Enlightenment Voices

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ESSAY01Part 120100111

ESSAY01Part 120100111

Series focusing on the work of 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

Professor Justin Champion, head of history at Royal Holloway, University of London, introduces Spinoza's work.

Spinoza was an iconoclast almost incomprehensible to devout contemporaries. His challenging work on religion resulted in his excommunication from Amsterdam, which set the scene for his career as an atheist. Despite his banishment, Spinoza lived out his short life in Holland, reviled by some but revered by other intellectuals across Europe.

Reader: Bruce Alexander.

ESSAY01Part 120100118

ESSAY01Part 120100118

Denis Diderot - the inspirational driving force behind the greatest publishing enterprise of the Enlightenment, the colossal Encyclopdie - introduced by historian Justin Champion.

It is hard to over-estimate the scope and ambition of the Encyclopedie. Published in two decades after 1751, it was the single greatest publishing enterprise of the European Enlightenment. Extending to 28 folio volumes, each a thousand pages in length, and with the intention of recording all existing knowledge, both practical and intellectual, the Encyclopedie contained some 72,000 articles by 230 contributors and sold an astonishing 250,000 copies across Europe. For the first of five programmes, the historian Justin Champion introduces the undertaking, from the commissioning of contributors to the practicalities of printing, binding and distribution, and on to its reception both by ordinary readers and by the political and religious authorities. In Justin's introduction Denis Diderot, the son of a provincial cutler, is brought back to life as the extraordinary driving passion behind this breathtaking landmark both of publishing history and the Enlightenment project.

ESSAY01Spinoza, Part 1 * *20100111

Series focusing on the work of 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

Professor Justin Champion, head of history at Royal Holloway, University of London, introduces Spinoza's work.

Spinoza was an iconoclast almost incomprehensible to devout contemporaries.

His challenging work on religion resulted in his excommunication from Amsterdam, which set the scene for his career as an atheist.

Despite his banishment, Spinoza lived out his short life in Holland, reviled by some but revered by other intellectuals across Europe.

Reader: Bruce Alexander.

Professor Justin Champion profiles Baruch Spinoza's life and key works.

ESSAY01Voltaire, Voltaire And The Voices Of The Enlightenment2009092820101122

You don't have to be a patriotic Frenchman to consider Voltaire the presiding genius of the European Enlightenment.

A brilliant, caustic and prolific polemicist, he left behind some 15 million written words - twenty times the length of the Bible - in almost every literary form, from plays, poems and novels to pamphlets, letters and essays.

His subjects included philosophy, science, travel, religion and civil liberties and, by the time he died, aged 84 in 1778, his breathtaking output and canny media manipulation had made him the most famous writer in the world.

Even today, his thoughts on religion, tolerance and human rights can seem strikingly contemporary and provocative.

And many people may be familiar with his words without realizing it: famous Voltaire sayings include "in the best of all possible worlds", "we must cultivate the garden" and "if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him", though his much quoted rallying cry for tolerant multiculturalism: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" turns out, in fact, to have been invented on Voltaire's behalf by a female English biographer in 1906.

Professor Nicholas Cronk, director of the Voltaire Foundation in Oxford, introduces the great man, places him within the context of other Enlightenment thinkers, and celebrates his timeless satire on the human condition, the novel Candide, which was published 250 years ago.

Reader Simon Russell Beale

Producer Beaty Rubens

(Repeat).

Nicholas Cronk introduces Voltaire and celebrates Candide, a satire on the human condition

Series exploring the work of the French writer and philosopher Voltaire.

Professor Nicholas Cronk, director of the Voltaire Foundation at the University of Oxford, introduces Voltaire, places him within the context of other Enlightenment thinkers and celebrates his novel Candide - a timeless satire on the human condition.

ESSAY02Part 220100112

ESSAY02Part 220100112

Series focusing on the work of 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

Prof Susan James from Birkbeck College, University of London, explores Spinoza's philosophical work on the role of democracy in 17th-century Europe. Spinoza's defence of democracy, along with his commitment to religious pluralism, set him apart from his contemporaries, and started a new line of political thinking which stretches to today.

Reader: Bruce Alexander.

ESSAY02Part 220100119

In the Taylorian Institute, Oxford, Kate Tunstall and Caroline Warman leaf through the 28 folio volumes of Diderot's Encyclopdie to introduce its extraordinary scope.

Considering it was published in the 1750s, the Encyclopedie, with its 28 folio volumes and 72,000 articles, puts the wonders of the internet firmly in the shade. Dr Kate Tunstall and Dr Caroline Warman, both of whom teach French at The University of Oxford, are passionate enthusiasts of the Encyclopedie. In this evening's programme, they broadcast from the Taylorian Institute in Oxford, pulling volume after immense folio volume from the open shelves to show how the complex system of "renvois" or cross-references, makes the Encyclopedie both a mine of information about the Enlightenment and a browser's dream.

ESSAY02Robert Hooke20091005
ESSAY02Robert Hooke, Hooke And The Royal Society2009100520101130

The Royal Society celebrates its 350th anniversay this year and in tonight's essay we hear how this week's Enlightenment figure, Robert Hooke was instrumental in its early success.

Dr.

Felicity Henderson, manager of the RS History of Science events looks through the archives to examine the exploits of the founder members and the Curator of Experiments, Robert Hooke.

Their goal was straightforward: they wanted to collect as much information as possible about absolutely everthing (except 'God and the soul', which they decided to avoid from the outset).

The Royal Society's motto, 'Nullius in Verba' loosely translates as 'take no-one's word for it'.

Felicity sheds light on some of Hooke and his early fellows groundbreaking experiments in their quest to know everything.

Producer: Sarah Taylor

(Repeat).

Dr Felicity Henderson discusses Hooke's influence at the Royal Society.

ESSAY02Voltaire, Voltaire And England20101123

Series exploring the work of the French writer and philosopher Voltaire.

Professor Nicholas Cronk, director of the Voltaire Foundation at the University of Oxford, explores how Voltaire's encounter with English culture both influenced the writer personally and had far-reaching consequences for Enlightenment thinking generally.

He explains why Voltaire came to England in the first place and considers why the book of essays he wrote - Letters Concerning the English Nation - has been described as 'the first bomb thrown at the ancient regime' - a praise of the country and a covert criticism pre-revolutionary France.

With his vivid and often highly contemporary observations on religion, business, politics, science, philosophy and literature, Voltaire's book on England is as striking today as it was to both French and English readers when it was first published in 1733.

Reader: Simon Russell Beale.

Nicholas Cronk discusses the effect of Voltaire's time spent in England.

ESSAY03Diderot, Part 3 *20100120

How do we know what we know, or what we think we know? Why do people have different ideas about the world, and how can we judge them? What are the origins of the universe? Is there any proof of the existence of God? These are questions which still preoccupy us today, but Dr Kate Tunstall, who teaches French at the University of Oxford, is fascinated by how the great French thinker and activist, Denis Diderot, asked them in the age of the Enlightenment.

In this evening's Essay, she introduces his early work, Letter on the Blind, which starts with the eighteenth century fascination with cataract operations and goes on to explore what answers blind people can give sighted people about the meaning of life.

Kate Tunstall introduces Diderot's Letter on the Blind.

ESSAY03Part 320100113

ESSAY03Part 320100113

Series focusing on the work of 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

Dr Adam Sutcliffe from King's College, London explores the background of 17th-century intellectual life in Amsterdam and Spinoza's part in the birth of the Enlightenment.

Amsterdam in the 17th century - like today - was a strikingly easy-going city. Spinoza's thought was shaped by the cultural diversity of the city of his birth and by the intense struggles over the relationship between politics and religion that raged there. The relative tolerance of Amsterdam enabled the highly creative fusions of Spinoza's philosophy; but his thought was spurred above all by his vigorous opposition to religious dogmatism and intolerance, both Jewish and Christian.

Reader: Bruce Alexander.

ESSAY03Part 320100120

ESSAY03Part 320100120

Kate Tunstall introduces Diderot's Letter on the Blind, which asked, in the 18th century, philosophical questions about human life with which we still grapple today.

How do we know what we know, or what we think we know? Why do people have different ideas about the world, and how can we judge them? What are the origins of the universe? Is there any proof of the existence of God? These are questions which still preoccupy us today, but Dr Kate Tunstall, who teaches French at the University of Oxford, is fascinated by how the great French thinker and activist, Denis Diderot, asked them in the age of the Enlightenment. In this evening's Essay, she introduces his early work, Letter on the Blind, which starts with the eighteenth century fascination with cataract operations and goes on to explore what answers blind people can give sighted people about the meaning of life.

ESSAY03Spinoza, Part 3 *20100113

Series focusing on the work of 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

Dr Adam Sutcliffe from King's College, London explores the background of 17th-century intellectual life in Amsterdam and Spinoza's part in the birth of the Enlightenment.

Amsterdam in the 17th century - like today - was a strikingly easy-going city.

Spinoza's thought was shaped by the cultural diversity of the city of his birth and by the intense struggles over the relationship between politics and religion that raged there.

The relative tolerance of Amsterdam enabled the highly creative fusions of Spinoza's philosophy; but his thought was spurred above all by his vigorous opposition to religious dogmatism and intolerance, both Jewish and Christian.

Reader: Bruce Alexander.

Adam Sutcliffe explores Baruch Spinoza's part in the birth of the Enlightenment.

ESSAY04Diderot, Part 4 *20100121

The love letters of Denis Diderot to his mistress Sophie Volland are amongst the most passionate and touching of all Enlightenment writing.

According to Dr Caroline Warman, an expert in the French Enlightenment at Jesus College, Oxford, they sizzle the pages they are written on".

In this evening's Essay, Caroline Warman explores Diderot's passionate interest in women, both from a personal point of view and as victims of injustice and intolerance.

She introduces his erotic novella, Indiscreet Jewels, and his semi-pornographic novel, The Nun, while unpacking Diderot's serious and stimulating exploration of the abuse of power and the human appetite for pleasure.

Caroline Warman on Diderot's interest in women - personally and as victims of intolerance."

ESSAY04Part 420100114

ESSAY04Part 420100114

Series focusing on the work of 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

Prof Susan James from Birkbeck College, University of London, examines the reaction to Spinoza's defence of religious pluralism in his Theological Political Treatise. Raised in Amsterdam as a Sephardic Jew, Spinoza was immersed in what might nowadays be called a multi-faith community, and in the work he explores the relationship between religion, politics and philosophy. Despite the relative tolerance of Amsterdam at the time, Spinoza's treatise caused great outcry.

Reader: Bruce Alexander.

ESSAY04Part 420100121

ESSAY04Part 420100121

Dr Caroline Warman explores Denis Diderot's passionate interest in women, both personally and as the victims of intolerance and injustice.

The love letters of Denis Diderot to his mistress Sophie Volland are amongst the most passionate and touching of all Enlightenment writing. According to Dr Caroline Warman, an expert in the French Enlightenment at Jesus College, Oxford, "they sizzle the pages they are written on". In this evening's Essay, Caroline Warman explores Diderot's passionate interest in women, both from a personal point of view and as victims of injustice and intolerance. She introduces his erotic novella, Indiscreet Jewels, and his semi-pornographic novel, The Nun, while unpacking Diderot's serious and stimulating exploration of the abuse of power and the human appetite for pleasure.

ESSAY04Robert Hooke20100120
ESSAY04Spinoza, Part 4 *20100114

Series focusing on the work of 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

Prof Susan James from Birkbeck College, University of London, examines the reaction to Spinoza's defence of religious pluralism in his Theological Political Treatise.

Raised in Amsterdam as a Sephardic Jew, Spinoza was immersed in what might nowadays be called a multi-faith community, and in the work he explores the relationship between religion, politics and philosophy.

Despite the relative tolerance of Amsterdam at the time, Spinoza's treatise caused great outcry.

Reader: Bruce Alexander.

Prof Susan James sheds light on Spinoza's famous treatise defending religious pluralism.

ESSAY05Part 520100115

ESSAY05Part 520100115

Series focusing on the work of 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

Professor Justin Champion of Royal Holloway, University of London, considers how Spinoza's books made radical enlightenment possible. After being banished from Amsterdam, Spinoza made a living by working as a lens grinder and living a virtuous life. He continued his philosophy and it was published by financially astute publishers, often under misleading titles. Translations into French and English also spread the volumes to new audiences across Europe and he was an intellectual celebrity both revered and reviled.

Reader: Bruce Alexander.

ESSAY05Part 520100122

ESSAY05Part 520100122

Diderot experts Caroline Warman and Kate Tunstall join forces to introduce his most extraordinary work, "D'Alembert's Dream".

Denis Diderot's publications range from his monumental Encyclopedie to his erotic novella, Indiscreet Jewels, but perhaps his most extraordinary work is D'Alembert's Dream. It starts with Diderot's fellow encyclopedist, D'Alembert, challenging him to explain human life without making any reference to God or the soul or anything that isn't purely physical. Caroline Warman and Kate Tunstall, both Diderot experts at the University of Oxford, take on the Dream in a dialogue of their own and playfully challenge the listener to grapple with this quintessentially Enlightenment subject themselves.

ESSAY05 LASTMary Wollstonecraft *20091127

Series exploring the work of philosopher, writer and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.

Danish-born comedian, writer and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig explains her admiration for Wollstonecraft's book Letters Written in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

Reader: Tessa Nicholson.

Sandi Toksvig on the appeal of Mary Wollstonecraft's book Letters Written in Sweden.

ESSAY05 LASTSpinoza, Part 5 * *20100115

Series focusing on the work of 17th-century Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza.

Professor Justin Champion of Royal Holloway, University of London, considers how Spinoza's books made radical enlightenment possible.

After being banished from Amsterdam, Spinoza made a living by working as a lens grinder and living a virtuous life.

He continued his philosophy and it was published by financially astute publishers, often under misleading titles.

Translations into French and English also spread the volumes to new audiences across Europe and he was an intellectual celebrity both revered and reviled.

Reader: Bruce Alexander.

Justin Champion explores Spinoza's clandestine works which became undercover hits.