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The Enlightenment On Trial

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Chapter Summary

This chapter uses two court cases that emerged from the Edict on Religion's enforcement to confirm the idea that revolution was never part of the public's mission. The first case, the state prosecution of a writer named Johann Heinrich Würzer, reveals how the service elite excluded politically unreliable elements from the public through expressly legal means. The second, a civil action against a Prussian censor named Johann Friedrich Zöllner, shows how this strategy of exclusion could be inverted, that is, how the public sphere served as a means not only to discipline fellow bureaucrats but also to exclude sovereign power from public debates. The Prussian public sphere had to be suffused with social discipline, so that publicity could serve the state that had made publicity possible. For that reason, elite discipline became coterminous with the enlightened public sphere.

Keywords: Edict on Religion; enlightened public sphere; Johann Friedrich Zöllner; Johann Heinrich Würzer; Prussia; social discipline



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