Who's In and Who's Out in the Enlightenment?

The model of the fully realized human in the Enlightenment seems great, on the surface. It is what many people strive for in a liberal, democratic, tolerant society. However, it is not clear that in practice, everyone could attain that level. Who is left out?


1. Women: A good example of this is Jean-Jacques Rousseau's work on education called the
Emile. Rousseau argues that a proper education involves taking a child out of society and allowing it to learn "naturally". However, while girls should be educated, their education should take a very different form from boys:

A woman's education must therefore be planned in relation to man. To be pleasing in his sight, to win his respect and love, to train him in childhood, to tend him in manhood, to counsel and console, to make his life pleasant and happy, these are the duties of woman for all time, and this is what she should be taught while she is young. The further we depart from this principle, the further we shall be from our goal, and all our precepts will fail to secure her happiness or our own.

Rousseau,
Emile, Book V

Later writers such as Mary Wollstonecraft argued that a strict adherence to the Enlightenment principles ought to include women as well as men in all areas.


2. Africans & non-Europeans: Hegel talks about Africa in his
Philosophy of History. Here's what he has to say about Africans:

The Negro, as already observed, exhibits the natural man in his completely wild and untamed state. We must lay aside all thought of reverence and morality -- all that we call feeling -- if we would rightly comprehend him. (93)

Religion begins with the consciousness that there is something higher than man. But even Herodotus called the Negroes sorcerers:-- now in Sorcery we have not the idea of a God, of a moral faith; it exhibits man as the highest power, regarding him as alone occupying a position of command over the power of nature. We have here therefore nothing to do with a spiritual adoration of God, nor with an empire of right. (93-94)

The Negroes indulge, therefore, that perfect contempt for humanity, which in its bearing on justice and morality is the fundamental characteristic of the race. (95)

They have moreover no knowledge of the immortality of the soul, although spectres are supposed to appear. The undervalueing of humanity among them reaches an incredible degree of intensity. Tyranny is regarded as no wrong, and cannibalism is looked upon as quite customary and proper. Among us instinct deters from it. . . But with the Negro this is not the case, and the devouring of human flesh is altogether consonant with the general principles of the African race; to the sensual Negro, human flesh is but an object of sense -- mere flesh.

Another characteristic fact in reference to the Negroes is slavery. Negroes are enslaved by Europeans and sold to America. Bad as this may be, their lot in their own land is even worse, since there a slavery quite as absolute exists; for it is the essential principle of slavery, that man has not yet attained a consciousness of his freedom, and consequently sinks down to a mere Thing -- an object of no value. (96)

Among the Negroes moral sentiments are quite weak, or more strictly speaking, non-existent. Parents sell their children, and conversely children their parents, as either has the opportunity. . . In the contempt of humanity displayed by the Negroes, it is not so much a despising of death as a want of regard for like that forms the characteristic feature.

Turning. . .to political constitition, we shall see that the entire nature of this race is such as to preclude the existence of any such arrangements. (96)

From these various traits it is manifest that want of self-control distinguishes the character of the Negroes. This condition is capable of no development or culture, and as we see them at this day, such have they always been. (98)

Clearly, Hegel thinks that Africans are not just backward, but incapable of attaining Enlightenment reason. Strictly speaking, Hegel is writing after the Enlightenment. However, he is not so much undermining it as fulfilling it.


3. Children

4. "Deviants" - e.g., homosexuals

5. Lower classes

6. Those who believed in "traditional" values - e.g., religious values, social values that relied upon ritual or community.