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The Enlightenment Period

Counter-Enlightenment Figures

How was Jonathan Swift opposed to Enlightenment values?

Jonathan Swift (1667–1745) is considered to have been at heart a sincere Christian who did not believe in the rationality of human nature, but rather thought that whenever order is established, it then begins to disintegrate. In 1709, in A Project for the Advancement of Reason and the Reformation of Manners, he implored Queen Anne to begin a moral crusade against contemporary vice. However, the great irony about Swift was that his characteristic path to moral reform was through satire and sarcasm. He “sent up” the established respectability of his age through forays into fiction, as well as the rhetoric of a pamphleteer. Thus, when it became clear that he would not get support for the plight of the poor in Ireland, he and his friends founded the Scribelous Club for the sake of engaging in activity against the “dunces.”



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