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Vaughan’s vocabulary

October 28, 2012


The Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, began in the seventeenth century and lasted for nearly 200 years. Relying on the scientific method of experimentation and observation, its leaders included Rene Descartes, Denis Diderot, Jean Jacques Rousseau, John Locke, and Francois-Marie Arouet. Using reason was the best method of learning truth.

Laws and principles were advocated by the Age of Reason’s writers and painters, who were identified with a movement in which universal truths were promulgated. This movement in the fine arts was labeled classicism. Jean Racine in his plays Bajazet and Phedre portrayed emotions as they would appear to spectators, rather than showing how it feels to experience them. Racine showed audiences that individuals will sometimes make the mistake of permitting passion to eclipse reasoning.

I recommend Will and Ariel Durant’s The Age of Reason Begins, which is Volume 7 in the Pulitzer Prize winning series titled The Story of Civilization.

1. Arouet’s pen name was
A. Enlightenment.
B. Voltaire.
C. Phedre.
D. Bajazet.
E. Ouida.

2. astringent (uh-STRIN-junt)
A. caustic, as in criticism.
B. stern or severe.
C. sharply incisive, pungent
D. All of the above
Candide, authored by Voltaire (Francois-Marie Arouet), is a rational skeptic’s attack on the optimism of Gotfried Wilheim von Leibniz and demonstrates the author’s astringent style.

3. Leibniz was a
A. philosopher.
B. historian.
C. jurist.
D. geologist and mathematician.
E. All of the above
Leibniz also came up with the theory of monads. E is the answer.

4. monad (MOE-nad)
A. an unextended, indivisible, and indestructible entity that is a basic constituent of the universe and a microcosm of it
B. any wanderer, itinerant
C. a frequently-repeated formula, phrase, or word
D. None of the above

My brain is hurting from crafting the answer to monad. As in the metaphysics of Leibniz, A is the answer. The definitions next to B and C will fit nomad and mantra, respectively.

This week’s mystery word’s first two letters are the same as the abbreviation of the empire in which an incident occurred that Racine based his plot on in the five-act play Bajazet. You can use the mystery word to call a significant body of work constituting the lifework of a writer, artist or composer.

Don R. Vaughan, Ph.D. in Mass Communication, is a professor at East Miss. Community College. Contact him at

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