, critique of 191–2 John Stuart Mill and 48–9 liberty 31–2, 34 patriotism 29–31 religion 28, 29 Torrens, Robert 39 Total-Art-Work 199, 200, 201 Transmutation of Species 87–8, 95 Trans-Siberian Railway 21–2 Tribschen 247 Tristan and Isolde (Richard Wagner) 195, 205 Tsars, Russian 123, 171–2


‘The Turn to Subjectivity’ (Immanuel Kant) 142 Turner, Frank ix–xii Turner, J.M.W. 76, 135, 137, Plate 5 Twain, Mark 73 ‘The Twilight of the Gods’ (Richard Wagner) 200 Twilight of the Idols; or How One Philosophises with a Hammer (Friedrich Nietzsche) 260 Übermensch 264 Ukrainian (language) 161 Ulyanov, Vladimir Illich see Lenin uniformitarianism 91–2 Unitarians 46, 95, 213 United States constraints on freedom 216 Democracy in America 25–6, 32–3 emancipation of slaves 179 evangelic awakening 56 fundamentalists against evolution 104 Gothic revival 82–3 liberal and radical immigrants 170–1 Middle Ages portrayal accepted 73 racial thinking 178, 190 Tocqueville’s opportunity 27 travelling in 21 universities 106, 166, 221 University College, London 37 Utilitarian Society 44 utilitarianism 35–6, 39, 256 Uvarov, Count S.S. 171–2 ‘The Valkyrie’ (Richard Wagner) 200 The Variation of Plants and Animals Under Domestication (Charles Darwin) 115, 119 Vaux, Clothilde de 241 Venice 76, 77, 79, 80, 82–3 The Vestiges of Creation (Robert Chambers) 96 Victorians Grote and Athenian democracy 252 Mazzini and Garibaldi cults 169 Protestantism 73 religious world of 93, 102 Ruskin and the Gothic 79 Ruskin, Burke and 82 science in universities 106 Special Creation 111 Vienna, Congress of 155–6 Vincennes 3


A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (Mary Wollstonecraft) 213 Virgil 53 Voltaire critical of Rousseau 4, 6 Nietzsche champions 258 polygenesis 179 reason and satire 1 wages 42 Wagner, Richard 193–203, 205–7 anti-Semitism 194, 198, 206 Bayreuth 196, 201 biography of 136 classical Greeks and 199–200, 206 creative years 195 early years and personal life 194 ‘Grand Opera’ dismissed by 197, 198 Middle Ages agenda 69 myth, use of 200 Nietzsche and 246–7, 256–8 Ring cycle 200–1 Schopenhauer and 202–6 son-in-law 185 writings on music 196–7 Wagner, Race and Revolution (Paul Rose) 189 Wallace, Alfred Russel 97, 110, 115, 116 War of the Austrian Succession 4 Ward, Mrs Humphrey 237 Wartburg 166 Washington, George 21 Wealth of Nations (Adam Smith) 40, 67 Wedgwood, Josiah 93 Weimar 195 Wellek, René 152 Wesley, Charles 55 Wesley, John 5, 55–6, 65, 66 Westminster Abbey 102, 103 Westminster Review 38 Whewell, William 91–2, 112 Whigs 37 ‘White Man’s Burden’ 191 Whitfield, George 54 Wilberforce, Bishop Samuel 103 Wilde, Oscar 154 will 203–6 The Will to Power (Friedrich Nietzsche) 246 Williams, Roger 54 Wilson, Woodrow 171 Winckelmann, Johann J. 140, 199 Wollstonecraft, Mary 213–17, 220–1 Woman at a Window (Caspar David Friedrich) 208, Plate 7

302 women 208–25 classical languages and 221–4 Comte’s new system and 241 French Revolution and 210, 213 George Sand and Indiana 217–21 J.S. Mill on 50–1 miscellaneous thinkers’ opinions 225 mystical tradition and 54 Rousseau on 210–15, 217, 218, 225 universities admit 221 Wollstonecraft on 213–17, 220–1


Wordsworth, William 45, 47, 154 The World as Will and Idea (Arthur Schopenhauer) 202 Yale Intellectual History of the West xii Yale University ix–x, 68 Young, Thomas 180 Zinzendorf, Count 54 Zurich 221