Religion in the Age of Enlightenment


Religion in the Age of Enlightenment, German Enlightenment


Where does one find the German Enlightenment? General surveys and otherwise highly serviceable scholarly readers on the Enlightenment tend to neglect it. A recent book on the German Enlightenment by T. J. Reed observes that for many outside Germany, including scholars, the connection Aufklarung und deutsch (Enlightenment and German) is almost paradoxical. Why should this be so? One explanation is that the German Enlightenment is overshadowed by the French Enlightenment. A second explanation is that late-nineteenth-century Germany is associated with a turn away from Enlightenment ideas, in part a countervailing reaction to the terror of the Napoleonic Wars and French military occupation. A third explanation may be found in the problem of periodization-it is convenient to use the French Revolution as the beginning of the end of the Enlightenment (although a renewed focus on the American Enlightenment, along with other Enlightenments, has given rise to geographies of the Enlightenment that occurred in different ways over differing times and in various places).