I previously spoke about how Superstition was the one thing the people of the Enlightenment tried to avoid and how that Superstition is born from the overzealous non-thinkers of the time according to Jaucourt. I also argued against the quick judgment of the superstitious within this time period and pointed out some opposing viewpoints or inconsistencies seen within that mind frame. Those who were “too religious” did nothing to help the cause of freeing people from their own self incurred tutelage and therefore religions like Catholicism where an intermediary is said to “speak to God” is barbaric as well as the set rules religions much like this establish from a chain of command. One should also bear in mind Jaucourt's comments superstition, "ignorance and barbarism introduce superstition , hypocrisy maintains it with empty ceremonies, false zeal spreads it, and interest perpetuates it."
Another great figure approached during the enlightenment is Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. Now many had considered Robinson Crusoe to be this admirable character who went from ignorant to enlightened during his stay on the island. However, Crusoe arguably became more superstitious during his time on the island than he did before he left his home. Crusoe starts off ready to explore the world for himself, to learn new things, and make capital gains along the way. At this point Crusoe seemingly has no fear of God or the Devil, he just wishes to explore and make money, something many people of the Enlightenment had on their minds as exploration became more available to them. During Crusoe's time on the island we see a transformation, and while on the surface it seems for the better as a result of Crusoe becoming "self made," we do see him delving into some troubling territory.
Firstly comes the word "Providence" that Crusoe seems to mention more and more as good things come to him on the island. For example when he comes into the clearing in the forest that contains fruits and other useful resources he instantly takes it as a gift from God and as a result he now rules over all that he has been provided with. If we are to understand Crusoe's ignorance as a lack of understanding of this island and of the world itself when aligning ourselves with Jaucourt, we can see this attitude of providence as hypocritical to Crusoe's earlier actions in the novel. In the opening one of Crusoe's reasons for defying his father is to try and become self sufficient as well as his interest in exploration. Crusoe's father would much rather provide for his son in England then let him leave and possibly lose him as he did with is two elder sons. Robinson Crusoe seems to quickly throw out the idea of being provided for when God does for him though. Interesting to note that really this idea of providence only extends from Crusoe's lack of understanding of the island. God is simply used to rationalize the clearing in the forest because Crusoe cannot really muster up the reasoning on his own as to why this clearing was there in the first place.
Secondly comes Robinson's Crusoe's anxieties about the Devil all of sudden as he becomes more "aware" of God. When Crusoe sees the mysterious foot in the sand he immediately contemplates the possibility of a devil leaving it behind. An interesting point the article (in the link provided) raises is the use of Christianity to rationalize unexplainable events and demonmainia is used to in a similar manner but to explain more negative circumstance. This reveals a completely superstitious perspective coming from the mind of Crusoe because rather than attempting to understand these particular incidents in front of him he would much rather place blame on something he has no evidence of, thus creating an obviously superstitious mindset. It would seem Crusoe goes from wanting to enlighten himself to quickly becoming somewhat zealous in these religious ideals. For more look to DEMONMANIA to which helped form some of these arguments.
The third part of Jaucourts definition of what keeps superstition alive is the spread of that superstition, something Crusoe ends up doing when he starts teaching Friday about religion. As discussed in EDUCATION, originally Crusoe had not intended to teach Friday about religion until he taught Friday about morality. I would argue here that Crusoe’s conscious decision to do that is certainly something I would consider conducive to the Enlightenment however when he later on teaches Friday about God I feel as though that’s a step back. Not only does Crusoe teach Friday about God but the Devil as well. One needs to understand the power Crusoe has in his hands as a teacher to Friday and how that could go wrong. This power ultimately could ultimately decide whether Friday just goes from one barbarous state to another or if he actually becomes an enlightened individual after Crusoe’s teachings. I would say that Crusoe’s teachings do seem to stem away from Superstition but Friday asks Crusoe why doesn’t God just kill the Devil if he’s all powerful, Crusoe can hardly offer an answer. Crusoe’s ignorance of this subject kind of makes him unqualified to teach it and through this he poses the risk of teaching Friday to be more of a zealot than a free thinking enlightened individual.
Not to say that spreading Crusoe’s teaching is ignorant despite him using the method of enlightenment. If that were the case one could argue that no information should be spread at all for fear of corrupting minds with superstitions but rather that an individual should draw more information and come to their own conclusions and spread that among the various networks that existed during this time. Only then can an individual start their own journey to freeing themselves from self-incurred tutelage
Of course it could be argued that Crusoe does indeed comes to his religious awakening by his own devices and reasons, meaning he still can be considered an enlightened figure, but as argued in HYPOTHESIS that is not entirely accurate. Crusoe seems to come to his religious “fulfillment” as a result of his emotions. This goes against enlightenment ideals partially because the point is to come to your own conclusions using your own reasoning and contemplation. Crusoe carries guilt from the past therefore it is not so easy to claim that he is a figure for tabula rasa. The lack of rationale in his conclusion to become a born again Christian is a zealous action and therefore opposite to what the enlightenment is trying to achieve. Crusoe does not believe in God because he is able to rationalize him but rather Crusoe’s sudden belief in God is to explain the things he himself cannot rationalize.