Contradictions of the Enlightenment

Tariq Ali provides a corrective to those secularist Islamophobes who uncritically uphold the contribution of “Enlightenment values” to European civilisation:

“How many citizens have any real idea of what the Enlightenment really was? French philosophers did take humanity forward by recognising no external authority of any kind, but there was a darker side. Voltaire: ‘Blacks are inferior to Europeans, but superior to apes.’ Hume: ‘The black might develop certain attributes of human beings, the way the parrot manages to speak a few words.’ There is much more in a similar vein from their colleagues. It is this aspect of the Enlightenment that appears to be more in tune with some of the generalised anti-Muslim ravings in the media.”

Guardian, 13 February 2006