With recent books and articles being published on the Enlightenment, Iona Italia does a great job of providing us with a short primer on Enlightenment thought.
“We are in many ways the inheritors of the Enlightenment. But its opponents are legion. We have the proponents of identity politics, for whom the truth of what you say is less important than the color of your skin — though some think brown skin lends you more authority than white and others believe the reverse. We have both right and left calling for censorship of speech. We have strongmen like Trump, Modi and Putin attempting to — or succeeding in — muzzling the press. We have a comedian convicted in a UK court of law because a joke he told was considered in poor taste — and people who claim to be “liberal” applauding the verdict. There has been a resurgence of religious intolerance and persecution of minorities, especially in the Islamic world and among Hindu extremists in India.
We need Enlightenment values as much as ever. The Enlightenment was an imperfect movement and an incomplete philosophy. But its values are crucial to any happy and prosperous human society. Let’s fight for them.”