In the Eighteenth Century, the century of The Enlightenment in Europe and America, people read newspapers and read books. Education was highly valued. Knowledge was highly valued. Many, including the Founders of the American Revolution and authors of the Constitution, were steeped in knowledge of the Classics, from Plato and Aristotle to Homer and Virgil, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, and on up to Voltaire, Montesquieu, Diderot and the French Encyclopedists.
Knowledge of History was valued. Reason and Science were the hallmarks of the age.
Now, in the Twenty-First Century, this rich heritage which some high schools, colleges, and universities still seek to instill in the minds of the best students, is under threat.
The threat comes from many sources. The first has been the development of mass media, from television to social media, which as they have developed–particularly when under the direction of commercial imperatives–have led to an increasing focus on the present moment. This focus on the present entails or is accompanied by an increasing disregard for history and the broader context which the 18th Century mind would have taken for granted, but which today to increasing numbers of members of younger generations seems irrelevant. Or to put it more precisely, out of the range of their consciousness.
The Eighteenth Century Club is meant to be a home for those Eighteenth Century Minds which remain. These are the minds that largely run the world, though there is increasing evidence that their grip is slipping. In America and other countries today, we see manifest evidence of a loss of belief in Science, Expertise, and their foundation, Reason. The Enlightenment, we may recall, was also called The Age of Reason. Our 18th century democracies were founded on tenets such as Reason, Science, and Expertise. These assumptions appear to be increasingly called into question, or so the evidence seems to suggest.
We invite all those who were fortunate enough to be educated to have an Eighteenth Century Mind to join in our project to herald the virtues of the monumental achievements of the Enlightenment and the American and French Revolutions, which have lost none of their relevance or significance for today and the future.
Here we aim to celebrate the Eighteenth Century Mind as one of the crowning achievements of mankind’s long struggle to escape from despotism of all kinds, from tyranny and the absolutism of monarchs and other rulers to the despotism of the mind which held freedom and creativity captive for so many centuries, subjecting both to mind-numbing orthodoxies.
We invite your active collaboration.
Collaboration can take the form of making recommendations for articles appearing elsewhere which might be referenced for the benefit of our readers. It can take the form of submission of articles by participants/readers, to be published here. It can take the form of recommending steps and taking actions to increase the reach of our articles, by expanding both readership and participation. Above all, using the approaches mentioned above, collaboration can consist in efforts to recruit members of newer generations into joining The Eighteenth Century Club.
Spirit of Voltaire