Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau were towering figures not only of the age of Enlightenment but of all Western intellectual history. Their subjects ranged from philosophy to politics to religion to history to education; their works remain as readable and provocative as they were 250 years ago. Great radicals in their time who are still politically polarizing today, they did as much as any thinkers have done to bring the modern world into being.
In this class we will read a broad range of works, including Voltaire’s “Letters From England,” “Philosophical Dictionary,” “Treatise on Tolerance,” “Candide,” “Zadig,” and “Micromegas,” and Rousseau’s “Confessions,” “Emile,” parts of “Julie,” and the major political essays. There will be two papers.