Many Jews living in Austria and Germany in 1936 said to each other ‘this can’t be happening in a country that is part of the Enlightenment’.
From my perspective, they weren’t. I think all of Europe gets credit for the Enlightenment when it is not deserved.
That means, in my humble judgement, art, literature and music are excluded. The evolution of art was important in France and Italy. The evolution of music was important in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany. Countries I generally exclude from the Enlightenment.
I include only Britain, Holland and parts of Scandinavia in the Enlightenment. They were the sources of individual freedom, modern commerce and science.
We can start by looking at the most famous Enlightenment figure: Rene Descartes. Definitely French but he was banned in France. He was published in Holland and taught in Holland. The great Enlightenment thinkers were Newton, Locke, Hume, Adam Smith, Spinoza and Bacon.
The Frenchmen associated with Enlightenment were Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau. Frankly they are mistakenly included. They were part of series of thinkers that promoted communal values and government power, not individual freedom, free association and science.
The pre-eminent thinkers who present a problem for my model of the European countries that were central to the Enlightenment were Copernicus, Galileo and Kant. These were important thinkers and Kant was truly great in any portfolio.
I should say that Europe was not the home of Enlightenment if we exclude Britain and Holland and three great men: Copernicus, Galileo and Kant.
Does that sound OK to anyone else?