Freemasonry, Heir to the Enlightenment

by Cécile Révauger


Modern Freemasonry may have mythical roots in Solomon’s time but is really the heir to the Enlightenment. Ever since the early eighteenth century freemasons have endeavored to convey the values of the Enlightenment in the cultural, political and religious fields, in Europe, the American colonies and the emerging United States. Philosophical doubt, common sense and reason have gradually discarded allegiance to dogmas and blind belief. Freemasons have always committed themselves to universalism, religious tolerance and secularism, and in France more specifically to the separation of Church and State and the new concept of “laicité” in the XXth century.

Freemasonry has often been instrumental to major changes in society towards human rights, abolition of slavery, emancipation and democracy. In today’s world, the values of the Enlightenment are more effective than ever to fight intolerance and fanaticism.

Cecile Révauger is emeritus professor at Bordeaux Montaigne University. She is the author of Black Freemasonry: From Prince Hall to the Giants of Jazz (Inner Traditions 2016), La Longue Marche des Franc-maçonnes (A History of Women and Freemasonry, Dervy 2018) and Que Faire …en loge ? (Inside the Lodge, Dervy 2021)She coedited a biographical dictionary of freemasons in the eighteenth century, Le Monde Maçonnique des Lumières, with Charles Porset (Champion-Slatkine 2013)She co-authored Les Ordres de Sagesse du Rite français (A History of the French Rite) with Ludovic Marcos (Dervy 2015). She supervised several doctoral students on the history of freemasonry.