OF THE PHILOSOPHES
The writers of every age, if they pay any attention to the past, are given to choosing from earlier authors those whose views are sympathetic with their own. So we see the Philosophes ranging over the past, and praising writers who in some degree had ideas similar to their own, and borrowing freely from these authors.
Most of the thinkers of the Eighteenth Century were early trained in the Greek and Latin classics which were still the basis of education, and the classics, either in the original languages or in translation, with their generally worldly attitudes were used as examples of more reasonable ways of thinking than those set up by Christianity. The common attitude of Eighteenth Century intellectuals toward antiquity was one of admiration, but they usually opposed a mere antiquarianism, and held that modern man should imitate only what was worth imitating.
An important background for the Philosophes, as for Karl Marx later, was furnished by the ethics and some of the general attitudes of Christianity. One could never imagine the En