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The Catholic Enlightenment In France From The Fin De Siècle Crisis Of Consciousness To The Revolution, 1650–1789

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Chapter Summary

This chapter argues three related points. First, a plurality of intersecting Catholic Enlightenment movements co-existed in eighteenth century France. Secondly, this chapter shows that, for many reasons analyzed in what follows, the long 1750s, which began with the publication of the first volume of the Encyclopdie (1751) and ended with the expulsion of the Jesuits, led to the polarization of Catholic Enlightenments, followed by the undermining of Jesuit-inspired Catholic Enlightenment and of the epistemological syntheses of Locke, Descartes and Newton. Finally, from 17651789, as a result of the polarization of the 1750s, France witnessed four interlocking Catholic Enlightenment trends. Throughout, this chapter contends that Radical and Catholic Enlightenments evolved dialectically, at once creative of and created by the perceived opposition. The sway that Jesuits and their form of Catholic Enlightenment held over the Sorbonne was no organized conspiracy by the court, pro-Bull bishops, and philosophers.

Keywords: Catholic Enlightenment; eighteenth century; Encyclopdie; France



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