‘The Difference Between Us’: The Illusion of Race

"Everyone can tell a Nubian from a Norwegian, so why not divide people into different races? That's the question explored in "The Difference Between Us," the first hour of this PBS series. This episode shows that despite what we've always believed, the world's peoples simply don't come bundled into distinct biological groups. We begin by … Continue reading ‘The Difference Between Us’: The Illusion of Race

Creation of the Modern World: The Distinctly British Enlightenment

" 'Saints and sinners' histories, which paint pictures of forward-looking 'heroes' slaying reactionary tyrants and bigots to create a better future, nowadays themselves appear partisan and prejudiced," historian Roy Sydney Porter wrote in The (UK) Guardian. He then focused his rapier intellect and wit on the Enlightenment of the 1700s, making the case that in … Continue reading Creation of the Modern World: The Distinctly British Enlightenment

Introducing the Renaissance (1300s-1500s) and Humanism

During the European Renaissance (1300-1600), the intellectual movement of humanism emerged. History teacher Paul Sargent defines the Renaissance, describes the movement of humanism and profiles four major figures of the movement: Petrarch (1304-1374), Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457), Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), and Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494). Sargent points out that during the Renaissance, citizens renewed their belief … Continue reading Introducing the Renaissance (1300s-1500s) and Humanism

‘The Ideas That Made America: A Brief History’

What are distinctly American concepts of freedom, reason, individualism, religion, belonging, the market, morality, self-interest and social obligation, and how have they been reconciled with the European Enlightenment and evolved over time? "Long before the United States was a nation, it was a set of ideas, projected onto the New World by European explorers with … Continue reading ‘The Ideas That Made America: A Brief History’

Post-Napoleon Europe and the Congress of Vienna

Crash Course European History: "The end of the Napoleonic Wars left the great powers of Europe shaken. Judging from the destruction that had been wrought across the continent, it seemed to the powers that be that the Enlightenment had liberated the people, and led to disaster. So, everybody got together in Vienna to have a … Continue reading Post-Napoleon Europe and the Congress of Vienna

The Islamic Enlightenment: Struggle Between Faith and Reason

Some analysts have explained the Islamic world's "intolerance" as resulting from historical forces: unlike Europe, the Middle East did not experience the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason. Christopher de Bellaigue, a journalist and long-time student of Islam, turned these ideas on their head with his 2017 book, The Islamic … Continue reading The Islamic Enlightenment: Struggle Between Faith and Reason

Spinoza Was More Enlightened Than Locke on Religious Tolerance

The early Enlightenment philosopher John Locke has long been celebrated for his foundational beliefs in free speech, religious toleration and the separation of church and state at a time when Europe was full of religious conflict. Government, he argued, should not be concerned with an individual’s religious beliefs or his means of salvation. These views … Continue reading Spinoza Was More Enlightened Than Locke on Religious Tolerance

Enlightened Monarchs Listened to Reason, Expanded Opportunity, But Still Ruled As Absolutists

John Green of Crash Course European History previously lectured here and here about "about the Enlightenment, and the philosophers and thinkers whose ideas would shape governance for hundred of years." They challenged the idea that kings and nobles were qualified to be elites simply because of the families into which they were born into. In … Continue reading Enlightened Monarchs Listened to Reason, Expanded Opportunity, But Still Ruled As Absolutists

Enlightenment Thinkers Ushered in Age of Reason

The Englishman John Locke, founder of liberalism; the Scotsman Adam Smith (founder of capitalism); the Frenchmen Rousseau, Montesquieu, Voltaire, founders of natural rights; the German Kant, founder of individual ethics -- are all discussed by John Green in this 15-minute Crash Course European History lecture on the Enlightenment. Transcript. Sources: Hunt, Lynn et al. Making … Continue reading Enlightenment Thinkers Ushered in Age of Reason

Scientific Revolution in Europe Changed Everything, Led to Freedom of Speech, Religion, Press

In this 15-minute Crash Course lecture, John Green explains how the scientific revolution which began in the 1600s in Europe dramatically changed the course of human history and continues to do so. We can even trace the development of the very concept of freedom --of religion, speech (thought, expression), and press to the scientific revolution. … Continue reading Scientific Revolution in Europe Changed Everything, Led to Freedom of Speech, Religion, Press