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Fides et Ratio: An Early Enlightenment Defence of Non-confessional Religion by Poiret and his Circle

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In 1707 an anonymous collection of treatises Fides et ratio was published in Amsterdam. The voluminous work of several authors contains a fierce critique of Locke's notion of faith and the moderate Enlightenment's conception of a reasonable Christianity. The sympathiser with mystic theology Pierre Poiret (1646–1719) wrote the general introduction. In the preface Poiret outlined a counter philosophy. However, the book deserves the interest of modern scholars because of the notions of religion and faith conceived by its authors. They are basically modern. Fides et ratio exemplifies the intense intellectual connections between Great Britain, the Netherlands and the German hinterland during the early modern period. The authors of the collection were part of an international non-denominational web. With some exceptions relations between the philosophes and the counter philosophers among the illuminati are neglected in modern research. In the final parts of this essay it will be argued that the ideas on faith and the ensuing separation of religion and the state created a common ground between Poiret and Christian Thomasius, the luminary of early German Enlightenment, who for some years had been directly influenced by the former's ideas.

Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor in the History of Philosophy, Faculty of History and Arts, Erasmus University Rotterdam, P.O. Box 1738, NL—3000 DR Rotterdam;, Email:


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