The Idea of Order: Enlightened Revisions

Archiv für Rechts-Und Sozialphilosophie 98 (2):185-196 (2012)
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Abstract

Order has been ascribed both to nature and to society. There is a long tradition of claiming that the social order and the natural order are closely linked. Radical enlightenment challenged that tradition. According to Spinoza to call something orderly simply means that we can easily imagine and remember it; ascribing order thus betrays merely something about us, not about things. This challenging idea never became Enlightenment mainstream. In fact, ties between an objective natural order and our own human order were widely popularized in the 18th century. Yet one strand of thinking, set out to undermine traditional views of order, turned up trumps. The British Enlightenment succeeded in undoing the time-honoured equation of order and hierarchy.

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Andreas Dorschel
Goethe University Frankfurt

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