Thursday, December 11, 2008

Salon Response

I (Erica) thought that the “Smile of Reason” documentary was very good. I think that the Enlightenment era was almost a continuation of the Renaissance, a grand finale. This documentary was focused on Voltaire (who I studied) and I thought that the narrator described Voltaire’s character really well. I think that his “Smile of Reason” said something like,” Isn’t this obvious?” Most of his works are common sense (like-hmm I know this...) but they are also quite profound so in that sense they are philosophical and impacting to the reader.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, was born in Frankfurt-on-the-Main, Germany on the fine morning of 28th of August 1749. I grew up there in a large house with my younger sister, Cornelia, my mother and father. At the age of sixteen I left my home to study law in Leipzig. During that time I honestly hardly studied law at all. Instead I spent all of my time in poetry classes. Seeing how this didn’t improve my understanding of law I was forced to return to my beautiful home in Frankfurt on Stag-Ditch road. Yes, that’s correct, although I never could find stags or ditches anywhere. After only a short period there my father became made angry about my dedication to literature and I was forced to leave. I left and decided to travel the wonderful country of Germany. In 1774 at the age of 25 I wrote the book that would bring make me famous world wide, The Sorrows of Young Werther. Brilliantly written if I do say so myself. Shortly after I was invited by Carl August the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach himself to come and live with him in Weimar. How could I refuse? This is the place, I have a feeling, I would spend the rest of my life. I also have a good feeling that I will be remembed by all of mankind as one of the key figures of German literature and the movement of Weimar Classicism.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

In Response to the Salon

As a writer and consumer of satire I really enjoyed conversing with Jonathan Swift and found his piece A Modest Proposal to be inspiring and effective. I was surprised at how many deists were present. Being a deist myself I was happy to be in good company however I would have liked to had an arguement with a firm believer in some form of religion. At one point I was in a group with Catherine the Great and I found it interesting that she was such a firm supporter of feminism yet by ruling through monarchy she demonstrated that people were not equal and that she saw herself as being on a higher plane than her subjects. I am strongly against monarchies and dictatorships. I enjoyed the salon and found it very interesting.
- Sincerely
Thomas Paine

On the Salon

As a ruler that hardly ever leaves her great country, Russia, I am pleased to say that I am fascinated with the Salon atmosphere, a most pleasant surpirse contrast to my courts. Many thanks to Madam Isikdag and most factual presence to arbitrate in the discussions. Her blunt facts and reminders really helped to spark some interesting points. I would have to say, I really admire Mary Wollstonecraft. Her ideas on the advancement of women really inspired me, and while I am already an advocate for women in my country, it is nice to know another women goes as far. Mr. Adam Smith had some really enlightening principals on economy, and many thanks to Mr. Rousseau to help us keep the salon entertained. I rather think that society is good to raise children in... coming from the man who never properly raised children himself. Quite interesting points on the natural way of things though. Many thanks to Voltaire and his(and hers) reasonings about life in general, and judging the monarchs, (Frederick and myself.)
Catherine the Great

Salon response

In regards to the Salon and many conversations that I had, I must say that it was quite impressive with some people's views while others disapointed me. I wish to say thanks to all who attended and a big thank you to my friendn Voltaire for making an appearance despite the fact that we have had a sort of falling out with each other. I knew that neither of us would let a tiny inconvenience between the both of us get in the way of our ongoing friendship. He has truly come into his own with his inspirational talks of tolerance for religion, a strong belief of mine that i hold close. I wish to talk to him again, and hopefully rekindle our friendship. For those of you who believe that i look for more than a friend in this man, you are mistaken. Persih the thought!! I have never and will never be more than a friend to this man. On the subject of others that I conversed with, I was interested with Catherine the Great. She proved to know what she was talking about when talking of politics. She seemed to be quite the strong willed woman, as did Mary Wollstonecraft. her feminist ideals, although of no matter to me, were not my cup of tea, but she seemed like a lovely lady. I would like to thank all for attending the Salon and giving me a chance to meet you in person.

Frederick the Great

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Response to Salon

I have to say that our intellectual gathering was very lively and impressive. And I thank for our hostess Ms. Isikdag. Now, there are some individuals that I especially had some meaningful conversations.
Mr. Swift I was impressed with your sense of humor. I assume though, many people must have been enraged by your writings. I think the free trade can make Ireland(oops) more opulent.
Mr. Kant I enjoyed our conversation. I think we can bring “good” to each other by pursuing our own interest since the invisible hand will guide us.
Mr. Frederick the Great, I saw your effort to make Prussia economically competent. I believe, however, the free trade will eventually benefit your country more than the strict economic system that you have now.
I also express my compassion toward those who have suffered from the censorship.
I sincerely wish that we can have another opportunity to have intellectual conversations.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A clarification on my (Rousseau's) opinion on the benefits of the arts and sciences (and censureship... as it's turned out)

I know that I was vague and unsure on my opinion of the arts and sciences and their role in the development of mankind. I believe that since neither the advancements in the arts nor in the sciences have improved the morality of mankind at all. In fact, I hold that they are responsible for a kind of moral decay among men (and women). This stems from my belief that men in the state of nature are the closest to being in the "natural order" than in any other state. I believe (unlike Hobbes) that immorality and vice are brought on by a corrupt or flawed social system, and that men were better off in a rustic and rudimentary existence than they are now (morally that is). The way I see it, science and art has caused idleness among men, and idleness leads to discontent, vice, and immorality. When man lives a rustic and simple life idleness is discouraged; so in that the simple life is a means to an end. Man has become detached from the natural goodness and morality that he has in a simple state of nature. He has become too concerned with things, like the development of art and science, that do not include moral improvement in their study and advancement. Arts and sciences have taken mans focus off the importance of morals and overly concerned him in the subject of knowledge. However I do not wish, nor do I consider it possible, to eradicate the arts and sciences from the world. Rather, since they are here to stay they offer a distraction to keep immoral people busy and out of trouble. Now, I understand that this view is quite contrary to the popular opinion of todays world. Yet, as I've said in my Discourse I am not out to impress or to please my contemporaries. Instead I am seeking to express my own opinion and criticism of today's society in the hopes that the open minded public will accept my views no matter how different they appear. However, I am assured that my hopes are unrealistic since my books have already burned and censured.

Alas, there's the same government that is so dependent on the absolute agreement of its people that it doesn't realize how enslaved it has become in its reliance. As you can see, man is a slave to his own desire for power and his "unnatural" ability to attain so much of it (like a child who gets whatever he wants from his parents) he has made such power one of his needs and must do immoral and unnecessary (as the same child throws a tantrum when his desires aren't met) things to maintain it. This is why I believe in a government in which the General Will of the people is the sovereign ruler of everyone- not just a small group of "representatives", as if one person could effectively represent the combined wills of hundreds. It is not the agreement between the people of the State and the people the state rules, but rather a social contract in which all people give up their own "natural liberty" of individual will, and opt to obey the general will to benefit themselves and the community as a whole. In this way a man continues to protect himself, but now gains the support and protection of the social contract law that allows him and his people to preserve themselves where without such law they would not be able to. All this is explained in my The Social Contract which explains my opinion on proper government.

RĂ©ponse de salon

After attending the salon I had made a number of new friends and caught up with some old ones. I saw my old friend Denis Diderot who talked to me about his belief that everyone is created equal and they choose to live their lives a certain way. I mostly agreed since I am well aware of all the different ways people live their lives. This is why I believe it is best for children to learn for themselves what is right and what is wrong instead of being forced to by their parents; in my book Emile I discuss this. Mary Wollstonecraft someone who I'd never met partook in mine and Diderot's conversation with her thoughts on society's control over women. In her opinion, women only seem inferior because society tells them that they are and they are led to believe it is the truth. I agreed. This is another example of how today's societies take away the natural freedoms of people. If women weren't told who they were and how they should act perhaps they'd discover that really they are just as capable as men. Perhaps we'd be better off weren't people so intent on maintaining power over as many people as they can; enslaving them. People forget that freedom means relying on yourself first and only relying on others for the things that you need, which I describe in my The Social Contract.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Salon Response

In advance of reflecting upon the recent gathering of personages, I must first express my gratitude to our hostess, Lady Isikdag, who so graciously provided sustenance.
I found the discussion to be most lively, and the company to be impressive. Some presences seemed to fill the room with their expanse of thought (and indeed, Voltaire seemed much more that one man in person). I enjoyed most keenly my discussions with Mr.s Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Pain, and their opinions on ethical guidelines with which to conduct one's life were most interesting, even if they were not in alignment with my own. On a further note, I found my discussion of a free global market with Mr. Adam Smith to contain many intriguing prospects. In total, I found the Salon to be an intellectual explosion of ideas, and occasionally humor. That silly Rousseau and his abandoned children!
Many Thanks for an Excellent Discussion,
Immanuel Kant


As i leave the Salon, I am thinking about the women i just met. Mary Wollstonecraft is an exceptional women whose ideas were dazzling. Of course she was similar to mine however gave a new side. I, being Denis Diderot, believe all people are created equal and God certainly created us but we choose our own destiny. As I conversed with Mary, she enlightened me on many things. I always wondered why women were so insignificant in contributing to society. i honestly felt that they believed their only purpose in life was to please and entertain, and they chose that. This of course is preposterous because God created them equal to men, but i did truly believe this prior to my meeting with Ms. Wollstonecraft. She told me then women definitely had the mental capacity and the want to get educated and be able to contribute to such things as Salons, but most women did not choose to be illiterate, they simply had to be otherwise they wouldn't be accepted into society. they wouldn't fit in. She told me many women who did not attend salons criticized the women who did as entertainers of the men. I found her views quite interesting and hope to see her there again soon.


Bonjour, my name is voltaire. i was born on November 21st 1694 as Francois Marie Arouet to a rather overbearing father. I was born in france, and lived there for a while untill after some rather satirical remarks against some high placed officials in france i spent some time in jail. after i was released i left paris and over the years visited england, geniva and many other places. I beleve in equallity. Man should always be lisend to and his opinions taken into reason, even when you don't agree with him. i am not only a writer of thoughts, i have written many plays as well, Oedipe, Artemire, Mariamne,L'Indiscret, Brutus, Eriphile, Zaire, Les Originaux, and many more. One of my personnall faveoret works is The Philosophical dictionary. In it i reccount one of my thoughts where i was met by a ginie who tok me to a barren waistland and showed me the bones of many a restricted soul. persons from all around the word who where punished for their beliefs. I also spoke with many an enlightend man who had been  punshed for their beleifs as well. This meditation period solidifyed my faith as a theist. i was a key mind in the Enlightenment (no surprise there) and my suprior intellect and thoughts on... well, everything. i directed many a king and queen in their govermental plans. Genius... me in a nutshell.    


To all fellow Salon attendees,

I, Benjamin Franklin, wish to thank you all for a wonderful afternoon of enlightening conversation and delicious food. But mostly I wished to express my gratitude toward the fabulous company. I spent most of my time discussing with Voltaire, Lady Catherine, Ms. Mary, as well as Rousseu and even Immanuel Kant. From these powerful men and women I learned much about their viewpoints on the American Revolution, Deism/Religious tolerance, and politics. Lady Catherine and I nearly got into a fight over the proper form of government. She claims it to be absolutionist which is an absolute atrocity! If it hadn't been for Ms. Mary I probably would've poured a bucket of that amazing iced tea all over her exquisite gown. Nevertheless I found that I tended to agree with mainly everyone during our deeply informative discussions on religion and the American Revolution. The consensus appeared to me that the belief in religious toleration was abundant throughout most of Europe's enlightened thinkers. I found Kant's take on virtues to be quite astonishing, however. The way he perceived accepted statements as moral laws just bewildered me. As for our humble rebellion, many if not all the Saloners that I encountered were in great favor of it. Some argued that it didn't show the proper respect towards the government which it should have (like Burke, you silly fool) but mostly they were proud of the Americans and their desire to be free and equal and have a ruler who is for the people and by the people. All-in-all, I wish to thank the host for her hospitality, the guests for their open-mindedness, and (although one should eat to live and not live to eat) the food, for being so tasty! :)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thomas Paine

I am Thomas Paine not to be confused with the popular rapper T-Pain. I was born on January 29th 1737 in Britain but I moved to the New World in 1774. Perfect timing to affect politics in the region. My pamphlet Common Sense was published on January 10th 1776. I used printing presses to produce 100,000 copies which is how many I sold that year. I produced the pamphlet anonymously. It was treason. I had to keep it on the DL (Down Low, as in undercover), I didn't want to get hanged or burnt, that would be bad. Many of my pieces were controversial. I wrote a book titled the Age or Reason. I am a Deist and I believe the church sways weak minded individuals and tries to control them. My book the Age of Reason discusses these ideas of mine and as you can imagine this made many people pretty angry. I also affected the French Revolution but they threw me in jail. I was jailed from 1793 to 1794 in Paris. I was actually a member of the French National Convention even though I did not speak French. I returned to America in 1802 when Thomas Jefferson invited me back.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Benjamin Franklin

We the People of Mrs. Isikdags's Salon, in order to form a more eloquent setting, add wisdom to the discussion, and provide a fun yet provacative atmosphere, do ordain and establish that none other than the infamous, light-hearted and multi-talented Benjamin Franklin shall be attending the Salon on the 3rd day of December in the year of our Lord two-thousand and eight.

My name is Benjamin Franklin. I was born in the beautiful city of Boston on the seventeeth day of January in the year 1706. I ran away to Pennsylvania all alone when I was 17 because I could no longer take the beatings I was taking at the hand of my brother in Boston. I am happy to say that the move paid off, and that it was in Philadelphia where the majority of my accomplishments took place. Over my long life I had many great achievements. Some I am most proud of include my publishing of the Richard's Almanack in 1733, my founding of the first public library, and of course my signing of both the Declaration of Independence and the new U.S. Constititution. Besides my civil and political commitments I also enjoyed dwelling in the great excitement that is science, and as a result of this wonderful ferver I invented the Franklin Stove (which is still in use today), swimming fins and bifocals just to name a few.
Contrary to what you may believe I did not write either the Declaration nor the Constitution. Even though Tommy likes to tease me and say that the only reason why I wasn't given the job to procure the wonderful documents (since it was basically my ideas that it included) was because I would have thrown in too many jokes and anecdotes amongst the rebellious and independence babble. I have to admit, though, that he's probably right. I am known throughout the colonies as a fun and, since the death of my dear wife, flirtatious man. If you ever read that Richard's Almanack it includes my best collection of thought-provoking as well as dastardly humorous one liners like "Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." (There's some other stuff in there as well of course). In France, because of this great sense of humour and quick wit, I was most popular among the ladies.. and I mean who can blame 'em? Funny, it was actually due to this great popularity that enabled me to convince France to sign the Treaty of Alliance with the Americans in 1778. Anywho, I believe in a loving God, although, not necessarily in a particular religion, they all work. However, I do stand firm in the belief that a democracy is the best type of government out there, it gives people a voice, treats men as equal, and checks and balances the wise and passionate ruler known as the President.

My life was full of ups and downs, great accomplishments and great electric shocks (stupid kite), but all in all it is a life I am immensely proud of. It is a life that earned 20,000 spectators at my funeral when I passed at the age of 84 in the year 1790. It is a life that saw immense improvemtns in everyday living. And it is a life that saw and helped create the birth of a new nation.