Dupré on the Renaissance and the Enlightenment

It soon appeared that no direct causal succession links the humanism of the fifteenth century with the Enlightenment. When Max Weber described modernity as the loss of an unquestioned legitimacy of a divinely instituted order, his definition applies to the Enlightenment and the subsequent centuries, not to the previous period. We ought to avoid the mistake made by Jacob Burckhardt in The Civilisation of the Renaissance in Italy, and often repeated in the twentieth century, of interpreting the Renaissance as the first stage of the Enlightenment. It is true, though, that the early period introduced one fundamental characteristic of modern culture, namely, the creative role of the person. Yet that idea did not imply that the mind alone is the source of meaning and value, as Enlightenment thought began to assume.

Louis Dupré (2004), The Enlightenment and the Intellectual Foundations of Modern Culture

February 6, 2024