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Title: Bolingbroke and his Agnostic-Rational View of the World Searching for the Religious Foundation of the Enlightenment
Authors: Nohara, Shinji
Keywords: the Enlightenment
Issue Date: Jun-2011
Publisher: Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University
Journal title: The Kyoto economic review
Volume: 80
Issue: 1
Start page: 103
End page: 118
Abstract: This essay attempts to identify and illuminate one of the religious bases of the Enlightenment. Enlightenment thinkers assumed that the secular world was governed by rational laws and rules, which could be understood by the use of reason. They sought to identify the laws of the physical and moral world through experience and reason. However, this empiricism alone does not logically need to lead to another assumption, that is, the idea of the rationality of the world. The latter assumption has many origins. Here, I would like to concentrate on one of them, that is, the transformation of deism. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries deists assumed that the world was rational, an aspect that the Enlightenment thinkers agreed with. In addition, the deists were very eager to prove the existence of God, a goal that the Enlightenment thinkers did not, by and large, agree with. Thus, the Enlightenment thinkers presupposed an agnostic-rational view of the world that depended greatly on the ideas of deism but with which the deists themselves could not agree. For this situation to arise, it seems that the Enlightenment must have necessarily been preceded by the transformation of deism, or some part of it, into an agnostic philosophy. I will consider this aspect with reference to the work of Bolingbroke.
DOI: 10.11179/ker.80.103
Appears in Collections:Vol.80 No.1

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