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The Limits Of Publicity

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Chapter Summary

The Edict on Religion revealed ambiguities and tensions more than it produced them. In this context, this chapter considers an exchange from the debate about the edict that provides another perspective on how the enlightened public sphere produced methods of exclusion. In 1788, yet another anonymous author published a critique of the Edict on Religion under the title Letter of a Prussian Patriot [Written] on the Forty-Sixth Birthday of his King, 25 September 1788. This text is remarkable for bringing into the open the socio-political subtexts that were often hidden in other contemporary texts on the controversy. The socio-political situation of the Gelehrten had intellectual consequences. In a closed intellectual world, where reason's bounds were understood against the backdrop of a Protestant history, the defense of reason amounted to a defense of Prussia's existing politico-religious constitution, in which the Gelehrten occupied a most powerful public position.

Keywords: Edict on Religion; enlightened public sphere; Gelehrten; Prussia; socio-political situation



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