Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 33, Issue 1, 2023

Michael H. Mitias
Pages 195-216

Do We Really Need a New Enlightenment for the 21st Century?

This article is a critical response to the claim advanced by Robert Elliott Allinson in three issues of Dialogue and Universalism that we need a new Enlightenment for the 21st century. In contradistinction to this claim, I argue that what we really need is a new interpretation of the ideals of the European Enlightenment. This assertion is based on the assumption that the basic beliefs and values that constitute the heart and soul of the European Enlightenment are founded in human nature and that this nature is one and the same among all human beings. My discussion is composed of two parts, the first is formal, and the second is analytical. In the first part, I present general observations on the cultural and historical dynamics of the European Enlightenment. In the second part, I advance an analysis and a critical evaluation of the arguments Allinson advances in the editorial he wrote for the three issues of Dialogue and Universalism. The proposition I defend is that we need not a new Enlightenment but an interpretation and a comprehensive, efficacious implementation of the ideals of reason, science, and humanism.

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